by Dempsey Williams
Bob Anderson’s office walls are covered with numerous pictures of his family and countless posters of birds. A devoted family man and dedicated ornithologist, Anderson prides himself on being one of VCSU’s fisheries and wildlife science professors.
From a young age, Anderson was engrossed by the outdoors. A self-proclaimed naturalist, by the end of eighth grade, he already knew exactly where he wanted to go to college. That was Dakota College at Bottineau, which he attended after graduating from Litchville-Marion (N.D.) High School. While working on an associate degree in wildlife management, he began building his résumé by working as a park ranger and later as a fish and wildlife technician. Anderson then moved on to South Dakota State University (SDSU), obtaining a bachelor’s degree in fisheries and wildlife. He went on to graduate school at SDSU, where his doctoral research involved a five-year project tagging and tracking over 4,000 Canada geese between Canada and Oklahoma.
Obtaining his Ph.D. in biological sciences in 2005 couldn’t have come at a better time. Anderson sought out and eagerly accepted the opportunity to help grow VCSU’s fledgling fisheries and wildlife program, bringing him within a half-hour of his hometown. He has since become a well-regarded presence around the campus, known for providing students with hands-on opportunities and field trips they wouldn’t be able to experience in a larger university system.
Ornithology is his favorite class to teach, and his love for the various avian species extends outside the classroom as well. Anderson’s passion for birding has taken him to distant and exotic locales such as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, as well Florida, Nevada and Utah. He has also developed a summer business, acting as a tour guide for more than 100 birders each year. When he isn’t out birding, Anderson enjoys spending time with his wife, Misty, and their three young children.
One of the things Anderson enjoys about his work at VCSU is being able to develop personal connections with his students. “I would say the most rewarding thing about the job is seeing students succeed, and then seeing their passion,” he says. While Anderson’s enjoyment of ornithology is unquestionable, it’s matched by his love of teaching and helping his students reach their full potential.