Episode 20: Place-Conscious Experiential Writing for Students and Teachers

January 4, 2021

The Nebraska Writing Project and Homestead National Monument have partnered together to host the Prairie Visions Writing Festival, and annual workshop for middle and high schoolers. In this episode, educators and rangers discuss using place-based writing to give students a greater appreciation of place, writing, history, and the Homestead Act.

Plainstate: The Podcast, sponsored by the Department of English, is a podcast about the humanities on the Great Plains and beyond featuring interviews, stories, people, and places.




Thank you for listening to the Plainstate Podcast, a production of the Department of English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. This special episode was produced by the Nebraska Writing Project.

You are listening to NWP radio, a production of the National Writing Project. This podcast episode was produced by the Nebraska Writing Project and made possible with a grant from the National Writing Project-National Parks Service partnership: supporting place-based learning and collaboration between National Writing Project sites and our nation's National Parks.



Prairie Visions: Writing about Home at Homestead Monument. Place-conscious experiential writing for students and teachers.

Welcome, listeners, to this podcast, “Prairie Visions: Writing about Home,” created by the Nebraska Writing Project. As part of the National Writing Project–National Parks Service partnership, which was an experience in connected learning opportunities.


To give you a sense of the place of the National Park Service Homestead National Monument of America, Ranger Jesse Bolli describes the ecology of Homestead National Monument of America in an essay he wrote during part of the student workshop. Adults, rangers, teachers, and facilitators write along with the students in any Nebraska Writing Project partnership with Homestead and other National Park Service workshops. According to Ranger Bolli, in his essay:


When Homestead National Monument of America was created in 1936, the land was being farmed, but soon it was decided that the vegetation on the land needed to be restored to its native vegetation: tallgrass prairie. The land around you has managed to give you a glimpse of what the first homesteaders would have encountered when they arrived in this area to stake their claim and start their lives as a farmer. The prairie is now considered restored and is maintained through the use of prescribed burning, mowing, and invasive plants are removed using chemical and mechanical means.

A tall grass prairie is an area dominated by grass species such as big blue stem, Indian grass, switchgrass, and many others. Less than 11%of the area will be covered by trees. Trees are usually limited to waterways.

Many species of birds, animals, and insects have evolved with a prairie and need open areas to survive. Some of them include the American badger, the dickcissel, the meadowlark, the thirteen-lined ground squirrel, and numerous insect species.

The tall grass prairie is an amazing ecosystem that is very much at risk of disappearing—and, by some measures, has already. The deep, dark, fertile soil created by the prairie has allowed it to become the breadbasket of the United States.

KNISPEL: I hope Ranger Bolli's description of the place of Homestead helps to create in your mind division of this remarkable park. The purpose of our podcast is to describe the partnership between Homestead National Monument of America and the National Park Service and the Nebraska Writing Project of the University of Nebraska; how that partnership came about; how we developed the student and teacher workshops; the process of rangers and Nebraska Writing Project facilitators creating the writing activities for students and teachers to develop an appreciation for an understanding of the Homestead Act; and the concept of home for people of the past, present, and future; the concept of home, the where, what, who, and why of home; how homes are established, by whom, who live there before us, who may live there after us, and most importantly at the Homestead National Monument, the movement of homesteaders from the eastern part of the United States, emphasized by the idea of “Go west, young man,” as well as the discussion of who lived in the area now known as Nebraska.

Those Native American tribes who were displaced by homesteading were part of the focus of the Homestead National Monument of America and the Nebraska Writing Project partnership. Our goal was to bring this information to the students attending the Prairie Visions workshop and encourage them to explore their own experiences and understanding of the ideas of what makes home by writing through the facilitated sessions led by Nebraska Writing Project personnel and the National Park Service rangers.

WEIS: We hope, through this podcast, that other writing projects and National Park personnel can use our experience as a model to develop their own place-based relationships to offer writing workshops to students and teachers at their locations.

KNISPEL: Our participants are Ramon Mangual. Ramon, would you like to give us your job description and title?


Yeah. At Homestead, I was the education program specialist for the interpretation division of the National Park Service.

KNISPEL: How long were you at Homestead?

MANGUAL: I worked at Homestead for two years and a half.

KNISPEL: And where are you now?

MANGUEL: Currently, I work for the Manhattan side still at the National Park Service. I’m currently the supervisory park ranger for nine National Parks in New York City.

