Featured Volunteer: Bob Walker

Bob Walker, a PEEC Board member since the fall of 2013 and Board President for the last two years, volunteers in many ways with PEEC. If you’re ever here on a Wednesday morning, you’ll see him in the wildlife observation room talking about birds with nature center guests. He also helps with some of our events, programs, and staffing the nature center. He’s a member of the Los Alamos Photography Club and the Los Alamos Master Gardeners. We hope you enjoy reading about one of our hard-working volunteers!

PEEC: Where are you from and how did you end up in Los Alamos?

B.W.: I was born in Houston, TX, but do not remember living there. My Dad worked for an oil company, and so we moved around the deep south, from Texas to Florida.  Midland, TX to Tallahassee, FL, to Hattiesburg, MS, to New Orleans, LA. Then I went to college in New Orleans, grad school in Austin, TX, a postdoc in Chicago, IL, then came to Los Alamos as a postdoc working as a computer chemist at the Lab.

PEEC: Tell us a bit about your family.

B.W.: My wife and I arrived here over the Labor Day holiday in 1976. We bought the house we still live in before the end of that week. We have two daughters who are now grown and have their own families. One is an equine veterinarian working in San Marcos, CA, and the other is a research geneticist working in Seattle, WA. We have three grandchildren, all younger than 5 years old, who require many visits from us in order to spoil them properly.

PEEC: How did you get involved with PEEC??

B.W.: I was recruited by Terry Foxx, who was serving as PEEC’s president at the time. From what little I knew of PEEC at the time, I thought of it as a very well-intentioned organization dedicated to serving the local community. I have always enjoyed visiting nature centers when we visit other places, and I liked getting a chance to work with our own local nature center.

PEEC: What are your jobs at PEEC?

B.W.: I help out in three different areas. I served on PEEC’s Board of Directors for the last 5 years and was President of the Board for the last 2 years. I also help transcribe videos so they can be played on the planetarium projector, and I help keep the birds, chipmunks, and squirrels fat and happy. 

PEEC: What (other) volunteer work have you done in our community?

B.W.: I got involved with the local soccer community when our two daughters were playing. After a brief and ineffective stint co-coaching a U8 team, I saw the light and decided that with my lack of coaching talents I was more suited to being a referee. I refereed for about 15 years, then when my body started falling apart, I found I was best off helping pair up referees with games, so served as a referee assignor for the high schools in Northern NM.  After I retired from the Lab, I became a member of the local Master Gardener’s organization, and volunteer to help maintain the demonstration garden along Central Ave near the Justice Center.  I also worked with Los Alamos County as a member of the Parks and Recreation Board, and then started volunteering with PEEC when my term on that board expired.

PEEC: Why do you think it’s important to volunteer?

B.W.I think it’s almost a moral obligation to volunteer. So much of the quality of life in Los Alamos that my family and I enjoyed was attributable to the efforts of local volunteers, and it’s only right that I make the effort to return the favor.

PEEC: What do you enjoy most about volunteering?

B.W.: I like making people happy, in spite of the fact I was a soccer referee. I even had a parent tell me he thought I called a good game once. I must have refereed over a thousand games, from U8 to adults.

PEEC: What outdoor hobbies do you enjoy?

B.W.: My wife and I both enjoy hiking and gardening. We chose to live in White Rock in part because we wanted that extra couple of weeks of growing season each summer. Then I discovered I liked photographing my kid’s soccer games, and got frustrated when they grew up and left home. So I discovered that there are other photography subjects that have similarities to soccer, in that the subject matter is very unpredictable, and you need to anticipate the opportunities (as well as be lucky). So I figured out that nature and travel photography was like that, and so are grandchildren. Now I am all set.

PEEC: In your opinion, what’s the most important work PEEC does?

B.W.: I think PEEC does a very sincere and effective job at their stated mission – enriching our lives by connecting us with our natural environment. We accomplish this with an amazing and dedicated staff of employees, and an equally amazing and dedicated cadre of volunteers over 150 strong.  I think that is amazing, and that it’s these folks who are responsible for all the success we have enjoyed in this community.

PEEC: What do you love about the Pajarito Plateau?

B.W.: I love the variety of the outdoors. Going from the river up to the Pinon-Juniper life zone, to the mountains, there is so much to be enjoyed and appreciated. This place was made for hiking and outdoor enjoyment.

PEEC: What is on your wish list for PEEC for the next ten years?

B.W.: My hope for PEEC is that it maintains its good partnership with Los Alamos County and the Los Alamos Public School system, so that we can continue to reach out and provide quality environmental education and enjoyment opportunities for citizens of Los Alamos and (outside of Los Alamos) of the Pajarito Plateau. There are many significant challenges facing our natural ecosystem, and we have some control over many of the factors that contribute to these challenges. By teaching our young children the importance of preserving our gifts of natural resources, we will be more likely to succeed in making them available to their children and grandchildren.

PEEC: Best or funny memory working with PEEC?

B.W.: My best memory of PEEC will be the gratitude I have to the many people who have volunteered their time to make PEEC successful. I am equally impressed with the many individuals and corporate residents of our community who have supported PEEC financially with their donations and grants.

-If you are interested in learning more about our volunteer program, please email Christa Tyson at visitorservices@peecnature.org. 

Article by Christa Tyson, PEEC Visitor Services Manager