Nancy Lord and Spencer Co to be honored with Lifelong Learning awards

Friends of the Homer Public Library will host the 2024 Celebration of Lifelong Learning event at the Homer Public Library on Saturday starting at 6 p.m.

The event will honor Lifelong Learner Nancy Lord and Youth Learner Spencer Co, a Homer High School senior.

Co attended his MIT pre-orientation event last week and will be in Utqiagvik for the Alaska Association of Student Government state meeting at the time of the FHPL event. His address to the audience will be prerecorded. Co was nominated for the youth learner award by his drama, debate and forensics coach, Marjorie Dunn. He was also co-nominated by Julie Gauthier, HHS bookkeeper and member of the site council committee. Co is also recognized for earning a perfect score on the AP Computer Science test as a sophomore. On a Kenai Peninsula Borough School District website announcement from 2021, when he completed the test, he is quoted as saying, “I’ve been interested in mathematics and engineering for a large portion of my life. I used to tinker a considerable amount with small motors and wires, and try to create little cars and machines. To me, creating something that can move or do something of its own volition is instantly rewarding. Computer science, and coding specifically, seemed like a natural extension of that. It’s really rewarding to know that the time and commitment I put into studying computer science was recognized in some regard. Still, my perfect score was in a way simply a matter of chance. I’m sure that other students could have achieved the same, but had only missed a few questions.”

In Gauthier’s nomination letter for Co she states, “when I read about the Youth Learner Award-I knew I wanted to recommend him because he embodies an infectious passion in any task he undertakes.”

Lord was nominated by Rika Mouw.

“Nancy is the epitome of a life long learner,” Mouw said. “She is plugged in to so many different things both in the community and beyond. I just think of every book she’s written, the research she had to do and the travel and the time spent dedicated to her compositions and all the residencies she’s completed. She does shorebird monitoring; she does the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) walk with the University of Washington. She is plugged in to so many different things and shares that knowledge with people. I just think she is the ultimate lifelong learner and teacher.”

Mouw’s nomination also notes that Lord “takes every opportunity she has to speak with our local and state politicians on behalf of conservation, culture and community.”

Lord’s books include “The Compass Inside Ourselves”; “Survival: Stories”; “Fishcamp: Life on an Alaskan Shore”; “Green Alaska: Dreams from the Far Coast”; “The Man Who Swam with Beavers: Stories”; “Beluga Days: Tracking a White Whale’s Truths”; “Rock, Water, Wild: An Alaskan life”; “Early Warming: Crisis and Response in the Climate-changed North”; and “pH: a Novel.”

The FHPL Celebration of Life Long Learning event started in 2009. The first person honored with the award was Daisy Lee Bitter. The Youth Learner award was added in 2011 and the first awardee was Adi Jo Davis.

Additional Lifelong learners honored include Walter Johnson, Norman Griffin, Carmen Field, Ken Castner, Kyra Wagner, Michael Hawfield, Linda Chamberlain, Milli Martin, Lee Post, Flo Larsen, Janet Klein, Deb Lowney, Donna Rae Faulkner, Don McNamara and Samantha Cunninghame.

Previous Youth Learners include: Mallory Drover, Ethan Kizzia, Hannah Baird, Sabrina Karwowski, Nolan Buntin, Eryn Gillam, Ben Kettle, Theo Castelleni, Anthony Mekomukov, Larry Dunn, Neviya Reed and Thea Person.

The Saturday event will also include music by Michelle Morton; a trivia tree with themes related to marine biology, internet technology and computer science hosted by Kathleen Gustufson; a summer reading program demonstration in the children’s library; and performances by Homer High School’s drama, debate and forensics team.

The “trivia tree” is a contest event that features a bundle of branches decorated with questions. The answers can be found within the stacks of the library. When somebody provides the correct response to a question on the tree he or she receives a bead and the beads can be used to collect prize books at the end of the evening.

Appetizers will be provided by Tickled Pear and served by Homer high school and middle school students. Dessert will be provided by BB’s bakery.

Seating is limited to 80 people and tickets can be purchased at the Homer Bookstore, at the library or from FHPL board members. Proceeds from ticket sales and the auction will support the library’s summer reading program and a new illustration by Rachel Tussey for BOB the Book Mobile. The cost of a ticket is $50.

BOB stands for Books on Board and according to the library website, the bookmobile promotes library use and raises awareness of library services while allowing students to climb onboard and select a book to keep and read.

During the summer months, community members exchange or borrow books during BOB’s regular stops at many local venues including Karen Hornaday Park, Homer High School, Sprout, Pier One Theatre, and the Farmers Market.

The goal is to promote reading and lifelong learning by providing access to books for people in the community who are unserved or underserved due to physical, economic, social, geographic or other barriers.