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March 8, 2018
Authentic: Dr. Rudy Mancke
“When you’re doing what you love, it’s the cake,” explained Naturalist Rudy Mancke. “And when people love what you’re doing? That’s the icing.”
With curious eyes a fierce ocean-blue and skin tanned from years of marveling at the outside world, and with a voice that’s distinct, rhythmic, and interesting, you can’t help but give him all of your attention when he’s discussing his life’s story and passion with you. Rudy was born just after WWII in 1945, and his mother would say that ever since he could roll around in a playpen, he’s loved picking things up and exploring. As soon as he learned to read, books became the most important possession and the library his favorite place. He devoured every book in the children’s section, and when it came time, the librarian gave him access to the nature section.
“The connections in nature are the same here as they are in different parts of the world.”
Rudy was drafted into the Vietnam War while in Graduate School at USC. Though not ideal, he decided to make the best with the hand that he had been dealt and he absorbed his experiences and surroundings overseas. He was an x-ray technician and a cross-trained medic, which allowed him to learn about the human body. Any opportunity that he could, he would go off and explore by taking walks in the western Germany woods to learn about the local wildlife.
“There is no substitute for experience.”
After returning from Europe, he taught high school biology and geology. As the only known naturalist in the state, the SC State Museum reached out and asked him to start and curate their natural history collection in 1975. It was his dream job. From there, he connected with other like-minded individuals at SCETV and the show NatureScene was born. From 1978 through 2003, Rudy walked, explored, discovered, and shared everything from the mountains to the sea and beyond.
“Be naturally curious and be helpful to others.”
Today, Dr. Mancke is still as curious as ever and is still sharing his passion with the world. He teaches Graduate School at USC, hosting NatureNotes on SC Public Radio News and Talk each weekday, and takes groups on nature walks.
To try and summarize all that Naturalist Rudy Mancke has accomplished in his lifetime on one page is impossible. Visit our blog online to read more about him, and mark your calendars for a Nature Walk with Rudy on April 7!