Home » Research » Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag – Indoors, and out

Panhandle Passages with Justin Haag – Indoors, and out

I’d usually rather be outside than inside, but occasionally I’ve found redeeming qualities in spending time under a roof. It helps improve the chances if the time indoors is spent discussing the outdoors.

Last week, for example, I attended the Nebraska chapter of the Wildlife Society’s conference in Chadron. Next week, I’ll be in Fort Collins, Colo., with two of my partners in public information for a week-long wildlife short course.

Those of us in attendance at the Wildlife Society conference witnessed many informative presentations from those working closely with the state’s wildlife — from efforts to keep deer off Interstate 80 in eastern Nebraska to a project for monitoring the scarce swift fox in northwest Nebraska.

Wildlife Society Fire Tour
Doak Nickerson, Nebraska district forester, leads Wildlife Society members on a tour of areas burned by wildfire in the Pine Ridge.

Not surprisingly, much of the discussion was about wildfires – mainly the effects of last summer’s Pine Ridge fires and, unfortunately, the probability of more to come. Moisture, please.

I have to give a shout out to Teresa Frink, whose office is across the hall from mine at Chadron State College. Frink, who has been instrumental in building Chadron State’s wildlife management program, is now the president of the chapter. I participated in the wildlife short course she organized at Chadron State two summers ago and would recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the critters that call Nebraska home. Lucky for you, it is being offered again this summer.

Indoors at the Wildcats

Also on the topic of learning about the outdoors from indoors, I really enjoyed a visit to the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering on Thursday.

The displays and artwork in the facility are top-notch. While I was there for only a short time, I could have spent a lot longer just watching the active bee hive featured in the center’s lower level. I look forward to taking my kids down there sometime soon.

Amanda Filipi, park superintendent and outdoor education specialist at the center, has a lot of dynamic activities, both indoors and outdoors, set for the summer – especially for children. Wildcat Weekends is one such example.

Getting out

Not all of my time recently has been spent indoors, of course. I’ve done my best to get outdoors with camera in hand. As usual, nature has given me plenty of wild things to point the lens at.

Such as these wild sharp-tailed grouse at Fort Robinson State Park:

Sharp-tailed Grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse

And this wild coyote in the Wildcat Hills near Gering:


Or these wild turkeys and wild mule deer near Chadron:

Wild Turkeys
Wild Turkeys
Mule Deer
Mule Deer

And this wild downy woodpecker at Minatare State Recreation Area:

Downy woodpecker
Downy woodpecker

And this wild sunrise at Bridgeport State Recreation Area:

Bridgeport State Recreation Area
Sunrise at Bridgeport State Recreation Area

Or this wild kid (who happens to live under my roof) hiking with her dad and brother in some of the always scenic Pine Ridge near Chadron:

Pine Ridge
Hiking the Pine Ridge

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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