Rick Marrs, Biodiversity Coordinator
Introduce yourself. Hi, I am Richard Marrs, and I answer to "Rick". I am the Biodiversity Coordinator. I survey and catalog the many species of plants and animals in the Mud Creek Valley. I've been a board member since 2005.
How did you get involved with MCC? In 1995-96, I did the original Herpetological Survey (reptiles and amphibians) for the newly-created Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park. When MCC wanted to do a similar project, the Park staff recommended me. After I completed the survey, the MCC Board asked if I would consider joining them. Sharing a vision for the conservation of this special ecosystem, I readily accepted.
What motivates you to volunteer your time? For as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed exploring and learning about nature. Trying to understand how everything is inter-connected with each other, and mitigating our human impact on the environment are among my greatest passions.
Do you have any specific goals looking into the next 10 years for MCC? The biggest priority at the moment is the acquisition and creation of the Sargent Road Nature Park. Of course, adding more easements and properties has always been a long-term goal. I, personally, look forward to doing more community outreach and providing more educational opportunities for the residents of the Mud Creek Valley.
Is there anything specific about the Mud Creek Valley you are interested in? When I first began the survey, I had a good idea of what I expected to find. I was quite surprised and excited to discover species that weren't found in the State Park survey. In particular, Red-bellied Snakes and Slimy Salamanders (yes,that's a real name!). We have the only records in Central Indiana for those species. There is also a population of the endangered Kirtland's Snakes. I am very passionate about discovering new species and observing their behaviors, such as when I watched a Yellow-billed Cuckoo gorging itself on Catalpa Sphinx Moth caterpillars, or catching a glimpse of a Bobcat leap from a tree and disappear into the forest without a sound. I can't understand why more people aren't as "into it" as I am. But, different strokes, right?
What are some pastimes or hobbies you enjoy outside of MCC? I like to think of myself as a singer/songwriter/guitar player. I've been trying to think of a way to incorporate these interests into my work with MCC and another organization I belong to, the Hoosier Herpetological Society
What's your favorite nature fact or phenomenon? Currently, I am fascinated by the process of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly or moth. How, while in its pupal state of a chrysalis, tissues and organs dissolve and rearrange themselves into a completely different kind of organism. And how, after all of that, the pre-programmed instinctual behavior remains intact! Ask me again in a week, and I'll give you a completely different answer.