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EtheridgeFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Myrna Whitehead
South Plains College selects Etheredge for Faculty Excellence 2014 Award
Each year, South Plains College honors a faculty member for his or her excellence in teaching, supporting and inspiring students. This year, the recipient is David Etheredge, Professor of Biology.
Not only has Etheredge earned a reputation as one of SPC’s top instructors, his passion for education motivates him to view biology and wildlife from the students’ perception. And, he creates courses designed to “open the eyes” of students to see nature’s beauty and raise awareness of humanity’s impact on the world.
Etheredge’s indoctrination into wildlife began during his high school years in Hobbs, Texas. He worked as a trapper’s apprentice who taught him how to trap bobcats and coyotes. Etheredge also learned how to skin and sell the animals’ fur.
After graduation from Hobbs High School (Texas), He received his Associate of Arts degree from Western Texas College in 1983, his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Chemistry from Angelo State University in 1985 and his Master of Science degree in Biology with a minor in Wildlife Management from Angelo State in 1987. Etheredge taught one semester as a lab instructor at Midland College before coming to SPC in 1988.
“Early on in my career, I saw myself as a biologist who happened to teach,” he said. “I now think of myself as a teacher who uses biology to teach thinking. I have always prided myself with the ability to connect with my students in such a way that they want to learn.
“The subject I teach is just a part of what a college educated person needs and I believe I teach students as much about learning as I do about biology,” he said. “I believe I help further the mission of SPC by improving the lives of students who sign up for my classes.”
For the past 27 years, Etheredge has excelled at making his materials interesting and easy to understand while giving his students hands-on experiences. On the website “Rate My Professor,” several SPC students highly rated and commended Etheredge as being one of the best professors on campus.
“In the last decades, I have worked very hard to be creative in my teaching style,” he said. “Every time I enter the classroom I do so with the idea in mind that Biology needs to be real and practical – not just another required course.”
Etheredge said his teaching covers many aspects of traditional and non-traditional instructional teaching styles – lecture, storytelling, lively class discussions, daily quizzes but most of all, he tries to keep the students engaged in all aspects of the course.
Etheredge takes his passion for teaching outside the classroom. He organizes two field trips annually to wildlife management areas near the Rio Grande and Canadian Rivers as well as fisheries research stations. Through these hands-on experiences, SPC students have become acquainted with everything from mice to bats to collecting small mammals, reptiles and amphibians.
A consummate educator, Etheredge works with students of all ages including the young kindergarten classes who visit SPC campus annually to participate in Kids College. Etheredge can be found greeting the youngsters while holding a large tortoise or a snake. He also volunteers for University Interscholastic League competitions where he works with One Act Plays.
In addition to his classroom activities, Etheredge has served on a variety of committees during his SPC career. He served on the Scholarship Committee, two terms on the Curriculum Committee, the Quality Enhancement Plan Team, SPC Texans Athletic Committee and the QEP Faculty focus group.
“I feel like I contribute to SPC in many ways as a teacher and academic advisor but my best contribution might be that I care about SPC and most of all our students,” he said. “I am very fortunate to have a job that I absolutely love and one that I look forward to coming to each day. I hope that the contributions I make to SPC and to these students last well into the future.”
Etheredge said he is proud of the incorporation of technology in each class he teaches. He has added the Classroom Performance System (clickers) for quizzes and class reviews. For labs, students use state of the art scientific equipment. Etheredge has added radio telemetry, bat echolocation detection, cameras, GPS and other technologies into the wildlife class. These devices are used by students in the field.
Etheredge received a grant from the National Science Foundation for “Incorporating Gel Electrophoresis on Introductory Level Biology at Community College.” The award was presented in 1992 to Leanna Smith, PI, and Etheredge, Co-PI. In 2005, Smith and Etheredge made a presentation at the National Science Teachers Association on “Creating CD-ROM to Allow Students to Study Lab Materials at Home.”
Etheredge has published three articles in professional journals. In 1989, he teamed with M. E. Engstrom and R.C. Stone Jr. to write habitat discrimination between sympatric populations of “Peromyscus attwateri and Peromyscus pectoralis” in West-Central Texas for the Journal of Mammalogy.
In 1991, Etheredge and Engstom also wrote notes on the reproduction of the white-ankled mouse, “Peromyscus pectoralis” in West-Central Texas for the Texas Journal of Science.
Etheredge, Smith and J.H. Haukos co-wrote “Biology II Lab Manual” for Pearson Custom Publishing in Boston in 2009.
Although Etheredge has dedicated much of his professional life to SPC, he served as a public servant – giving of his time to the community. Etheredge served 13 years on the Board of Trustees of the Levelland Independent School District. He was instrumental in establishing PACE, a parent organization that recognizes academic achievement of students.
Away from campus, Etheredge and his wife, Dr. Laura Graves, have three adult children – Dustin of Easton, Colo., 27; Brandon of Levelland, 24; and Brooke of Lubbock, 21, – all three attended SPC.