Let me begin by saying that I have been a fan of Jeff Corwin and his work since I was 13. I obsessively watched his shows, he became my Herpetology idol, and as a teenager I had the biggest crush on him of course :)
Fast forward to 2008. At 22 years old, I was still a huge fan, and had read his first book, Living on the Edge, so many times that the corners had started to wear down! When I heard that he was going to be doing a book-signing and presentation at the University of Missouri in Columbia, I knew I had to go. It just so happened that I had family in Columbia, and we arranged to fly up and stay with them. I was going to meet Jeff Corwin! I seriously can't even explain how ecstatic I was about the whole thing.
We arrived early enough to be near the very front of the book-signing line, and because I didn't want him to see how ragged my original four year old copy had become-I went ahead and bought a crisp brand new one. I got interviewed by a journalism student, and ended up in the photo they used for their paper! You can read the article HERE if you like! I have an incredibly embarrassing confession that I must share because it's part of the story. Myspace was my social media outlet of choice at that time, and if you remember-there was a place on there to mention "Who I'd Like To Meet"? I'm pretty sure mine always said "Jeff Corwin-I wanna have his babies". So immature, I know...but that's what it said. My sister forced me into the embarrassment of telling the journalism student that if I didn't tell him what it said-then she would. So I told him. Ughhh it was so embarrassing. He and the lady behind us in line had a good laugh at that one :)
When he finally came out to sit at the table he would be signing at, and I saw him...I got so nervous! I'm a very shy person to begin with, and you can only imagine how nervously excited I was to know that I would soon have to tell him hello and offer my book for signing. I just knew I'd make the situation socially awkward by stumbling over my words or saying something completely silly. But guess what...I handled it like a champ! Book in hand, I approached him with a handshake and a smile. I was even so bold as to ask him to sign it "Happy Herping"! If you knew me at the time...that was a major accomplishment for me. Speaking to strangers is something I've always had a difficult time with-so to ask my idol to sign a little something extra was a big deal for me haha! He was so nice and let my sister take a photo of us:
The journalism student that interviewed us before the book-signing was standing nearby and gave me a two thumbs up as I walked away from the table. I was so giddy for the rest of the day....scratch that....the rest of the week! We had lunch at Shakespeare's Pizza afterwards and then headed back to the University to take our seats for the Conservation presentation he was scheduled to give. Being in a University auditorium listening to a presentation given by someone I had admired for such a long time was icing on the cake. It was seriously one of the most exciting days ever. Both of my copies of Living on the Edge are kept side by side on a shelf in my room. The pair of them are one of my most cherished possessions :)