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Latest Features

Risk Assessment in Children

Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do By Jamie Bachmann, Wildlife Educator The words “risk” and “children” rarely fit comfortably in the same sentence. Well-meaning parents, myself included, do all we can to protect the most innocent from what we perceive as risk. We bandage every scrape. We make them aware of every potential danger they, assumingly, can’t possibly see. We remove every possible hazard within a two-mile radius. What happens, then, when those children inevitably go out into …

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The Turtle Family

The Rutten Family of Cedar Rapids Pass on a Hunting Tradition The Ruttens of Cedar Rapids do something that no one else does: hunt snapping turtles with their bare hands. Every summer, the Rutten “boys” — geared in old tennis shoes, jeans and a T-shirt — ease down into the greasy, stagnant oxbow lake on the flood-prone family property, called “The Island.” Each man carries a pitchfork, while other family members wait on the bank ready with gunny sacks. Walking …

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Raven’s Return

By Joel G. Jorgensen Before Nebraska was settled by European Americans, its vast open areas were inhabited by the common raven. Ravens are similar to American crows, but are larger with a more extensive vocal repertoire that includes husky guttural croaks. With the disappearance of the vast herds of bison in the late 1800s, the raven was soon to follow, retreating to mountainous areas of the west and forests of the far north. However, this adaptable and widespread species was …

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“Utter Disregard for Peril”

Eyewitness Account of an 1870s Nebraska Roundup By David L. Bristow, History Nebraska By the mid-1870s Nebraska’s open-range cattle industry … was experiencing growing pains,” writes historian Jim Potter. In the Platte Valley and the Panhandle, people worried about the “introduction of Texas cattle to supply the Indian agencies, unregulated ‘round-ups’ that caused ownership disputes (in winter, long hair made brands hard to see), and bulls running at large year round.” In early 1875, cattlemen met in Ogallala to organize …

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My City Sanctuary

Story and photos by Marissa Jensen Quiet amid noise seems like a contradiction, and yet, I’ve discovered it in the most surprising of places. Omaha is a bustling city where everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere — now. This incessant busyness is overwhelming. Every day, as weekdays feel longer and demands scream louder, I feel a part of me slipping away in all the noise. It was on such a morning, while in search of something “more” both …

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A Researcher’s Field Season – Part II

By Allison Barg, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Research Graduate Assistant Welcome back! We are now a little over halfway through the pheasant breeding season, a.k.a my field season. Here is an update on what’s going on in the field this week. If you missed reading Part I of this series, catch up here: http://magazine.outdoornebraska.gov/2022/04/a-researchers-field-season-part-i/ May 2, 2022 3:30 a.m. – If you read my last post, you may be thinking, “Wow, that seems a lot earlier than last time.” That is …

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In Hot Pursuit

Story and photos by Renae Blum It had already been an enjoyable day: wading in Pawnee Lake, picnicking along the shore, chasing Frisbees and etching names in the sand. But it was perhaps a simple green post that garnered the most excitement of all. “I see it! I see it!” Spotting the familiar outline along a wooded trail, Kenzie and Ellie Muma of Papillion took off at a breakneck pace, racing to get there first. Once their laughing parents caught …

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Wetland Wander

A busy outdoor educator spends a day outside on her own. By Grace Gaard, Outdoor Educator When I was younger, time seemed to go on forever as I spent much of it exploring the outdoors. Now as an adult, I’ve recently realized that my time in nature has changed. While I absolutely love facilitating students’ exploration of nature as an outdoor educator at Game and Parks, I’m realizing that making time to explore nature for myself is something I need …

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Urban Wildlife

Monica Macoubrie, Wildlife Educator Although “urban wildlife” might sound contradictory, there is in fact a great amount of wildlife that you can view from your backyard, a city park or even downtown Omaha – you might see peregrine falcon roosting on our state capitol, or a garter snake in a sump pump, or a mallard duck that has taken up residence in your tulips. Urban wildlife has come a long way since the time of our ancestors. These animals have …

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Discovering Slime Molds

Story and photos by Gerry Steinauer Two years ago, while morel mushroom hunting in a creekside woodland near Aurora, I saw a pink, dime-sized “ball” sprouting from a log. Baffled, I concluded it was a strange puffball mushroom. I snapped a photo and texted it to my go-to guy for mushroom identification, Chance Brueggemann, woodland ecologist at Indian Cave State Park. His response: “It’s wolf’s milk, a slime mold.” I wasn’t sure what a slime mold was. I assumed they …

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