You might say Bruce Stevens grew up with lots of pet rocks.
Scavenging for rocks and fossils as a boy near his home at Coalmont launched Stevens’ fascination with geology. His love of all things sedimentary led him to a successful career in hydrology, reclamation and the coal industry.
“As a kid, I lived next door to a previously coal mined area where there was a plethora of specimens on the ground surface,” Stevens said. “My cousin, Randy Snellenberger, and I were always checking out for rocks and fossils around the coal mines. We’d pick up buckets full and sit around cracking open fossils.”
Stevens’ joining 4-H in 1973 enabled him to turn his rock and fossil collections into geology projects. “Of all my 4-H projects, fossils were my favorite. In 1977, my Clay County 4-H geology project was selected to go to the Indiana State Fair. It was like Christmas morning trying to find my project and its placing at the state fair. My second year geology project at the state fair got me the sweepstakes, or grand champion, ribbon.
“4-H played a very pivotal role in my ultimate career ambition,” he said.
Receiving his bachelor’s degree in geology from Indiana State University further prepared Stevens for his 24 years with Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources. His surface and ground water hydrologist position prepared him for becoming IDNR’s division director. “These positions provided the opportunities to meet lots of new people including Dr. Nelson Shaffer with the Indiana Geological Survey. One day when I was talking with Dr. Shaffer he said he was going to judge geology projects at the state fair. Through that conversation we realized he had judged my state fair projects!”
Stevens is now a licensed professional geologist and has traveled all over the country representing environmental and coal-related issues. This experience recently garnered him his new position of president of the Indiana Coal Council, Inc.
“While 90 percent of my professional time is now spent on clean air issues because coal mining is a regulatory process, I’m fortunate I get to spend my days in an industry that brought me joy growing up hunting for rocks and running around with my friends. It’s very humbling to have this position and represent companies and coal miners. There are no finer people than coal miners. My job is to do anything I can to make sure electricity is safe and affordable for Indiana residents.”
4-H is still a big part of Stevens’ life. He is part of the Clay County 4-H Council, his wife Monica and daughter Chelsea are active 4-H alumni, and his son, Cory, a sophomore at Shakamak High School, is still in 4-H.
“Our local 4-H clubs have always been led by tremendous leaders like Barbara Miller, Ada Nuckolls, Jim Stevenson and Sue Urban,” Stevens said. “Pretty much every kid I knew growing up was in 4-H and there are still great opportunities like going to Washington, D.C. and the 4-H workshops at Purdue. We have an awesome Purdue Extension Educator in Tammy Steiner. Extension is a huge part of her life and she makes sure kids do not only projects but valuable community and fairgrounds service projects as well.”
Steiner says Stevens sets a volunteer precedent in his commitment with the organization. “When I first sat down with other educators to hear Bruce tell his 4-H story, he just glowed. All of our volunteers are so important to 4-H programs, however when you have a volunteer whose life has been so impacted by 4-H the whole way through, they bring a new level to the experience. Bruce makes sure every kid gets the most they can get out of 4-H.”
Stevens is very grateful to be a part of 4-H throughout his life. “I’m so thankful my early interests in rocks and fossils led to my career and that 4-H really cemented that interest. I’m very proud of the Clay County 4-H organization. A judge in Clay County once said he had never had a youth from 4-H in front of him in court. That speaks to the value, encouragement and commitment of adults, youth and parents involved in such a great organization.”
You might say Bruce Stevens grew up with lots of pet rocks.
- Valley Life
CHRIS DAVIES: Exercising with no ‘bells and whistles’
Recently at Fitness Solutions the joke has been “treadmills and cardio equipment are broken.” The truth is we don’t have any exercise machines that require electricity. This is for good reason.
MIKE LUNSFORD: The long goodbye to winter
I have no idea what the weather is to bring to us on the morning this story runs, but on the day I write most of it, the sun is shining, and we have just come off a weekend of pleasant warmth and cloudless skies.
GRAPE SENSE: News from the world’s wine regions can affect future prices
News from the world’s wine regions can affect even the average wine drinker. There is a lot going on, particularly in California, which can affect future wine prices.
TRIED ’N’ TRUE: The easiest ham loaf I’ve ever made
I have been asked for a good ham loaf recipe. This is really good. It comes from a friend of mine in Morton, Ill. Eileen Knapp makes this for her kids and grandkids — we all enjoyed it.
ANNIVERSARY: March 2, 2014
Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Morris
Making Waves: Woman devotes part of rural Vigo County home to museum on hairstyling
Some studies show that women spend more than $50,000 in a lifetime and more than one month of their entire life at a beauty salon, trying to get and keep their hair just the right style. How they have accomplished this through the ages has been a fascination for local hairstylist Brenda Ellis for more than 50 years.
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: No need to knead dough much for these rolls
I know we all like homemade bread. These rolls are great.
When we used to have Christmas with Gene’s family, his uncle Bob Beard’s daughter made these Oatmeal Rolls.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: We can help save the manatees, right here in the heartland
The year 2013 was the deadliest on record for manatees with about 829 reported deaths. This was a major jump from the 392 in 2012 and the record of 766 in 2010. While the cold weather played a role, one major attributing factor has been toxic red tide events caused by algal blooms.
