Faculty & Staff

Progress | February 2010

February 2010

By Eirene-gin Nakamura and Larry Pena

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Imagine a warm sunny day in Angwin. You’re out in your yard catching some rays while you work in your garden, when suddenly in the tall grass in the corner of the yard you hear a rustle, a sinister hiss, and a buzzing rattle. Your body twitches back in fear—a fear that’s confirmed as you catch a glimpse of serpentine scales sliding just a few feet away. And the goose bumps rise as you realize that you’re within striking distance of the most feared fangs in the western United States.

It’s a good thing you know Chuck Evans.

The associate professor of exercise science, health, and nutrition has been wrangling rattlesnakes as a hobby since he was a boy growing up in Placerville. Working with his father, a construction contractor, Chuck encountered them extensively during the 1960s, when a building boom in El Dorado County frequently displaced the snakes from their habitats. “We’d find them all the time, on the lumber.”

With a friend, Chuck began eliminating the snakes from the construction sites —permanently. That was until they discovered that the University of California, Davis, only an hour away, paid cash for live rattlesnakes with good reserves of extractable venom. Suddenly he had a second job—as a snake bounty hunter. “We would take five or six snakes in a two-week period,” he says. “Made pretty good money.”

But soon it was about more than that. “It became sort of a challenge, an adrenaline rush — I started going out looking for them, for sport,” he says. “You’re playing with danger. You’re playing with something that can do you some significant damage. When I catch one for a couple of hours afterward I just feel like I’ve had too many cups of coffee.”

When he came to PUC, he would take the long way back from dates with his future wife on Old Howell Mountain Road, just so he could stop for a quick hunt on the way home. Word got around Angwin that there was a snake hunter on campus. “I would start getting called by faculty who would find snakes around their residence.”

That role is the one that he’s maintained from his years as a student to his current faculty post. “I did it for money, I did it for sport — now I do it for people’s protection,” he says. He now uses an arsenal of homemade gear to protect him on the hunt. One device was inspired by an episode of the show Wild Kingdom: a lasso threaded through a length of PVC pipe, which can noose a snake while reducing the danger of a bite. He also has a pair of metal boot sleeves to protect his legs — the area most vulnerable to a surprise snake attack.

While Chuck refrains from killing the animals as often as possible, his role as protector sometimes makes it necessary. “This summer I killed three snakes at faculty homes," he says. “If I find them in a house, I kill them. Snakes are very territorial, so if you get one against the front door it’s just gonna stay there. That’s when we kill them. I never kill for sport.”

With all this interaction over the years, Chuck has figured out a few tips on how to deal with rattlesnakes — if you don’t happen to be an experienced snake wrangler. “They strike when they’re in fear of their life or when they’re ready to eat,” he says. “It’s a myth that rattlesnakes sit and wait for humans — they’d rather not strike. When they get all coiled up and buzz, they’re just trying to warn you.” His best advice? “Leave ‘em alone.”

Strange advice coming from the man who goes out looking for them as a hobby. But when you’ve found your passion, or your calling, it’s hard to stay away despite the danger. Besides, for Chuck, there’s not really that much risk. “Other than that you can die from them,” he says, “they’re really not that dangerous.”

Colleagues & Departments

Church
Jason Decena, an '02 grad, will join the pastoral staff this month to work with youth and worship ministries. He comes from Escondido with his wife, Heidi (an '02 and '04 grad) and their two young sons.

Counseling Center
The Career and Counseling Center is pleased to announce their new Career Counselor, Laura Gore, an '08 grad. Laura has an MSW from Walla Walla and has a variety of experience with coordination, as well as training in counseling. Look for upcoming dates on Resume Workshops, Interview Workshops, and an Internship fair.

English
Mei Ann Teo has been busy abroad, lecturing about Red Books and documentary theatre at Jinggangshan University in China, teaching over 100 students at a middle school and a high school in Ji'an, and screening her short film and clips of a documentary at a screening of the Documentary Participatory Center. The Lyrics from Lockdown show that she and Bryonn Bain took to the M1 Singapore Fringe Festival was sold out; and she also produced performances for 1400 students at Anderson Secondary School and trained CARE Singapore youth workers and over 80 teachers.

Music
In January the music department began outfitting a new computer lab for music synthesis and recording. It features four new computers, each with their own midi controller (a piano-like keyboard), cubase software, microphones and mixing boards. Asher Raboy explains that the lab will allow students to learn music technology through courses offered by the music department, will be a resource for composers and orchestrators who wish to create music electronically, and is a tool that can be used for enhancing church services, composing film scores, producing PSAs and a host of other applications.