Mike Forsberg

Mike Forsberg

  • Contact Information
  • My Story
  • Publications
  • Background
  • Grants
  • Courses Taught

Contact Information

TitleConservation Photographer
Faculty RankResearch Assistant Professor
Address319 South Hardin Hall
3310 Holdrege South
Lincoln NE

East Campus
  • office: 402-472-8071


Contact Preference


My Story

Hi Everyone. My name is Mike Forsberg. I am a conservation photographer and have focused most of my career working in the Great Plains of North America, once was one of the greatest grassland ecosystems on Earth.

I was born and raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, received a degree in Geography from UNL, and worked my way through college as a trip leader for the Outdoor Adventures Program. After brief stints in graduate school and as a seasonal ranger in Yellowstone, I landed my first full time photography job as a staff photographer and writer for NEBRASKAland Magazine, the state’s conservation publication. There I learned the ropes of telling natural history and conservation stories from a generous team of mentors who are still heroes of mine today. Then I struck out on my own to start my own freelance photography business and gallery to explore beyond the borders of the state and work on longer term book projects and films dedicated to subjects like Sandhill cranes and North America’s Great Plains, while raising a family. Today we are proud to say our two daughters are in college, and both at the University of Nebraska.

I first started working with the UNL in 2011 when my friend and colleague Michael Farrell and I co-founded Platte Basin Timelapse ( www.plattebasintimelapse.com), a long-term documentary project that leverages the power of photography and storytelling to braid together stories connected to water and watersheds here in Nebraska and beyond. The Platte Basin has been both a perfect stage and a learning laboratory for the project, and as we approach our 10-year anniversary in 2021, PBT has moved to the School of Natural Resources and we couldn’t be more excited to join the SNR team.

Looking forward, I’m very interested in continuing our storytelling work where the land serves as our classroom. Where our students, faculty and staff can pull up the straight lines on a map and explore our landscapes as watersheds, investigate the connectivity of wildlife movements and migrations, see the intersection of ecology and economy, better understand the resiliency of the land and working landscapes, and building community by finding common ground. Together, I hope we can evolve a program that propels conservation and science communication forward, and grow the next generation of conservation storytellers.

If someone would have told me when I was in high school that I would be a photographer, raise a family and happily live most of my life in Nebraska, I would have laughed them right out of the room. But life has a funny way of taking you in the direction it wants you to go, and it can be an amazing journey. Taking a moment now to look back in the rear-view mirror, I wouldn’t have wished it any other way. The door is always open, so please reach out any time.

Feature Stories

Selected Publications

Andrew J. Caven, Michael L. Forsberg. 28 August 2023. Preliminary Report. Wood Buffalo National Park, Parks Canada, Fort Smith Northwest Territories Canada. North American Crane Working Group Meeting, Baraboo, Wisconsin.
Thinking Like A Watershed – Platte Basin Timelapse Turns Science Into Photographic Poetry. Sierra Magazine. Fall feature 2023 issue. Pgs 40-47. Author Carson Vaughan. Photographs Michael Forsberg and Platte Basin Timelapse.Online
Caven, A. J., Koupal, K. D., Baasch, D. M., Buckley, E. M., Malzahn, J., Forsberg, M. L., Lundgren, M. (2021). One home is a house for many: temporal portioning of vertebrates on an American Beaver lodge. The American Midland Naturalist(81(4)), 592-607.
Farrell, J. M., Forsberg, M. Great Plains - America's Lingering Wild.
Forsberg, M. (2021). On the Move: Pronghorn Migrations Across Seasons. The Nature Conservancy; The National Wildlife Federation. http://nature.org/pronghornseasonsOnline
Forsberg, M. (2021). Whooping Crane (Grus americana) family consumes a diversity of aquatic vertebrates during fall migration stopover at the Platte River, Nebraska. Western North American Naturalist. 81(4):592-607 Online
Forsberg. M.L. 2020. The Life Aquatic. Audubon Magazine. Online
Brinley Buckley, E.M., A.J. Caven, B.L. Gottesman, M.J. Harner, B.C. Pijanowski, and M.L. Forsberg. 2018. Assessing biological and environmental effects of a total solar eclipse with passive multimodal technologies. Ecological Indicators 95:353-369Online
Brinley Buckley, E.M., A.J. Caven, B.L. Gottesman, M.J. Harner, B.C. Pijanowski, and M.L. Forsberg. 2018. Biological and environmental datasets from the August 2017 total solar eclipse. Data in Brief 21:552-555Online
Brinley Buckley, E. M., Allen, C., Forsberg, M., Farrell, M., Caven., A. J. (2017). Capturing change: the duality of time lapse imagery to acquire data and depict ecological dynamics. Ecology and Society, 22(3), Article 30.Online
Forsberg, M.L., and K. Geluso. 2017. Terrapene ornata (Ornate Box Turtle): Scavenging. Herpetological Review 48:429Online
Geluso, K. and M.L. Forsberg. 2017. Hitching a ride: First record of a Least Chipmunk (Tamias minimus) in eastern Nebraska. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 37:28-31Online
Johnsgard, P. E. Fowler, M. Forsberg, M. Bomberger Brown, D. Ebbeka, J. Loomis and P. Freeman. 2014. Game Birds of the World: A catalog of the Madson collection. School of Natural Resources, and University of e Museum. 117 pp.Online
Forsberg, M. O'Brien, D., Wishart, D., Koozer, T. 2009. Great Plains America's Lingering Wild. University Of Chicago Press. pp. 256.
Great Plains – America’s Lingering Wild. University of Chicago Press. 2009. 260 pgs
On Ancient Wings – The Sandhill Cranes of North America. 2004. Self-published 1st edition. University of Nebraska Press 2nd and 3rd editions. 168 pgs



