Boy - to Athina and Jade Truman, Sept. 12
Sept. 17 Phyllis Caines Orchard, 81, of Ten Sleep, in Worland
Sept. 16 Monica J. Gomez, 66, of Worland, in Billings, Montana
Sept. 11 Bryan Clarence Tiner, 54, of Wheatland, formerly of Worland
Sept. 16 6:16 p.m. 420 Fourth St.
Sept. 16 6:20 p.m. 2250 Howell
Worland temperatures: High 87, Low 48 precipitation: 0.00
Thursday: Partly sunny, then gradually becoming sunny, with a high near 89. South wind 5 to 10 mph.
Thursday Night: Isolated showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce small hail and gusty winds. Partly cloudy, with a low around 55. South southeast wind 5 to 10 mph becoming light and variable after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday: Isolated showers and thunderstorms. Some of the storms could produce small hail and gusty winds. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. Light and variable wind. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 48. North northeast wind 5 to 8 mph becoming light and variable after midnight.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 76. West northwest wind 3 to 6 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 48. North northeast wind around 6 mph.
Sunset tonight: 7:13 p.m.
Sunrise tomorrow: 6:51 a.m.
NEWS photo by Jeanette Johnson
Above, local geologist Curt Talbot holds both halves of a cephalopod which has chambers. They are a distant relative of today’s octopus, squid and cuttlefish. At left, a fossilized leaf (bottom center) can be seen hanging from a limb (just above the top of the leaf).
free time giving
lessons to students
By Jeanette Johnson
WORLAND – Rocks and fossils discovered as a Cub Scout only fueled Curt
Talbot’s interest in learning as much as he could about them.
“I liked the beauty of the minerals and crystals,” he said. “You have to look down.”
After a lifetime of doing just that and putting his masters degree to work for Shell Oil as a geologist, Talbot, 71, now does what he enjoys most – sharing what he’s learned with people of all ages.
At one point, he was asked by Northwest College to teach historical geology – the history of the earth from Day One to the present.
As a result of all his moves and other jobs, he had given away all of his fossils, which was quite sizeable at the time. He had no inkling he would have a use for them later.
“Then I had to start collecting all over again,” he said, a smile lighting up his face.
It was a good course to take as he continued to be called to teach in different places.
“I’m an unknown here,” he said.
That’s not the case around the country and around the world. He can’t even count the number of foreign countries he’s visited in his quest to find fossils. Most of the time, he travels alone, enjoying the solitude of his mission, interacting with children who surround him and demand that he speak English with them to improve their own vocabulary skills, watching in amazement how other cultures work together and survive.
He was arrested in Morocco for paying a young boy too much to polish a stone. He was forced to take back one of $2 he had given the boy.
“So I ‘accidently’ dropped the dollar as I left,” he said.
Talbot often receives calls from Logan, Utah, Flagstaff, Arizona, Hardin, Montana and other places, inviting him to speak on geology. He’s entered the halls in Maine and Delaware. He loads up his vehicle with plenty of rocks.
He sends out flyers, letting people know he’s available and doesn’t charge a fee.
“I do it because I love to teach,” he said. “They like it because I give a fossil to every child in class. I spend my summers collecting for that reason, to encourage others.”
He gave away over 1,000 little fossils during a visit to 10 Cheyenne schools.
“If I can spark somebody…,” his voice trailing off. “People don’t get out anymore. They don’t enjoy what’s around them. They don’t comprehend it.”
Talbot recalls when a teacher in Cheyenne told him he was wasting his time. A kindergarten student rushed up to him with a coral on a playground and demanded that he identify it. He’ll spend a half-hour identifying objects for them.
“It’s a blast for me and them,” he said.
He’s so passionate about geology, he travels to schools and lectures to groups on his own dime. Watching students come alive as he talks about the specimens he packs into the classrooms makes it all worthwhile.
“Kids love it,” he said. “Can they not be excited?”
Talbot casually mentions that Wyoming was once under water – in a warm area – near the Equator. The land mass shifted to the climate Wyoming has today.
“The corals prove it,” he said. “That will be a good start for the lecture on Tuesday.”
He’s referring to Washakie County Conservation District Outdoor Education Specialist Susan Carrell’s middle school class that he’s been invited to speak to at Sitting Bull. They’ll have plenty to look at as he displays his treasures on several tables.
Talbot has a fossil named for him – an algae named Dimorphosiphon talbotorum.
“That’s something you can’t get done in chemistry or physics,” he said.
Even getting stuck in a stream bed can lead to a discovery. He and his wife, Varian, were looking for shark teeth near Lovell on private land. While she walked to find help, he walked the stream bed. He came upon what he thought was petrified wood. He sent it out to experts who ventured a guess that is was a lobster claw. It took someone at Oxford to ascertain it was the dorsal spine of a shark – common in the UK but the first one around here.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” he said.
Picking up a long fossil, he revealed it was a nautilus, which all submarines are named after and where their design came from. He’s found other nautilus fossils up on the surface of the Bighorns. He holds a huge mammoth tooth. Asked how he knew what it was, he deadpanned, “I talked to the mammoth.”
Born and raised in Waltham, Massachusetts, he made his way to Bates College in Maine where he earned degrees in geology and math to become a geologist.
Heading west, he finished his Masters while enrolled at the University of Wyoming and went to work for several different oil companies. He eventually returned to Wyoming.
A freak accident when a tree fell on him “wiped out my legs” and limited his mobility. He did whatever he could to make a living and wound up teaching at a summer camp for scouts. That led to filling an opening in the Byron school system despite not having a teaching degree.
“Would you get one?” they asked. He never got the degree until he finished seven years teaching in Byron. By that time, he had gone back to full time work in the oil field but still earned his Bachelor’s in Education.
“I had to take classes every other year in geology to keep up with the later technology,” he said. “I finally finished taking classes last year.”
His geology degree is good forever while his teaching degree is still good for another five years.
Northern Wyoming Daily News
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