Plains Safaris speakers
Our Plains Safaris conference, coming up soon (April 18-20) in Kearney, Neb. now has a slate of more than 50 speakers. Get to know them more:
James Anderson, Adventure Travel and Trade Association
Lars Anderson, Reserve Assistant, American Prairie Reserve
Anderson’s responsibilities include general maintenance and habitat restoration on the Reserve. Before joining APR, he was the interim manager at the University of Nebraska’s Barta Brothers Ranch.
Ellen Anderson, Reserve Assistant, American Prairie Reserve
Anderson is focused on habitat restoration at APR. Before joining the Reserve team, Anderson was a graduate research assistant at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is originally from St. John, WA, and earned a B.S. from Washington State University in Natural Resource Sciences, minoring in Rangeland Ecology and Management.
Vince Asta, Ponderosa Cyclery
Asta is an avid cyclist that has a deep appreciation for Nebraska and the beauty that lies within. Two-track, trail… he’s always looking for the most adventurous route to experience our public lands. When not exploring the Great Plains (the high plains in particular), he’s running a bike shop named after Nebraska’s native pine, the mighty Ponderosa.
Megan Bannister, Olio in Iowa
Bannister is a freelance writer and travel blogger based in Des Moines, Iowa. Her blog, Olio in Iowa, focuses on offbeat destinations, roadside attractions, and “world’s largest” things.
Dena Beck, REAP Senior Project Leader & South Central Loan Specialist, Center for Rural Affairs
Much of Beck’s time is spent on the road, meeting with regional organizations, making loans and providing technical assistance to small businesses – from consignment stores, to restaurants, grocery stores, and many more.
Joe Black, Executive Director, Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer
The mission of Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer is to preserve and portray the inspiring era of the pioneer town builders who created the first communities in Nebraska.
Billie Kay Bodie, Big Blue Ranch
Big Blue Ranch & Lodge offers a great escape to a beautiful cedar log lodge on a working cattle ranch in the tall grass prairie, rolling hills and woodlands of southeast Nebraska.
Larry Borowsky, interpretive writer
Borowsky has more than 20 years’ experience developing interpretive text and interactive media for museums and historic sites. He has also worked with several of Colorado’s scenic and historic byways.
Sara Broers, co-founder of Midwest Travel Bloggers, owner of Social Connections, co-owner of Home Grown Social Media
Broers is a travel and social media enthusiast that resides in North Iowa. You can follow Broers on her travel adventures on her blog at TravelWithSara and through social media. She will travel where the plane, train, ship or car will go.
Casey Cagle, Prairie Earth Tours
Owner of Kansas tour company, Prairie Earth Tours, Cagle has worked for numerous tour companies that led tours all over the U.S., across Canada, and in the Australian outback. With Prairie Earth Tours, Cagle strives to deliver authentic experiences that showcase the Midwest culture and landscape.
John Carroll, Director, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Prior to coming to UNL, Carroll was a professor at the University of Georgia and at California University of Pennsylvania.
Brett Chloupek, Humanities & Social Sciences, Northwest Missouri State University
Chloupek is an Assistant Professor of Geography in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Northwest Missouri State University.
Caroline Clare, English, Arizona State University
Clare is a second-year PhD candidate in English Literature at Arizona State University. Her specialization is nineteenth and twentieth century American literature, particularly immigration literature of the Great Plains and the psychological effects of the Plains landscape as portrayed in fiction.
Chuck Cooper, Crane Trust President/CEO
Cooper is a lifelong Nebraskan, growing up in Hartington working on farms in his youth and graduating from Wayne State College in Wayne, Neb. These experiences created a passion for Nebraska and the prairie that the Crane Trust works to protect and maintain.
Bree Dority, Associate Professor of Finance and Associate Dean of the College of Business & Technology, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Dority has done extensive work on issues that directly affect the stakeholders of UNK and the people of Nebraska. She has conducted economic impact, labor availability, and community revitalization studies, and has presented and published research on school consolidation and tobacco free laws, topics of particular relevance to rural Nebraska communities.
