COLERIDGE — Bob Hansen could call himself a professional volunteer.
In the past nine years, the Coleridge man has racked up more than 1,100 hours of volunteer work to help protect the area’s natural resources. All of his efforts in conservation work lead to his nomination and then receipt of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project Conservation Award.
“I had no idea they were doing it and was just flabbergasted when I got the call,” Hansen said.
The award was announced at an October conference of the Nebraska Natural Legacy Project in Chadron. Hansen couldn’t make the conference so the Lewis & Clark Natural Resources District (LCNRD) set up videoconferencing so he could attend remotely.
“That was really great of them to do it and they got all their staff and everybody came in and watched the presentation together,” Hansen said. “It moved me to tears for everything that they did.”
The NRD then presented him with the award at the agency’s own award ceremony last month.
Hansen, a Nebraska Master Naturalist, volunteers with the Northeast Nebraska Prescribed Burn Program, Missouri River Outdoor Expo, and North American Bat Monitoring Project all within the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission (NGPC) since 2013 and volunteers with the Lewis & Clark Natural Resources District for the Bow Creek Watershed Project.
He’s logged more than 1,130 volunteer hours with the prescribed burn program alone.
“There just aren’t many burns he misses — he’s usually one of the first ones there, always ready to volunteer for the smokiest toughest jobs, always one of the last ones out there mopping up. Eeven when it’s cold and dark and everyone is ready to go home, Bob sticks around,” said Cassidy Wessel, a NGPC wildlife biologist.
Hansen also assisted in writing burn plans and educating his neighbors about the prescribed burn procedures.
Under the NPGC purview, Hansen also volunteers to help with the bat monitoring project and at the Missouri River Outdoor Expo.
He also assists the LCNRD with its weekly E.Coli sampling of the Bow Creek Watershed Project.
“I really had no idea how much we were signing up for with weekly water quality monitoring,” said Becky Ravenkamp, the watershed project coordinator. “Thank goodness Bob read the ad for volunteers. We couldn’t have done it without him.”
A retired high school teacher, Hansen is happy to have the time to volunteer and said he enjoys meeting new people and learning new things.
“You meet people. You learn from them and hopefully they learn from you,” he said.
Overall, volunteering for natural resource conservation projects has been rewarding and he’s not planning on slowing down any time soon.
“I hope I have another nine years left,” he said. “I have no desire to retire from that.”