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Survivor: Gabon winner to serve as next DLS speaker

The University of Maine at Presque Isle will welcome Bob Crowley – the South Portland native and retired high school physics teacher who won the 17th season of the hit reality show Survivor – as the next speaker in its 2011-2012 University Distinguished Lecturer Series.

Crowley, who, at 57, became the oldest winner in the show’s history, will speak on Winning with Attitude and Alliances at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 10 in the Campus Center. The public is invited to a reception to be held in his honor at 6 p.m. in the Alumni Room, as well as a book signing to be held immediately following his talk.

Crowley, a long-time educator and self-proclaimed eco-friendly outdoorsman, will discuss the importance of a life-long enthusiasm for learning and succeeding with the tools and resources around you. He also will talk about how his adventures out in the field and in the classroom – and the skills and techniques he developed there – helped him not only to do well on Survivor but also to enjoy many rich and rewarding life experiences.

Before winning Survivor: Gabon, Crowley had served in many adventurous capacities. He was a first mate on an archeological expedition for the Smithsonian Institution, a tree climber and forester, a skunk relocator, butterfly catcher, and lobsterman. As an entomologist for the USDA, he walked more than 100 islands off Maine’s coast, scouting out the Browntail Moth, while simultaneously coming across an Indian burial site. He also served as President, Vice President and Chief Negotiator for his local Teacher’s Union. He retired in 2009 after 25 years of teaching.

In 2008, he became a Survivor contestant. The ‘animated, bow-tie wearing physics teacher from Maine’ captured the hearts and minds of millions of weekly viewers by using his ingenuity, resourcefulness, wit and “nice” guy attributes to defeat contestants less than half his age. Though contestants were unable to bring gear or other utility items to Gabon, Africa, Crowley was able to use his handy man and logical thinking skills to make practical tools that helped make daily life more manageable for his tribe, thus earning him the nickname “Mr. Wizard.” From crafting spears for hunting, to making a sundial, to constructing a fake immunity idol, and winning five challenges, Crowley showed millions of viewers that age is only a frame of mind, and that you can thrive and survive with your surrounding resources.

In addition to taking home the Million Dollar prize, Crowley also won Fan Favorite. According to producers, he is one of the most likeable winners in the show’s history.

As an “eco-friendly outdoorsman,” Crowley has built numerous structures including wharfs, saunas, a chicken house and a summer cabin that sleeps 12, all completely from recycled materials. His cabin requires only a fraction of the energy used to supply the average U.S. home. Since a young age, he has looked to existing environmental resources to build and construct things.

Crowley earned his Associate’s and Bachelor’s degrees in Forestry from the University of Maine in Orono and a Master’s of Education degree from the University of Southern Maine.

The University’s Distinguished Lecturer Series was established in 1999. Each year, the UDLS Committee sponsors five to six speakers who come from Maine and beyond, representing a range of disciplines and viewpoints. While the emphasis tends to be on featuring visiting academics, it is not exclusively so. The speakers typically spend two days at the University meeting with classes and presenting a community lecture.

Following his talk, Crowley will sign copies of his book Making Waves: The Stories of Maine’s Bob Crowley. The public is invited to be a part of this free event. For more information, contact the University’s Community and Media Relations Office at 768-9452.