Get Tina Davies talking, and there’s no telling what you’ll learn. Before becoming a Mercer volunteer, this educator studied everything from mushroom taxonomy to music.
Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, Davies always had an interest in the natural world. After graduating from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in botany and liberal arts, Davies taught high school biology and physical science for two years before traveling to Michigan to earn a degree in mushroom taxonomy.
“I’ve always had an interest in mushrooms,” she says. “But it turned out that a master’s degree in fungi won’t take you very far in the corporate world, especially in Michigan!”
Washington, D.C., was the next stop, and Davies sought work at Hood College. Davies assured the administration with confidence that she could teach anything, and she ended up teaching Embryology and Comparative Anatomy for four years.
A turning point for Davies came when she met the man who would later become her husband. After giving her husband an Appalachian lap dulcimer as a wedding gift, the two bonded over their love of the instrument and eventually formed a band.
“We met another couple at a dulcimer festival, and now we perform as the Dulcimer Doins,” she says. “We’ve performed at the Jesse Jones Pioneer Festivals and for kindergartens and churches.”
Soon after marrying, Davies and her husband began traveling the world together, living in Jerusalem, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia before settling in Montgomery County.
“We purchased some acreage in Montgomery County, and I began teaching biology at the John Cooper School in The Woodlands,” she says. “I became the chair of the science department and was there for 17 years.”
After moving to Montgomery County, Davies took up an old hobby. An admitted insect enthusiast who likes spiders and snakes, Tina completed the Texas Master Naturalist Program and became a volunteer at the Mercer Botanical Center (MBC) at Mercer Botanic Gardens.
Today, Davies works to update the MBC’s herbarium database, a process that can be both painstaking and rewarding.
“Just getting the Latin names spelled correctly can be a challenge,” says Anita Tiller, Mercer botanist.
“Tina does an exceptional job not only capturing the information but carefully handling each specimen.”
The MBC has more than 55,000 plant specimens, each with its own unique species and family. Davies carefully transfers information from the specimen documents into the database, which takes great attention to detail. Although the process can be challenging, Davies is proud to help preserve scientific knowledge.
“Tina has a wealth of knowledge, is passionate about plant life, and is full of adventure and fun,” says Tiller. “We are incredibly blessed to have her at Mercer!”
Fun facts about Tina:
- She cringes at bad grammar. “I used to edit books in the Middle East.”
- Madame Alexander dolls are her favorite childhood toy.
- She enjoys Scottish dancing and would live in Britain if given the opportunity.
- If she were to pursue another career, she’d study molecular biology – genetics – using DNA sequencing for disease prevention and cures.