KNISPEL: Thank you. Susan Cook.


I’m the program manager for interpretation education and volunteers at Niagara National Scenic River. Previously, I was the chief of interpretation of resource management at Homestead National Monument of America. I had worked at that park for 28 years before moving here last August.

KNISPEL: Diana Weis.

WEIS: I am a fifth-grade teacher in Omaha, Nebraska and I’ve worked with the Nebraska Writing Project since 2004 and started working with Homestead in 2015.

KNISPEL: And what school do you teach at, Diana?

WEIS: Willa Cather Elementary.

KNISPEL: I’m Jan Knispel. I am a retired English department head and teacher from Valentine Rural High School, Valentine Community Schools in Valentine, Nebraska, and currently am an adjunct professor for Mid-Plains Community College Valentine campus. My board experience with the Nebraska Writing Project started in 2006 and I became involved in the Homestead National Monument of America partnership with Diana Weis in 2015.

Diana, would you like to tell us about how our Homestead partnership began?

WEIS: It actually started through our partnership with Agate. We had just finished our first teacher workshop out there, and one of the rangers mentioned the different park services around—or sites around—Nebraska, and I ventured down there on a very hot August day to look around. I spoke to one of the rangers at the office at Homestead about who we are and what we did, and then about a month later another ranger who was visiting a Durham teacher night—where different organizations have set out information about their programs, and teachers come to visit—I had walked up to the writing project table and saw the information on our work with Agate and decided that they wanted to be involved. So,  we all kind of merged together. We came together to enhance a program that they already had going on.

KNISPEL: All right. Thank you. Ramon, would you like to discuss the Nebraska Writing Project–National Park Service partnership from the perspective of the Homestead National Monument?

MANGUEL: Well, our partnership between the Nebraska Writing Projects facilitators and the National Park Service began with a request by National Monument rangers to the Nebraska Writing Project to develop a one-day workshop for students, and to experience the parts through various writing opportunities at Homestead National Monument

KNISPEL: Susan, would you like to give us your perspective on the partnership between Homestead and Nebraska Writing Project?

COOK: Yes. When we joined with the Nebraska Writing Project, I think it took our programming to a higher level and much and professionalized it. We had prior teacher workshops related to writing, but some of the writing we would get would be, you know, My boyfriend dumped me, or I had a bad day at school. And then, when we started with this project, we gave them a little bit more direction in writing and immersed them into why this National Park was such a special place—why is it designated as a National Park site—which then gave them a different focus on writing. What we saw come from the students writing was just phenomenal, a difference. It's so much better. Very meaningful and thoughtful.

KNISPEL: Would you like to give the listeners an idea of where the park is located in Nebraska, and its availability to students and schools, and give us some information about why you chose middle school and high school students to participate?

MANGUAL: Homestead National Monument of America is located at the southeast of the state of Nebraska, one hour away from the capitol, Lincoln, and two hours away from the biggest city in the state, Omaha. The main idea of the site is to talk about the Homestead Act story in the United States. The National Park Service mission on the educational aspect is to allow educational institutions to learn more. The idea of doing a specific day/workshop was a great opportunity. Making the direct connection with the park and being free—that actually is a great opportunity for students. But the concept of writing is something that sometimes can be a little bit more complex to the elementary level, so what we thought was like, Okay, so let's actually open this opportunity to middle schoolers and high schoolers. That way they can actually expand their knowledge.

So, the National Park Service and Homestead, back then, we had some grants—free transportation grants—that we used to use as a tool to bring students to the park. With the collaboration with our university writing project, we actually built a full day of activities where students will be able to learn more about the story of the Homestead Act as well as increase their knowledge on different stations at the park in Beatrice. Basically, what we did was like some type of hybrid of a field trip/workshop where these students will be able to learn the basics of the park, and then separate in different stations and go to different areas around the park—the museum, the prairie, the visitor center—and have different experience from different ways, where they can actually use that history and write something with the collaboration within the Nebraska Writing Project experts.

KNISPEL: I think that one of the things that I found most enthralling about being at the Homestead National Monument and working with the rangers there—Ramon and Susan, in specific, as well as others—was the wealth of material. Not just artifacts, but ecologically, geographically, historically. All of these things help the students to bring the park to their lives and think about how their current life can be reflected by the things that happen during the Homestead Act.

Susan, what did you want to add?

