Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A walk in our Winter Wonderland..

We've had a chance to dig out around here, somewhat. I've always liked the winter season. It is a great time to step outside and go for a walk. I decided to do just that this morning with my camera in hand. The trail that goes south from the main building at the Nature Center leads to a set of bridges that span one of the north channels of the Platte. It gives a unique perspective the river and I shot a few photos of the ice and snow from above.

Finding a way to photography rivers edge is difficult to do without benefit of the bridge as I found out a few years ago when I put on a pair of hip waders and ventured into the Platte hoping to get some photos of the ice and water. On a river, it is very dangerous to walk on the ice as the flowing water makes for uneven ice, as I found out breaking through and filling my waders with icy Platte water. After regaining my breath, and pulling my soaked cell phone and wallet out of my pocket, I managed to snap a few photos before heading home to dry out.

Today the trail was easy walking with snow no more than knee deep. There are lots of deer and rabbit tracks and several birds can be found in the brush that grows along the banks of the river. I found where a rabbit had made a home on a brush pile left over from a brush clearing project that we had done this last fall. The winter scene scape makes you look at objects differently than you might other times of the year as it has a tendency to isolate the subject in a way that can be quite beautiful.

The key to a successful winter outing is to be properly dressed with proper winter boots, and dress in layers. Be sure to bring your camera or binoculars and allow plenty of time to just observe your surroundings. Be sure to let someone know where you are and about when you might return. Lastly, have fun!

The trails at the Center are open daily and are limited to the bridge trail until later this spring.

Monday, December 28, 2009

We've rented a Bobcat to remove the snow. We seem to get a big drift at our front door every time it snows! Dan digs like a mad man and managed to tunnel out till I met him with the snow blower. Fun with man-toys...

We have a big sign at the west end of the parking lot that seems to act as a big snow fence and a big drift forms right in front of the mailbox. It looks like we'll need to engineer a snow fence to the north in an attempt to cut this drift down to size, The main goal is to get room for the mail carrier to get to the box. With each pass of the snow thrower, it gives me a chance to visualize that snow fence and how it might work. Time will tell.

We are open this week, so if your into winter trail hiking, it's a great time to get out! I'll try to get out with the camera and post some photos later this week.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Snow bound

Ok, here's the situation. It's snowing big time. This is snow like we had when we were kids! I love it! I know there are those who dislike the cold and snow, but it really is a beautiful scene as the snow settles in on the prairie. Travel difficulties aside, the moisture and beauty are welcome indeed. If you can make it out to the center to hike the trails, it will be worth the effort.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Introducing the Staff.

Brad, Shirley, Vicki and Dan

The Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center located is pleased to announce that Dan Glomski has been hired as the Center’s Program Coordinator in the organization.

Dan brings over twenty years of experience providing science based programming, including being Curator of Astronomy at Hastings Museum. Dan’s current focus at the Nature Center includes producing and presenting year-round nature based programs for school aged and adult audiences. Dan will work closely with educators and volunteers to provide programs that tell the story of Nebraska’s rivers, prairie and wildlife.

Vicki Struss came on board in July and serves as our office manager. Vicki keeps the office running smoothly and is usually the first person to answer the phone. Vicki lives on a farm near Kenesaw with her husband Rick.

To help with the gift shop, we have hired Shirley McCallum of Grand Island. Shirley will draw on her experience as an interior designer and volunteering for several gift shops in the area. Shirley's creative touch can be seen throughout the building.

I (Brad) started as director in April and am looking forward to working with Shirley, Vicki and Dan as we begin to grow this organization.

The Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center re-opened its doors this past summer and has partnered with Hastings College, Nebraska Game & Parks Commission, Platte River Recovery Program and the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

Located on the I-80 Alda exit 305, the Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center exists to provide a place where people of all ages can connect to nature along the Platte River. You can go to for more information.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Teachers Time Out info

We are participating in the upcoming Teacher's Time Out this November 5, 2009.

