I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.George Washington Carver
There is a unique quality of communication with the creator, that happens when you are skipping stones by a river, or taking a breath of the crisp autumn air while resting under a large willow tree. Nature affords people a perfect glimpse into God’s design for humanity with its humble, yet impressionable displays. The outstanding landscapes, often taken for granted, are there perhaps as a reminder of the love of a great, big God, who thought off such a lavish playground for the delight of his most prized creation; man.
When colleagues take a stroll around different communities, in order to engage, sometimes they can discern why things are arranged a certain way, and sometimes they can understand certain behaviors. However, when they hike through the deep woods of the black forest, or the North Georgia Mountains, they get a glimpse into who God is by how meticulously he thought of every detail of nature; the clouds, the grass, the wind, the birds, and the tall trees that provide great shade and good fruit to eat. All of it was made for man to enjoy, and it speaks clearly of the creator’s passionate love for his creation.
On Friday, August 26, 2016, the colleagues enjoyed a hike through the Smithgall Woods; a 5,555 acres donated to the state of Georgia by a Georgia Tech alumni who loved the outdoors, Charles Smithgall (.Jr). His vision was simply to protect, preserve, and restore the land. The state has done a remarkable job in their efforts to keep that vision alive. For this wonderful adventure, the colleagues were fortunate enough to be led by Professor Thomas D. Hennigan. Tom has a gift for turning a simple hike, into a fun, class field trip. The colleagues were very aware that they were learning, but found themselves feeling just as passionate as their guide.
Tom Hennigan was educated in the public school system and was inundated with the evolutionary belief that we could explain all life without God. Through high school and into his early years of college he was satisfied that he understood the “scientific” view of life’s origins and that God need not be included in the equation. However, after a pair of fellow students shared the case for a Creator with him, followed by a series of amazing circumstances that included sleepless nights, answered prayer, miraculous intervention, and deep soul searching, Tom gave his life to Jesus Christ.
Tom is an Associate Professor of Organismal Biology at Truett-McConnell College and has an A.A.S. from the New York State Forest Ranger School, a B.S. in Natural Resources Management from the University of Alaska, an M.S. in Education from Syracuse University, and an M.P.S. in Environmental and Forest Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. He has taught environmental science and ecology for 18 years. He teaches ecological concepts and field methods in herpetology, mammalogy, and forest ecology, and has studied in the Galápagos. (http://www.masterbooks.com/tom-hennigan)
Tom made several stops during the hike, in order to point out how nature is a reflection of its creator. He inspired the team with his knowledge and stories, challenged them to honor, respect, and view nature differently, and he enlighten their intellects with his knowledge of reptiles, insects, and ecological organisms. Colleague Ashton Shreve stated, “I have never been interested, or cared much about bees, until we spent close to 30 minutes on the subject…Who knew bees could be so awesome!”