by Lisa Tome
After three decades working for the DuPont company, Michael Kline was rewarded with the "most incredible experience" of his life.
Kline, 54, of North East, who works as a staff associate investigator for DuPont, was the associate recipient of the company's Scientific Leadership Award. That award earned Kline a six month sabbatical which he turned into two trips of a lifetime.
"I knew I wanted to split it," said Kline, who wanted to focus on wildlife exploration for at least part of his sabbatical.
For the first part of his journey he opted to work in the Colorado high country with the Colorado Division of Wildlife as a seasonal field technician. He worked with biologists, surveyed lakes, and performed lake trout population surveys. A perk to his trip was being close in proximity to his daughter, Melissa who is doing graduate work in Colorado.
His second trip was to Denmark where he worked with DuPont Nutrition and Health. Specifically, he worked with an advanced analytical group for Danisco in Denmark, working on quality control. He said that working in Denmark gave him the opportunity to build a bridge between the U.S. and Danish factions of DuPont.
He experienced city life, rode a bicycle to work, and got to travel to Germany where he got in touch with his family roots, seeing the places where his parents and grandparents lived and were born. He also hosted his family in Denmark. He's the father of two and grandfather of one.
"It was just incredible. I never dreamed I would do something like that...It was like living a dream. For the rest of my life, this is an experience that I will never forget," he said.
The travels were also a fitness journey for Kline. Months before taking the trips he worked to get in shape. "I am over 50, overweight, and out of shape" he told friends before leaving. "I worked my butt off for months to get in shape."
He also made friends while on sabbatical. Some of those friends will be visiting this area next month. Kline will also return to Colorado this fall to volunteer during a salmon spawn. He also hopes to share some Maryland crabs with friends he made in Denmark when they visit the U.S. for a conference this summer. "Being away from home for so long in Colorado and Denmark was so far outside my comfort zone, that I needed some means to stay connected to home," he said. He and his wife, Martha, have been married for 32 years. Kline said the trip gave him a new appreciation for the daily interaction with his wife. He and his wife learned to Skype and Facetime.
Kline isn't limited to work pursuits. Within the community, he serves on the North East Planning Commission. He has also served on the Town and County Boards of Appeals.