This year it will be held at the historic Frank House on the west edge of UNK's campus. It's one stop shopping place for teachers looking to get their students to places to help them discover learn and grow. Hope to see you there! The Nebraska Nature & Visitor Center is committed to helping get students outside and learn more about Nebraska's natural heritage. To learn more about us, go to our main web- page at

To find out more about the Time Out, go to

Questions? - Contact KrisAnn Sullivan at 308-865-8284 or email her at

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Nebraska Environmental Trust Video

We work closely with the Nebraska Environmental Trust here at the Nature Center. We have several TV screens in the lobby of the center and we're trying to pull together some good video to show. Here's one of the videos-

Killing weeds, Platte River style

The Platte river is big, some 300+ miles long. It has become choked with vegetation for many reasons over the years. This has a big effect on the ability of the river to carry water in its slow meandering braided prairie river natural state. One method to help clear the vegetation is to spray it with a herbicide. Much can be done by truck, but some areas must be sprayed by air. A helicopter was hired to cover the areas that just are too difficult to reach by other means. Thats when Rob Schultz who is the Hall County Weed Control Superintendent stopped by the Center and asked if the Helicopter could use our parking area to stage from.

The helicopter lands on top of the storage truck and it takes about 40 seconds to top off the tank and off if flies to continue spraying.

I was able to watch the pilot apply the area right behind the Center. He really moved around and when the spray came out of the boom, it was pushed straight down minimizing drift. Today, I walked down and the vegetation is showing signs of dying. We'll keep you posted about how this affects our stretch of the river.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some thoughts as to why we exist.

The Central Platte River valley is home to some of the most productive land on our planet. This productivity has created a robust economy of agriculture, business and industry that thrives to this day. The common thread is the Platte. The Platte breathes life into this region, it always has.

Our entire lives we have lived and worked in the valley and we go about our business seldom stopping to take notice. People travel I-80 as fast as they possibly can, hardly recognizing the river that has flowed for eons carving out a landscape that was once at the heart of the greatest grassland ecosystems on earth.

The Platte, though fragmented compared to its historic borders, still plays host to a robust ecosystem of flora and fauna that is world class in its scope. This is the focus of our mission.

The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center exists to provide a place from which people of all ages can connect to nature. Landowners, scientists, politicians, tourists, artists and students are starting to piece together the future of the Platte. We are learning more now than we ever have about the river. What are we to do with all of this knowledge? The one thing we can’t do is ignore it.

The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center will be a resource and a portal to nature. We will celebrate Nebraska and it’s land as a place that is vibrant and alive. As the debates and policies are formed, a place in which people can connect, learn, and discover grows more important..

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Tree in your way? No problem..

We had a Ash tree in front of our sign at the center. In about twenty minutes it was moved to a new location just to the south so we can still enjoy its shade!

New photos from Hubble.

They polished the lens on the Hubble telescope. Very cool images are coming out. Here's a link to the NASA site.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Volunteers from Hastings College get a lot done!

We hosted twenty two freshman from Hastings College this morning. We were glad to have them as they were able to help move several projects forward in just a few hours. It was really a treat to have them out and hope to reconnect with other such groups in the near future.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Volunteer orientation set for this Tuesday

Anyone interested in volunteering is invited to an orientation Tuesday August 26th at 6p.m.

We will provide food and a tour and update of our activities. Please give us a call or email to let us know if you can make it.

308 382 1820


Open House September 26

Saturday, August 22, 2009

August Bug Count

Long time volunteers Connie McCartney and Anton Curtis were out on their monthly bug survey today. I tagged along for a bit just to see what might turn up. It amazing what is there when you just take a little time and watch. Click on the photo of Connie's field notes to see what we were able to document in a few hours of walking the river bottoms off the trial bridges here at the Center.

Time Lapse Testing

Did this yesterday when the clouds were nice and puffy. Let me know if this works well on your machine. We may put some of this on our new site when it launches late next week.