Ben Dumas, Crane Trust Fund Development Manager
Originally from Denver, Colo., Dumas moved to Nebraska in 2009 to attend Hastings College where he received degrees in Peace, Justice, and Social Change, and Religion. A love for outdoor activities and an enthusiasm for the mission of the Crane Trust brought him to join the staff in 2016.
Tim Dwyer, Friends of the Missouri Breaks Monument
A Montana native, Dwyer holds the public lands of Montana close to his heart. Tim’s previous work as a Regional Director for the Montana Conservation Corps gave him the pleasure of 14 years of giving back to the state of Montana and providing youth opportunity to experience the outdoors.
Mark Engler, Superintendent, Homestead National Monument of America
Michael Farrell, Co-Founder, Platte Basin Timelapse project
Currently Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the co-founder of Platte Basin Timelapse. Farrell is a 43-year veteran in public broadcasting.
Dan Flores, historian, author of American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains
Flores is a writer and historian who specializes in environmental and cultural history of the American West.
Michael Forsberg, conservation photographer, co-founder of Platte Basin Timelapse
Forsberg is an award-winning photographer of Great Plains nature and wildlife, co-founder of the Platte Basin Timelapse project, and a faculty member in IANR at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Mary Harner, Associate Professor of Biology, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Harner studies how rivers interact with landscapes over time, and she works to exchange knowledge about connections between human and natural systems.
Rebekka Herrera-Schlichting, Assistant Director, Vision Maker Media
Rebekka Herrera-Schlichting is a member of the Ioway Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska. As the assistant director of Vision Maker Media, her mission is to empower Native people to share their stories through film on public television.
Katelyn Ideus, Director of Communications & Public Relations, Rural Futures Institute, University of Nebraska
Branding and content strategist, Ideus evolves and delivers the Institute’s brand through seven social media platforms, two weekly productions, a monthly newsletter and multiple content campaigns.
Shane Ideus, Executive Vice President – Risk Consultant Unico Group
Ideus is a Risk Consultant with Unico Group in Lincoln, Neb. A native of Filley, Neb., he graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2003 with a BA in Business Administration.
Dean Jacobs, Photographer, author, traveler
Since 2001 Jacobs has traversed across the globe exploring over 58 countries on a low budget adventure, propelled by a desire to understand the world we share.
John Janovy, Professor Emeritus, Biology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Janovy, has published more than 100 scientific papers, 11 trade books by major publishers, and the leading textbook in his discipline. He’s the author of Africa Notes: Reflections of an Ecotourist.
Theresa Jedd, Environmental Policy Specialist, National Drought Mitigation Center, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jedd received a PhD in political science from Colorado State University, Fort Collins, and her research seeks to understand vulnerability and adaptation in outdoor recreation under a variety of climate and weather conditions.
Dipra Jha, Assistant Professor of Practice and the Director of Global Engagement for the Hospitality, Restaurant and Tourism Management program at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Jha is recognized as a global expert in tourism and luxury hospitality and does collaborative work with communities, private sector organizations as well as government entities around the world.
Luke Jordan, First Thru-Hiker of the Great Plains Trail
Jordan grew up on a farm in central Minnesota. He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in Natural Resources. In 2016 he attempted the first thru-hike of the Great Plains Trail and again succeeded, hiking from Texas to Canada.
Joel Jorgensen, Nebraska Game and Parks
A lifelong resident of Nebraska, Jorgensen has had a lifelong interest in birds. He has been employed as the Nongame Bird Program Manager with the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 12 years and is the current president of the Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union.
Susan Jurasz, Sea Ranch, OR
Martha Kauffman, Managing Director, World Wildlife Fund, Northern Great Plains Program
Kauffman manages an area that encompasses five states and some of the least understood terrain in the ‘Lower 48.’ She works with local ranchers, Native American tribes and government agencies to increase protection for the landscape, create economic incentives for conservation, and restore native species including iconic and rare animals such as bison, prairie dogs, and the most endangered mammal in North America, the black-footed ferret.
