January 2013


Prairie Fire Newspaper went on hiatus after the publication of the September 2015 issue. It may return one of these days but until then we will continue to host all of our archived content for your reading pleasure. Many of the articles have held up well over the years. Please contact us if you have any questions, thoughts, or an interest in helping return Prairie Fire to production. We can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you to all our readers, contributors, and supporters - the quality of Prairie Fire was a reflection of how many people it touched (touches).

The Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

By Tom Field, Ph.D.

The late Jerry Garcia of Grateful Dead fame aptly described the current state of our economic condition when he opined that “somebody has got to do something and it’s just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us.” The heart of the message is simply that rebuilding the economy will fall to the citizens, not to politicos, agencies or pundits. As director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL), it is my deeply held belief that the momentum for an economic turnaround will be sourced from the heartland and that the resurgence for engaged citizenship, accountability and resourcefulness can be fueled by the relationships and capabilities of the land-grant university community.

A Newcomer's Thoughts on Omaha's Urban Landscape

Omaha skyline along the banks of the Missouri River. (DenisTangneyJr/iStockPhoto)

By Bradley Bereitschaft

Having arrived in Omaha just six months ago, the city and I are still engaged in what I like to call the honeymoon phase. As so happens when getting to know a potential life partner, I have already begun to appreciate some traits more than others.

When interviewing for the position that ultimately brought me to the “Big O,” one of the first places I was introduced to was the Old Market. I can’t imagine a better place to showcase Omaha’s budding urban vitality.

Life Is Large in Nebraska's Wide-Open Spaces

By Tamera Schlueter

I once knew a big city swell who said, “Nebraska! Isn’t that in corn country?” Corn was emphasized as though he was spitting out something vile. The unexpected tone of his question shocked me speechless, and I missed a perfect opportunity to plant a verbal boot on his soft, pompous rump.

“Corn country?” I might have replied. “Why, yes, indeed, Mr. Marvelous, I live in a state others consider so remote it takes elitist fools like you a good long time to find it on the map.”

His question surfaces from time to time, when I’m rattling down dusty back roads, watching angry green clouds churn up a hailstorm or butting heads with a 50-mile-per-hour wind.

What on earth am I doing in corn country?

Strengthening Your Inner Leader

By Connie Reimers-Hild, Ph.D., CPC

After my mom’s unexpected passing two years ago, I received a mini-book on grief from the pastor of my church. The book, “Grief … Reminders for Healing” by Gale Massey, was perfect! I could read it quickly and easily when I needed help dealing with Mom’s death. I also gave a copy to Dad, who found himself suddenly struggling with being a widower after 45 years of marriage.

I began writing as well, a bit of therapy to deal with Mom’s death. The result: my forthcoming book, “Go Wild with Confidence!” My goal was to publish a book designed to help others as much as Gale Massey’s book helped me.

As a researcher and coach in the areas of leadership and innovation, I noticed one issue my clients struggle with most: confidence. Many people have great ideas and a wonderful sense of what they want to do with their lives, but they lack the confidence and inner strength that enables them to move in the right direction. It has taken me over a decade of research focused on leading innovation, entrepreneurial individuals and major life events to understand the significance of focusing on strengthening what I call the Inner Leader. I do not want it to take so long for others to come to this realization. It is my greatest hope that a piece of my work can help you tap into the essence of yourself—your Inner Leader.


Unpublished Journal
Nov. 29, 1992

Today marks a return to the gray days. Temperature is in the 30s and wind light out of the north. Three consecutive days of sunshine and cloudless sky was a winter treat worth mentioning.

Maybe the mechanical Babcock word printer and the electronic Brother word processor will generate a togetherness, but I doubt if an old letterpress printer will be a congenial third partner.

In the Path of the Pipeline, Part Two

Runnels of water in the Sandhills, August 2012. (Adrian Olivera)

By William Beachly

After emerging from Otter Canyon, we cross the Niobrara, heading north, and pass Carl’s pickup headed south. We do a “Huey” and catch up with him at his ranch, where an interesting ensemble of antique vehicles peek out from clumps of sunflowers and hemp. He knows we are interested in some pictures over the river and leads us up a sandy road that climbs the high, rounded shoulders of the north bank, offering an excellent view to the west. One cloud in particular doesn’t look like a regular cloud, as it rises directly from the ground and is “anviling” like a thunderhead. It is a cloud of smoke.

