2021 Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference

The 2021 Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference was hosted virtually via Zoom, October 18–20, 2021.

Presentations were recorded and are available for public viewing at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission YouTube page. You can also view the schedule below to get an idea of the sessions and presentations from the conference.

The Nebraska Natural Legacy Project is the blueprint for conservation of at-risk species and landscapes in Nebraska. The annual conference covers research, education, and management, with presentations from field biologists, students, and conservation practitioners.

Questions can be sent to or 402-471-5708.

2021 Award Winners

2021 Natural Legacy Project Award Winners

Past Conferences

For more information on the Nebraska Natural Legacy Conference, please see our 2020 Conference website HERE. We had 60 presentations on conservation in Nebraska, with topics like prescribed fire, fisheries research, mammal conservation, saline wetlands, and environmental education.

2021 Agenda

Monday, October 18, 2021

Welcome & Plenary Session


8:30 a.m.


Sarah Nevison and Melissa Panella, NGPCWelcome and Information


8:35 a.m.


Alicia Hardin, NGPC Wildlife Division Administrator – Welcome and Recovering America’s Wildlife Act Information


9 a.m.


Melissa Panella, NGPC Wildlife Diversity Program ManagerNebraska Natural Legacy Award Winners


9:10 am


Will Inselman and Melissa Panella,NGPC Midwest Landscape Initiative: Working across boundaries to conserve our shared nature


9:10 am


PANEL – Great Plains Initiative Panel: Opportunities and Roundtable Discussions

BREAK 10:45 – 11 a.m.

Avian Research and Conservation Session


11 a.m.


Stephen Brenner and Joel Jorgensen, NGPCMigratory songbird abundance and body condition at a Wildlife management Area in eastern Nebraska


11:30 a.m.


Amanda Hegg, Audubon NebraskaMitigating avian collisions with power lines through illumination with ultraviolet light


12 p.m.


Dana Varner, Rainwater Basin Joint VentureHabitat prioritization for breeding grassland birds

LUNCH BREAK 12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Visual Technology Session 1


1:30 p.m.


Grace Gaard and Ted LaGrange, NGPC and Brooke Talbot, Platte Basin TimelapseWet and wild learning in Nebraska: Shaping a statewide wetlands outreach and education project


2 p.m.


Patricia James, Nebraska Master NaturalistMaking connections through the arts: A landowner’s artistic study of 200 plants in Boyd County


4:00 – 4:30 p.m.


Colin Croft, Nebraska Master Naturalist – Camera-trapping in two panhandle BULs

BREAK 3 – 3:15 p.m.

Visual Technology Session 2


3:15 p.m.


Tom Malmstrom, Saline Wetlands Conservation Partnership, and Brooke Talbot, Platte Basin TimelapseVisualizing the value of saline wetlands (60 MIN PRESENTATION)


4:15 p.m.


Kaley Keldsen, Platte River Recovery Implementation ProgramMonitoring interior least tern and piping plover nests with remote and cellular video cameras at off-channel nesting sites along the Central Platte River in Nebraska

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Wetland Ecology Session


9:30 a.m.


Abraham Kanz, Oklahoma State UniversityRefining relationships between macroinvertebrate communities, abiotic factors, and vegetative factors of wet meadows in the Central Platte River Valley


10 a.m.


Kate Bird, University of Nebraska-LincolnImportance of scale in evaluating landscape connectivity: An examination of wetland habitat in the Central Platte River Valley


10:30 a.m.


Daniel Fogell, Southeast Community CollegeThe distribution of Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) outside of their core range in Nebraska


11 a.m.


Randy Stutheit, Nebraska Game & ParksCottonwoods: Their demands on wetlands and management to minimize their influence on the resource

LUNCH BREAK 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Environmental Education Session


12:30 p.m.


Amber Schiltz, NGPCIncreasing ecological literacy through science communication and outreach


1 p.m.


Lindsay Rogers, NGPC – Understating Nebraska’s diverse audiences


1:30 p.m.


Alie Mayes, NGPC, and Louise Lynch-O’Brien, University of Nebraska-LincolnAn update on Community Science in Nebraska and beyond


2 p.m.


Jamie Bachmann, Northern Prairies Land TrustEnvironmental education and land management: A power couple

BREAK 2:30 – 3 p.m.

Insect Conservation in Grasslands


3 p.m.


Cody Dreier, NGPCNebraska Game & Parks butterfly survey update


3:30 p.m.


Jennifer Corman, Northern Prairies Land TrustAmerican burying beetles: Aligning conservation funding with survey results


4 p.m.


Alison Ludwig, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – The role of extreme fire in grassland restoration for the threatened American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus)

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Stream Conservation and Invasive Species


9:30 a.m.


Bailey McNichol, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Environmental gradients strongly influence present and future forest composition in the Niobrara River Valley


10 a.m.


Joseph Spooner and Zach Horstman, NGPCChutes and ladders: Mitigation of perched culvert stream fragmentation


10:30 a.m.


Michael Murphy, Clemson University Conservation of the finescale and northern redbelly dace


11 a.m.


Allison Zach, Nebraska Invasive Species ProgramNebraska Invasive Species: New species, collaborations, and education resources

LUNCH BREAK 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Landowner Perspectives in Natural Resources


12:30 p.m.


Ashley Garrelts, Sandhills Task Force – Working with private landowners on eastern red cedar management to promote ranching and improve wildlife habitat


1 p.m.


Conor Barnes, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Comparing variations in landowner attitudes toward eastern redcedar and prescribed fire among three Nebraska ecoregions


1:30 p.m.


Daniel Morales, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Rural versus urban perspectives on management of natural resources in Nebraska

BREAK 2 – 2:30 p.m.

Prescribed Fire and Grassland Conservation


2:30 p.m.


Devan McGranahan, USDA Agricultural Research ServiceThe case for burning rangeland pastures in the Northern Great Plains


3 p.m.


Dillon Fogarty, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Effective seed dispersal of eastern redcedar in grasslands


3:30 p.m.


Paul Akpejeluh, University of Nebraska-Lincoln – Are the Sandhills getting greener?


4 p.m.


Claire Shield, Nebraska Forest Service Introducing the Nebraska Wildfire Risk Explorer