Growing up in small town Nebraska, Rob was never far from nature but never overly “in touch” outside the back yard. Traveling extensively on family vacations each summer helped bring a much greater awareness to the amazing world that was beyond the corn fields he knew.
After graduating from high school, Rob studied at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in advertising with an emphasis in public relations, graphic design and marketing. A spring-break trip to visit a best friend in Costa Rica was his first taste of International travel and major eye opener to the natural world. As a graphic design minor, he took photography courses to expand the basic knowledge he had of photography and to learn developing and printing.
After graduating from UNL, Rob moved to Chicago and pursued a career in hotel management for several years. He began to travel more extensively over the years and fell in love with the “natural places” after trips to Brazil, Costa Rica and Hawaii among others. In 2008, Rob sustained significant head trauma in a jet-ski accident on Lake Michigan in Chicago. Under the care of one of the most experienced neuro-surgeons in the city, Rob made a 100% recovery with no aftereffects; a true miracle case.
The accident served as a catalyst in life, driving Rob to start tackling goals and making new priorities. Realizing that tomorrow is never a guarantee, Rob wanted to continue to see the rest of the world. Trips to Berlin and Sydney marked Rob’s 4th and 5th continents in 2009. Before a trip to Peru and Bolivia in 2010, Rob decided to buy a new DSLR camera to capture better shots of the wildlife in the Amazon, as well as Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail.
A return to Costa Rica in 2011 allowed for the first real “in touch” wildlife experiences with a photographer’s eye and frame of mind. Spending several days trekking in the rainforest of the Osa Peninsula (one of the last remaining low-land rainforests in the world) with an amazing guide, he found hundreds of different animal and bird species and spent much time photographing many of them up close and personal. Later that year, a trip to Iceland provided the opportunity to grow the already lengthy list of birds and species on his list. The ability to see the Arctic birds in their natural habitat and the very stark and picturesque scenery of Iceland was an amazing experience. It also pushed his drive to get out and experience more of the world and see many of the habitats that are disappearing quickly.
Continent six was checked off in November 2011 when he ventured to Africa, spending 18 days in both Kenya and Uganda. In only seven days in Uganda he added over 200 species of birds and countless other African wildlife to his list of animals. Spending two days tracking chimpanzees, he spent several hours with our closest relatives in their natural habitat. One of the most life-touching moments was during his time in Uganda, when he got to track into the Virunga Mountains and spend time with the critically endangered Mountain Gorilla. Seeing an animal with only an estimated 750 left in the world up close and personal was, as he put it, “hands down the best hour of my life!”
Always looking forward to the next trip, Rob has a lengthy list of places he wants to visit, species he wants to see and experience before they are extinct, and native people he wants to help educate that preservation is crucial.