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Gary grew up in Redwood falls, Minnesota, a rural farming community with the largest municipal park in the state. Like many country kids, his summers were spent close to nature fostering a lifelong appreciation for the wonders of the macrocosm. Attending St. Cloud State University in 1977 he worked on an indoor/outdoor ant farm, as a personal project. It later became the seed of an idea for an indoor/outdoor frog farm, culminating one day in the UDO (Urban Desert Oasis), but we'll get to that.
In hindsight, it seems like destiny when in 1983 Gary was stationed as a weatherman at Vandenberg Air Force Base. In the spring a grassy, five-acre lot behind the Base Theater filled with rainwater and became a temporary, vernal pond—attracting thousands of mating frogs. Ever the curious naturalist, he recorded the amazing cacophony of mating calls erupting from the evening spectacle. In daylight, Gary found the pond was awash with tadpoles.
In an episode that seems part Gomer Pyle and part Hogan's Heroes, Gary decided to build an indoor pond to raise a batch of these critters; but keeping it out of sight of barracks inspections would be problematic. Hidden under his bunk, he built a hatchery from plastic ground cloth and bricks. After passing a Commander's Inspection with flying colors and without even anticipating what kind of critter the tadpoles would grow up to be, he soon found out. His room was alive with baby tree frogs jumping all over.
An approved, 30-gallon upright aquarium eventually became occupied by 11 of the healthiest Pacific Tree Frogs [Pseudacris regilla]. Around base Gary soon became know as the Frog-Man of Vandenberg for taking his frogs with him in a clear plastic pet carrier. The now tamed frogs clung to him whenever he let them out of the case.
Next breeding season his little pets heard the mating calls of their wild brethren and did you know Pacific Tree Frogs are also known as Pacific Chorus Frogs, for obvious reasons. At 3 A.M. the male frogs boasted their thunderous RIBBIT ... RIBBIT ... RIBBIT, attracting not a mate but the wrath of the barracks in a similar display of male territorialism, the pounding of fists on walls and doors. But the froglets were mostly kept quiet by lighting a flashlight as an artificial sun.
In 1989 Gary landed his dream job as a weatherman at the Kennedy Space Center, helping launch Space Shuttles and rocket payloads. In 1995 he began sketching what would be the preliminary designs for the UDO (oo-doe). Ensuing years, all of his spare time was spent on perfecting the design.
Self-taught in patent law, self-writing a provisional patent, co-writing a utility patent and securing $100K of investment funds, Gary has steered the vision of the UDO to it's final launch pad.