Dr. H. Bruce Rinker, adjunct faculty member in the Program in Tourism & Hospitality and a member of the program's external advisory board, has been hired as the new Executive Director of the Valley Conservation Council (VCC) headquartered in Staunton, Virginia. Dr. Rinker will remain affiliated with both USM and his current employer, the Biodiversity Research Institute in Gorham, as an adjunct scientist to assist with its Mexico programs.
In Spring 2014, Dr. Rinker, a forest canopy expert who has traveled widely and conducted extensive research on biodiversity, created and taught a new course called "Tourism, Wildlife and Biodiversity," which explored the many interconnections between these topics. His class was highly popular with students, especially since it featured exhibits such as Amazonian blow guns and (preserved) tropical insects and other items from his vast personal collection of ethnographic and natural history artifacts.
Dr. Rinker has led tour groups to destinations such as Mexico, Peru and the Amazon, and has been working with TAH faculty member Kreg Ettenger to plan travel courses with USM students. They will continue to work on teaching and research opportunities in Mexico, where Dr. Rinker is a board member of the influential environmental organization Sustenta.org, and has helped organize beach cleanup projects and scientific research on the east and west coasts. Due to its popularity, the TAH program might also work with Dr. Rinker to develop an online version of his course on tourism and biodiversity—sans blow guns and beetles, of course.
For those who appreciate a little tongue-in-cheek humor, here is Dr. Rinker's latest column for the Roanoke Star, which describes leaving "the Yankee wilds of coastal Maine" to return to his beloved native Virginia. Happy trails, Bruce! Enjoy your moonshine and chewin' terbaccy.