Trails, Light and Leaves

It seems that there are about a dozen days each year in Nebraska that are just the right mix of temperature, humidity and wind that make for what I call a perfect day. I think today is going to be one of those days.

We're hosting a group in our board room today. They are all settled in and that gave me a chance to walk our Platte River Trail this morning. As I was helping to get things ready, a quick glance out the windows that face to the south east, I could see the sunlight off of the indian grass that is growing just outside the door.

I grabbed my camera and was in a quest to capture a grasshopper's shadow shot through a leaf. The grasshoppers were not cooperating, but I did have fun capturing the light through the leaves. The trail that heads out is a fabulous place to walk with a camera or binoculars in hand. It is paved and is handicapped accessible all the way to the set of foot bridges that cross the north channel of the river. The trail is open seven days a week from dark to dark and there is no cost. You can access the trail through the gate at the east end of the parking lot for after hour access. I hope you'll stop by sometime soon and get out on the trail!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wild about learning.

I was invited to Shoemaker Elementary School in Grand Island this morning to talk to the kids about their theme, "Wild about learning". What a great group of teachers and students. It was fun to see all of the kids wearing their first day of school new shoes and they were all polished up. We will work with the school to create a place to bring children outside. I think the best place to teach most everything is a classroom without walls.

Thank you to Principal Toni Palmer and everyone for having me stop by!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photography workshop, continued.

We are continuing with week two of our photography workshops. Fifteen participants were registered and we have lots to learn. Portraiture was the topic last Tuesday evening.

The center is a great place to hold these types of events. we will be hosting another workshop later this fall. Contact Judy Weston at the G.I. Central Community College campus to register.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Fixing up the bridge landings

Some Much needed work is being done to the landings on the Bridges over the Platte. We still have more work to do, but we did get a lot done.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Calendar starts to fill....

We are going to host our third volunteer orientation event Tuesday, August 25th at 6:00p.m.

Anyone who is interested in volunteering is welcome to attend. We will review what is going on and what types of things volunteers will be doing around the Center. We are glad to say that to this point we have had 47 people attend orientations saying that they are interested in volunteering for the center. I couldn't be more pleased.

We will need a few volunteers to help with this event as well as a booth that we will be hosting at the Husker Harvest Days September 15,16 and 17. If you are interested in helping, call the center and let us know.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Morning show

Stopped by the NTV Morning program with Marylyn Barnett to promote the Photography workshop we're holding in cooperation with Central Community College. Heres a link to their page

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Volunteers gather together at the Center.

We held our second volunteer orientation tonight. 37 people attended and 10 last week. Some were have volunteered for years and other were brand new to the effort. We had good food and conversation. We'll be rolling up our sleeves and getting to the business of running a great Center. We will hold another event next month. If you are interested in volunteering, just stop by or contact us by phone or email. We need good people every month of the year, so join us!

Photography workshop August 4,11, and 18

We will be hosting a photography workshop here at the Nature Center this August. Time to dust off that camera and learn to use it!

This will be a class for Digital SLR's. We will cover basics of exposure and composition. It is limited to 15 participants. To register contact Central Community College to sign up. CCC Phone # is 308-398-7441. If you have questions regarding the class, contact Brad here at the Nature Center.

If you are wanting to attend a more basic level class, we will be hosting another workshop here at the Center in October.

Crane sighting in Nebraska in July?

Yes, the sandhill crane has graced the cover of our local phone book. I don't use phone books as much as I used to, but its a nice cover none the less.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Saturday at the Center....

Wood Carvers make walking sticks. A perfect day to be outside! This class was presented by Brandi and Sarah, both from NTV television. It was a partnership with Central Community College - G.I Campus. If you would to find out about future classes, contact Judy Weston at the G.I. Campus. Phone 308 398 7445. They conduct all kinds of interesting classes including a photography workshop to be held here at the Nature Center in August.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Volunteer orientation dates set

We will be hosting two volunteer orientation events designed to get you involved (again). We will have a short introductory meeting to get ourselves organized and find out what talents each of us have and how we can connect them in volunteer service to the Nature Center. We will provide all of the food, so just prepare to come and enjoy.

