Harlan Kredit ’61 is the kind of man who notices details.
He remembers specific details from when he was a Calvin student 60 years ago. Like the time when he was feeling homesick for Lynden, Washington, and he heard the sound of migrating geese overhead. He recognized their call as the same kind of geese he knew from the mountains of Washington. That sound reminded him that he was part of a big, interconnected world—and that the same God that ruled that world cared for him.
A YELLOWSTONE FAMILY
If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park in the summer, Kredit might have encouraged you to look for the details. This year was Kredit’s 49th summer at Yellowstone, where he serves as a park ranger when he’s not teaching at Lynden Christian.
He has met lots of Calvin alumni at the park and taken countless hikes along the lakes, rivers, canyons, and mountain ranges. “We’re a Yellowstone family,” he said, mentioning that he now enjoys the same hikes with his grandchildren as he did with his own children when they were growing up.
Kredit talks with visitors about the intricate beauty in the park and encourages them to look more closely. “I’ll ask visitors to be really quiet to see if they can find evidence that an animal has been in the area. It’s hard at first—but then they start seeing tracks, nests, and holes dug by animals.
“I might be the only ranger they’re going to encounter at Yellowstone. I might only have five minutes to convince them to visit more national parks and appreciate these places more deeply,” he said.
Kredit hopes to impress upon visitors the interconnectedness of nature and our responsibility to it. “It all fits together. You mess up one part, you mess up others,” he said.
A LIFELONG KNIGHT
Kredit has always loved nature, and his time studying biology at Calvin deepened that love.
“My professors believed that everything belongs to God, and we have to take care of it. My professors took us out to study plants. They’d get so excited looking at flowers. To me, that was contagious. It was never dull.”
The dedication that Calvin professors had to their students made an impression on Kredit. “I’d see them teaching biology during the day and then at Calvin basketball games at night,” he said. “Their job wasn’t just in the classroom. That’s a legacy I really appreciate and one I’ve tried to live out.”
Calvin had a lifelong influence on his personal life as well. He met his wife Linda at Calvin and his three children attended.
A CALLING TO TEACH
Kredit has taught nearly 60 years, most of them at Lynden Christian, and continues at age 81 to lead field trips and substitute teach. He’s received many awards over the years, including being inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in 2006. In 1997, he received the Distinguished Alumni Award at Calvin for his work as a teacher and park ranger.
“I just think this is what God’s calling me to do. If you are where you’re supposed to be, you’ll work very hard at it.” Kredit uses every opportunity he can to get his students out experiencing nature. He’s led hundreds of field trips. And he’s involved his students in projects such as raising Coho salmon and planting trees.
“God made such an unbelievable universe,” he said. “We appreciate the things that we see and participate in.”
Kredit also takes inspiration from his Calvin professors and gets to know students outside of class. “I want my students to know from my actions that I really do care about them,” said Kredit, who often talks with students over Dairy Queen ice cream. “I can’t keep up with all 7,000 students I’ve taught, but I keep up with many.”
He’s been a strong advocate for Calvin over the years, recommending students continue their education at his beloved alma mater. “I’ve been so blessed by Calvin,” he said.