Lifelong Scholar Society

Florida Tech’s Lifelong Scholar Society is a community of curious minds who are passionate about sharing knowledge. Throughout the year, the society hosts a series of lectures. Topics range from historical writers and contemporary art to the Florida habitat, space exploration, and more. Join us and become part of a world of exciting people!

 Thursday, April 6, 6 PM EDT

The Bucktail in Florida: A Tiny Rushton Canoe’s Journey Through Time
by Dr. Michael Grace

Florida Tech’s Center for Aeronautics and Innovation
1050 W NASA Blvd
Melbourne, FL 32901

In 1884, a depressed, cold, and city-weary George Washington Sears set out from his Pennsylvania home for a true adventure in the wilds of Florida. He brought his beloved Bucktail canoe, built by the already-famous J. Henry Rushton of Canton, New York. Sears, pen-named Nessmuk, was the most famous outdoor writer of his day, and his 1885 series of articles entitled “The Bucktail in Florida” made him and Rushton even more celebrated than ever. A few years ago, more than a century after Nessmuk’s subtropical adventure, Dr. Grace found a small wooden canoe and quickly realized its historical significance. Located near the site of Nessmuk’s travels, after restoring it, Michael took it back to the very same places Nessmuk paddled so long ago. This presentation will be a photographic journey through this little canoe’s long history and a stirring biography of Nessmuk, Rushton, and those around them.

Since 1999, Dr. Michael Grace has served as faculty in Biological Sciences and as an administrator for the College of Science and then the College of Engineering and Science. A behavioral neuroscientist, his work has centered on vision and related sensory systems in whales, snakes, giant marine fish, and other fascinating animals with the goals of understanding the cellular and molecular mechanisms of vision and developing “biomimetic” artificial sensors. Dr. Grace also built and ran Florida Tech’s High-Resolution Microscopy Center. Away from campus, he has been a lifelong outdoorsman and collector and restorer of historic small boats. Widely published on the history of wooden boats, he currently serves as President of the international Wooden Canoe Heritage Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and study of wooden boat history.



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