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The season for gratitude and reflection is upon us.

Thanksgiving week is when we remind our families and friends how much they mean to us and express our sincere appreciation for what we have been given in life.

While you are considering what you are thankful for, don’t forget nature.

During the nine days of the recent firearm deer hunting season here in Cornhusker State, I selected thirteen things to be extremely grateful for while I was in the field. As you look and read through these, I want you to think about specific things in the natural world of which you are extremely grateful.

  1. I am extremely grateful for Nebraska skies that always seem to be endless and spectacular.

2. I am extremely grateful for water, as it flows in this spring-fed creek, for without water there is no life.

3. I am extremely grateful for trees — large, old native bur oaks like this one (If only they could speak to us to convey what they have seen over the years).

4. I am extremely grateful for woodlands where many species of wildlife roam and call home.

5. I am extremely grateful for nongame wildlife species such as this Dark-eyed Junco, all wildlife matters and all things are intertwined in nature.

6. I am extremely grateful for the successful reintroduction of various wildlife species such as the wild turkey (I never tire of watching wild turkeys, especially up close).

7. I am extremely grateful for the sights and sounds of wildlife visitors such as these migratory Canada geese (I go to bed at night still hearing those geese overhead).

8. And, I am extremely grateful for the beauty and pure solitude that nature offers in Nebraska. (I view time spent in nature as a mind-cleansing, soul-invigorating experience.)

9. I am extremely grateful to share outdoor experiences and traditions with family members such as hunting with my brother, Steve Wagner, during the Nebraska firearm deer hunting season.

10. I am extremely grateful for nature’s precious bounty and being able to be a direct participant in the conservation and management of wildlife.

11. I am extremely grateful for past generations who homesteaded lands that I am able to hunt today.

12. I am extremely grateful for grasslands, most notably for programs that encourage and enhance grassland habitat.

13. I am extremely grateful for important plants like the common milkweeds that thrive on our land today and provide superb pollinator habitat as well as critical habitat for the monarch butterfly.

How about you, what are you extremely grateful for in nature?

About greg wagner

A native of Gretna, NE, a graduate of Gretna High School and Bellevue University, Greg Wagner currently serves as the Public Information Officer and Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission's Service Center in Omaha. On a weekly basis, Wagner can be heard on a number of radio stations, seen on local television in Omaha, and on social media channels, creatively conveying natural resource conservation messages as well as promoting outdoor activities and destinations in Nebraska. Wagner, whose career at Game and Parks began in 1979, walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs about Nebraska’s outdoors. He grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. One of the primary goals of his blog is to get people, especially young ones, to have fun and spend time outside!

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