BSMA Hosts Night With A Nerd Featuring Jim Eckles On History Of Wildlife At White Sands Missile Range

BSMA hosts a special Night with a Nerd featuring Jim Eckles. Courtesy/BSMA

BSMA News:

The Bradbury Science Museum Association (BSMA) is hosting a special Night with a Nerd Sept. 9, featuring Jim Eckles, as well as hosting the annual members’ reception at Fuller Lodge.

Eckles will be giving a fascinating presentation on the “History of Wildlife at White Sands Missile Range,” delving into some of the history of the Missile Range while exploring the diverse wildlife in the area.

Eckles will explain why there are thousands of African antelope roaming the missile range and adjoining ranches; he’ll cover the rise, fall, and recent resurrection of desert bighorn sheep in the San Andres Mountains just to the northeast of Las Cruces; and what happened to the herds of wild horses.

Eckles also will talk about his days in the mountains with Kenny Logan and Linda Sweanor as they tracked mountain lions for a New Mexico sponsored study (tidbit: being at the top of the food chain can be tough – lions don’t die peacefully of old age). He will also talk about pupfish (yes there are fish at White Sands), deer (where have they gone?), pronghorn and bears.

Jim Eckles is a native of Nebraska. He grew up in Lincoln and earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature and psychology from the University of Nebraska. Next it was on to Seattle where he received his master’s degree in English literature from the University of Washington. 

Eckles arrived at White Sands Missile Range in 1977 as a member of the Public Affairs Office. Most of his 30 years were spent on the news media and community relations side of the office. 

From the start, he was hooked by the history of White Sands. He found the steady march of science and technology interesting, and the pioneers who made it all work were a joy to talk to. To top it off, everywhere he looked were great stories behind the official Army facade. 

But, equally so, he was captivated by the history of the area before the military takeover in 1942. He found there was much to like about seeing Indian rock art a thousand years old, the place where Pat Garrett lived at the end of his life and the many ranches where people struggled to make a living in such a harsh environment. Finally, Eckles’ love of the outdoors gave him new perspectives of the Range as he hiked and biked its remote areas. 

Eckles retired from White Sands in 2007 and lives in Las Cruces. He was elected to the missile range’s Hall of Fame in 2013. He continues to brief visitors at Trinity Site well after his retirement.

He has authored several books: Pocketful of Rockets an informative and entertaining look at the history of White Sands Missile Range, Trinity: The Historic of an Atomic Bomb National Historic Landmark, and Deming, New Mexico’s Camp Cody: A World War One Training Camp. Many of his stories were collected when he interviewed numerous scientists and soldiers who worked at Trinity during the test.

There will be a special members-only reception with Eckles before the talk. Note the separate registration for the reception. This is free to members, but everyone who attends needs to register in advance since space is limited.

BSMA Members Only Reception for Night with A Nerd with Jim Eckles 

  • When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Sept. 9
  • Where: Fuller Lodge

Register here

Eckles’ talk is free to Bradbury Science Museum Association members, but registration is separate. For non-members the cost is $10, but you can join the BSMA onsite if you’d like.

Night with a Nerd: Jim Eckles – History of Wildlife at White Sands Missile Range

  • When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sept. 9
  • Where: Fuller Lodge

Register here

A book signing follows Eckles’ presentation and his “Trinity” book will be available for purchase.

Visit to register or to join the BSMA. With Adult memberships starting as low as $35, if you plan to visit other science museums or buy Lab/Museum branded items, it could quickly pay for itself. Plus you will support regional science education efforts!

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