Great Plains Focus is a resource for stories from the region as well as a place to connect with the Center, Museum, and those interested in the field. Got a story or want to change your fellows listing? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Time lapse project presented
Great Plains Fellows and UNL assistant professors of practice Mike Forsberg and Mike Farrell presented their Platte Basin Timelapse project on December 3. Forty-three cameras in three states have taken a photo every daylight hour of every day since 2011 resulting in half a million photos.
Great Plains in the movies
A New York Times interview focuses on the Great Plains discoveries actor Will Forte found while shooting the movie "Nebraska." In the piece, Forte talks about road tripping with Bruce Dern, eating in Omaha, and encountering a beauty he "wasn't prepared to see."
Here's the movie trailer.
Interview from New York Times >
Photo from Paramount, Posted 11/20/2013
Fellow's Amazon research
UNL paleoclimatologist and Great Plains Fellow Sherilyn Fritz is project coordinator for a large multidisciplinary team of North and South American scientists that recently won a five-year, $4.4 million Frontiers in Earth-System Dynamics grant from the National Science Foundation.
Whole story from UNL news >
Associate Fellow named state poet
Twyla Hansen, a Great Plains Associate Fellow, has been named Nebraska's state poet for a term of five years -- the first woman to hold the position. Awards for her poetry include the High Plains Book Award, the WILLA Literary Award, and the Nebraska Book Award. Hansen has an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a master's degree in agroecology, both from UNL.
Whole story from the Omaha World Herald >
Prairie chicken movement studied
A School of Natural Resources research team banded 70 prairie chickens living near a wind farm near Ainsworth, Neb. to study the birds' movements and whether the movements are influenced by the presence of the wind farm. Prairie chickens are native to Nebraska and the Great Plains.
Read the whole story from UNL News >
Photo via U.S. FWS, posted 11/13/2013
Great Plains Quarterly fall issue
The new issue of GPQ is now available via the University of Nebraska Press or for free online here. Starting with Volume 34, the journal will be part of Project Muse and available through university libraries. This issue features stories on Native American beads, rainmaking myths on the Plains, and The Great Sioux Reservation.
See the table of contents >
New issue of GPR out
Vol. 23, No. 2 of Great Plains Research is now available via the University of Nebraska Press. This issue is full of articles from the Center's 2013 Great Plains Symposium on school consolidation and rural education issues. It includes a photo essay by rural photographer Chuck Guildner and an opening essay by symposium co-chairs Rick Edwards and Peter Longo.
What's inside this issue >
Digital project focused on land use
"Casting Digital Nets" is a digital project from David Nesheim, an assistant professor at Chadron State College, and a team from the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. Released this year, the project documents changes in the use of the land surrounding Lake Andes, which changed from the center of an Indigenous community, to a recreational fishing area, and finally to a National Wildlife Refuge.
See the project >
Great Plains book on the 'Rainbelt'
Great Plains Scholar David Wishart's new book is on the myth of the Rainbelt -- the myth that prompted late 19th century settlers to flock to the western High Plains and plant trees, believing that by the act of planting, the area's rainfall would increase.
Wishart was the editor for the Center's Encyclopedia of the Great Plains.
More from UNL News >
Photo via UNL, posted 10/22/2013
New book on Nebraska landslides
Duane Eversoll, professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, has written a book on Nebraska's landslides. The book contains research Eversoll began in 1981 covering more than 300 landslides. In Nebraska, landslides are more common in the eastern and northeastern parts of the state.
More from UNL News >
Photo via UNL, posted 10/17/2013
Kansas water conference Oct. 24-25
The annual Governor's Conference on the Future of Water in Kansas will be held Oct. 24-25, 2013 in Manhattan, Kansas. The conference will highlight the latest policy and research developments of water issues in Kansas. The conference brings together scientists, water managers, state and federal officials, city and county administrators, environmental organizations, irrigators and citizens who share an interest in Kansas water resources.
More about the conference >
Photographs capture Great Plains
Photographer Terry Evans has been capturing these aerial scenes from the Great Plains since 1978. Recently, Evans has focused on the North Dakota oil boom made possible by fracking. Books with her photos are by Yale University Press and Radius Books.