COOK: Some of the topics that we're able to explore really tie into civics/current events and how the aspect of home affects us today. The Homestead Act changed immigration for the whole world. It changed migration and immigration patterns. It also, if you overlay the women's suffrage—the right to vote, and what states ratified first or before—it's almost exact same map as the Homesteading map of places, because all of a sudden you had women who own land, and why can't they vote? They should have. They were the ones that started stepping up. So, it really has a connection in there.

But it also talks about how this changed the tall grass prairie into the breadbasket of the world; how it changed the lives of Native Americans. There are so many different stories that are told there, along with the natural resources and all of the collection items. There were so many really neat resources that were explored by the kids, and some of these topics that they don't always get to write about or talk about in some of the normal programming. I found it very exciting to watch the kids experience and get a whole new view of some of the things. They think homesteading is an old thing. It's really not—and learning about that, because the law wasn't repealed until 1986.

One of the things I really enjoyed, too ,was students from different places being able—like, city children with rural kids, interacting with each other, and having a different point of view, and hearing it from each other.

The Homestead Act I wasn't repealing until 1986, so we have over a hundred years of history. Everybody assumes that the home stack was really an old thing and it's not. It's today. It's current history. And so, when you start learning about how the similarities and the differences happened in 1862 versus 1986, there are very many things that were quite the same.

KNISPEL: Thank you. Diana what would you like to add?

WEIS: I would just like to echo what you said, Jan, about the experience working with the Homestead rangers. Homestead is special because the rangers there seem to have their own area of expertise. When you partner with the ranger and work with them, you can you really can dive into what they're passionate about, whether it's the prairie or the history of women homesteaders. I worked with the historian the first few years that I was with this partnership, and we would get into these fascinating conversations just on his areas of interest. Then, like anything with teaching and working with kids, if you work from the presenter's passion, the kids will be pulled in. I think that's what we saw reflective in their writing.

KNISPEL: I think so, too. Ramon, did you have something you'd like to add?

MANGUAL: I think that this opportunity—the project—that actually did a big change on the way and the ideology from Homestead National Monument—the way how we should be able to manage educational opportunities—because after that, at the park, we started looking for different ways to expand, as well. With the Nebraska Writing Project, looking forward to continue doing that type of experience for students.

After that, I moved away from Homestead. I don't know if the next person after I followed up with you guys, but that was actually a great opportunity that makes a huge difference for all these students that visited and learned more about the park and got the opportunity, because we created after an online series of what these students actually wrote out. That was a total success! We have months and months of social media postings with what these students actually wrote and learned that day. That actually makes a big difference, because things like these opportunities, they don't happen that often and that really makes a difference with our students. I really believe that this is something that we should look to use as a model, not only in Nebraska, but nationwide. Specifically, here in New York City, I’m actually looking forward to doing related things like that, using that as a model; to be able to bring that opportunity towards students that are our future. They should be able to learn more about National Parks and expand their knowledge.

KNISPEL: I completely agree with you on the idea that students—being able to see their writing published, online in specific, whether it's Facebook or some website that's associated with the park or with the Nebraska Writing Project—gives them that strong feeling of authorship and authenticity as a writer. I think that students, who write in the classroom and never get an opportunity to see themselves as writers and as published writers, only see classroom writing as We do this at school. We don't do this anywhere else. I think by giving the students the opportunity at Homestead and at other National Parks and through the Nebraska Writing Project, we give students that feeling that they are authors.

WEIS: And not only authors. I’d like to add that it invests them in the place. It gives them a chance to notice where they're at; to notice the connection to the place. Susan alluded to the fact that the homesteading is still now. A lot of the issues and ideas are still now. Having them sit and just taking that writer's notice, and then claiming it with their own words, is a very powerful move—and one that you can't often feel in the classroom the same as if you are sitting out on that prairie.

KNISPEL: Susan would like to discuss a transition that went through our National Park Service Homestead National Monument previous to the Nebraska Writing Project's involvement.

COOK: Before we had this partnership, we were doing writing festivals—writing events—and they were successful. We even had the national poet [laureate], but what we saw after this new partnership: the level of writing was so much better; so much more thoughtful; so much more meaningful. After this new partnership happened, I look back and—how cool is it to have your national poet laureate?—but yet, when we switched our gears, it made such a huge difference in the outcomes. I truly believe it's because we switched it to place-based writing. They were now learning about something they did not know before—having new thoughts about something they thought they knew—and it's all because we kind of switched it over to the place-based writing.

