Faculty Spotlight: Walter Schacht

Walter Schacht
Walter Schacht
October 12, 2020

About Walter

My wife, Carol, and I are the parents of three adult children and grandparents of five grandchildren. I am a native Nebraskan but have lived throughout the world. I have a passion for rangelands, especially the Nebraska Sandhills. I am fortunate to have spent the last 26 years with UNL and in Nebraska with my family.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I became the interim director of the Center for Grassland Studies in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) in January 2020. I lead the center in its research, education and outreach programs in grassland ecology and management. I had been a faculty member in UNL’s Department of Agronomy and Horticulture since 1994. I conducted research and taught undergraduate and graduate courses in rangeland ecology and management, grazing management and grassland conservation.

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

I grew up in the eastern edge of the Nebraska Sandhills where I was raised to enjoy and appreciate the culture and resources of the Sandhills. A sense of adventure took me away from Nebraska, but my parents and most of my siblings stayed in Nebraska. An open faculty position in grazing land management in the Department of Agronomy in 1994 made it possible for me, my wife and our children to consider returning to Nebraska. For me, the opportunity to return to Nebraska and family and to work in the Sandhills with outstanding scientists and educators made it an easy decision.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

I love to learn, especially when I can be with others and in a situation where learning drives the system; therefore, a university is the ideal environment for me. When surrounded by others with similar attitudes towards learning and achievement, the environment of high expectations is exciting and rewarding, and excellent for mentoring and teaching students.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

My greatest achievement at UNL is creating enthusiasm in undergraduate and graduate students towards learning, rangelands and grasslands and student organizations and clubs. There is nothing more rewarding than to be a part of growth in students. Personally, my greatest achievement is raising three children with my wife and being a part of their success in their career and personal lives. 

What is something that most people don’t know about you?

I have lived and worked in four continents and six countries over a total of 9 years. I met my wife in the Central African Republic, we were Peace Corps Volunteers, and the early years of our children’s lives were in South America and Africa. My wife and I have a passion for Africa and would like to work one more time in Africa. 

What is your life like outside of work?

My wife and I are active and love to travel, especially to visit our children and grandchildren. Unfortunately, they live across the United States – from North Carolina to Wyoming to Oregon. I continue to enjoy hunting, fishing, canoeing and camping. 

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