Con-GAR-tulations, Solomon David!By Hannah Schardt
Did you ever read about an animal in Ranger Rick and become completely fascinated by it? Maybe you wished you could spend hours and hours watching and learning about that animal in the wild. That’s exactly what happened to Solomon David as a kid more than 20 years ago. And his childhood wish came true!
Solomon is the winner of the 2021 Trudy Farrand and John Strohm Writing Award. The award is named after the founders of Ranger Rick and National Wildlife. (Both magazines are published by the National Wildlife Federation.) Each year, Ranger Rick editors give the award to someone who has done a great job writing for the magazine. But Solomon isn’t just a Ranger Rick writer. He’s also a Ranger Rick reader!
When Solomon was a kid, his neighbor gave him a few old copies of the magazine. One issue had a story about gars—toothy, air-breathing freshwater fishes that have been around since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. Solomon— who had always loved animals, especially dinosaurs—was hooked! When he grew up, Solomon studied freshwater fishes in college and graduate school. He’s now an assistant professor of biology at Nicholls State University in Louisiana. And he runs a special lab for studying gars—the same fish he first saw in the pages of Ranger Rick!
Solomon never forgot the story that first sparked his interest in gars. A few years ago, he mentioned the long-ago article on Twitter (a social media site). A Ranger Rick editor noticed the message, then found the article and mailed it to Solomon. After reading some of the articles Solomon wrote for other places, Ranger Rick editors asked him if he’d like to try writing for the magazine. He jumped at the chance! In 2020, Solomon wrote “The Gar Guy,” all about his favorite fishes. And in 2021, he wrote “Dino Fish,” about a different ancient family of fishes known as sturgeons.
The next time you read about a new-to-you animal in Ranger Rick, just imagine: One day, you might find yourself writing about it for your favorite magazine!