KNISPEL: Right. We would like our audience to know the kinds of presentations that we made at Homestead, and how those presentations came about. Diana, would you like to tell us specifically, as well as Susan and Ramon, about your experiences as we developed the workshop at Homestead?

 WEIS: The piece that starts everything off with a Homestead presentation is each writing project teacher consultant is partnered with a ranger. The rangers at Homestead all have kind of a particular area of interpretation, so the ranger I was partnered with was the historian, and we just kind of talked over what message. I was in the visitors center, and the preparation for that was a couple of phone calls and a Google doc with the historian I was partnered with. We had worked together before and had kind of found that we would talk about pieces that he was interested in or studying, or what message he felt Homestead really had to carry, and then I would come up with the writing exercise that would highlight those main points that went with it. I think it was pretty much the process for most of the writing project TCs that worked with the range,  and I think it was the most effective, because you always want to present on something you are fascinated with.

KNISPEL: Yes. Ramon, would you like to talk about the presentation about the Homestead Act of 1862?

MANGUAL: Yes. So, on the developing this specific program, looking for a direct connection to the Homestead Act and the story of Homestead National Monument, on the division of the different areas— the visitor center, the prairie, the cabin, and the museum—I was looking for a way to build this direct connection to the homesteaders and the artifacts, specifically what we have inside the museum. We have back doors in our archives at Homestead, so in a collaboration with Jan—Jan is the one who actually we worked together with in that part—these students got the opportunity to explore the museum, seeing all these artifacts, as well, see some real documents that we normally have in storage probably in the archives. The students got the opportunity to see it, and be able to use their imagination, and understand the story, and the way they can actually write something; because it's just like a small cup or the document. We have an article from a newspaper, and we have the documentation that the homesteaders got at the end after the years of hard work, and the way these people reading and be able to know that if they're coming to the United States, they have an opportunity to own land. So, we start building that connection specifically with the artifacts. That way, the students can use their imagination try to put their self in that situation, and from that connection, write. That was actually really neat. That was really nice to be able to do that. That was an exercise that is a little bit complex, but all these students actually did pretty well.

KNISPEL: Yes. Ramon and I worked together on that particular session on the Homestead Act. My great-grandparents were homesteaders, and I brought an artifact for my presentation that was significant to me about my grandmother and talked about their journey to where they Homesteaded in South Dakota. The students also watched the video that accompanies the experience in the visitors center, which gives a great detail regarding the Homestead Act—how it came about, how it was processed—and also gives the aspect of the Native Americans who were displaced from that area.

Susan, would you like to tell us about the planning for the mindfulness session?

COOK: Yes. My partner was Dr. Robert Brooke, and we started talking about what are the different writing styles we might want to teach; how do you get students to open their minds and be ready to experience something new; which evolved us into the mindfulness. It also went back to an experience I had with another teacher where we used all of their senses and had the kids sitting in the prairie to feel, smell, hear, and—we discouraged taste—of what they were sitting in around the prairie. What it evolved to was really looking at nature for our inspiration. We used a combination. Using the medical benefits of nature, that can open up your mind—totally release your mind of all the stuff that's running around in it—how to calm yourself, to be open to a different experience. So, that's what we started basing ours on. It was really amazing because at one time, we had 90 ninth graders sitting in the prairie, no cell phones, no talking, just sitting there, looking around, and just experiencing what was happening. They sat for 15 minutes without talking, without moving, just looking. When we brought the kids back together, we had them write very quickly and kind of document their experience, and we talked a bit about it. Then we taught them another writing style and then used their first things to turn it into a poem. But what we started hearing was, this one student talked about feeling the air brush against their face; another person talked about watching the dew drip off of a grass blade, onto another grass blade, and then onto the ground, and how it made a divot in the ground from where that one drop of dew landed; to the birds that they're hearing. Then they started even going as far as to thinking about what were those homesteaders feeling as they encountered miles and miles and miles of tall grass prairie, where that prairie can be as tall as you are, and how are they going to turn that into a productive farm. They have to figure out how to make a living off of it and how to grow their food, what are they going to eat. They figured it out.

One of the one of the benefits of nature, which is what we start our program out with, is the story of Ansel Adams. He was kicked out of many schools and because he couldn't focus, and his mother finally had to homeschool him because they didn't have a school they could take him to anymore. She liked to be outside, so she started teaching them outside. What she learned was that when he was outside, he could focus more, and he was learning. So, we tell the story of this young boy, and then I ask if they know who it is, and when they hear it's Ansel Adams, some know who he is—some don't. But this is how nature helped.

