There’s a multitude of different talents and interests that bloom and thrive here in the 573. With our land running right along the Mississippi, there’s tons of history to be found in the communities in the fields and when we’re lucky enough to have the opportunity and driven enough to Get Out There…in the river itself.
Today 573 magazine journeys down to Cape Girardeau to meet up with Michael Toeniskoetter. Michael is a modern renaissance man known as Mr. Mike the Science Guy. The many hats he wears include; surgical technician, train conductor, musician, painter, actor, videographer, science role model, and amateur paleontologist.
My name is Michael Toeniskoetter, and honestly, I’m a little bit of everything! When I was a kid, people told me I could be whatever I wanted to be when I grew up. I think I misunderstood, and instead of picking just one thing, I’ve picked a lot!
I’m originally from Scott City, where my parents still reside. I live in Cape and have one brother who is a few years younger than me and lives in Cape as well. I currently work for Southeast Health as a surgical tech specializing in brain and spine surgery. I’ve done that for over 10 years, and during that time, I’ve done plenty of other things as well. I also work part time at Paisley Grace Med Spa and IV Lounge.
I ask a lot of people that I meet, ‘What would you do if you didn’t have to worry about anything?’ The answers I get are always eye-opening and wonderful! I love to ask others this because I don’t fully know what I want to do yet.
I was the dinosaur kid growing up and still am deep down. Several years ago, I connected with Pam Mills, the geology professor from Southeast Missouri State University, who introduced me to Paleo X. This program allows you to find dinosaur fossils and learn along the way. I was hooked! I’ve done it for two years now with a plan to return as many times as I can! The first year I went, I helped establish the dinosaur program at Discovery Playhouse, the children’s museum. It allows kids hands-on experience with real fossils! My goal is to highlight more of this field of science, utilizing my Mr. Mike the Science Guy platform. The Stuchlik Family sponsored the most recent trip, so I could film the entire process, and I will be releasing that online. My goal is to help expand knowledge of the program and hopefully find something that can help contribute to the field of paleontology one day.
Missouri is unique because, during prehistoric times, part of the state was a shallow warm sea. You can find fossils such as trilobites, brachiopods, Corals, and crinoids (Missouri’s official state fossil) in our area. Out in the Bollinger County area, scientists have discovered several plant-eating dinosaurs. I encourage people to go out and look down at the rocks and gravel beds. Take some time to look down and you never know what you might find!
My compass tattoo is a merger of two separate ones. I have always wanted a band tattoo and a compass tattoo. Compasses help us navigate or find our way when we are lost. The compass is a reminder to me to always ask questions, never stop learning, and continue to explore. Nicole Dugan did this work for me, and I am so in love with how it turned out!
As far as my artwork, I enjoy more of a realistic style of art and have stumbled into the ‘reclaimed art’ realm. I love to find old paintings at thrift stores and bring new life into them! It’s so much fun to imagine what I can add into these paintings. I do my best to honor the original artist’s style of painting as well as never covering their signature. I have had no formal training in painting, I just started doing it for fun and as an escape. I highly recommend it for people who are looking for something to do, you don’t have to be good at it, no one is at first, that’s kind of the secret to life, no one is good at anything but the more you do it, the better you get over time. So what are you willing to spend your time on to get good at something?
Great question, Mr. Mike! Whatever path or paths you choose to follow; artist, scientist, farmer, teacher, preacher, explorer, healer, leader, or just simply kind stranger, put your time and your heart into it, put on that hat, and put your best foot forward.
GET OUT THERE!
Words by AJ Koehler
Pics by T. Smugala
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