Submitted by Tim Johnson, Naturalist at Woodlands Nature Station
Let me introduce myself! My name is Tim and I’m one of the relatively new folks at the Nature Station. Often others call me, “that crazy snake guy!” My response? Guilty as charged. I am an old guy that just never got over a little boy’s fascination with the critters.
Yep! That’s a picture of me (circa. 1965) holding a snake. From that point on, my relationship with reptiles got more intense! To make matters worse, my older brother introduced me to Scott Shupe, one of his classmates. Scott became a well-respected naturalist, herpetologist and author. I realized there were others out there also interested in all things scaly.
Fast forward some 42 years. I finally decided what I wanted to be when I grow up. After 24 successful years in retail management, I realized there was something missing in my life. I returned to school and renewed my interests in nature. My focus remained with reptiles and amphibians, which paved the way to where I am today. As you can see from the photo, my interests go beyond snakes. I became obsessed with alligators during a Florida field trip.
Since 2007, my life was filled with days locating, studying and photographing reptiles. Most importantly, I educate others about these often-misunderstood creatures. I am often found with my wife, children and grand-daughter driving or walking along old country roads. We go out on rainy nights looking for salamanders, frogs, snakes and the like. I believe my family enjoys nature almost as much as I do.
At times, my unusual expeditions drew the attention of law enforcement. On several occasions, I had interesting conversations with police officers while exiting a swamp at 2 A.M. They were surprised to find me wearing a headlamp and carrying a snake hook just to get a good picture of a snake! Some officers seemed somewhat interested while others just left shaking their heads.
I was accepted as a naturalist at Woodlands Nature Station at Land Between The Lakes in 2015. Now, these awesome creatures and other native wildlife species surround me every day. My daily chores consist of feeding, caring for, and most importantly, sharing information about these amazing animals.
One of my favorite programs is the snake presentation. It’s fun watching someone touch a snake for the first time and seeing the look on his or her face when I explain how snake venom saved my life.
I hope we meet someday to exchange tales and our experiences of natures’ wonders. It’s awesome meeting new people, answering questions, and sharing my passion. So when you drop by remember to ask for, “that crazy snake guy.”