Choose the meeting time that fits your schedule best, or come to both!

Thursday, July 23 at 9:30 am A light brunch will be served along with a short meeting.

Tuesday. July 28 at 6:00 p.m. We will have a BBQ with a short meeting to follow.

We will provide all of the food for both meetings.

If you are unable to attend but wish to be involved, simply call or email and we will get you the information needed to get on-board.

Other news:

Center work day - Thursday, July 30 8:30 am - noon. Lunch will be served. We have both inside and outside work to complete. Stay as long as you can! Cleaning, brush removal, windows, mowing and more fun things to do.

More volunteer activities will be announced in the near future.

New web-site to launch in a week or two

We're partnering with a talented group of students and profs from Hastings College to build and manage our web site. Kay Dobesh from Hastings is working part time this summer to design and build the core site. A rough draft is shown in the photo. It will provide a lot of information and be a place to stop by often to check out what is new at the center.

The photo is just a sample. We're getting the real content developed and uploaded daily.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A good sign!

The sign is in place. It looks very nice. People who drive by will definitely know who we are! We're going to hang an open/close sign and a logo for the Nebraska Environmental Trust on the bottom of the sign. We'll get our hours posted outside very soon as well. 

Thursday, July 2, 2009

A sign of the Times

We're getting a new sign at the NNVC. This is no small sign. People will not drive by and miss this one!

The folks from Smitty's Electric, Johnson Imperial and Johnson Concrete Products, all of Hastings, have all pitched in to assemble and install the sign. The posts were set today and the actual sign will be in next week. 

I'd also like to introduce Vicki, our new office manager. She started Wednesday and has made herself at home. She even has a plant in her office! I'll post more next week. 

Have a safe and fun 4th of July holiday!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Tick talk

Oh yes, it's that time of year. Take a short walk on the trail and you'll find them. Just brush them off and you you'll be fine. 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Clean Sweep

A group of kids from the Trinity Lutheran VBS program in Grand Island came out to the center this morning to do some community service. They cleaned, swept, picked up trash and cleaned the sidewalks. What a great help!

It wasn't all work, we took a nice walk to the Platte and listened to the birds and smelled a skunk. 

Thank you so much for your help and I hope you can make it back sometime soon. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A walk over the bridge

We had a rain storm with a fair amount of hail last weekend at the center. On Saturday morning, it had the smell of a fresh cut hayfield. A good smell! Today, it has the smell of fermenting grass, not as nice. It really beat down the vegetation and I know the local farm crops took a beating. I hope they are able to recover. As I walked over the bridge, I was greeted by the herd of cattle that are grazing where the trail system used to be. Yes, we are working with our friends at the Whooping Crane Trust to re-establish a series of trails through the mixed grass prairie. I can't wait!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

We have a lot going on these days. Paint is going on the walls, glass up 
in the gift shop and we're pulling a staff together. We'll be holding some volunteer orientations in the next few weeks as well. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

We're looking for someone!

We have hired our office manager. We're glad to have Vicki Struss on the job. Be sure to ay Hi to Vicki next time you stop

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Something new... early summer??? stay tuned

The Nebraska Nature and Visitor Center is preparing to open our doors later this summer 2009. We have developed partnerships that will allow us to continue our mission and expand into other areas, including a vibrant year-round operation. 

New name, new energy, same core values.

Education -  We are forging partnerships with organizations that will provide a place for people of all ages to come, experience and learn about Nebraska's natural resources.

Conservation - We will provide information about current activities that conservation organizations are doing to improve habitats for wildlife.

Community - We will provide a place where people can gather and share their experiences and activities in nature. 

Opportunities - We will provide a way for people to connect and deepen their involvement with the outdoors.