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 that is always trying something new and sharing what they have found with others and who has an infectious passion for learning and exploration. Flo Larson has been selected for the 2019 Lifelong Learner Award. Nominated by Joy Stewart, Flo Larson has dedicated her life to learning about other cultures, travel, teaching, and her community. She grew up in North Dakota in a family of 11 children, and attended a one-room school until high school. As a girl, she dreamed of travelling the world. She and her late husband, Peter Larson, moved to Alaska as educators in 1969. A former math teacher, Larson writes “The capacity of the human brain is a thing of wonder, its elasticity—it is important to understand that what works for one student may not work for another.” Over the years Larson has hosted exchange students and other travelers. She also taught mathematics in Jakarta, Singapore and Kuantan, Malaysia over the course of six years. Larson writes of the experience, “I learned how small the world is and how we need the same things—love, simple comforts, and the need to be recognized for who we are.”
Theo Castellani has been selected for the 2019 Youth Learner Award. He is enamored with the study of life and biological sciences and plans to study biochemistry and ecology as an undergraduate. He says, “I tend to take a lot of joy out of learning just about anything; I always have.” Eventually Castellani would like to work in the field of genetic engineering. He says “I know technology could be used for more profound good without dealing as much damage to the surrounding environment as certain practices do now.” He is also a competitive swimmer and a member of the Drama, Debate, and Forensics Team at Homer High School. Sean Campbell, his high school English teacher, describes him as having an “infectious desire to learn”.
Celebration of Lifelong Learning is an annual fundraiser for Friends of the Homer Library, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide volunteer support for library programs and services, to raise funds that enrich the library experience and to promote the use and enjoyment of the Library. The keynote speaker in 2019 was Don Rearden, author of the critically acclaimed novel The Raven’s Gift.