Doug Killeen, Vice President – Outdoor Products Underwriting, Philadelphia Insurance Companies, Colo.
Killeen has 25 years of underwriting experience dealing with contractual requirements and risk management based programs. Philadelphia Insurance is a niche oriented property and casualty insurer that specializes in several recreation, wilderness, and conservation programs.
Bobby Koepplin, Board Vice Chair, National Scenic Byway Foundation
Koepplin, Valley City, ND, serves as chairperson for the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. He has been involved with Byways for over 20 years.
Qwynne Lackey, Parks, Recreation & Tourism, University of Utah
Lackey is a PhD student in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism program at the University of Utah. She previously graduated with her Masters at UNL where her thesis work involved exploration of ecotourism guide and interpretation training programs.
Adam Lackner, Brush Buck Tours, WY
Tom Lynch, Professor & Chair Of The Undergraduate Program And Curriculum Committee, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Susan Naramore Maher, Dean and Professor of English College of Liberal Arts, University of Minnesota Duluth
Maher is author of Deep Map Country: Literary Cartography of the Great Plains (2014) and of numerous articles and book chapters on Great Plains topics.
Michael Maddison, Northwest Missouri State University
Maddison is a student at Northwest Missouri State University studying Geographic Information Systems.
Steve Maly, Maly Marketing
Ronnie O’Brien, Central Community College
In 2003 O’Brien began working with Deb Echo-Hawk of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma and manages the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project in Nebraska.
Nils Odendaal, CEO, NamibRand Nature Reserve
Odendaal is a native Namibian and has been involved in conservation for more than 20 years. He first worked for Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation in north-western Namibia focusing on community-based natural resource management. He has been involved with the NamibRand Nature Reserve for the past 13 years. First as the Reserve’s control warden and later as CEO. He is also one of the founders of the Greater Sossusvlei-Namib Landscape Association.
Ashley Olson, Executive Director, Willa Cather Foundation
Olson has been a member of the Willa Cather Foundation staff since 2008 and has served as the organization’s Executive Director since 2014.
Lisa Pennisi, Natural Resources Specialist, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Pennisi is an Associate Professor of practice at the UNL. Her focus is human dimensions of natural resource management, including ecotourism, environmental education and conservation behavior.
Erin Pirro, Farm Business Consultant, Farm Credit East
Pirro has been helping farmers large and small make their businesses run better since 2001. As a Certified Agricultural Consultant for Farm Credit East with a background in agricultural economics, Erin’s focus has been on benchmarking and profitability improvement because sustainability means economics, too.
Melody Pittman, Wherever I May Roam
Pittman and her daughter Taylor Pittman Hardy are multigenerational travel writers and influencers from Florida who write about luxury travel, culture, and food with a side of smart spending.
Andy Pollack, Rembolt Ludtke Law
A partner with the firm, Pollack practices primarily in government relations. He is a registered lobbyist before the Nebraska Legislature, representing a diverse array of clients.
Larkin Powell, Professor of Conservation Biology, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Powell and his wife Kelly, who has served as an instructor at UNL for wildlife management courses, lived in Windhoek, Namibia in 2009 during a Fulbright Scholar experience. They traveled extensively in Namibia in 2017 to interview private landowners about their experience in ecotourism operations on livestock farms.
Jeff Rawlinson, Nebraska Game and Parks
Rawlinson is the Education Manager in the Communications Division with Game and Parks where he has worked for 15 years. He oversees the Hunter Education, Boater Education, Hunter Outreach and Shooting Range Development for the Commission and is a devout hunter, angler, wildlife viewer, naturalist, father and husband.
Emily Rau, English graduate student, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Rau is a doctoral student in the English Department and a Graduate Fellow in the Center for Great Plains Studies at UNL.
Richard Reading, Director of Research and Conservation, Butterfly Pavilion, Colo.
