The outlook for Elizabeth Huntley ’93 looked bleak during her childhood in Clanton, but everything changed as soon as she realized one important lesson: she was more than a bird.
At first glance, young Liz Huntley’s future looked dim—if she even survived to have a future. The 5-year-old was living in less-than-ideal circumstances in Huntsville with her parents and four siblings when things began to unravel.
First, her father was jailed for selling drugs. Her mother, addicted to heroin, committed suicide. The children were separated and, at 5, Huntley and her younger sister were uprooted and moved to Clanton, where they were raised by their stern, hardworking grandmother.
Things should have grown more stable—but they didn’t. Not in a household with a sexually abusive uncle and another uncle whose schizophrenia was expressed with violence. Her younger sister got pregnant as the girls were displaced in foster homes and with extended family when their grandmother grew ill.
But Huntley knew there was a better life than what she’d been handed, and she was determined to find it.
The discovery this spring of an elusive species of Alabama frog and the subsequent catching of one of the critters by AU herpetologist Jimmy Stiles makes Alabama the second-froggiest state in the U.S. The male frogs have a distinctive mating call, which has been described as “like hogs at eating time.”