The Swans of Nebraska

Trumpeter swans. (Paul A. Johnsgard)

By Paul A. Johnsgard

Because of their immaculate white plumage and their strong pair and family bonds, swans have also long served as icons of beauty, devotion and longevity in the myths and folklore of many cultures. Our personal interests in and perceptions of wild swans are often formed in childhood, by reading such classics as Hans Christian Anderson’s stories of “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Wild Swans,” E. B. White’s “The Trumpet of the Swan” or perhaps upon seeing a performance of Tchaikovsky’s “Swan Lake” ballet.

Many of the most admired human traits, such as permanent pair-bonding, extended biparental care and family cohesion, are biological facts in swans, but the sadly romantic idea of a dying swan uttering a final “swan song” is only folklore. Yet, a famous American biologist, D. G. Elliott, reported in 1898 that once, after he had shot and wounded a whistling swan in flight, it began a long glide while uttering a series of “plaintive and musical” notes that “sounded at times like the soft running of the notes of an octave” as it gradually drifted downward. Nowadays such unusual behavior would probably be interpreted as only an instinctive distress call, but might have provided an early factual basis for this commonly used expression.

Replanting Lincoln's Union Plaza

By Benjamin Vogt

I’d intended to go to the opening celebration for Union Plaza, our new downtown park in Lincoln, Neb., last September, but was not able to attend. Instead, I visited a few weeks later, ready to have my breath taken away after seeing it from the O Street bridge—a real, bona fide park in downtown Lincoln. Fantastic. But stepping out of my car I was surrounded by concrete. There was a lot of concrete ahead of me and, if I squinted just right, I could almost make out some green in the distance. It was an auspicious start.

I walked the paths made wide enough for strolling families and passing bicyclists—the latter is what I have most experienced here, a safe thoroughfare for two-wheeled pedestrians. Union Plaza is rather dull and lifeless, cold and industrial. A few modest planting beds grace the margins and will some day fill in, but the expanse of drought-tolerant native buffalo grass leave much to be desired. There’s no nature here. No reason to visit. No reason to stay. Granted, this may not be a sunken garden, but it sure isn’t a park; it especially isn’t the prairie, as tiled murals along the west walls would like to suggest.

Forty Years of Remote Sensing in Nebraska

By Donald C. Rundquist

“Remote sensing” can be defined simply as the science and technologies associated with the analysis and mapping of data collected by means of instrumentation (or sensors) that are carried on various types of “platforms” (such as field vehicles, aircraft or satellites). The sensors operate at a distance from the target of interest and therefore are nondestructive in the manner in which they collect data. The sensors also operate within one or more parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes commonly used forms in remote sensing such as visible light, infrared and microwave energy. Thus, even ordinary aerial photography constitutes one type of remote sensing, although many much more advanced technologies are available today.

Book Review: "Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eisley" edited and with an introduction by Tom Lynch and Susan N. Maher

Review by Christine C. Pappas

“Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley”
Edited and with an introduction by Tom Lynch and Susan N. Maher
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Who was Loren Eiseley? He was a mental time traveler, a scientific shaman who wrote in essays and poems. In his personal and professional life he lived between worlds: human or animal; artist or scientist? The essays in the volume “Artifacts and Illuminations: Critical Essays on Loren Eiseley” (edited by Tom Lynch and Susan N. Maher and published by the University of Nebraska Press) finally may provide basic insight into Eiseley that will allow his readers to break the code that has been surrounding his works for 40 years. Lynch is an associate professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Maher is the dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Duluth. The University of Nebraska Press has been instrumental in keeping Eiseley’s books in print and offering them with new intro- ductions. Hopefully this new volume will spur more Eiseley scholarship on the themes they begin to develop.

Book Review: "The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment" by Fred V. Lucas

Review by Randall Moody

“The Right Frequency: The Story of the Talk Radio Giants Who Shook Up the Political and Media Establishment”
Author: Fred V. Lucas
Publisher: History Publishing Company

I hope he fails” were the words of Rush Limbaugh, the noisiest and best known of the right-wing radio talkers, when Barack Obama was elected president in 2008. Arguably, it was Limbaugh who ensured President Obama’s re-election victory in 2012 with his nasty attack on a Georgetown University law student, Sandra Fluke, when she called out the university for not including contraceptive coverage in its student insurance policy. Reproductive rights became a major issue in the presidential campaign, and Obama won the vote of single women by a whopping 36 percent over the Republican candidate Mitt Romney.

Immigration in Nebraska

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