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Missouri Teacher of the Year Named, Overcomes Shocking Past!

Danielle S

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The next time that you see someone on the street, you might want to think twice before judging them as they appear! Everyone has a history and that includes the people that raise our children. Darrion Cockrell was just a teacher at Crestwood Elementary located in St. Louis in the Lindbergh School District when he got the news. He had been named Missouri’s Teacher of the Year, revered by faculty and students alike. Known as ‘Mr. DC’ around campus, Darrion Cockrell himself could not believe how much his life had changed since his childhood.

Let’s take a moment to get to know Mr. DC, 2021 Teacher of the Year and former Six-deuce-87 Kitchen Crip Gangster.

A glance at Darrion’s backstory would reveal something all too familiar, people getting caught up in the cycle of poverty, addiction, and the violence that it can cause. Darrion said of his childhood that he was born to a ‘drug-addicted mother’ who had two children by the age of 16. Darrion’s father was murdered on the streets when Darrion had only been four. A few years later, Caldwell would find himself beginning a cycle of entering and exiting the foster care system.

Throughout his tough childhood, the young Caldwell had few places to find solace and comfort. One place that DC felt heard and listened to was in school where he was taught by amazing educators. Darrion has since admitted that, without those good teachers in his life, he would “not be here today.”

By the age of ten, Caldwell had already joined his first gang, this one in St. Louis. Caldwell described the act as ‘normal’ and that it had almost been expected of him. Caldwell went on to point out that most of his friends were already ‘dead or in jail’ by that age and that he was destined to end up just like them. It would take two P.E. teachers to help Caldwell change his direction in life. Caldwell pointed to gym class as a place where he felt ‘allowed’ to be a kid.

Other stories from Caldwell’s past had him living at a boy’s home near his school where a kind social worker named Ken helped to look after him, simultaneously teaching him that it was okay to be tough and compassionate. Caldwell has since called Ken ‘a father figure’. The Missouri Teacher of the Year would go on to explain that he didn’t feel like another ‘Michael Oher’ but that he did have dreams and growing up the way he did would help to accommodate and adjust those dreams.

Caldwell, who once dreamed of a career in the NFL, would go on to adopt a child. In doing so Caldwell would say, “I changed the way I looked at things and the things around me started to change.” Now, Caldwell is trying to share those same lessons with the next generation of kids who need help from a teacher that cares.

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A Blood-Clotting Gel Created from Deadly Snake Venom

Sarrah M

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Biology has advanced well beyond just the study of nature and its huge portfolio of animals and plants. Now, another driving demand for research involves finding ways to utilize natural products for medicine and body care as well. One of the latest products now starting to come through development is a natural gel that helps stop serious bleeding, a serious cure for folks who are anemic or badly injured.

Researchers based in programs of study in Australia created a new gel that literally helps blood clot in under 60 seconds. The University of Queensland research has ground-breaking promise, especially in the world of trauma, where paramedics have to act quickly to help prevent a patient from bleeding out on the way to the hospital from serious injuries. The key ingredient for the new gel comes from Australia’s own biological contribution, the eastern brown snake. This particular creature is unique to the southern hemisphere. However, the product also needs the venom from the saw-scaled viper, found in Africa as well as Asia. Mixed together correctly, the snake venom protein elements work together on blood, creating a bonding sealant.

The creation of the blood-clotting gel is a game-changer. More than one out of three bad trauma cases that end in mortality happen due to bleeding out. There simply isn’t enough time to stop the wound before the patient expires. In combat zones, the need is extreme. Tourniquets slow things partially to minutes, but patients are still lost at a high rate from blood loss and shock. Bandages do nothing to help blood clots to stop the flow. They just absorb it and block the flow until saturated. The body itself is the primary blockage if it can have enough leverage to clot. If the body can get the valuable time, it can form a fibrous clot at the point of loss, and healing can begin within hours.

The pairing of the snake venoms is both amazing as well as intentional. One helps the blood clot and plug up when applied. The other bonds and strengthens the clot material, making it stronger and able to withstand internal pressure versus breaking again. Both are critical to stopping a massive blood loss wound like that in an artery.

Normally, such snake venom injected into the body by a snake would be harmful, even deadly. Local tissue starts to immediately starve and swell from clotting and blood circulation loss, which can become critical with a snake bite. The difference between the gel versus a snakebit is the degree of application. The gel is a far smaller amount of both snakes’ venoms, which doesn’t inhibit the patient’s circulation.

The speed of assistance is amazing. In tests on lab animals, gel-assisted clots formed solid in about a minute. Normal blood clotting could take as long as eight minutes. Most people will bleed out in less than three for comparison. More notably, the gel worked even when being applied to blood that had common blood thinner chemicals mixed in.

