Nebraska develops new wetland education tools

Ducks Unlimited helps fund the multifaceted project to show value of wetlands

Multi-media wetlands education project for Nebraska is under development.

© Courtesy Platte Basin Timelapse

Multi-media wetlands education project for Nebraska is under development.

Ducks Unlimited is part of an effort to modernize wetland conservation resources for educators and the public. With the help of a $280,000 matching grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and partners will create a new online collection of educational materials, including a fifth-grade curriculum and activity book. The three-year project will also produce Platte Basin Timelapse short films and multimedia stories; a public-consumption Guide to Nebraska Wetlands; and an online wetland ESRI StoryMap.

“The original Guide to Nebraska Wetlands was a very important educational resource for public and professionals alike,” said John Denton, DU manager of conservation programs for Nebraska. “This update and use of more modern communication techniques and media will only increase its impact.”

Game and Parks, Ducks Unlimited, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are providing 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.”

Wetlands act as habitat for a diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species; offer recreational benefits to hunters, anglers and wildlife observers; improve water quality, provide groundwater recharge, and reduce the effects of flooding.

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.