People passionate about nature

Robert W. Nero

Ernest Thompson Seton Medal Recipient 1981

Robert W. Nero was awarded the first ever Ernest Thompson Seton Medal for Distinguished Naturalists at the Manitoba Naturalists Society annual meeting April 25.

The new award recognizes naturalists who is some way emulate the characteristics of pioneer naturalist Ernest Thomson Seton - an enthusiastic and dedicated observer, recorder and sharer of Manitoba's natural history.

Virtually every aspect of natural history is of interest to Bob Nero. He has published more than 100 major notes and articles in ornithology, mammalogy, herpetology, entomology and archaeology. He is the acknowledged North American authority on the Great Gray Owl.

"He is blessed with some rare and special talents - a meticulous eye for detail, the ability to discover simple common-sense explanations for apparently complex problems," said Ardythe McMaster. "He writes with great skill, sensitivity and power. He has just the right mix of creative imagination and determined tenacity to overcome apparently insurmountable obstacles and complete projects."

Mrs. McMaster presented the award on behalf of the Society.

Among his accomplishments are the creation of the Living Prairie Museum in St. James-Assiniboia and the republishing of two Manitoba books of Ernest Thompson Seton. He was assistant editor of the Blue Jay (Natural history journal for Saskatchewan and adjacent areas) from 1956 to 1977 and editor in 1965-66. He has addressed countless groups as guest lecturer, panel member, trip leader and workshop resource person, as well as writing forewards for several books, editorials, newspaper and magazine articles.

Mrs. McMaster described him as "an amazingly productive scientist. But Bob Nero is much more than just a productive scientist. If he is a keen observer, he is also a keen listener, and his ability for active listening has been a major factor in some of his greatest contributions to natural history in Manitoba. Always busy, but never too busy to listen, Bob carefully records details of reports from farmers, housewives, school children and such government people as highway crews and conservation officers. Through ongoing communications with these people scattered across the province, he has been able to collect new knowledge of the province's natural history."

"The Ernest Thompson Seton Award, presented by the Manitoba Naturalists Society for outstanding achievement in the field of natural history, suitably recognizes the extensive contribution of Robert W. Nero to the natural history of Manitoba and the prairie region," Mrs. McMaster said.

Bob Nero, who was born in Wisconsin, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin. He came to Canada in 1955 and was assistant curator of the Saskatchewan Museum of Natural History, Regina until 1961, when he joined the faculty at the University of Saskatchewan. He moved to Winnipeg in 1965 to become chief of natural history at the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature. In 1970 he joined the Manitoba Department of Natural Resources where he works today. His latest book is The Great Gray Owl - Phantom of the Northern Forest, published by Smithsonian Institution Press.

Honorary Life Member 1980

Dr. Robert Nero is an inspiration to both the amateur and professional naturalist. His filed methods are as entertaining as they are effective, and he has more than once regaled MNS members with accounts of his studies. He is a patient field man, an expert scientist, and a darn fine storyteller to boot!