Going Against the Grain

W

hen you imagine the typical professor, you might be visualizing some strict, straightforward individual. One professor at Texas Tech University is anything but the status quo.

Blake Grisham is a professor in the Department of Natural Resource Management at Texas Tech where he leads extensive fieldwork with many of his undergraduate and graduate students.

Grisham teaches a field-based wildlife techniques course, which spends 17 days in the research facility capturing a wide variety of animals such as turkey, deer, and snakes.

Grisham’s style of teaching sets him apart from professors and engages his Texas Tech students.

“I’ll tell jokes in class; I will trip; I will make fun of myself. I like to open it up so that the students know that I’m human,” Grisham said.

Grisham hails from Black Oak, Arkansas, a quiet town with 200 people. He found his passion for the outdoors in his childhood. After attending graduate school at Louisiana State University, he began studying ground-nesting birds, which later brought him to Texas Tech.

Griffith_Birds
Blake Grisham, Ph.D., tags a Sandhill Crane with his students during spring break in Oregon. Image provided by Blake Grisham.

“There was a research opportunity with lesser prairie chickens in the southern High Plains,” Grisham said, “and that is why I am here, and that’s why I stayed.”

“We [Texas Tech] are the only University in the state that now has a completely field-based techniques class,” Grisham said.

I like to open it up so that the students know that I’m human.

Grisham’s passion for this course helps bring his students into an environment they are in control of and teach them hands-on field techniques.

“It gets them [students] to understand they are their own family,” Grisham said.

He enjoys teaching and helping students find their passion.

“Overall, the thing I enjoy most is all the students who now have meaningful careers,” Grisham said with a smile. “Those things stick with me.”

Grisham creates a lively environment in his classroom with his sense of humor and personality. Grisham enjoys making comical remarks and getting the class to join in on the fun.

“When I teach them how to use rocket nets with explosives in my wildlife techniques class, and see the looks on their faces, those are always memorable,” Grisham said.

  A student of his, Jane Donels, a senior at Texas Tech University from Dallas, Texas, had all positive things to say about Grisham.

“He is very intense and passionate,” Donels said. “He also admits to not knowing everything.”

Overall, Grisham is a fascinating and unique character who is living his dream every day. He started as a small-town kid, who now has many accomplishments furthering his career and helping his students follow their passions.

“I do not have a dream,” Grisham said. “I am living it out.”