Ensuring a bright future for youth conservation

"SCA gave me more in that three month period than I could begin to repay"

When Student Conservation Association (SCA) supporter and 1983 alumnus, Bob Kachinski, was fresh out of college, he went on what he describes as “a real adventure” by boarding a bus in Massachusetts for a three-day, three-night cross-country trip to rural Worland, Wyoming. Once at his destination, Bob was to start a three month SCA internship with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) as an assistant to a regional wildlife biologist.

Recalling his journey and his first impressions upon arrival, 31 years later, Bob says he was struck by how different things were. “…..Confined to the east coast most of my life, the vastness of Wyoming and the culture shock of trying to blend in with the local cowboys was a real eye opener.”

After applying and getting his assignment with SCA, Bob purchased a pair of cowboy boots, determined to fit in out West. Unfortunately, and much to his chagrin, he didn’t realize that proper cowboy boots in Wyoming have pointy toes; he showed up with square-toed boots. This, he says, did not help him pass as a local after a hard day’s work doing such things as conducting aerial surveys to map elk and antelope habitat on the rangelands managed by BLM. But his generosity and honest connections with locals helped overcome any concern about his attire. Bob says that his boss, who became a life-long friend, was a big-game hunter and was happy to share the bounty of his freezer with Bob and the other young assistants he worked with.

Bob grew up as part of a military family spending much of his time outside with his brothers and sisters. His early love of the outdoors led him to attend Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, majoring in biology. When he graduated, he didn’t have any immediate plans beyond his hope to pursue a career in natural resources and some thought of going to graduate school to become an ornithologist. A professor told him SCA was a great way to gain practical experience in the field. So, Bob applied not knowing exactly where he would be assigned, though hoping it might be far from home and a chance to see a part of the country that was new to him. This certainly came true for him and the whole experience made an indelible impression on his life.

After his internship and trying to get some wildlife biologist positions in the then hiring-freeze constrained federal government, Bob moved back to Massachusetts and worked in a variety of outdoor oriented jobs including becoming an arborist. Eventually, he began work in the real estate field and started his own property management company. Because Bob, like many SCA alumni, had a very strong civic interest, he ultimately ended up working with his current employer, the area housing authority near his home in western, MA where he helps families in need. Something he finds very satisfying. And Bob remains very active volunteering for conservation service, including having served on the area Conservation Commission.

Bob feels the biggest impact SCA had on his life and those of other alumni was cultivating a strong sense of “…..stewardship for the land and for future generations.”

Bob’s sense of stewardship and concern for the future of youth conservation service led him to become a financial contributor to SCA for many years and, ultimately, to his and his wife Diane’s recent decision to share some of their life’s bounty with future generations by leaving a legacy to SCA in their will. Through their legacy gift, they are providing critical future support for tomorrow’s conservationists.

“Like most SCA alumni, I developed a real appreciation for our nation’s beauty and a friendship that has lasted a lifetime. I still keep in touch with my old boss at the BLM as he has moved from Wyoming to Alaska to Montana. As far as I am concerned, SCA gave me more in that three month period than I could begin to repay. It is because of the strong connection I still feel to your wonderful organization that Diane and I have included a legacy gift to SCA in our wills.”

It is Bob and Diane’s hope that, by sharing Bob’s SCA story and their legacy decision, other alumni and SCA supporters will be inspired to follow their example.

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