When young people set out to find a job, they usually don’t think, “What am I going to do for the next 50 years?” Instead, they tend to ask themselves, “What is something I would enjoy doing right now?”
Robert Gober was lucky enough to answer both questions with the same job. As of March 11, 2011, Gober has the longest running tenure in the state of Texas with USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).
A San Saba County, Texas native, Gober was hired in 1960 onto an NRCS (which was then called the Soil Conservation Service [SCS]) watershed planning party out of Brownwood. He was responsible for the maintenance on flood control structures in Brown, Coleman and Runnels Counties. He cleared away invasive brush and prickly pear to prolong the life of flood control structures.
Working for the planning party had its disadvantages: the work was March through December; workers were then laid off until the following year’s funding was available. Wanting a job with more stability than watershed planning afforded him, Gober headed to the San Saba SCS office and applied to become a full-time employee of the federal government.
On March 11, 1961 Gober began his SCS/NRCS career in Seminole, Texas, initially working in other rural communities before landing in Brady on December 4, 1966, where he has worked as a civil engineering technician for the last 45 years.
He has observed a variety of changes within the agency, most being mechanical and educational improvements.
Adapting to change was part of the job for Gober; transistor radios were followed by office computers, global positioning systems (GPS) and electronic engineering equipment.
“I remember when we used boards and rods and it took us weeks to accomplish what we set out to do; now that we have a GPS and a computer, we can have land mapped in a day,” Gober said.
It is these changes and the hard work of individuals like Gober that has NRCS’ conservation work keeping up with technology.
The past 50 years for Gober have been filled with technical advancement, relocation and long-lasting friendships. After retirement, he plans to fill his time with gardening, ranching and maybe a little hunting.