History conference seeks papers
The 57th Annual Missouri Valley History Conference is seeking papers on this year's theme: "Indigenous Peoples: Cultures, Adaptations, and Survival"
The conference will take place March 6-8 in Omaha.
Paper and panel proposals in all areas of history are welcome, but organizers especially encourage theme-related papers.
More on the conference >
Photo from UNO, posted 9/26/2013
Prairie Festival at the Land Institute
The 35th annual Prairie Festival took place at The Land Institute in Salina, Kan. Speakers will delve into topics including sustainability, economics, agriculture and more. Great Plains Associate Fellow Lisi Krall will deliver the Strachan Donnelly Lecture at the festival on the 28th titled "Wild Earth Economics: Rethinking the Economic Evolution of Humans."
More on the festival >
Photo from The Land Institute, posted 9/23/2013
Washington Post examines water
The newspaper examined a study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which looked at when the water in the Ogallala Aquifer might be depleted. At current rates of use, farming in the crucial Kansas area is likely to peak at around 2040.
Read the whole story on the Washington Post's site here >
Climate change survey results
A UNL poll reports most rural Nebraskans believe that climate change is real, but do not feel that something has to be done immediately. Sixty percent think some intervention should happen within their lifetime. The poll also covered matters including water, healthcare, taxes and community well-being.
Read the whole story on UNL's news site >
New wheat variety developed
Great Plains Fellow and UNL agronomist P. Stephen Baenziger has helped develop a new wheat variety suited for growing in rainfed areas in Nebraska. This variety is the 34th released by a UNL/USDA joint venture during Baenziger's tenure.
Read the whole story on IANR's site >
Photo via UNL, posted 9/11/2013
Water-sampling robot in the works
Carrick Detweiler and Sebastian Elbaum, professors of computer science and engineering, have been awarded a grant from the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture to build a water-sampling drone to be used for collecting samples quickly and in remote locations.
Read the whole story on UNL's site >
Photo via UNL, posted 9/10/2013
Mari Sandoz conference in Sept.
The Mari Sandoz Heritage Society is hosting their 2013 conference at the end of the month titled "Drought and Climate in Mari Sandoz Country." The conference will be held on the Chadron State College campus on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. Dan Flores, the A.B. Hammond Chair in Western History at the college in Missoula, is the main speaker. Flores specializes in cultural and environmental studies of the American West.
More about the conference >
Fellow writes Abraham Lincoln book
Great Plains Fellow and UNL History Professor Ken Winkle has a new book on Abraham Lincoln's time spent in Washington titled "Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D.C." Winkle has been a Fellow since 1988.
More about the book >
Fellows teach oil industry professionals
Great Plains Fellows and UNL professors Chris Fielding and Matt Joeckel recently created a class for oil industry professionals on Nebraska geography and geology, specifically focusing on the Platte, Loup and Elkhorn rivers.
Click here to read the more about the project >
Photo: Chris Fielding (left) and Matt Joeckel (right), via UNL. Posted 9/4/2013
Great Plains water research funded
Kansas State University researchers will head a study how human activity and climate change affect Central Great Plains water systems with a highly competitive, $1.4M grant from the NSF. The interdisciplinary group includes researchers across three colleges and six departments. Researchers hope to improve the sustainability of agricultural water systems.
Read the whole story >
Johnsgard publishes 61st book
Great Plains Fellow and UNL Emeritus Biological Sciences Professor Paul Johnsgard has now published his 61st book with three recent works: "Yellowstone Wildlife: Ecology and Natural History of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem," "Bird and Birding in the Bighorn Mountains Region of Wyoming," and "The Birds of Nebraska."
Read more about Johnsgard via UNL News>
Great Plains Fellow named to AOU
Mary Bomberger Brown, research assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and coordinator of the Tern and Plover Conservation Partnership, has been named as a fellow in the American Ornithologists' Union. Bomberger Brown has been a Fellow of the Center since 1998.
