February 2014


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).

NEST Reaches out to Children and Teens: Program Provides More than $100,000 in Scholarships

By Don Stenberg

The seventh- and eighth-graders lined up on the infield at Werner Park in Papillion tell the story of the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust best of all. Ball caps and glittery sandals. Hometowns stretching from Valentine in the west to Elkhorn in the east. Smart kids united in their dream to one day head off to college.

The students were winners in the 2013 Why I Want to Go to College writing contest sponsored by the Nebraska Educational Savings Trust (NEST). By law, the Nebraska State Treasurer is trustee of NEST. In all, 12 seventh- and eighth-graders were recognized last year in the writing contest, which enters its 12th year in 2014. Each winner received a sizable contribution to a state-sponsored 529 college savings account.

Inflammation: The Problem with Heart Disease and What We Can Do About It

By Daniel R. Anderson, M.D., Ph.D.

When I talk to my patients about their heart disease, we’re really talking about inflammation.

Research has well established in recent decades the role inflammation plays in the development of plaques in the arteries or atherosclerotic disease. Inflammation is the steady drumbeat of a slow march toward heart disease that may not present any problems or even symptoms until a life-threatening heart attack or debilitating stroke.

Unfortunately, I don’t meet many of my patients until after one of those major events, and I’m confident every other cardiologist in the world can say the same thing.

Alfredisms: Mother Alfred, Part Two

One of my earliest memories is sitting in grandma’s lap and having my shoe strings tied. Why that should be a remembered event, I don’t know. Maybe it was something I didn’t expect. Maybe it only happened once.

When grandmother had one of her spells while standing, she would fall to the floor. Mother would put a pillow under her head, and we would step around or over her until the spell ended. Then grandma would stir, get back on her feet and continue to where she was going as though nothing had happened. The children all expected “grandma’s spells” and learned to take them in stride, even when it was necessary to step over her prone body.

Filmmaking in Nebraska: Its History, Impact and Future

Thomas Edison’s moving pictures of recent Spanish-American War events were a popular attraction at Omaha’s Trans-Mississippi Exposition in 1898.  (Nebraska State Historical Society, RG2752-PH-1-11-1)

By Laurie Richards

The Early Days

Thanks to Thomas A. Edison, capturing and viewing moving images took off across the country at the end of the 19th century, and Nebraska and the Great Plains were no exception. As early as 1897 motion pictures became a part of the cultural fabric of towns across the state. Local opera houses were magically transformed into movie theaters and revealed to us such marvels as “Edison’s Wonderful Cinegraph” and “Jolly Della Pringle,” waves breaking on the seashore, cavalry troops charging into battle, a train moving at full speed, a boxing match, firemen dousing a fire, dancers and the firing of a Gatling gun.

The first motion picture images of Nebraska were captured during the 1898 Trans-Mississippi Exposition in Omaha. Although the film was lost, it depicted President William McKinley’s visit to the exposition.

Exhibit Captures the Essence of the Great Plains

By Tracy Tucker and Kara Faber

Glenna Luschei is a familiar name in Nebraska writing circles. A renowned poet in her own right, in 2001 Luschei endowed the “Prairie Schooner” in perpetuity, the journal where she served as an editorial assistant. She has been publishing her own journals—“Cafe Solo,” “Solo” and “Solo Café”—for 50 years, as well as regularly publishing collections of her own poetry. Through it all, Luschei has been a champion of the restorative power of poetry.

Finding the Cranes in the Patki-natawawi

By Jack Phillips

During a spring sandhill crane expedition to Nebraska’s central Platte Valley, my sons and I took a side trip to an oak canyon on a sunny afternoon. The canyon is more than a hundred miles from the major crane staging and roosting areas along the Platte River and well outside the main migratory flyway. The sun compelled me (after checking for rattlers) to lie down on a pile of winter-blown leaves, now warm and dry. I dosed off as my boys hiked and climbed and looked for sunning reptiles. I was soon startled by a chorus of kwonk-rattles. Through the bare canopy, cranes appeared against the pale March sky.

Keeping Grass as Grass: The Avoided Rangeland Conversion Project

By Anne Stine

I’m new to Nebraska and the Plains states in general. As an East Coaster, my native landscape includes broadleaf forests and nasty drivers. I moved to Nebraska last June for the Claire M. Hubbard Young Leaders in Conservation Fellowship program with The Nature Conservancy. I’ve since been exploring the prairie, learning the dynamics of this wide-open place. It did not take long for me to throw myself into the beauty of the Great Plains and its native plants and animals, particularly pollinators… but I picked a tough time to join the fan club.

Reintroducing an Endangered Species Is Complicated

By Joe Duff

The Idea

Maybe all projects start out with a simple idea like a single stem of a sapling tree. As they grow, however, branches sprout in every direction and they quickly become far more complex.

In our case, the simple idea was to teach endangered whooping cranes how to migrate. We wanted to replicate what they would have normally learned from their parents had they not been wiped out in the eastern flyway in the 1800s. We wanted to teach them the route that was passed from one generation to the next for millennia but lost when the last bird to use it died.

As that stem of an idea grew, it soon began to divide into its various branches, all part of the same tree but requiring the participation of the nine agencies and organizations that now comprise the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership.

A Guide to Central Nebraska

Welcome to Nebraska! While you are in the area for the sandhill crane migration, you may find yourself with some free time between viewings. We invite you to explore all the adventures our state has to offer. The attractions listed here are a sampling of the many opportunities available to enrich your experience in central Nebraska. For more detailed information about events, attractions, outdoor recreation, places to stay and more, go to www.visitnebraska.com.

It's Show Time!

By Jeff Oates

Like gray smoke in the wind, the sandhill cranes come as they have for thousands of years to this incomparable stretch of the Platte River in south-central Nebraska—more than half a million in all, concentrating here like no other place in the world. An estimated 90 percent of the mid-continent population of sandhill cranes gathers here every spring to rest, feed and display some of the most developed social behaviors known to nature. As individuals, pairs and family groups, the cranes will spend three to four weeks staging along the Platte River before pushing on to their nesting grounds in the north. Some will travel distances greater than 5,000 miles, from Mexico in the south to as far north as Siberia.

To Kill a Mountain Lion

By Paul A. Johnsgard

In the late 1980s, to celebrate my survival of a serious heart attack, my older brother Keith suggested to me that we go to Africa on a photo safari, something both of us had dreamed of doing for much of our lives but had never acted on. Although my own primary interest was birding and his was in climbing Mt. Kenya, we both especially looked forward to seeing such wonderful megafauna as elephants, cheetahs and lions. We spent a good deal of time watching a lion pride on the Serengeti and were greatly impressed by the bravery of young Maasai men, who spent the daylight hours guarding their cattle from lion attacks armed only with a spear. Indeed, the ultimate and sometimes fatal bravery test of a Maasai warrior is to kill a lion with nothing more than his spear.

Immigration in Nebraska

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