by Lisa Massicotte
Award-winning Boston Globe Editor and columnist Derrick Jackson paid a visit to Central Connecticut last week.
Students lounged in the couches of the Marcus White Living Room Wednesday, April 20th to hear Jackson share his journey covering the Project Puffin.
Project Puffin is a 43-year-old initiative to restore puffin-bird populations to Eastern Egg Rock, which is one of their native habitats off the coast of Maine. The project is the world’s first successful attempt to restore any seabirds back to their native habitat and has been replicated by biologists around the globe.
“It’s impressive to listen to him talk and to see his passion,” said Galileo Sutherland-West, CCSU student. “He has a great pace of voice. He has the ‘Morgan Freeman’ quality of voice.”
Jackson, 60, discussed his book “Project Puffins: The Improbable Quest to Bring a Beloved Seabird Back to Egg Rock.”
He started by explaining how he got his foot in the door by covering football for the Wisconsin Associated Press.
“I got to cover every game at Lambeau Field for the Green Bay Packers. The only Eagles I’ve heard of played football in Philadelphia and the only Cardinals I’ve heard of played baseball in St. Louis,” said Jackson. “If you asked me 20, maybe even 10 years ago if I would write a book about puffins, I would of said you’re crazy.”
“He’s been with the project ever since the elevator left the ground,” said Geography Department Chair Dr. Richard Benfield.
The book will be celebrating its first anniversary after being published a year ago from tomorrow, April 28th.
Dr. Benfield said Jackson is, “Creating environmental awareness from a very famous and well-respected seasoned journalist in the fields of politics, environmental awareness, sports and current affairs.”
The future of journalism was also a topic of conversation. Jackson said nor him or the experts are exactly sure what is in store for the future, but he is adamant in his belief journalism will go forward as we move into the digital age.
“Despite all the turmoil in the industry, particularly on the print side, it’s still actually more vital today than ever,” said Jackson. “It’s why it’s in the constitution. It’s got it’s own separate pillar in the constitution under free speech.”
Students left Marcus White with a surplus of knowledge and perspectives.
“I didn’t really know anything about puffins before reading about Project Puffin, other than the fact they were cute little birds with big beaks,” said Jasmine Ruckey, CCSU student. “It was fascinating to hear about the whole process on how they got Egg Rock started, from trans-locating the eggs to setting up puffin figurines to get the adult puffins to return back to the location and it’s still amazing that this project continues, after 40 years.”
“CCSU should put on more of these events because even if it isn’t in your major. It gives you another perspective of the world and I think we all need that,” said Sutherland-West.
After all the trial and error and environmental obstacles, Jackson was proud to announce Project Puffin’s progress as of today, “In Maine they were down to its last two to four birds by 1902. Today, there are now 1100 [mating] pairs of puffins on the coast of Maine.”