While not available on the direct market due to required medical product testing, many expect that Queensland’s creation will be a huge help in the medical world, and its approval is just a matter of time. The application potential is multiple, ranging from lacerations to serious burns and bodily trauma, and the publication of the tests so far is raising eyebrows and interest worldwide.

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Texas Beach Sees Nearly 50 Endangered Sea Turtles Hatch Here

Sarrah M

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On the sands of Magnolia Beach, Calhoun County, Texas, a conservation success was hatched on Monday. Turtles successfully returned to the water after discovering a sea turtle nest with roughly 45 hatching Kemp’s Ridley eggs.

Pamela Plotkin, director of Texas Sea Grant and a sea turtle expert, said, “This has never happened in modern times.” “Sea turtles usually lay their eggs on barrier island beaches in Texas, so seeing one on a beach inside a bay is unusual.” Because there are several miles of undeveloped bay shoreline along Texas’ coast, it’s probable that sea turtle breeding is more common and unnoticed.”

The period following hatching is a battle for survival for sea turtles. Hatchlings must dash from their sand nests to the water in their initial minutes of life, evading predators, poaching, pollution, and other dangers.

Conservationist assistance can be important because eggs left on the sand have just a 45 percent chance of hatching.

These turtles that were hatching on Magnolia Beach, fortunately, got some assistance.

The turtles were discovered by Calhoun County Precinct 1 Commissioner’s Office maintenance employees. Zach Padron and Jason Gonzalez were picking up garbage on the beach when they discovered about 25 hatching turtles traveling in the wrong direction.

Padron recalled learning about hatching sea turtles being threatened by predators such as seagulls from nature television programs. “I thought to myself, ‘We should help them because it’s a good path to the water,'” he explained.

Shelly started excavating the turtle nest as soon as she arrived, with the help of Plotkin. He discovered several sea turtles that required assistance escaping the nest. Another 20 turtles were discovered. “We witnessed more and more turtles begin to dig their way out as we started excavating,” Shelly added.

These turtles came within 10 feet of the road, necessitating constant supervision. The hatching process was overseen by Shelly and others, who ensured the turtles’ safe release into Matagorda Bay.

Texas’ official state marine turtle is the Kemp’s ridley, which is severely endangered. Scientists, resource managers, conservationists, and others have worked for decades to help the species recover.

These conservation initiatives in Matagorda Bay have been continuing for some time, and include a recent evaluation funded by the Texas Comptroller’s Office. Plotkin and her team used acoustic tracking to follow turtles in the area as part of the assessment.

Plotkin stated, “Matagorda Bay is today a dynamic, healthy ecology with an abundance of sea turtles that live and feed there.” “There had been a marketable sea turtle fishery utilizing the area in the late 1800s that destroyed the sea turtle population in the region by the start of the 20th century.” Sea turtle recovery is now observable in Matagorda Bay, demonstrating how reduced fishing pressure combined with habitat restoration can help rescue threatened and endangered species.”

The hatching takes place at a unique time. Sea Turtle Week, which runs from June 8 to 16, is a globally recognized week dedicated to celebrating sea turtles and raising awareness about the risks they face.

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Pebbles Takes Over Title of Oldest Dog Ever

Amanda J

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With the Internet digging up the latest accomplishments, the oldest human gets identified every year. However, for 2022, the new age crown goes to the dogs, literally. Pebbles took the top honors for being the oldest dog living on the planet, removing the title from another canine that had just been crowned only a few months earlier. Fame is a fickle thing.

A toy fox terrier by breed, Pebbles is not a big dog, which does go in her favor. Big dogs have, in general, very short lives. Pebbles, on the other hand, has reached an astronomical 22 years (which probably equates to about 154 human years, give or take about 5). That allowed Pebbles to cleanly knock out TobyKeith, the previously oldest dog at a hefty 21 years old. The prior contender, a chihuahua, could likely claim the warm weather of Florida as his secret for longevity. However, Pebbles knocked that advantage out of the water with a similar locale in South Carolina.

The above said, the real reason Pebbles came to light was because her owners, Bobby and Julia Gregory, picked up on TobyKeith’s fame and decided they could do one better, highlighting Pebbles’ age. Sure enough, they reached out and applied to the Guinness World Records website, who then set about validating the claim. Getting the recognition to at least be seriously considered was already a big leap for Bobby and Julia. However, when it turned out that Pebbles was indeed validated as the oldest and would claim the title, the fireworks went off.

Pebbles wasn’t exactly the first choice; when the Gregorys first went looking for a dog, they were expecting to come home with something a lot bigger. However, as it turned out, Pebbles was making such a racket when the dog met them, the Gregorys decided on the small terrier instead. Instant love would probably be going a little too far, but it was pretty close, pretty darn close.

