Praising the good

Published: Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 09:33 AM.

Dr. Joe Collins’ eyes would blaze when speaking about St. Vincent Island National Wildlife Refuge.

The late herpetologist, a world-renowned professor from the University of Kansas and the Center for North American Herpetology, was first drawn to this area by the federal government and the allure of that island.

An island, Collins loved to say, was unique in the state, a barrier island which had remained largely untouched since the Native Americans and explorers found this part of the world.

To Collins, who tragically passed away in 2012 while in the area for the annual counting of snakes and amphibians by the kind doctor and his merry band of “herpsters”, the island was something new to discover, something a man of science with decades of experience in all things snake could find new, exciting.

That impish pleasure in the things that go ick in the night on that island remained part of the boyish charm of this 70-something man until his passing from a heart attack while doing what his heart loved most.

And how he loved St. Vincent.

That island was his first exposure to North Florida, coming through a contract with the federal government to assess the vitality and diversity of the cold-blooded population within the national wildlife refuge.

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