Reading is the Director for Research and Conservation at Butterfly Pavilion and the Executive Director of the non-profit Coalition for International Conservation. He has worked primarily on grassland ecosystems on six continents, with a focus on the Great Plains of N. America, the steppes of Mongolia, the savannahs of Botswana, and the Altiplano of Peru. His work focuses on developing pragmatic, effective, and interdisciplinary approaches to the conservation of wildlife and protected areas through research, capacity development, and working with local people and governments.
Robert Ritson, Biology, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Ritson is currently a graduate student at the Department of Biology at UNK researching spatial ecology. His masters thesis is ‘Spatial Ecology of Bison in the Great Plains of North America.’
Regina Robbins, Assistant Professor of Sociology & Native American Studies, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Robbins earned her PhD in Preventive and Societal Medicine from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, with a graduate minor in Native American Studies from UNO. Robbins is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and serves the Center for Great Plains Studies on the Board of Governors.
Caleb Roberts, graduate student, Agronomy & Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Roberts is a Ph.D. student majoring in Applied Ecology in the Department of Agronomy & Horticulture at UNL. His work centers on landscape and community ecology, particularly regarding ecological resilience, vulnerability, and disturbance ecology.
Reed Robinson, (Sicangu/Lakota), Manager, Tribal Relations & Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Midwest Regional Office
Robinson’s office works to ensure agency policies and actions respect tribal sovereignty and serve to build vital intercultural partnerships.
Nicole Rosmarino, Southern Plains Land Trust
Nicole Rosmarino, Ph.D., helped found the Southern Plains Land Trust (SPLT) in 1998 and has served as its Executive Director since 2011. In her work for SPLT, she is striving to create large shortgrass prairie wildlife refuges that emulate the “American Serengeti” that once occurred in the Great Plains.
Okwa Sarefo, founder Wild Expeditions Safaris
Sarefo is the creator of Wild Expectations Safaris, a small adventure touring and guiding company. Sarefo has been guiding in Botswana for the last 18 years. Over the last four years he ventured into training other guides. The company exhibits a friendly and forward-thinking attitude that recognizes the need to shift with ever-changing customer needs. Sarefo’s philosophy is to emphasize an exclusive experience with a small number of people to view nature on foot or canoe.
Joel Sartore, Plains Safaris Keynote
Sartore is an award-winning photographer, speaker, author, teacher, conservationist, National Geographic fellow, and regular contributor to National Geographic magazine. He specializes in documenting endangered species and landscapes around the world. He is the founder of the Photo Ark, a 25-year documentary project to save species and habitat.
Anthony Schutz, Professor of Law, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Schutz, a Nebraska native, is a nationally-recognized authority on the often-intertwined subjects of agricultural, environmental, and natural resources law and of state and local government. He is the author of the Rural Landowner Liability for Recreational Activities in Nebraska guide, produced by the Center for Great Plains Studies.
Neha Shah, Pittsboro-Silver City, NC, Convention and Visitors Bureau
Shah is award-winning marketing professional and travel writer. She has been with the Pittsboro-Siler City CVB for almost two decades, as a one-person organization. She has presented on rural entrepreneurship, social media, agritourism, recreation, and culinary marketing, and more.
Chris Sieverdes, Board Member, National Scenic Byway Foundation
Chris Sieverdes serves as an Amish Country Byway Leader. He is chair of Ohio DOT Scenic Byway Advisory Committee and secretary of Ohio Byway Links, Inc., a coalition of 27 state and America’s Byways. He is Professor Emeritus at Clemson University where he specialized in leadership and community development.
Sarah Sortum, Ecotourism manager and operator, Calamus Outfitters, Burwell, Neb. & Nebraska Tourism Commissioner
Sarah (Switzer) Sortum grew up on the family ranch in Loup County, Neb. She and her husband, Mark, returned to Nebraska in 2006 and count it a blessing to be able to raise their two boys on the home place. Currently, Sarah works for both the Switzer Ranch and Calamus Outfitters, owns and operates Sandhills Safari Jeep Tours, serves as a consultant for the Great Plains Ecotourism Coalition and is a Nebraska State Tourism Commissioner.