Rockville Library to dedicate genealogy collection March 8
The genealogy collection at the Rockville Public Library will be named for Alberta T. Butler in a celebration at 1 p.m. on March 8. Butler was a longtime board member of the library, member of the Parke County Historical Society and member of the Wabash Valley Genealogical Society. She died July 24, 2013.
Planning Your Farm’s Future program March 4
As commercial farms grow in size and business risk becomes more magnified, farm families are thinking more and more about how the family farm will operate in future years, as well as who will provide management and who will control farm assets.
Engagement listings: Feb. 23, 2014
Wedding listing: Feb. 23, 2014
Anniversary listing: Feb. 23, 2014
Mr. and Mrs. Vernon Richey
Brenda Ellis devotes part of her rural Vigo County home to a museum on hairstyling. See story by Marjorie Hopkins and more photos by Jim Avelis in Sunday's Valley Life and on tribstar.com.
Heaven on Earth: Writer gets lost — both figuratively and literally — at Acadia National Park
Editor’s Note: Today, we continue the New England Journal as Mike Lunsford writes of a day hiking the Atlantic shoreline and the trails of Maine’s Acadia National Park.
GRAPE SENSE: The rare but exciting 100 percent Sagrantino wine
It’s easy to buy a big, expensive California Cabernet, red Bordeaux or Oregon Pinot Noir for an intimate dinner party or special gift. But to really surprise a serious wine lover or yourself, why not try something really different?
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: A nutritious, delicious after-school snack
We are always looking for something good and easy to give to the kids when they get home from school. I know I always was.
When grandkids came along they would help me make all kinds of bars. This recipe is from Pam from Sullivan Extension.
Women’s Only Wellness Weekend coming up April 4-6
The inaugural Women’s Only Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park this spring offers a chance for women to hike beautiful trails, enjoy the food and accommodations of the Turkey Run Inn, and participate in workshops ranging from photography to bird-watching to wine tasting.
Anniversary listings: Feb. 16, 2014
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Blacketer
Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Buck
Rock of Ages: Hulman Center stage has been entertaining crowds since 1974
As the stage lights came on, Sam Wellington and his cohorts gazed out at an audience of 8,060 Midwesterners.
The scene was familiar for him. Wellington and his country music quartet, The Four Guys, opened shows night after night for fellow RCA Records artists Ronnie Millsap and headliner Charley Pride on tours across North America.
CANDLES to show film on ‘British Schindler’
The film, “Nicky’s Family,” will be shown at 5:30 pm. on Feb. 20 in the CANDLES Holocaust Museum and Education Center at 1532 S. Third St. Admission is free. Pizza will be served at 5 p.m.
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: A quick pork chop recipe to throw in the oven
At this time of year we need something quick. We go to work and we want to make something for our loved ones.
You can make this for two, four, six or however many loved ones you may have.
Chris Davies: Educators take Fitness Challenge
Beginning in 2014 many made New Year’s resolutions. Ten area educators took a challenge that is having them shed weight, get fit and raise money for two great organizations.
Wearing a Legacy: Inspired by Debs, a variety of places and things beyond Terre Haute — from a town to beers — bear his name
A town and a school. Two styles of beer. A radio station, a street, a township, and a house for college students. Even a parade.
Any of those places or things named in honor of legendary labor and social activist Eugene V. Debs could theoretically exist in Terre Haute. Alas, none do.
GRAPE SENSE: Lenore Syrah, possibly the best value wine I’ve tasted in years
The past seven years this column has focused mostly on great wines under $20 that you won’t find on the grocery shelf. Every time it seems like the list is exhausted, another wine comes along to make even the wine cynic say ‘wow!’
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: An Italian chicken recipe that’s easy to make
This recipe comes from one of my readers who wanted to remain anonymous. Their grandparents made this chicken all the time, especially when family or friends dropped by their home.
Flowing forward: As Riverscape leader retires, he sees great things ahead for the Wabash River
An iconic photo of Harry Truman hangs in John Mutchner’s office.
The walls of that room and others inside Mutchner’s scenic eastside home offer glimpses of his interests, from auto racing to basketball to political history. The famous picture of a triumphant Truman, hoisting an erroneous “Dewey Defeats Truman” Chicago Tribune headline, rests neatly framed alongside a 1952 campaign button and an autographed notecard from the former president.
YOUR GREEN VALLEY: Bird feeder ignites passion for feathered friends in 15-year-old
In a dimly lit room, avid bird watchers gather for the annual Wabash Valley Audubon Society Photo Night at the Vigo County Public Library. One by one, presenters flipped through their photos to show off unique birds they saw throughout the year. When a presenter is stumped on the identification of a bird they photographed, the crowd works together to identify the bird. One photo in particular took these veteran birders longer than average to call out the identification.
TRIED ‘N’ TRUE: A really good chocolate chip cake recipe
Last September, I bought two cookbooks from Dunlap Methodist Church, one for me and one for my grandson, Tyler, who wants to be a chef. I told him the best cookbooks are ones from churches and different organizations. They have been tried.
CASY plans Orientation I, II trainings Feb. 4, 22
Chances and Services for Youth, or CASY, provides Orientation I training for those interested in becoming a licensed child care provider. Orientation I is part one of two trainings on opening a child care site. It is a start-up workshop for those interested in opening a Licensed Family Child Care Home, Licensed Child Care Center or Unlicensed Registered Ministry.
- More Valley Life Headlines
- CHRIS DAVIES: Exercising with no ‘bells and whistles’