Each year the Friends of the Homer Public Library honor a community member who has made a lifelong commitment to acquiring an exceptional skill or knowledge—a person who is always trying something new and sharing what they have found with others and who has an infectious passion for learning and exploration.
Lee Post is the 2018 Celebration of Lifelong Learning Award winner. As a bookseller, bike mechanic, teacher, and naturalist, Post embodies what it means to be driven by curiosity. Though he has had a variety of roles in the community, it is his passion for bones, specifically whale bones, that has dominated his intellectual pursuits. On his website Post writes: “As a kid I was a junkie, a natural history junkie. I was passionate about the natural world and couldn’t get enough of it. I collected everything related to that world I could get my hands on—bugs, birds, feathers, shells, butterflies, and especially bones. These were labeled and displayed on the walls of my room until it looked like the aftermath of a bomb going off in a natural history museum storage room.”
Post’s love of the natural world morphed into a deep study of whale bones as an adult. He moved to Homer in the late 1970s and, in addition to working at the local bookstore, began volunteering at the Pratt Museum, where he helped staff put together whale bones. Through tinkering, exploration, and connecting with artists and scientists, he became an expert. Betsy Webb, former curator of Collections at the Pratt Museum, nominated Post and writes: “He is one of only a handful of accomplished skeleton articulation experts in the country and has marshaled his various interests into a one-of-a-kind series of beautifully and intricately illustrated manuals on skeleton articulation…. Museum professionals and educators around the world depend on these manuals; they have revitalized this obscure art.”
Post is well known for sharing his passion for bones with others. In a separate nomination, local author Nancy Lord describes how Post worked with students to assemble the sperm whaleat Homer High School, and most recently, as a teacher at Kachemak Bay Campus, led students and community members in putting together a sea lion. He also teaches scientific illustration at the college. Lord writes “Lee is the person to go to for identification of any kind of bone.” He has travelled throughout the country sharing his knowledge with others.
This year’s Youth Learner Award goes to Ben Kettle, nominated by Sean Campbell. Campbell writes of Kettle: “A quick perusal of Ben’s resume illustrates his enthusiasm for science and technology. He has taught himself, programming, website design and HTML to name a few. It is this sense of teaching himself that truly impresses me. Ben loves to learn. He consistently seeks out opportunities based upon his interests.” An avid learner who enjoys taking on the challenge of acquiring new skills and knowledge, Ben Kettle exemplifies the spirit of the Youth Learner Award.
Celebration of Lifelong Learning is the biggest fundraiser for Friends of the Homer Library. This year the keynote speaker is Michael Carey, a columnist for the Alaska Dispatch News and former editorial page editor for the Anchorage Daily News.
We will have great food by Chef Maura Brenin, Spit City Slickers will play live music, and The Trivia Tree will be adorned with questions!