Kristal Stoner, Nebraska Game and Parks
As the Wildlife Diversity Program Manager at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Stoner oversees implementation of the Nebraska State Wildlife Action Plan with the mission to conserve declining and at-risk species while keeping common species common. She also oversees the watchable wildlife grants program which strives to create more opportunities for wildlife viewing and education by empowering local communities and organizations.
Sharon Strouse, Board Chair, National Scenic Byway Foundation
Strouse serves as an active board member of the National Scenic Byway Foundation, Ohio Byway Links, and 4-H Camp Ohio. She is a life member of the National Association of Interpreters and Professor Emeritus at The Ohio State University. She enjoys volunteering as a docent for local museums along the Amish Country Byway while living on a farm in Millersburg, Ohio.
Olugbenga Kehinde Sonubi, Federal Polytechnic, Nigeria
Sonubi (PhD, Ecotourism Management) works with the Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Management Dept of the Federal Polytechnic, Ede, Osun State as a Chief Lecturer. With many years of institution and industry relationships, he uses field research experience to offer solutions to the societal problems in the field of tourism. His current research is into agritourism.
Bill Taddicken, Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary
Taddicken leads and oversees all Rowe Sanctuary programs on the 2,400-acre Sanctuary and has worked extensively on conservation of the Platte River for Sandhill Cranes, Whooping Cranes, and other wildlife. Previous positions included Assistant Director and Director of Conservation. Bill has a B.S. in wildlife biology.
Anne and Steve Teget, PostcardJar.com
Rural Nebraskans Steve and Ann Teget are writers, speakers, and co-founders of the midlife travel blog, PostcardJar.com. They work with destinations and CVBs to tell authentic stories of midlife travel that connect and engage followers of their blog. Follow them on social media @postcardjar.
Lisa Trudell, The Walking Tourists
Lisa Trudell worked in the travel industry for over 16 years, initially for a hotel company and later as a travel agent. She has co-created the community Midwest Travel Bloggers, which connects travel writers and tourism professionals to promote the Midwest. She has spoken at several conferences including Type-A Parent, TBEX (Travel Bloggers Exchange) and WITS (Women in Travel Summit). Today, her full-time job is as an Online Marketing Specialist for the In-Home Care company Right at Home.
Tim Trudell, The Walking Tourists
Tim Trudell is the writer, editor and photographer of the couple, covering fabulous places, people, and events. He has an e-book available titled The Walking Tourists Guide to Nebraska Attractions beyond Omaha and Lincoln, and the Trudell’s book, 100 Things to Do in Omaha Before You Die, will be released April 15, 2018.
Tracy Tucker, Education Director & Archivist, Willa Cather Foundation
Tucker joined the staff of the Willa Cather Foundation in 2012 as education director. A certified archivist, Tucker oversees the WCF collection and presents regularly on topics related to Cather, Great Plains literature and the physical and culural landscape.
T.J. Walker, Nebraska Game and Parks biologist
Bill Whitney, Executive Director, Prairie Plains Resource Institute
With a B.S. in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an M.S. in limnology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Whitney’s goal is making the landscape of his youth available for science, education, and recreation. He saw opportunity in improving small parcels of local land by working them back to native prairie and making them accessible to anyone interested. Whitney and his wife Jan received the Nebraska Wildlife Federation 2006 Conservationist of the Year Award, the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Blazing Star Award and the Wachiska Audubon Earthkeeper Award in 2000 and Crane Conservationist of the Year from Wings Over the Platte in 1999.
Kim Wilson, Professor of Landscape Architecture and RFI Fellow, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Wilson’s professional experience focused on site design and planning for urban waterfronts, light rail transit corridors and other infrastructure projects, large land holdings and parks, and open spaces.