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Panhandle Passages: Down Home Frog

A Boreal chorus frog peers from the shallows of Red Willow State Recreation Area. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)
A Boreal chorus frog peers from the shallows of Red Willow State Recreation Area. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

Every photo that makes it to print in NEBRASKAland Magazine means a lot to me. Few things make a person look fondly upon a time and a place as does a good photo and it’s especially rewarding to see one in print.

One particular photo — that of a Boreal chorus frog on pages 46-47 of the April issue — has special meaning to me. Frogs are great and I love the way this species fills the air with song this time of year. That’s not really the why the photo is more special than any other, though. It’s special because it’s the first printed magazine photo of mine that was taken in my home country — Red Willow Reservoir State Recreation Area near McCook in southwestern Nebraska .

I’d be challenged to find an earlier memory of the outdoors than one at Red Willow camping and catching crappies with my grandparents. Later, Red Willow and the other southwest reservoirs would mean fun lake time with family – camping, fishing, boating, swimming and getting our shoes muddier than our mothers like them. As I struck out on my own, Red Willow became a place to gather with college friends – whether fishing for largemouth bass and wipers, hunting ducks, or swimming and enjoying a campfire late into the night. It’s where I took my wife on our first date and even where we chose to have our wedding rehearsal dinner.

I snapped the photo of the chorus frog during a quick stop with my son, then 11, on the way back from visiting relatives for Easter last year. My son, too, has camped with family at Red Willow and I’m glad he’ll grow up remembering our walk along the shoreline and encounter with this particular frog.

It’s April and park areas across the state are coming alive, as you can read about in the magazine article that features the frog. Get out and enjoy Nebraska’s great parks and wild lands as spring turns to summer. As we at Game and Parks like to say, it’s always “Time Well Spent.”

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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