STILLPOINT Archive: last updated 12/04/2012

The Bullfrog in Your Neighborhood

“I know that kids are much more easily engaged in science when it’s about the bullfrog that lives in their neighborhood.”

Just 15 minutes from campus is the seaside neighborhood of Lanesville in Gloucester, Massachusetts, where Gordon's creative director Tim Ferguson Sauder has lived for 10 years with his wife, Meg, and their three young children.

Having become very much at home on this rocky peninsula, the young family know not just their human neighbors but also the creatures living all around them. “We snorkel a lot just outside of the cove where we live,” he says. “We have lobster traps that we pull together. The kids are almost more excited when we get the wrong animals in the traps because they get to see interesting fish, skates, urchins, sea stars, and so on. We always go home and research the creatures we see on our trips on the little skiff we take out.”  

His children’s intense curiosity about both sea and land creatures sparked the idea for a set of animal trading cards based on local wildlife. “I know that kids are much more easily engaged in science when it’s about the bullfrog that lives in their neighborhood,” Ferguson Sauder says.

As an artist with a social conscience, he’s always looking for projects that promote art and design for larger community benefit. So after establishing the main design of the cards and the style of illustration, he enlisted the help of Return Design (Gordon’s design program) alums and interns to help produce the cards and journal that comprise what he named LOOKLOOK.

Greg Keller, associate professor of conservation biology and curator of birds and mammals, researched the animals and provided statistics and facts. Education Department faculty, particularly Associate Professor Janet Arndt, are working on educational applications for the system in a number of North Shore elementary schools where Gordon student-teachers and teaching alumni are well represented and well regarded.

Enter the Sappi: Ideas That Matter grant, the design industry’s highly respected grant program aimed at applying design to innovative thinking to solve social problems. Among the recipients this year is the LOOKLOOK campaign, in partnership with Kestrel Educational Adventures, a nonprofit based in Gloucester. Kestrel supports science education programs in local schools by teaching students about the animals that live in their area.

Though LOOKLOOK is a personal project, Ferguson Sauder emphasizes that its deployment has been a team effort. “This grant was earned by a whole community of invested people who bring different skills to the table but have used them all to achieve a common goal.”

In addition to serving as Gordon’s creative director, Tim Ferguson Sauder teaches upper-level Art Department design courses, and heads up Return Design, an on-campus firm of student designers who create work for nonprofits. He also consults and designs for clients ranging from local non-profits to international corporations.

For more information about the LOOKLOOK cards, and to be notified when they are available, visit

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