SNR Outreach Seminars - Fall 2011

Wildlife Encounters

Speaker: Dennis Ferraro

Host, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Date: 9/29/2011
Time: 7:00:00 PM
Location: 107 Hardin Hall

Abstract

You don't have to travel to exotic locations to meet the creatures that live there. Instead, come visit them at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 29, when Wildlife Encounters puts on a show in the Hardin Hall Auditorium, at 33rd and Holdrege streets in Lincoln. The high-energy presentation, sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's School of Natural Resources (SNR), is free and open to the public.

You'll meet mammals, birds and reptiles from all over the world and learn about how they survive, where they live, what they eat and how you can help conserve their habitat. The delegation from the animal kingdom to UNL's East Campus will probably include a bird of prey, a bear or a kangaroo, a big cat, and a Fennec fox, among others.

Audience participation, getting to meet and greet some of the half-dozen animal ambassadors, is part of the package, so visitors may choose to dress accordingly.

The presentation "brings awareness of animals across the world, and the need to conserve biodiversity," said Dennis Ferraro, an SNR Extension herpetologist who helped arrange the presentation. "Everybody has a voice and something they can do, whether it's by donating, writing letters of support, or finding another opportunity to get involved." Wildlife and habitat conservation are also taught at the School, through several different majors.

A student in UNL's Wildlife Club gets into a friendly pushing match with a visiting red kangaroo, a full-grown male, during a visit from Wildlife Encounters last year.
A student in UNL's Wildlife Club gets into a friendly pushing match with a visiting red kangaroo, a full-grown male, during a visit from Wildlife Encounters last year.

The Wild Life of Interacting with the Media

Speaker: Greg Warner

Public Information Officer, Nebraska Games and Parks Commission

Date: 10/19/2011
Time: 7:00:00 PM
Location: 107 Hardin Hall

Abstract

"We're not just on the job, we're on a mission, and you're part of it," Wagner wants people to know. "We're here to do the best job we possibly can for the betterment of Nebraska's natural resources." The Game and Parks Commission is charged with stewardship of the state's fish, wildlife, park and outdoor recreation resources.

Wagner walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs on behalf of the outdoors, whether he's on the job or at the grocery store.

One of Wagner's main goals is to get people, especially young ones, to spend some time outside. Ten years ago, he worried because young people were spending a lot of time at malls. Now, he worries that they aren't even leaving their couches, opting instead for virtual hunting, fishing and other electronic experiences.

For anyone who cares about the outdoors, "We have to encourage this generation to step outside," Wagner said. "If they don't, our natural resource management decisions are going to be much tougher to get across to these young people who will soon become a voting and working public. They will show up at your meetings and they won't care about trumpeter swans on Holmes Lake in Lincoln."

Spending time together outdoors is good for families, too, Wagner observed. "You're in a deer blind, and when the deer aren't moving and the Gameboy gets old, they'll start talking, and you can solve any problems, and bond one-to-one."

The Game and Parks Commission is well-networked with other conservation agencies across the country and the world, and is a leader in areas of conservation education that help introduce people to hunting and other outdoor activities, Wagner said. It's also mostly self-supporting with user fees.

Wagner grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. He started at Game and Parks in 1978 at the age of 16, earned college degrees in biology, English and human resources, and is proud to say that he's driven on every highway in the state, more than once.

He values hands-on knowledge and experience at least as much as academic knowledge, and would point out to anyone considering a career in natural resources management that working with humans is the biggest part of the job.

As far as working with the media goes, Wagner recommends total and prompt honesty, and good old-fashioned telephone contact, rather than sending email. Oh, and a collection of zany hats.

Greg Warner
Greg Warner

Speaker's Bio

E-mail: greg.wagner@nebraska.gov
Phone: 402-595-2144

The 2011 Missouri River Flooding

Speaker: David Pearson

Senior Service Hydrologist, National Weather Service: Omaha/Valley

Date: 11/8/2011
Time: 7:00:00 PM
Location: 107 Hardin Hall

Abstract

"The driving force for this flood was heavy rainfall and above-normal snowpack in Montana and the surrounding mountains," Pearson said. "If you've got heavy precipitation at the beginning of the river, at no point can that water leave the system. It has to travel through every reservoir." He noted that without the control over river flow that the reservoirs provide, the Missouri River in Omaha would have been about four feet higher, which would have strained the capability of the city's levees.

Flood mitigation is one of several objectives in management of the river system, Pearson said. Other key considerations are hydropower, recreation, wildlife habitat, drinking water, and irrigation.

The National Weather Service provides forecasts of river levels to the general public and to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is the agency that oversees operations of the reservoirs and dams on the river system.

Although Pearson will discuss the flooding along the entire length of the Missouri, the bulk of his presentation will focus on events that occurred along the river between Gavin's Point Dam in northeast Nebraska, and Rulo in southeast Nebraska.

There was no way to prevent the flooding this year, Pearson said. Floods closed Interstate 29, washed away roads, inundated farmland, and triggered "unusual event" declarations at two nuclear power plants in Nebraska.

"There are some things you just can't prevent," Pearson said. "Hopefully, this was a once in a lifetime event."

Dave Pearson
Dave Pearson

Speaker's Bio

E-mail: david.pearson@noaa.gov
Phone: 402-472-3373

Civil Discourse: The good, the bad, the ugly

Speaker: W. Don Nelson

Publisher, Prairie Fire

Date: 11/29/2011
Time: 7:00:00 PM
Location: 107 Hardin Hall

Abstract

Tired of the media food fights that masquerade as civil discourse? Join Don in a thoughtful examination and discussion of how we can try to return to enlightened examination of complicated and contentious issues surrounding Natural Resources in an ever increasingly complex world.

W. Don Nelson <em>photo by Joel Sartore</em>
W. Don Nelson photo by Joel Sartore

Speaker's Bio

W. Don Nelson has lived in Nebraska for 42 years with a 7.5 year residence in Wyoming (1977-1984). He served as policy adviser to several governors in Nebraska and Wyoming. Nelson was an investment banker in the private sector for 14 years (1987-2000). He was the Nebraska State Director for United States Senator E. Ben Nelson (2001-2006). Ben and Don, 35 year acquaintances are not related. Don is the founder and publisher of Prairie Fire newspaper, an 85,000 reader Great Plains publication covering public policy, the arts and the environment. The first monthly issue was published July, 2007. He serves as a member of numerous corporate and civic boards of directors.