I actually had one student come to me afterwards and asked me– he said, “Can you please call my mother and tell her this? How can you help me?” he said. ADHD is a huge thing, and nature is helping those kids focus to be able to do their work. This young man had a severe case of ADHD. He was desperate for anything to help him in studying, and so just a few minutes we had to talk, we talked about when you need to study for a test, go sit in your backyard and let that help you. I ended up talking to his mother, and you know, we kind of lost touch, but she was helping him and using some of the natural things and mindfulness that we talked about. It ended up what we thought was going to be a simple presentation really had a much broader impact than we realized it would.

Our whole idea was to get the kids to calm their minds—experience nature around them—because that's known to open you up, to creativity. We ended up with some pretty cool poems out of it.

KNISPEL: The last session that we did the first year that we presented was called delicate detail of a tall grass prairie and our Nebraska Writing Project facilitator was Adam Hubrig, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska, and the Ranger Jesse Bolli, Natural Resources Specialist. Their session was created to give the students an appreciation of the ecology of Homestead, and in specific, the tall grass prairie that is there, which has vanished for the most part in a large part of the United States. In itself, like most ecological regions, have specific animals grasses and other natural resources—trees, insects, et cetera—that only can live or survive well in places like this. Adam and Jesse sessions were on writing on what we can do to preserve these specific special places. In addition to the student workshop—

WEIS: Jan, I didn't go into detail on mine. Did you want detail?

KNISPEL: If you want to add some detail, you can now, yes, if you'd like.

WEIS: Okay. Ranger Robert, when we talked—he's the historian at Homestead—he was pretty excited about women homesteaders. He was telling me about his research and the story, specifically, on one lady who had followed her husband on the promise of showing up in this beginning city or town, and this prosperity that was going to be there, and how she kind of came out over the landscape and saw nothing—there was little literally nothing there—and the devastation of that moment and realizing that she is hundreds of miles from where she started, and what she expected not being there. So, we built a writing activity and a presentation about that moment—that you realize that you have to rely on your own resourcefulness—and then scaffolded a writing element from there, as he told the story, which was pretty powerful for the students because they could really relate to that feeling, and the emotion of what was promised evaporating before their eyes, and relating her story to that.

KNISPEL: And I would think that that would be a very important aspect of the life that we're living right now, as far as how things have been changing in 2020.

Would the three of you like to give the listeners some information about our teacher workshop? Our teacher workshop echoed and developed the Homestead National Monument experience for teachers. What was important to us is that these teachers were not just English teachers—teachers of writing—but also that the fact that we had teachers who were science teachers and history teachers. We wanted to emphasize to them, and for the park, a development for professional growth and resources: things that they could use to take from the park to their particular classroom.

Would the three of you like to make some statement regarding our professional development workshop? Would you like to start, Diana?

WEIS: For the most part, the teacher workshop mirrored the student workshop. We played a little bit with having the workshop before or after inviting the teachers who were coming to see what was going on. The one I was involved in, we re-presented the same workshops we had done with the student workshop, mostly because the teachers we found were not the same teachers; they came from different places. What was fun about the teacher workshop is that the writing project TC's are also teachers, so we kind of moved as a giant group of teachers. Some stepped into the presentation role, but then stepped right back out and became that teacher-learner-writer person.

KNISPEL: Thank you. Ramon or Susan, do you have anything you'd like to add about the teacher workshop?

MANGUAL: For the teachers workshop, that actually was really welcomed by the local community. Many of the teachers in Beatrice and towns around the area, including Lincoln—later on, when they were actually doing the regular field trips to the park, they actually showed a lot of interest on being able to attend to this event if we actually we got the opportunity to do it again. That was the first time we did it. The teachers over there, they actually really enjoyed it. It was a fun day for everyone. The aspect where many of these teachers share, from their perspective, some things that currently are happening in the classroom and the department of education, that was actually really helpful because that actually helped us, the National Park Service, to learn more from their needs. That actually was a great exchange of information. As well, it was a great opportunity for the teachers to learn more about what the homes National Monument and the National Park Service have to offer on that aspect. It was really good.

KNISPEL: Thank you. Susan, what would you like to add?