For the public statement, it was a nice touch for the Gregorys to describe Pebbles as ruling the roost, but at 22, the dog is generally just focused on eating, sleeping and getting lots of pets the hour or two she’s awake. And, according to her human owners, Pebbles is a big fan of country music as well. For her record-breaking birthday, Pebbles got a special dog dinner or ribs as well as a bubble bath. A few online readers were jealous.

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Lake Tahoe Trash Cleanup, Jumbo-Style (25K Pounds!)

Danielle S

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In the category of old, Lake Tahoe is easily situated in the “ancient” category. As one of the few alpine lakes in the United States, the crystal blue basin is a tourist gem and ecological treasure for both California and Nevada states. It is also filtered so well by the mountains and the natural drainage that water suppliers don’t have to apply additional cleaning to use it. In fact, the purity is so high, it rates a 99.994 percent quality level, something generally unheard of in natural water anywhere else in nature.

The above said, modern living continues to find ways to pollute things. And Lake Tahoe is not an exception. In fact, an unacceptable amount of junk and debris is making its way to the lake floor, being deposited in the water by boating activity, shoreline laziness, and animals dragging things off looking for food and then discarding the material. Eventually sinking to the bottom of the lake, enough of it exists to have prompted a major cleanup along the 25 foot rim of the lake underwater.

Utilizing scuba teams and paid for by a non-profit, a record 25,281 pounds of garbage were picked up and pulled out of the lake waters. Not all of it was trash; a few engagement rings were picked up as well. However, the greater assortment was lost items such as cameras, boat debris, wallets and keys dropped by accident, and a whole lot of plastic bottles (which, fortunately, can be recycled and put back to use). Clean Up the Lake reported that they ran a trailer full of trash and debris out of the Lake area every two to three days for an 80-day period. Other garbage included tires, sunglasses, soda cans and at least 125 lost boat anchors.

The saving grace is that at least a good amount of the debris was not intentionally placed in the lake. Many of the items are clearly the type that were lost by accident and have probably been underwater for decades. That said, continued debris and pollution continue to affect the clarity of the Lake. Since 1968, the algae buildup and sediment has reduced clarity from a depth of 100 feet to only 64 feet by 2000. Climate change hasn’t helped either, adding to the Lake’s temperature, which adds to algae growth.

To remind folks of the need to keep Lake Tahoe clean and garbage-free, some of the debris will be re-utilized in a sculpture and large artwork for public viewing and learning. Envisioned as an educational piece, the sculpture will be placed at the Tahoe South Events Center for tourists and visitors to view when they make their way through Tahoe City, CA.

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Cat Sneaks into a Shipping Container for a Serious Ride

Danielle S

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When your cat goes missing for almost five years, it’s a pretty safe assumption that the animal has probably passed away. What you’re probably not ready to hear is that the cat is alive and well, ready to come home, and has been away at sea. That was the case for one feline that managed to get itself stuck inside a shipping container that ended up on the North Sea, literally.

As it turned out, food brought out the stowaway. Realizing they had an unexpected visitor, the crew on an offshore platform were able to coax the cat out of hiding with a bit of chicken. Figuring it was going to get a better meal and care than sitting inside a cold metal box, the cat made itself at home with the crew and was nicknamed as a result. However, Dexter, the cat’s real name, was not an unknown. Once the story got out, it was discovered the cat had been a regular on the HMP Grampian as well, where prisoners working the boat had taken a liking to the cat and gave it a different name, One-Eyed Joe.

Ultimately, the Scottish SPCA were contacted about the unscheduled visitor and how to get the cat off the platform. With the regular trips made for supplies and personnel to and from the platform, Dexter was transported by helicopter to the mainland and put in the trusted hands of waiting SPCA personnel on landing. So now, not only has the stowaway cat been on a boat and an offshore platform, he’s probably one of a select few felines that has been in a helicopter as well.

Aimee Findlay, the SPCA rescue officer, was perplexed how Dexter got into a shipping container in the first place, much less an offshore platform. Dexter was then identified by micro-chip as well as his true owner, Bridie Dorta. Because of smart thinking with a microchip, Dexter was ultimately reunited with his original owner, who never expected to see the cat again after he disappeared. Dexter had always been a roaming type of cat, Dorta noted, but when he really disappeared, they thought he had been hit by a car or something similar. Seeing the cat again almost half a decade later was more than a bit of a shock for Dorta.

All turned out well though. Dexter was in good health, curious and friendly as ever, and he definitely seemed to remember his original owner when reunited. No surprise a number of comments were made about the cat having 9 lives and probably having used up his reserves to get all the way back home.

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