Santa Fe Living Treasures ‚Äď Elder Stories

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Bill Isaacs



Honored June, 1992

William 'Bill' Isaacs

If you have any interest in the plant life and biodiversity of northern New Mexico, you will inevitably come in contact with the Native Plant Society of New Mexico, the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, the horticulture program at Santa Fe Community College, and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden. All these organizations have benefited from the energy and guidance of Santa Fe botanist and teacher Bill Jsaacs.

Inheriting two green thumbs, Bill was born in 1938 in Medford, Oregon, with a gardener grandmother on one side of the family and a Rogue River farmer grandfather on the other. By the time he was fifteen, he had discovered his passion for mycology and decided "this was something he really wanted to do." By 1963 he was hunting for mushrooms in the mountains outside Santa Fe, "getting close to the land and spending time hiking and looking."

Weaving his way between academia and the "real" world, Bill taught first at the College of Santa Fe, then Santa Fe Community College. Later he worked in state government with the Natural Resources Department and as a nursery botanist. Since 1971 Bill has been developing courses that provide an understanding of environmental issues as well as knowledge of the natural world. He has pioneered courses such as Mushroom Identification, Bird Identification, Bioremediation, Plant Identification, the Natural History of New Mexico, and Xeriscape Gardening, courses he has taught at Santa Fe Community College.

Bill received his bachelor of science and master's degrees from the University of Washington. He also did advanced graduate studies in botany at the University of Michigan.

Known for his "wild field trips," Bill has trained dozens of area landscapers and gardeners. "It's said that the requirements for my field trips are a pair of binoculars and a fast car," he remarks.

"The thing that motivates it all," he says, "is a consuming interest in how it works. The natural world fascinates me. Even though you don't understand all of it, you get wonderful insights that are like new universes. As you get older, your reach is greater. Suddenly, you're not doing disciplines - you're seeing how things work!"

Please see Volume 1 for complete text.
Photo ©1997 by Joanne Rijmes