COOK: Well, it also gave us an opportunity to reach out to some of the teachers that typically wouldn't think about Homestead as a field trip, like the science teachers. The other thing that was a result of that is—especially middle school or high school—we don't get a lot of field trips from them, because they're changing classrooms. You don't have the same teacher all of the day, so you can't do that. What ended up happening instead was we started getting teams of teachers coming together, and everything that they did throughout the day with us was all intertwined between You used writing in your science class, in your science aspect of it. You use math in trying to figure out how much land would you need to plow. How much farm growth would you need to feed your family? So, it started to change the lessons into higher level thinking, but then used all the different types of curriculum that we use, all in one.

KNISPEL: I think that's probably one of the strongest results from the teacher workshop, is that teachers who don't necessarily think about how their curriculums can match up and come together to make a student experience greater; when you can bring in the math, the history the social studies, the science, and the English, and the students can benefit in all of those curricular areas at one time.

As we approach the conclusion to our workshop experience discussion, Susan, what would you like our listeners to be able to take away from our discussion today as far as creating a connection with a National Park in their area?

COOK: When you make that connection, we can do things together way better than we can do individually. It's just the phone call to see What are your interests? What are my interests? How do you think we can work together? It's really pretty amazing, when you start listening to each other, what things can happen. I mean, we wanted them to see and imagine what took place on this piece of land. We were able to get the kids to take a step back in time and look about it, but then they came back to today. It’s like Oh. We have this kind of science going on. We're protecting this resource that's almost vanished. And it started taking on all these new meanings of what we originally started our day out with; and then even just the mindfulness part, the appreciation of the natural world, and how important it was to those homesteaders, but how important it is to us today, and just making those connections between time and now and making things relevant to today.

KNISPEL: Thank you, Susan. Ramon, what would you say to our listeners about establishing a connection to their National Parks?

MANGUAL: In the United States, we have 419 National Parks in all the states, including our U.S. territories. National Parks are treasures. The owners are the people, so I highly encourage everyone— teachers, students, everyone who has listened—to take a minute and see what actually is close for you or where you are located, because these places are unique. These places are huge in history. A lot of people think that the National Parks are just a handful of parks or huge locations like the Grand Canyon, or the Statue of Liberty, or the Everglades. It's a lot of parks across the nation; small parks like Homestead National Monument. This is a really small park in space, but the history is huge; it's over 100 years of story. And this story of the people of the United States—I have to say—just take a minute think about it. Maybe you have a treasure really close to where you are located right now, so don't hesitate. Go ahead. Try to find your park and learn and enjoy the beauty of these beautiful treasures.

KNISPEL: Thank you, Ramon.

COOK: Can I add one more thing?

KNISPEL: Yes, Susan.

COOK: The National Park Service is considered to be the largest university in the world, because—as Ramon mentioned—we have 419 National Park sites. Each one is unique to itself; each one has an educational component to it. So, any subject you may be trying to study or learn from, the National Park Service will be covering it somewhere in the country.

KNISPEL: I’d like to thank Diana Weis and Ramon Mangual and Susan Cook for their participation today in our Homestead National Monument Prairie Visions podcast.

In conclusion, I’d like to state that place-based education and writing for students and teachers allows them to draw on their personal experiences, artifacts, and history to find contacts for understanding of the National Parks—in specific, the Homestead National Monument and its connection to home, finding home, building, and the idea of home being universal. I’d like to end with a final excerpt from Ranger Bolli’s essay, which emphasizes why it's important that students across America need to experience and appreciate the United States National Park system, and what being in place and that place can bring to them as citizens of the United States and the world.

BOLLI: I have a daughter who loves insects, especially butterflies. Last summer, after attending a conference on the conservation of the monarch butterfly and gaining a greater appreciation for how their existence is so imperiled, it almost brought me to tears to see her sheer joy as she captured a monarch in her net so she can more closely examine it. Her kids may never get to witness the earth's greatest insect migration.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing's going to get better. It's not. This prairie is your Truffula forest. And it is gone. And soon the butterflies will go the way of the bison, unless we believe we can make a difference and start planting native flowers, and protecting prairies, and limiting and smartly using pesticides, and igniting the desire in others to do the same.



Plainstate is produced by Robert Lipscomb. Post-production by Stephen Ramsay. Music by Shadows on a River. On behalf of the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, thank you for listening to the Plainstate podcast. Tagline forthcoming.