Above: Sen. Watermeier enjoys a family trip to Jordan with daughter Rachel in 2009.
As a farmer, Syracuse Sen. Dan Watermeier would have been a natural fit for committees dealing with agriculture or natural resources. But Watermeier knew his eagerness to learn about and help develop legislation addressing some of the most pressing issues facing Nebraskans meant entering uncharted territory.
That is why he wanted to serve on the Health and Human Services and Transportation and Telecommunications committees.
“I wanted to be on committees that don’t necessarily fall into my areas of experience,” he said. “I want to learn as much as I can during committee and be better prepared for discussion on the floor.”
While he acknowledges the steep learning curve that lies ahead, he said he is excited for the challenge. Watermeier sees the Legislature as a living organism — always growing and changing, and he expects to enjoy being a part of it.
Watermeier grew up in southeast Nebraska, where his father was active in civic boards. He instilled in a young Watermeier the goal to always do better.
“We need to make sure we’re providing services for those who need it most,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re building broader communication access for rural Nebraskans. We can do that if we make sure our state agencies are communicating and working together efficiently.”
Watermeier graduated with a bachelor’s degree in agriculture from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln and began farming soon after. He worked as a grain logistician for Cargill, Inc. and served as chairman on both the Nemaha Natural Resources District and Nebraska Natural Resources Commission.
Watermeier credits wife Jean Ann and his three daughters — Leslie, Rachel and Kaitlyn — with making the transition to state senator a seamless one. He admits that adapting to Lincoln’s commuter traffic has been one of his biggest adjustments since being sworn in.
“I like to be here by 7 a.m. every morning,” he says, laughing. “It’s just so much easier than sitting in traffic.”
Watermeier says his entry into state government has been nothing but welcoming and encouraging. He identifies former Sen. Mike Flood as someone he looks to as an example of quiet leadership.
“I’ve really been impressed by the amount of passion everyone here — from all the staff to returning senators — has for the institution,” he said.
The balancing act of being a citizen legislator schedules out nicely for Watermeier. It certainly helps that the busy legislative session will begin to wind down right as the peak of farming season begins, he said. He hopes to still have plenty of time to pursue his hobbies: golf, aviation, international travel and of course, spoiling granddaughter Reagan.