Hi! I'm the Penguin Prof
Hello! I'm Valerie Pennington, Professor of Biology at Southwestern College (since 1996). I'm also a YouTuber and a dancer!
AND... I'm a penguin fanatic. It's not curable as far as I know. I was infected at the tender age of 5, when my parents took me to see penguins at a marine park and I was hooked. All I wanted to do was sit and watch the penguins - all day, every day (my folks got a season pass). I really cannot explain it, but penguins just made sense to me. And at the age of 5, there's not much in the world that makes sense, so you've just got to go with it when that happens.
Due to my penguin preoccupations, choosing a major in college wasn't exactly a challenge. I went to UC Santa Cruz for my undergraduate studies (go banana slugs!) and then went to grad school at the University of Hawaii (in Zoology) and had opportunities to work with penguins all over the world. I branched out a bit, worked with other amazing marine mammals and seabirds, but I kept going back to penguins. I studied diving physiology, reproductive endocrinology and did some work in conservation and seabird habitat restoration. Penguins got me to Antarctica (and islands of the Southern Ocean like South Georgia) as well as New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Chile and the Galapagos; there are 17 species of penguins all over the Southern Hemisphere, so it took awhile.
Being a biologist is fantastic because I have opportunities for traveling all over the world, and travel is one of the things in life I enjoy most. If you start asking me about my favorite places, I can go on forever... so I came up with a top 10 list (not in any particular order):
"You were born with wings."
YouTube and Online Ed
I've been on YouTube and teaching online since 2012. I'm a Distance Education mentor at my college and for 2 years during the pandemic, I worked in the Distance Ed / Online Learning Center as the "Teaching With Technology Faculty Coordinator," which was a complete deviation from my normal life -- but it was amazing. If you are an educator, check out my EdTech playlist!