Dr. Dorothy Tuthill is retiring after spending over 10 years at the Biodiversity Institute as the Associate Director and K-12 Coordinator. She’s been in the same office at the UW Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center for the last 12+ years. In addition, she has been part of the management team for the Rocky Mountain Herbarium housed in the Department of Botany.
Dorothy has been crucial in creating the many programs, outreach, and events at the Biodiversity Institute that we know and love today including helping create the Wyoming Naturalist Program and expanding the Wyoming BioBlitz to today’s success.
"Well, I have to say that my favorite program is the Wyoming Naturalist Program, because we get to share our enthusiasm for the natural world and natural history with an audience of adults who are interested in the same things. It has expanded my knowledge because we teach so many subjects in the program,” Dorothy says.
“I’m particularly proud of the Berry Prairie,” Dorothy says. “And I think it’s going to outlast me. That’s something new for the entire region and campus to have an all-native plant garden.”
Of course, she has made “gazillions” of memories from public events over the years that she’ll always take with her. “One event that I won’t ever forget that we did here at the Berry Center is where we had live raptors. We had so many people here that we couldn’t fit even one more person in the auditorium.” In 2017, the Center of the West Museum in Cody, Wyoming brought four live raptors for the “Raptor Night” presentation which featured a free raptor film, speakers, and the museum’s raptor presentation.
“Another fun memory is where we had an ambassador black-footed ferret here for a program. That was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a black-footed ferret,” Dorothy recalls.
Along with numerous events over the years, Dorothy has led the BI to be a regional leader in outreach events and community science programs. The programs are not just for adult community scientists but for young future scientists. Dorothy herself has led hundreds of K-12 students on plant walks through the Berry Prairie on campus and on nature walks around the state.
Dorothy says she considers herself “fortunate to have had this position” that expanded her mind and allowed her to work with great faculty and graduate students. “I’m really thankful that I've had this job - a fun job - and we should all have fun in our jobs,” she says.
Her hope for the future of the Biodiversity Institute is for it to continue to grow and make an impact. “We have so much talent here and on campus, I would love to share that more across the state. I hope we build on the very successful science cafes, and, of course, there’s a demand to work with children maybe through a junior naturalist program. We can continue to grow in every direction.”
The BI Director, Brent Ewers, agrees, “Dorothy set the BI programs on a clear trajectory of excellence, so that we can achieve our mission of communicating the biodiversity research from UW in ways that enhance conservation of biodiversity. I am honored to have worked with Dorothy during the past four years and learned much from her about bringing many partners together to achieve our goals.”
She adds that her hope for those starting out in a biodiversity-related career is to not forget about the plants. “We wouldn’t have this biodiversity if we didn’t have the plants. I hope people can always appreciate the plants and, of course, the insects.”
Upon retiring, Dorothy plans to hike, camp, visit her grandchildren, weave, continue to volunteer for organizations like the Wyoming Naturalist Program - and attend jury duty. “I just got a letter that I’m in the jury pool - so maybe I’ll serve on a jury too.”
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Dr. Dorothy Tuthill is at a nature walk and observes plants.
Dr. Dorothy Tuthill smiles during a May Plant Walk outside of Laramie.