Leif Boman’s #ValenciaStory in Photos

All Photos by Leif Boman. For more, visit Leif’s Flickr account.

For Leif Boman, the pursuits of ecology, photography and travel took him on an amazing journey that began at Valencia.*

Editor’s note: This particular photo was taken by Leif while on a trip independent of Valencia. -Leif, you have a lot of intestinal fortitude, sir. We’re definitely giving you a +follow to see where your wanderlust and desire to learn takes you over the years.


In 2014, Leif Boman was in India for a second time exploring the city of Hampi on a rented motorcycle. Seven years prior he had enrolled at Valencia, sure of little more than an interest in horticulture. Whether at Valencia, in the fields of Florida or abroad, the next 10 years would lead Leif on an amazing journey revolving around plants, biology, travel and photography.

Before earning his Associate in Science degree in Plant Science and Horticulture Technology in 2011, Leif was balancing his work schedule and course availability in the popular program, while narrowing the focus on his course of study at Valencia. Professor Steve Myers, who specializes in Botany and Ecology, introduced Leif to Valencia’s Study Abroad programs.

The Nature Photography course he took at East Campus would serve him well in his travels ahead. This picture, for instance, shows a small frog peering through muddy water, — a scene which Leif spotted on a hike in southern India.

Leif’s first study abroad course, led by Professor Myers in 2009, took him on a 15-day field biology trip to southern India. There they learned from members of the local Irula tribe how to identify and capture venomous snakes. The Irula are renowned for their snake-tracking abilities.

The group then headed to a rainforest research station on the western side of the subcontinent. The research outpost in Agumbe, India, is located in a biological hotspot near one of the few king cobra snake preserves in the world.
Leif’s fellow Valencia student, Hannah Wooten, carefully traverses a stream in the preserve.

Back at Valencia in 2010, the new greenhouse opened under the leadership of Professor Myers. Leif began working there, helping to manage the collection of the plants that he and Myers curated for the space. 
Boman describes the pitcher plant shown above as “one of the many oddities that resides in the greenhouse.”

Issuing viscous fluids along its smooth inner walls, the Nepenthes mirabilis entices insects with a nectar, trapping them inside.

In 2011, Valencia’s Neotropical Ecology study abroad course took Leif to the interior rainforests of Guyana in South America. Pictured above in panorama is the Potaro River and Kaieteur Falls, the world’s largest single-drop waterfall based on the volume of water flowing through the fall.

While in Guyana, members of the group spent a day hiking to their camping spot in the interior of the rainforest. The next morning, Leif set out to find this bumblebee dart frog, known for its bright colors and the toxins it produces for self-defense. Amerindians have used these toxins for coating hunting arrows and darts to help bring down prey in the jungle.

A local villager living near the Rewa River in Guyana prepares cassava, a Latin American staple. Without proper processing techniques many varieties of the cassava root can be poisonous, but when prepared correctly its high carbohydrate levels are a valuable source of energy.


Back at Valencia, Leif completed his associate’s degree in 2011, and continued to work part-time at the greenhouse, shown here in April 2012.

As a part-time employee of the greenhouse, Leif often gave tours of the facility and its ethno-botanically diverse collection of flora. Pictured is the Florida native fern that Leif loved to show visitors during his stint at the Valencia greenhouse.

This Ophioglossum petiolatum fern sports hundreds of pairs of chromosomes, and is a close relative to the Ophioglossum reticulatum fern which has 1260 chromosomes, that is 630 pairs — more chromosome pairs than any living organism.

Eager to revisit India, Leif returned independently in 2014, traveling various parts of the expansive country.
In Hampi, a local fisherman spoke with Leif and his travel partner before offering the two a tour of the lake in his small handwoven boat.

In Jodhpur, many of the buildings are painted a vibrant blue. 
In addition to being psychologically soothing, the blue color is said to help keep the buildings cool as well as repel biting insects.

Pushkar, India has an annual camel festival. While visiting, Leif and his partner befriended a nomadic family on the outskirts of the city, spending two days with them sharing dinner, drinks and receiving traditional henna in their makeshift home.

Back in Florida, Leif cultivated a deep interest in the carnivorous plants of his home state, and set out to create a comprehensive field guide documenting nearly 50 native carnivorous plants of Florida.

In April 2016, Leif parlayed his passion for ecology and natural Florida into a role with Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection.
As an environmental specialist, Leif spends the work week traveling to different bodies of water throughout the Central Florida region to collect water samples, conduct plant surveys, and take meter readings.

Through his work Leif also visits little-known Florida springs which are not open to the public. Shown here is a large and diverse population of fish inhabiting a small spring in Lake County.

Valencia congratulates Leif on a thrilling (and visually stunning) start to a blossoming career in ecology.

We invite you to learn more about the diverse educational opportunities available at Valencia College, no matter where you are in your journey.

Learn more about how you can start your adventure with us today!


Related Info:

Courses at Valencia College: PGY 2231. NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY