Hey, Aaron here at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

As always, it has been busy!

This week I bring you the first Volunteer Highlight! A Volunteer Highlight will be an informal interview with one of Fort Vancouver’s volunteers. Not only will you get to know them better, but you’ll get to see how they bring something special to our amazing volunteer program.

This week I talked with Bob Prinz. He often cooks meals for park volunteers and staff. In fact, today he’s making us some sausage, mashed potatoes , and salad! Yum. Bob’s a great guy and he loves what he does. Here’s what he had to say:

How long have you been volunteering at Fort Vancouver?

I started in July of 2014, so almost 1-1/2 years now.

Which area do you volunteer in now and what do you typically do there?

I started at the Visitor Center with the goal to get into the kitchen as soon as possible.  After maybe 2 months, my days in the kitchen began and I’ve been there since.  Also, I am involved in any of the events at the fort that I can attend.  I’ve cooked for the summer camps, the schools and others.

How did you come to be a volunteer at Fort Vancouver?

I have a friend who volunteered at the fort and she thought I would be a good fit.  She didn’t stay but I signed on and enjoyed it all so far and do not expect it to change.

What path led you here?

Not sure what you mean by ‘path.’  As a retired educator, I feel I have a background of dealing with people.  Also I have certification for a ‘professional’ chef so I enjoy cooking and presenting food.

What’s your favorite thing about volunteering here at Fort Vancouver?

The best is meeting people, especially those from foreign countries.  I enjoy talking with all people and finding out their interests and, of course, telling them the culinary history of the fort.  I very much enjoy the school groups and try to get them involved in discussion and Q/A when they come in.  Mostly it has been successful.

What keeps you volunteering?

People – visitors, rangers, volunteers.  People is what it is all about.

What the biggest challenge of being a volunteer and how do you overcome that?

There is no challenge in being a volunteer.  As a retired person, I have the time and I have the resources to continue.  So personally, no challenge at all.

What’s one thing you’d like to tell people who come to the fort?

I like to relate that there is really no big difference in what people ate then and what they eat now but the methods were, of course, different.  I relate that the food prepared for Hudson’s Bay was healthier than what is prepared in homes and restaurants today.  Also the fort needed to be self-sufficient and that is very different what we have today.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

This has been and continues to be a wonderful experience.  My goal for the kitchen is to have it open every day and as long as volunteers can be there.  I feel it is one place at the fort that everyone can relate to since everyone eats and many people cook.  Very relevant for a person of any age.

Any fun facts about yourself or pieces of information that you’d want other’s to know?

About me? Born in New York City, lived in Connecticut, left the USA in 1975 and returned in 2007 after 32 years working for the Department of Defense, retired in 2007.  Avid traveler; trained as a chef; artist and art collector; educator and advocate for education for girls, especially in third world countries. Much more.

In addition to this, I had the chance to take some pictures of Bob in action. As I mentioned above, Bob often cooks meals for volunteers and staff. Check out the pictures below to see what 19th century cooking looked like!

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The food was so good and I ate it so fast that I didn’t get any pictures of the actual meal! You’ll just have to stop on by and check out what Bob’s got cooking the next time you are in Vancouver, Wa.

That’s all for now,

Aaron