2015-08-19, Tim Wright, NMSU Biology

President Alex Keatts rang the bell at 12:10 pm to open the meeting.  Mary Ellen McKay gave the invocation inspired by Martin Rinkart’s prayer that he wrote in 1636 for his children – Now Thank We all Our God. Even though this prayer was written in 1636, it is still timely for us today.  President Keatts led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Denton Holmes led us in singing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.”

Visiting today were guests of Dinus Briggs and Richelle Ponder:  Glenn Duff (isn’t he a member yet?) and Amanda Cuba and Shelby Stuckel from Roadrunner Food Bank.  We also met Tom Lindsay from the Deming Rotary Club and our guest speaker, Tim Wright.

Our meet and greet mystery greeter was Judge Les Smith. 

President Alex got the meeting rolling by asking Richelle Ponder to present our “very large check” to the Roadrunner Food Bank.  Then we had our announcements and happy dollars.  Our next club social activity will be held August 28, 2015, at the Hotel Encanto and the Rotary International Student Picnic will be held on Sunday, September 27, 2015, at Preciado Park on the NMSU Campus.  See Cornell Menking about the picnic.

Also, don’t forget the Las Cruces Symphony Association’s POPS UNDER THE STARS outdoor concert on September 13, 2015, at NMSU’s Presley Askew Field and the March of Dimes’ High Heels for High Hope “Ponies for Premies” horseshoe tournament on September 19 at the Matt Young Blood Horsehoe Pits. Also coming up is the High Heels for High Hopes golf tournament.  Also, please get your tickets to NMSU’s first home football game of the season on September 12, 2015.  Tickets are still available (see Bill Harty).

Many Happy Dollars were collected!  Denton Holmes passed on a ‘Hi’ from Wanda Mattiace; Mel Parish donated in honor of the Don’t Meth with Us project; Jim Parks brought word from Ron Salak regarding Nadine’s surgery and rehabilitation;  Patty Groth brought word regarding her sister, Valerie Pickett’s prognosis; Lya Jordan announced that Patty Groth is the new Executive Secretary and she (Lya) is very happy to pass on the torch; Glenn Duff and Bobby Rankin had dueling Happy Dollars – Glenn is happy to see Dr. Rankin, former department chair of NMSU’s Animal and Range Sciences and Bobby is happy that Glenn is the recently appointed department head; David Yaryan contributed a happy dollar but this reporter failed to make a note of what it was for (sorry!); and, lastly, John Hernandez was might glad to be with us and Blaine Goss was mighty glad that John was with us.  

The Program-Tim Wright, NMSU Biology, “My Life as a Tropical Biologist”

Dr. Timothy F. Wright received his BA from Dartmouth College and Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego (go Tritons!). He is now a professor at NMSU’s Department of Biology specializing in Animal Behavior and Evolution.  Dr. Wright studies the genetic relationship of parrots and vocalization and appeared in the PBS documentary  entitled “Parrot Confidental” which aired in November 2013.  Dr. Wright served as a consultant and source on the project which was filmed in Costa Rica.

Dr. Wright shared the research from his years of studying Yellow-naped Amazon parrots and their complex language skills.  His work not only focuses on how the birds learn vocalization and use vocalization in the wild but also on how these vocalization skills evolve.  His work with Yellow-naped Amazon parrots has shown that even though these bird communities in Costa Rica have differing dialects depending upon location, the birds do not have any genetic differences.  They are the same species even though the “speak” different languages.

So what happened when the researchers relocated some birds from the south of Costa Rica to the north?  Some of these “southern” birds searched out and found other southern birds to hang-out with and their vocalizations were unaffected!  But some of these “southern” birds started to hang out with their northern counterparts and their vocalizations were affected!  (Apparently they became Yankees!)

But what are the benefits of studying the vocalization of these birds other than curiosity?  Parrots are a good model for adult human learning and how learning takes place.

You can find Dr. Wright’s research at biology-web.nmsu.edu/~twright/.  You can also find “Parrot Confidential” at www.pbs.org.

After The Program

The can collected a $77 for Mesilla Valley Hospice. Mel Parish won the raffle and donate the winnings to our Don’t Meth with Us project.  The meeting closed with the 4-way test.

<prior week   following week>

Guests of Rotarians



Glenn Duff

Dinus Briggs

Amanda Cuba

Richelle Ponder

Shelby Stuckel

Richelle Ponder

Visiting Rotarians


Home Club

Tom Lindsay


Student Guests-none for the summer





Richelle Ponder


Rio Grande

Earl Phillips


Rio Grande

Submitted by Kristi GranadosKristi Granados