Read more about the appointment here >
Montana fieldwork for Fellow
Great Plains Fellow Carroll Van West, Director, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation Tennessee State Historian, has launched a blog of his fieldwork in Montana. In 1984-1985, Van West undertook a major project for the State Historic Preservation Office at the Montana Historical Society to travel the state to develop an inventory of places, both known and unknown, to consider in the state historic preservation plan. He's been asked to update the project, focusing on heritage development. Posted 8/23/2013
Fellow working on green roofs
Richard Sutton, Great Plains Fellow and professor of Agronomy and Horticulture, is featured in this month's Scarlet for installing several native prairie grass roofs in Lincoln, including a 6,000-square-foot area on top of the Larson building downtown.
Other locations include the Arbor Day Foundation Building, Sandhills Publishing and Pioneers Park Nature Center. Posted 8/12/2013
Fellow's research near Crawford
Great Plains Fellow Matt Douglass is wrapping up a month-long class at the Hudson-Meng Education and Research Center north of Crawford, Neb. Douglass, a Research Assistant Professor of Anthropology at UNL, led a group of students to excavate, analyze and develop GPS maps of findings. The students will continue their work in a follow-up class.
Video: Saving Nebraska's Sandhills
The World Wildlife Fund has a great video on the ecotourism operations of the Switzer Ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska. Switzer Ranch's annual Prairie Chicken Festival puts the prairie chicken and the sharp-tailed grouse in the spotlight for visitors. NET has another video story about the same ranch that's equally enthralling.
Find out more about the ranch and it's ecotourism business, Calamus Outfitters.
Great Plains Fellow steps down from dean's role
John Reinhardt, dean of UNMC's College of Dentistry, is stepping down from his position on June 30, 2014. Reinhardt is a Great Plains Fellow with the Center and was part of a panel discussion during the 2013 Great Plains Symposium on rural education. Reinhardt has been dean of the dental college for 13 years.
National Grasslands Week
The USDA declared June 23-29 as National Grasslands Week to celebrate the Forest Service's management of 20 National Grasslands in 13 states totaling almost 4 million acres. The Little Missouri National Grassland in North Dakota is the biggest, with 1,028,051 acres.
See the declaration here and learn more about the National Grasslands here.
2015 Symposium Announced
The Center for Great Plains Studies is announcing a partnership with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs for an event centered on Native Americans in the Great Plains. The Center's 41st annual symposium will be held in the spring of 2015 with the theme of Chief Standing Bear, the Standing Bear Trail and continuing issues for Native Americans today.
Read the press release or visit the NCIA's website.
Video: Wes Jackson
The Land Institute President Wes Jackson speaks on ecologically sensitive agriculture and the future of ecosystem-based farming. In this photo, Jackson holds a picture of a perennial strain of a wheat called Kernza with a long and robust root system (bottom) versus typical annual wheat planted by farmers (top).
View the video of his lecture here and visit the Land Institute's website.
Great Plains Fellows
- Find and contact our Great Plains Fellows by expertise or see the full lists:
Art & Art History
Bio Systems Engineering
Education, Family Science
Ethnic/Native Am. Studies
Textiles, Merch., Fashion
Women's and Gender Studies
Center for Great Plains Studies projects
From the archives
Charles Schreyvogel, White Eagle, bronze, 1899. Gift of Dr. John and Elizabeth Christlieb. 0088.1980.
Charles Schreyvogel resided in Hoboken, NJ, most of his life, but took frequent trips west for the betterment of his asthma and the opportunity to record scenes to empower his artistic endeavors. His primary medium was oil on canvas, while much of his sculpture was simply modeling clay in order to paint more accurately.
Historical accuracy became just as important as accurate proportion of the figure in all of his renderings. He spent time with troops of the U.S. Army and Indians on the Ponca Reservation, where he met Chief White Eagle, the subject of this bronze sculpture. Depicting Ponca Indian Chief of the Great Plains, "White Eagle" is one of the few finished large casts in bronze that he completed. He only made six bronze casts of this unforgettable character of American History. This sculpture in the style of a "late republican Roman bust" said to be in keeping with the chief's stoic and noble character.
Winslow Homer, Civil War Prisoners, charcoal on paper, 1865. Gift of Dr. John and Elizabeth Christlieb. 0189.1980.
Portions of this piece, such as the general composition and figure stance, likely served as a preliminary sketch for the painting Prisoners from the Front (1866) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art's collection.