By Don Farmer, NTMN Class of 2012
Congratulations to the first NTMN quarterly award winner of 2021, Bob Richie.
This quarterly award was originally scheduled to be given in January, 2020 prior to the pandemic limitations that we’ve all come to love. As the tired cliché book opening goes… it was a dark and rainy night…and unfortunately neither Jim Folger nor I had bothered to ask the recipient if he would be in attendance that night so the presentation didn’t happen.
Humble brag: Many of the alumni of the Class of 2012 have gone on to be active and productive members of NTMN but, from the very beginning, there was one who stood out among us. It was obvious that Bob possessed a breadth and depth of knowledge about the natural environment that we all envied. In particular, his knowledge of native and invasive plants was impressive.
I think I can say, without fear of challenge, that our class project which involved laying out a transect and cataloging the flora along it in Spring Creek Forest would have been even more challenging and perhaps a failure if he had not been with us. I’m really not sure that many of us even knew what a transect was at that time.
As another part of our training, we visited the John Bunker Sands Wetland Center for a field class and both of us later became regular volunteers or Stewards at JBS. While I concentrated on helping students with wetland ecology and water quality classes, Bob took his talents outside and regularly led walks around Bunker’s Pond, conducted foraging and beekeeping classes, and was generally available as needed to do whatever needed to be done or taught. That willingness to help has even extended to the less than glamorous annual 2 mile roadside trash pick-up that JBS conducts along a stretch of FM 1389 leading to the wetlands.
Bob has not limited his participation to a single venue. He has been involved in many efforts within the Chapter from Big Chapter Projects to Native Plants and Prairies Days to Winter Tree Identification classes. With an engaging personality and a relaxed teaching style, Bob exemplifies what it means to be a Texas Master Naturalist. He continues the valuable work that was evidenced in Jim Varnum’s long contribution to educating the public about our natural world.
Bob is a native Texan with an out-sized mustache and flamboyant facial hair that in pre-pandemic days was truly unusual. He has a wide variety of interests, particularly those involving foraging, native plants, bees and chickens. When it comes to bees, Bob is a honcho of honey and an architect of apiaries. The same can be said for chickens, where he is a patron of poultry and constructor of coops. Bob is also a Yoga instructor, an avid bicyclist and much more.
I don’t know where he finds the time or energy to do all this but Bob has definitely been a credit to our NTMN family. So again, congratulations on being the NTMN first quarter 2021 award winner!