Buddhism teaching

Lynn Guenther’s passion for teaching inspired “Light of the Bay”

For decades, artist, educator, and naturalist Lynn Guenther has aimed to create a strong arts and science curriculum for students in Santa Cruz County. Guenther worked at local schools, museums and civic organizations, and during that time she says she discovered a passion for teaching local history.

“I love introducing kids to the history of where they live: the natural, the cultural, everything,” she says. “Especially about our watersheds, how they’ve helped Santa Cruz thrive. It is a very unique county.

This passion for local history led Guenther to write his first novel, bay lightwhich is out now.

Guenther says she started working on the book 10 years ago, rummaging through local museums and libraries. Reading Frank Perry Lighthouse Point: illuminating Santa Cruz, she discovered Laura Hecox, a local legend who spent 50 years living and working as

a lighthouse keeper at Point Santa Cruz. In 1905, Hecox donated 2,000 objects from its vast

personal collection of historical artifacts and scientific specimens at the new Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History.

Guenther chronicles the life of Hecox, adopting his voice to give readers direct insight into historical events such as the Gold Rush, Westward Expansion, the persecution of Native Americans and immigrants, the struggle for women’s suffrage, the conservation movement

and more.

“Laura is an incredible role model,” says Guenther. “She really knew how important it was to preserve the past and was interested in everything – coins, architecture, animals. She was so scientific. It was interesting to get into her mind and to learn more about the people she looked up to. I got to know her quite well.

Other local historical figures appear in the story, including Dr. Charles Anderson, Martina Castro, Theo D’Estrella, Georgiana Bruce Kirby, Josephine McCracken, London Nelson, Charley Parkhurst, Douglas Tilden, and Sarah Winnemucca.

“Not everyone knows these interesting characters,” she says. “I try to show what their personalities looked like. Give perspective on some of their stories.

Guenther says that to write bay light was difficult but has accelerated in recent years.

“For the past three years, I’ve battled cancer,” she says. “I really wanted to sit down and finish this book. I have a lot of people who have supported me on this journey; I’m so grateful to them.”

bay light is out now. The novel is ideal for readers in grade five and up, Guenther says, though older readers may enjoy it.

“My main goal is to bring this story to life for a younger audience,” she says. “My dedication to teaching runs deep. How can we take care of our home? That’s the first thing I want to relay. People need to understand this story, our place in it, and we have a responsibility to

protect its future.

‘Light of the Bay’ is available at the Santa Cruz Bookstore, Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History, Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, and online. It is available at all public libraries in Santa Cruz.