Xavier Magazine

Of Einstein and Dinosaurs

More than a decade after retiring, biology teacher Jack Berninger is still teaching. He doesn’t know how to stop. If he isn’t offering a lecture or leading a nature hike in Ohio or Indiana, chances are, he’s doing it in the Florida Everglades.

He even spends his down time researching and preparing the topics for his next lessons. And the Xavier graduate who earned a bachelor’s in biology in 1964 and a master’s in education in 1966 does it all without charge. He received a 2012 Service Award for his work from the Indiana Audubon Society.

“I still love it, and I still say, even though I’ll be 73, I still get very excited and enthused about it,” Berninger says.

Brenda Brooks, executive director of the CREW land and water trust in Estero, Fla., calls Berninger and his wife, Elaine, a 1964 Edgecliff history graduate, a double blessing. The parents of five and grandparents of 15 almost always work together, “so when we get one, we get the other.”

Berninger’s presentations are about science, but the topics vary: “Man’s Search for Extraterrestrial Life” or “Understanding Einstein” and his theories of relativity. Then there’s the work he’s done about Cincinnati geology and the living versions of the paleo plants that the dinosaurs used to eat, which he highlighted last February on the Fern Fun Walk he led at the CREW Marsh hiking trails near Immokalee, Fla.

Berninger does extensive research on his topics, producing about two new lessons a year. “Science can be understood from a 5-year-old on up to an 85-year-old,” he says. “Understanding science is basically common sense you can learn, even difficult topics of science.”         

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