DegreeMajorInstitutionYear Awarded
Bachelor of ScienceGeographyUniversity of Nebraska-Lincoln1989





TitleAwarded byYear Awarded
The J. Sherwood Chalmers Medal – Conservation PhotographyGarden Club of America2020
Ansel Adams Award for Conservation PhotographySierra Club2017
Environmental Impact AwardNorth American Nature Photographers Association2017
Honorary Nebraska Master NaturalistNebraska Master Naturalist2017
Nebraska Statehood Forever StampUS Postal Service2016
Great Plains Book Prize – Great Plains, America’s Lingering WildCenter for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska2010
Mission Award North American Nature Photographers Association2009
Conservation Education AwardThe Wildlife Society2004
American Scenes Series, International Stamp – Nine-Mile PrairieUS Postal Service2001


Professional Organizations

International League of Conservation PhotographersSenior Fellow
National Geographic CreativeRepresented photographer
North American Nature Photographers AssociationCharter member
Prairie CorridorCo-chair, Prairie Corridor Cabinet




SNR Program Areas

  • Applied Ecology


Currently this page only displays grants that were awarded on 1/1/ 2009 to the present. If a grant was awarded prior to 1/1/ 2009 and is still active, it will not be displayed on this page.

Grant TitleTime-Lapse Chute Monitoring Services
Starting Date01/18/2024


Ending Date09/30/2024
Funding Level$15,000.00
Funding AgencyNebraska Millitary Department


Grant TitleNebraska National Guard Whooping Crane Monitoring Project
Starting Date01/01/2024


Ending Date09/30/2024
Funding Level$59,950.00
Funding AgencyNebraska Millitary Department


Grant TitleTime-Lapse Chute Monitoring Services
Starting Date03/08/2023


Ending Date09/30/2023
Funding Level$15,000.00
Funding AgencyNebraska Military Department


Grant TitleInventory of Nocturnal Macro-Moths in the Central Platte River Valley, with a focus on Erebidae and Sphingidae
Starting Date09/01/2022


Ending Date12/31/2022
Funding Level$4,081.00
Funding AgencyPlatte River Whooping Crane Maintance Trust


Grant TitleImage-Based Streamflow and Water Quality Modeling
Starting Date10/01/2021


Ending Date09/30/2022
Funding Level$20,000.00
Funding AgencyU.S. Geological Survey via Nebraska Water Center


Grant TitleTime-Lapse Chute Monitoring Services (Additional Funding)
Starting Date01/14/2021


Ending Date09/30/2021
Funding Level$15,004.00
Funding AgencyNE Military Department


Grant TitleWetlands of Nebraska: An Outreach and Education Project
Starting Date01/23/2020


Ending Date09/30/2022
Funding Level$109,865.00
Funding AgencyNebraska Games and Parks Commission / EPA


Courses Taught

Course NumberCourse TitleFall Even YearsFall Odd YearsSpring Even YearsSpring Odd YearsSummer SessionCross Listing
NRES 393Digital Imaging and Storytelling in Agriculture and Natural ResourcesXXXX
NRES 493Experiences in Natural Resources