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News Release

Nebraska Wildlife Biologist Nationally Recognized

Joanna Pope

LINCOLN, Neb., July 12, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has named State Wildlife Biologist Ritch Nelson as this year’s NRCS Biologist of the Year.

Nelson, a native of Albion, Neb., has a long history of working to conserve and manage wildlife. Nelson has been the state wildlife biologist for the Nebraska NRCS since 2003. Prior to that, he held positions with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.  

According to Britt Weiser, NRCS state resource conservationist, and Nelson's supervisor, the years of experience Nelson has is a valuable resource, "Ritch constantly advocates for wildlife management, ensuring species habitat needs are met through his training, guidance, and oversight of wildlife planning in Nebraska NRCS. He works tirelessly to answer field office staff and partner questions about wildlife technical issues, habitat evaluations, and programs that benefit wildlife.”

Nelson has mentored over 60 biologists since the Nebraska’s Farm Bill and Coordinating Wildlife partnership began in 2004, impacting over 5 million acres. He was instrumental in developing an initiative to enhance habitat conditions for the American Burying Beetle and benefit a variety of grassland birds with declining population trends.

Weiser said, “Ritch is a role model and mentor to many of the field biologists working for partner agencies in Nebraska, which makes his impacted acres for conservation unmeasurable.”

Nelson said, “I am surprised and humbled to receive this recognition. The true reward is working with all the various people I encounter to help them appreciate and conserve the wide variety of wildlife habitats found across Nebraska.”