Lisa:Could you tell a little about yourself? Where you grew up, how you started writing?
Barbara:I was born in New York City, spent some growing up years in Columbia, Missouri, then my family moved to East Lansing, Michigan when I was 10. After high school I graduated from Michigan State University with a major in English. I always liked to write. I became an English major after taking a poetry class at Michigan State from the Poet Laureate of Canada, A.J.M. Smith. I have taken many post graduate courses in outdoor education, art, photography, and I have studied writing with Wm. Stafford, Robert Bly, Nancy Willard, N. Scott Momaday and many other notable writers.
Lisa:Why did you write The Dynamic Great Lakes?
Barbara:I could not find an up to date book on the five Great Lakes and their connecting waters, dunes, wetlands and other features. I could not find any book for the general public about the interconnected Great Lakes. So I wrote one.
Lisa:Who were your mentors?
Barbara:My first mentor was my father, E. P. Reineke, a research scientist at M.S.U. in the physiology dept. He did some important original research there. I learned to love and appreciate nature from him. My husband, Norm Spring has been a long time outdoorsman and conservationist. I have learned a great deal about nature and the democratic process from him.
Lisa:What are some books that have changed your life?Barbara:Silent Spring by Rachel Carson opened my eyes to what we are doing to the environment. After reading the book and recommending it to my husband, we both became activists on behalf of the environment before the first Earth Day in 1970. I also loved A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold. I required my students to read it when I taught writing classes at Grand Valley State University.
Lisa:Who do you think would enjoy reading this book?
Barbara:I wrote The Dynamic Great Lakes for a general audience. I spoke to school children this week. I opened my talk with a space photo of Planet Earth and explained that the water they saw was 98% salt water-only about 2% is freshwater. "Dang!" said a kid in surprise. The audience for my book is really adults, but school age kids will find it interesting, too.