Down Country Roads May June 2018 DCR MayJune 2018 web - Page 41

broken Kyptoceras skull — a new species and new genus to science. I t was the most exciting fossil and most bizarre crea- ture he had found to that date and was a truly emotional expe- rience. Garcia’s passion for fossil hunting is infectious. He contin- ues to speak about his favorite subject wherever he goes. He is truly an ambassador for fossil hunting, saying, “Hunting fos- sils is very exciting because you don’t know what you’re going to get. You don’t know what you’re going to find; you don’t know what you’re going to see. Discovery is what life is all about, and fossils are definitely time travelers. They have a message to tell. And the message they really have to tell is ba- sically for us to open our eyes and observe the things around us more closely.” As a paleontologist who holds no degrees, Garcia has accu- mulated impressive finds after impressive finds, discovering 30 previously unknown species of prehistoric creatures in Florida. School was a tough sell to him when he was little. He said, “I didn’t study much in school because I hated school. School bored me.” That all changed when he entered the fourth grade and had a teacher who saw what others failed to see. Clara Nuccio was that teacher. During a parent/teacher conference, she exclaimed to his parents what she thought of young Frank, saying, “I think this boy is a very special and brilliant boy.” He said during that special year with Nuccio he gained enough self-confidence to last a lifetime. Garcia’s father was harder to convince. A World War II vet described as a hard man, he never let his son feel love or ac- ceptance. Before that meeting with Nuccio, his father believed Garcia was perhaps mentally challenged. Today the term used might be Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Yes, Garcia was bored with school. He was more interested in harnessing the power of magnets — understanding this force he could not see — and possibly using that force to someday move heavy objects like planes and cars. What the other chil- dren were doing in school did not excite him. He had a unique and brilliant mind that could not comprehend doing rote work like the others. He simply had to be himself. Despite the lack of warmth and acceptance from his father, DOWN COUNTRY ROADS 41