Outdoor notes: Catch these Game and Parks education events in June
Nebraska Game and Parks Commission educators have scheduled interesting and engaging events for the curious in June. Here are some opportunities:
Beginning Nature Journaling educator workshop is June 8
Nature journaling can unlock creativity, provide data to observe patterns, help people understand the importance of good data collection, reinforce the scientific process, and express art, reading and writing skills.
The Schramm Education Center near Gretna will host a Beginning Nature Journaling educator workshop at 6 p.m. June 8.
This free workshop is for formal and informal educators who want to start nature journaling and may use the information in their classrooms or with students. Registration is required. Participants who attend the entire class will receive a nature journal, nature prompt book, literature and basic art supplies.
Visit the event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov for more information and to register.
Nature Nerd Night to feature Incredible Invertebrates on June 21
Invertebrates account for more than 95% of all animal species on the planet. In the Nebraska Nature Nerd Night virtual webinar Incredible Invertebrates, outdoor educators will discuss the adaptations and behaviors these spineless creatures have that enable them to survive. The free event starts at 7 p.m. Central time June 21.
Registration is required through the event listing at calendar.outdoornebraska.gov. Participants also may submit questions to be answered during the webinar while registering. For more information, contact [email protected] or follow the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission or Nebraska Wildlife Education on Facebook.
Those unable to attend can view the recorded webinar on the Nebraska Game and Parks YouTube Education Channel.
The Nebraska Nature Nerd Night series, for curious adults, takes places on the third Tuesday of every month.
Family Nature Club: Pollinator Party set for June 4
Join the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies for Family Nature Club: Pollinator Party on June 4 in Scottsbluff.
Activities will include interactive nature exploration related to pollinators. Meet at 10 a.m. Mountain time at the Elks Shelter in Riverside Park.
Family Nature Club is intended for children and their parents or grandparents. Space is limited. Registration is required at birdconservancy.doubleknot.com/.../pollin.../2863443.
Contact Delanie Bruce at [email protected] or 308-633-1013 for more information.
Get to know birds of Kiowa WMA on June 11
Join Bird Conservancy of the Rockies and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission to get to know the birds in the Scottsbluff area. At 9 a.m. Mountain time June 11, a bird walk will be held at Kiowa Wildlife Management Area.
Kiowa WMA, located just south of Morrill, has been designated a Nebraska Important Bird Area. It is vital to migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, even burrowing owls.
Binoculars and field guides will be available to borrow. Wear comfortable walking shoes. No restrooms are available at Kiowa WMA.
Registration is required. Call 308-633-1013 to register or for more information.
Plan ahead for a fun Memorial weekend getaway
Memorial Day weekend, the official kick-off to summer camping season, is nearly here, and those hoping to snag a perfect camping spot still have a plenty of options.
While many prime reservation-only spots already have been reserved, many more sites are available first-come, first-served at state parks across Nebraska. Those open to camping a bit further from the lake or a bit further from home can find a serene setting or a fun opportunity for adventure.
Nebraska Game and Parks encourages you to have fun in the outdoors and always keep safety top of mind.
Follow these tips for a successful holiday weekend camping trip:
- Reserve a spot online. Several state parks still have sites available for booking. Find at spot at ReserveAmerica.com.
- Travel further from urban centers. More remote campgrounds offer the opportunity the perfect place to stretch out for a weekend. To find a just-right campground, visit org/maps then choose state park and recreation areas. This interactive map provides a summary of each park area with location, park amenities and contact information if you have questions.
- Arrive early. Consider arriving Tuesday or Wednesday before Memorial Day weekend to claim a first-come, first-served site that meet your needs.
- Practice campfire safety. Guests should call park areas before arrival to determine whether a burn ban is in effect. Where campfires are allowed, use designated fire rings, never leave a fire unattended, keep water nearby, and extinguish completely before leaving.
- Wear life jackets when boating or swimming.
- Check the weather forecast and stay aware of changing conditions.
- Plan ahead for what you may need — especially if your preferred site is already taken. Consider packing a shower caddy to get to and from the shower houses and bottled water or a water cooler. Don’t forget traditional supplies, as well, such as lawn chairs, bug spray and sunscreen.
- Be patient. Memorial Day weekend is a historically busy one in state parks. Practice patience and understanding with fellow campers and park staff.
- Pack a fishing pole! Fishing is fun for all ages. Youth ages 16 and under don’t need a permit to fish. Adults can buy a one-day or annual fishing permit online.
- Have fun! Remember to bring camp games and plenty of good food — the perfect recipe for a fun weekend camping trip.
Some state park area hours of operation reduced heading into summer
As Nebraska’s state parks prepare for another summer season, some are adjusting their activity hours because of a limited workforce. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission urges park-goers to call ahead before visiting a park to check on activity times and availability.
Game and Parks annually hires nearly 900 workers across the state to assist with a variety of state park operations during the summer. So far this season, at some larger park operations, there are only about half the needed staff to operate some activities.
“We appreciate everyone’s support and patience as we make the necessary changes to adapt to the current staffing challenges,” Parks Division Administrator Jeff Fields said. “We will do our best to still provide many excellent recreational opportunities that people expect in their parks.”
Fields encourages anyone interested in joining his team to apply at outdoornebraska.gov/careers.
Positions needed include lifeguards, shooting range staff, housekeepers, and concession workers. Training and certification are available for new employees. Game and Parks recently raised the pay rates for seasonal staff by more than 33%.
“Working in the parks is enjoyable and the diversity of opportunity helps build skill sets that are attractive on future job applications,” Fields said. “Opportunities also exist in the Fish and Wildlife divisions of the agency.”
Upcoming park activity schedules include:
Eugene T. Mahoney State Park – Starting May 28, the Family Aquatic Center hours of operation will be Monday, Wednesday and Friday, noon-5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, noon-5 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Concession offerings will be reduced on those days. The aquatic center is closed Tuesday and Thursday.
Platte River State Park – Starting May 28, the hours of operation at the Outdoor Heritage Education Complex will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m.-6 p. m. Stations available on those days may be limited depending on staffing.
In addition to reduced pool and shooting range hours at these parks, other activities and amenities that will have reduced hours include marinas, craft centers, golf shack, and activity centers. Call the park office in advance for more information.
Nebraska park entry permits may be purchased online in advance of any park visits. Visit outdoornebraska.gov/parks to find more information, including phone numbers of park areas.
Hear history of Nebraska military forts at Fort Kearny SHP on May 29
Come hear about the history of Nebraska’s military forts May 29 at Fort Kearny State Historical Park. Nebraska historian and author Jeff Barnes will speak at 1 p.m. at the visitor center.
Nebraska’s forts were built to promote trade, protect travelers and settlers, fight Indian tribes and then keep the peace. During that time, they hosted some famous names of American history, including Buffalo Bill Cody, Crazy Horse, George Custer, Robert E. Lee, Red Cloud, and Mark Twain. Barnes will tell the story of Nebraska’s 12 military forts and what visitors can find at those sites.
The program is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required.
Indian Wars history subject of Fort Hartsuff SHP presentation
Learn about the Plains Indian Wars as commemorated in historical monuments at a presentation May 30 at Fort Hartsuff State Historical Park.
Nebraska historian and author Jeff Barnes will present a chronological telling of the meetings of Native American and European Americans in Nebraska, from peace through war, as commemorated in historical monuments and markers. These memos from the past mark councils, trading and military posts, treaty sites, battles and massacres.
The talk, which starts at 3 p.m., is sponsored by the Friends of Fort Hartsuff. The program is free, but a vehicle park entry permit is required.
Fort Hartsuff is located north of Elyria in Valley County.