LINCOLN, Neb. — With the help of a $280,000 matching grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, working with partners, will be able to modernize wetland conservation resources for educators and the public.
The three-year project is expected to result in a new online collection of educational materials, including a fifth-grade curriculum and activity book; Platte Basin Timelapse short films and multimedia stories; a public-consumption Guide to Nebraska Wetlands; and an online wetland ESRI StoryMap.
Game and Parks, Ducks Unlimited, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are providing the matching funds for the project, expected to be completed in 2022.
“We want to tell the stories of the important aspects of wetlands,” said Ted LaGrange, Game and Parks wetlands program manager and lead on the project. “The benefits of wetlands are important to understand, as are the conservation actions being taken to sustain them.”
Communities benefit from wetlands in a variety of ways. They act as habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species; offer recreational benefits to hunters, anglers and wildlife observers; and improve water quality, provide groundwater recharge, and reduce the effects of flooding.
“These are stories that need to be told no matter where a person lives: Wetlands — and the benefits they provide — are just as important to urban communities as they are to rural ones,” LaGrange said.
A team of producers from Platte Basin Timelapse started collecting those stories across the state in summer 2020. For the next year, they’ll continue to collect photos, time-lapse images, video and audio recordings, and interviews that will be woven into compelling stories about Nebraska’s wetlands, the role wetlands play in people’s lives and why wetlands need to be conserved.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for our team of storytellers, and I’m confident Nebraskans will be both surprised and take pride in the beauty, diversity and richness of our wetlands critical to life in the region, and value them in new and important ways,” said Michael Forsberg, Platte Basin Timelapse co-founder and prominent Nebraska conservation photographer.
The multimedia products will be used in educational curriculum focused on the science of wetlands. The lessons, to be developed by Game and Parks’ Fish and Wildlife Education Division, will be available online at outdoornebraska.gov.
Other partners on the education project include the Nebraska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and U.S. Geological Survey, and many other organizations, agencies, and schools.
To track the project, follow Game and Parks and the Platte Basin Timelapse on Instagram or Facebook and search by #nebraskawetlands. To learn more about Nebraska wetlands, visit OutdoorNebraska.org/nebraskawetlands.