Senator moonlights as cowpoke on weekends

Above: Sen. Fischer tags a calf’s ear on her ranch outside Valentine.

Three hundred miles away from the State Capitol, Sen. Deb Fischer calls Sunny Slope Ranch her home.

A native of Lincoln, Fischer moved to the ranch 30 miles from Valentine after meeting her husband, Bruce, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Now back in Lincoln to serve in the Legislature, Fischer looks forward to long weekends when she can get back to the couple’s family-owned ranch.

Fischer often mentions her passion for rural Nebraska, saying she is fortunate to call Cherry County, the state’s largest, her home. Before running for office, she advocated for Nebraska’s rural areas by volunteering for local and state organizations including the Sandhills Cattle Association, the Nebraska Cattlemen, the Valentine Rural High School Board of Education, the AgBuilders of Nebraska, the Nebraska Department of Agriculture’s Rural Rehabilitation Review Board, the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council and the Governor’s Ag Advisory Council.

Fischer said much work needs to be done to help rural Nebraska regain its prosperity.

“The communities in the 43rd District are active, they’re viable, they want to grow,” she said.

As the representative of the largest geographic district in the state, Fischer has prioritized keeping communication open between her office and her district.

“We receive a lot of calls, a lot of e-mails, a lot of mail,” she said.

She also does a weekly radio show on seven stations that cover her district and writes a weekly column printed in several newspapers to inform constituents about what is happening in the Legislature.

On weekends when she can return home, she schedules meetings to stay informed about issues concerning her district. One of the benefits of being a senator from Valentine, Fischer says, is that she must drive through a large part of her district on the five-and-a-half hour trip home. She drives a different route each time to keep in touch with the 13 counties in her district. She pointed to a district map on her desk and ran her index finger along several routes, recommending them as beautiful drives.

“That’s the job,” she said, when asked if she minds the driving. “You get a lot of thinking done on those roads.”

“I have active constituents. I’m just thankful that they call and have me come out to meet with them.”

Her time on the road has allowed her to visit with people at the gas stations and cafes along the way.

“I ask them if they have anything to talk to me about while I’m there,” she said.

Her constituents regularly invite her to county fairs, volunteer barbeques and pancake feeds.

“I’m judging a barbeque off in June,” she smiles. “These events are like family gatherings, where people enjoy each others’ company and spend time with their kids.”

“I don’t want Nebraska to lose this,” she said. “It’s too important.”

Her husband Bruce and their three grown sons have filled in for her at the ranch, where Fischer continues to help with working cattle when needed.

When asked if her family misses having her come out to the ranch while she serves in the Legislature, she replied with a smile: “They miss the cooking.”

In addition to cooking, gardening is another hobby for the senator. She often canned and froze food her family would enjoy for the year, but she admits, “As I got older, the garden got smaller.”

She also loves to golf, snow ski and spend time with family.

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