Longtime Columbus State University biologist George Stanton is retiring, again.
Having retired four years ago before serving the past 13 months ago as interim director of the Oxbow Meadows Environmental Learning Center, Stanton now can relax, and focus more on teaching classes part-time while a new and permanent Oxbow director takes over.
The director’s job now goes to Mike Dentzau, who is leaving the Florida coast on a journey upriver to the Fall Line at Columbus.
Dentzau directed the Florida State University Department of Biological Sciences Sea-to-See Program, for which he introduced elementary school students to ocean species with “touch-tanks” he took to schools, using the novelty of handling marine species to convey lessons tied to specific science education goals.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Hackensack, N.J., a master’s from Texas A&M, and a doctorate from Florida State. But he did not go for the doctorate until after he got varied experience working in the field.
According to an announcement of his appointment from Columbus State, Dentzau has been with Florida State since 2010. Before that he served as president of an environmental services company that conducted wetland evaluations, site assessments, endangered species reviews, habitat restoration and regulatory guidance.
His two decades of experience include his serving as an environmental manager with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
Stanton said that broad experience makes him a good fit for the top job at Oxbow, where the director must deal with both science and education faculty, the Columbus Water Works that partners with CSU to support the center’s mission, and with the public, especially the young parents who flock to Oxbow programs with their elementary-school age children.
“What Oxbow is having its greatest success doing right now is meeting that age population,” said Stanton. “The young mothers and the little kids, they really come out in force and support us.”
Dentzau has been operating a summer camp emphasizing science education and asked to finish that project this year before coming to Oxbow, where he’s to start work Monday.
“He asked not to begin work until next week, so he could finish up his commitment to that camp this summer, which is the kind of behavior I look for,” said Stanton, who served on a search committee to pick a new director. “I don’t hold that against a candidate for a position at all, when he wants to complete his obligations to his former affiliation.”
Stanton said Dentzau made an impressive presentation to faculty that proved he could meld the fields of science and education and address either with equal proficiency.
“He can speak the language of the educators. They understood and were impressed with what he had accomplished,” Stanton said. “He could also speak the language of the scientists to the scientists.”
Dentzau’s experience running a business and dealing with government regulation gives him a suitable background for working with Oxbow Meadows partners such as the Columbus Water Works, Stanton said.
Dentzau takes over Oxbow after its recent expansion that added new and updated facilities and promoted programs that are popular with the public, such as its annual Insectival and Reptile Fest.
“He’s got a big challenge ahead of him,” Stanton said of Dentzau. “But there’s a nice resource to work with there now. It’s not like it was when nobody had heard of us and we didn’t have a track record. Oxbow has a track record now.”
Dentzau could not immediately be reached for comment Saturday.