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Catch these Game and Parks education events in September

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in September. Here are some opportunities: Growing Up WILD Educator Workshop set for Sept. 6 in Hastings A Growing Up WILD educator workshop, which provides an early foundation for developing positive attitudes and behaviors about nature and lifelong social and academic skills, is scheduled for Sept. 6 in Hastings. This award-winning early childhood curriculum guide is for educators of children ages 3-7. The guide builds …

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Cicada Killer Wasps

By Julie Geiser Cicada killer wasps will start emerging from the ground anytime, but these docile wasps only have one thing on their minds: seeking out cicadas. Found across the U.S., these native wasps start to appear in mid-to-late July through August in Nebraska. Cicada killer wasps are approximately 2 inches long with black and yellow on their abdomens and amber-colored wings. When you hear male cicadas begin singing to attract their mates, adult cicada killer wasps will start to …

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Game and Parks wins 11 awards at annual ACI conference

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission earned 11 awards at the Association for Conservation Information annual conference held July 24-27 in Nashville, Tenn. The awards recognized excellence in outreach, education and communications. ACI is a nonprofit organization of natural resources communicators representing wildlife conservation and parks and natural resource agencies. Its annual awards contest recognizes excellence and promotes craft improvement through peer critiques. The awards are: First place in Communications Campaign, Educational for “Lake Mac Know Before You Go,” an …

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Snapping Turtle Hatching

By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist  This is a familiar sight in Nebraska: You’re driving along a two-lane highway listening to the radio, when all of a sudden, a dinosaur walks across the road just ahead of you. OK, not literally a dinosaur, but a living creature that is as close as you can get — a snapping turtle. As you approach the turtle, you notice that it’s earnestly on a mission, however slow and lumbering. It’s trying to make …

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Deceptive Dayflowers

Story and photos by Gerry Steinauer, Botanist As their name implies, each dayflower blossom is fleeting. New flowers that open to greet the rising sun close about noon and wither by dusk. The lovely blue flowers are as delicate as they are short-lived. When rubbed between one’s fingers, their petals quickly disintegrate into a watery ooze. Belonging to the spiderwort family (Commelinaceae), two dayflower species, both growing up to a foot tall, inhabit Nebraska. Slender dayflower (Commelina erecta) is a …

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Why You Should Love Wasps!

Story and Photos by Chris Helzer Wasps are amazing. No, seriously, they’re startlingly cool. To begin with, there are more than 100,000 wasp species that have been cataloged by science and many more that haven’t. Among all those species, there is incredible variation in size, shape, lifestyle and aggression toward humans. Spoiler alert: Only a tiny percentage of wasps pose any threat to us at all. Categorizing all wasps as aggressive, winged canisters of pain is like categorizing all Husker …

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Cicada Sounds

By Jamie Bachmann, Outdoor Educator While there may be plenty of hot days left this summer, I know that cool, fall days are on their way when I begin to hear the distinctive sounds of cicadas. Cicadas are one of the coolest and most noticeable group of insects active during this time of year. Take a look at image above, which shows an exuviae, the remaining exoskeleton of an adult cicada that has just emerged, or eclosed. I’m sure you …

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Catch these Game and Parks education events in August

Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in August. Here are some opportunities: Nature Nerd Night to feature Ecological Superheroes on Aug. 16 Keystone species are animals that play a major role in their environment’s web of life. Often their existence helps support dozens of other species. Nebraska examples include prairie dogs, bison and beavers. Join the virtual webinar Ecological Superheroes on Aug. 16 and learn more about how keystone species help …

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Nebraska’s Venomous Snakes

By Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Education Specialist In Nebraska, we have 29 species of snakes, and of those species, only four of them are venomous. They are the prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis), western massasauga rattlesnake (Sistrurus tergeminus), timber rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix). Generally found in the western half of Nebraska, the prairie rattlesnake has the widest range of all, while the other three species are restricted to the southeast. All four are considered pit vipers. Vipers are a …

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Nebraska’s Third Black Vulture

By Joel Jorgensen Spring is a period when many birds are on the move. This means it is a great time of year for birders to be on the lookout for rarities or vagrants. A rarity is a bird that usually appears somewhere outside of its normal range. Finding a rarity sometimes requires special effort, but other times, it’s just luck. On April 26, birder and photographer Steve Kruse discovered a vulture on the ground at Merganser Recreation Area in …

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