DR Santo Domingo West Mission

Username: Password: Help Type:
Help Remember Me:

News Item: Elder Roger Baird in Antarctica

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1 -- Add News

Elder Roger Baird in Antarctica 28 Oct 2004
This article appeared in the Modesto Bee on 10-24-04. Enter the link into your browser to see pictures; I expected to see him wearing plaid pants!

You may read this article in its entirety at

This article is protected by copyright and may
not be printed or distributed for anything except personal use.

Valley allergy-sufferer escapes to great unknown

Published: Sunday, October 24th, 2004


Plant, animal — it doesn't matter. If it's in the San Joaquin Valley, it bothers Roger Baird.

It's not that he doesn't like Modesto. He considers the city his home town, even if it's no longer his home. He still has family here.

The 31-year-old former Modestan is simply allergic to just about everything we have in these parts: molds, weeds, pollen, cats, dogs, horses, cattle and smog. His body can't take it. When he comes home to visit, he gets sick within days.

So he leaves.

'Roger's OK as long as he's somewhere else,' said his mother, Sandra Baird of Modesto.

At this moment, 'somewhere else' is Antarctica — the coldest place on Earth and home to the South Pole.

It's where the thermometer once dipped to minus 129. And its icy waters, Roger Baird said, are home to a rare strain of cod that has a natural form of antifreeze in its blood.

Nothing grows on the Antarctica mainland except beards. Snow and ice pile up outside the compounds where scientists study things like astronomy, astrophysics, marine biology and the effects of global warming.

Otherwise, human inhabitants pretty much try to avoid becoming guinea pigs for cryogenics research.

There are no plants, pollen or molds — nothing to set off Baird's allergies and make him miserable.

The only animals on the continent are penguins, which he also encountered during a trip to Argentina's Patagonia region a few years ago.

'They attacked me,' he said. 'But I didn't have any allergies.'

His medical conditions never dulled his adventurous spirit.

'He follows his dreams,' mom Sandra said. 'He was a kid who, in school, couldn't play outside for recess. The teacher had to stay in with him. He was so sickly as a small child that I can hardly find a picture of him smiling.'

Yet Baird was all smiles upon arriving at Ross Island last week, the final stop before going on to his station near the South Pole. He arrived there Thursday.

He will earn $400 a week, plus room and board, working for Raytheon Polar Service Corp. for the next year. Raytheon is the support contractor for the National Science Foundation, which has a station near the South Pole.

'It's the coldest, driest, most extreme place on Earth, and everything's going on,' Baird said.

After graduating from Beyer High in 1992, Baird spent two years on a Mormon mission in the Dominican Republic. He discovered his allergies didn't act up there, and he seemed to thrive in the salt air.

In 1995, Baird enrolled at Brigham Young University's Hawaii campus because he had done so well in island climates. His diploma will arrive in the mail by the year's end, giving him degrees in art and language.

A skilled artist, he's painted with oils and completed murals for Mexican hotels. He loves to create works from whatever materials he can get his hands on — native grasses, mud, sticks.

Baird also is a language specialist who spent six months teaching English to oil workers in Argentina, touring much of South America in the process. He went to the jungles of Mexico and Guatemala to learn to read Mayan hieroglyphics and to speak varying Spanish dialects, often sneaking into areas deemed unsafe for your average tourist.

'If it's off limits, I try to do it,' he said.

When he heard about a possible job working on a train that takes tourists to the areas around Alaska's Mount McKinley, he signed on for a summer. Baird discovered that cold-weather living kept his allergies at bay, too.

So he returned to Alaska the past two summers as a tour guide on the famed Mendenhall Glacier, moonlighting as a technician on a medevac helicopter crew. He slipped in an English teaching job in Japan in the winter of 2002-03.

Those frontiers conquered, he decided to try Antarctica. It suits him just fine, he said.

The air's nice and dry. No molds, no pollen. Just lots of snow, ice and white landscape. Want colors? Bring your own. He did. It will be a great place to hone his artistic skills by working in what he calls a 'nonstimulous' environment.

'I'm not an Antarctican,' he jokes. 'I'm an Ant-'art'-ican.'

And anti-allergies.
Todd Gurney Send Email

Part of the LDS Mission Networksm · The mission home of the World Wide Web.sm
Copyright © 2001 The LDS Mission Networksm · Mission.net / LDSMissions.net. All rights reserved.
"Site-in-a-Box" (SIB) is a service mark of the LDS Mission Network. Version 2.1