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The Pivotal Role of Teachers with Dr. Nick Fuhrman (ep. 654)

Dr. Nick Fuhrman aka Ranger Nick

John O’Leary welcomes Nick Fuhrman to the Live Inspired Podcast to remind us the pivotal role teachers play and how we hold the power within to create meaningful change in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Dr. Nick Fuhrman, also known as Ranger Nick, is an Environmental Education professor at University of Georgia. Often recognized for his engaging and informative presentations, Nick blends humor with educational content to connect with audiences of all ages.

Today, Nick shares how he earned his nickname “Ranger Nick”, how it led him to find his calling to educate and how his unconventional yet profound approach helps students build essential skills and overcome anxiety. Throughout, Nick reminds us of the pivotal role that exceptional teachers play as mentors, role models, and champions in all our lives.

My friends, prepare to be captivated by Nick’s contagious enthusiasm, unwavering passion, and genuine warmth as he reminds us that we harness the power within to create meaningful change in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

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  • Even as a child, Nick found that he belonged in front of an audience teaching.
  • Becoming Ranger Nick: After Ranger Bill came into his classroom with injured animals to “edu-tain”, 7-year-old Nick knew what he wanted to do with his life.
  • As a Master’s student, Nick was a teaching assistant in dendrology and enjoyed being able to mentor students and watch them grow.
  • For his dissertation, Nick made presentations with live birds of prey that were injured, uninjured and photographs. Nick learned that the audience formed the most emotional connection with the injured group, yet surprisingly the group that recalled the most information was the group that only saw photographs.
  • TA Sharon the box turtle: As a professor at University of Georgia, Nick teaches a class called Teaching with Animals which is more about helping students develop oral communication skills and overcome speaking anxiety.
  • “In life, have a plan but don’t be so tied to it, that you can’t capitalize on a teachable moment when it happens.”
  • In his TED Talk, Nick shares what great teachers impart, what they are, how they show up and they utilize teachable moments. Watch Dr. Nick Fuhrman’s Ted Talk here.
  • “Great teachers appreciate differences.”
  • Nick shares that the best thing he’s done in his career is partner with an organization called Extra Special People, where his students team up with a person with disabilities.
  • ExSHELLent Work and Owl-standing Job! Regardless of if you’re a freshman or earning your PhD., scoring above a 90% on an assignment earns you a special stamp, and it’s become important to Nick’s students.
  • “Sometimes, you don’t realize the difference you’re making right away.”

Did you enjoy today’s episode? 

You’ll enjoy my conversation with Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Jarrett is a New York Times bestselling author/illustrator behind more than forty books for young readers. Hear how drawing and writing stories served as a lifetime while growing up with a mother suffering from opioid addiction and the powerful role teachers played in shaping his life. Listen to Jarrett J. Krosoczka on ep. 318.


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  1. Q. What is the best book you’ve ever read?
    A. Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv.
  2. Q. What is a characteristic or trait that you possessed as a child that you wish you still exhibited today?
    A. Wearing my Ranger Nick uniform. It gave me creditability!
  3. Q. Your house is on fire, all living things and people are out. You have the opportunity to run in and grab one item. What would it be?
    A. Pictures of my great grandmother and the original leather glove from when I was Little Ranger Nick.
  4. Q. You are sitting on a bench overlooking a gorgeous beach. You have the opportunity to have a long conversation with anyone living or dead. Who would it be?
    A. Steve Irwin.
  5. Q. What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
    A. Keep the main thing the main thing.
  6. Q. What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
    A. You can make a difference going back to Maryland and doing the Ranger Nick thing but look at the difference you can make if you didn't hesitate to go to grad school and become a teacher, a professor, where your difference can be multiplied.
  7. Q. It’s been said that all great people can have their lives summed up in one sentence. How do you want yours to read?
    A. I'm Ranger Nick reminding you that enthusiasm is contagious, so pass it on.