Congratulations to Dusty Perkins, College of Western Idaho’s (CWI) Faculty of Distinction for April 2021. Perkins is an Associate Professor of Biology and has been teaching at the College for 12 years.
A native Idahoan, Perkins earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at Boise State University in 2002. He then remained at Boise State where he completed his Master of Science in Raptor Biology with an emphasis on Population Genetics, Conservation Biology, and Ecosystem Dynamics in 2006.
“I grew up far out in the country on a 100-acre cherry orchard,” Perkins shared. “Being outside and connected to nature was a first language for me. In fourth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Sally Graff, introduced me and my classmates to birds of prey, and I was immediately hooked and decided I wanted to study and protect birds of prey and their habitats.”
Beginning his teaching career at CWI in 2010, his courses focus on biology and natural resources. Among his many accomplishments at the College include conceiving and installing the College’s Native Plant Garden, located near the east entrance of the Nampa Campus Academic Building, in 2012.
“The Biology and Horticulture clubs received plant materials donations from two native plant Nurseries – Draggin’ Wing High Desert Nursery and Conservation Seeding and Restoration Inc. Many students participated in the installation event, and we have had many annual events since related to the garden including maintenance, native seed collection workshops, pollinator education, and native plant sales.”
While Perkins enjoys many things about teaching, his top moments have been found in watching his students grow and be able to demonstrate their technical and science communication skills.
“It’s those moments where you can see a student has truly grasped a skill and is using it to convey meaning. Watching students make connections within their fields and take initiative to engage, network, and grow into new academic and professional opportunities is also a tremendous joy.”
“Dusty has gone above and beyond to find and provide opportunities for students,” said Stephanie Sevigny, Adjunct Physics Faculty. “He serves as a mentor for his own research as well as being involved in multiple other research programs at CWI and partner universities. He founded the Math and Science Hub (MASH) to inform students of research opportunities, internships, and jobs. He is a supportive colleague always available to help me plan, brainstorm, troubleshoot, and deploy any project I have approached him about.”
“Thank you for being such a healthy influence – not only to me but to many students at CWI,” said student, Alexis Ledford. “You are kind and always available for those in need, but most importantly you care. I know I am not the only student you have impacted in such a way, and on the behalf of all of us, thank you!”
Preparing for his departure from the College at the end of Spring 2021 semester, Perkins is planning to join the Idaho Chapter of The Nature Conservancy in June as their Land Stewardship Manager.
“This has been a dream of mine for years, and so many things have come into alignment to make the move,” he said. “This new position gives me an opportunity to play a more active role in conservation and to build on the skills I developed in my time at CWI. It also provides much more outside time on the land and under the sky; which I’m looking forward to.”
“I have been so grateful to work with many caring, authentic, and dedicated folks that make CWI the place that it is during my time here," he continued. "Thanks for your camaraderie and partnership that made our efforts and interactions meaningful. I’m certainly sad to leave CWI and transition projects, partnerships, and connections to great folks both inside and outside of the College.”
Perkins lives in Eagle, Idaho, with his wife, sons, and dog. He enjoys being in nature, gardening, and developing habitats for native pollinators.