A Watershed in Motion
Imagine if you could follow a drop of water on a 900-mile journey downstream from mountains to plains. Imagine you could listen to its myriad stories as it makes its way from an alpine trout stream to a prairie river full of cranes or from a staircase of massive dams and reservoirs to a six-inch pipe that waters a farmer’s crop field.
The Platte River Basin is one of the most appropriated river systems in the world. Every drop of water is spoken for, and little is free.
The basin supports an industrial, agricultural powerhouse laid over one of the most endangered and altered grassland ecosystems on earth. Beneath the ground, it harbors more than half of the mighty Ogallala Aquifer; fossil water whose quantity and quality are at stake. Today this basin is being asked to be both food producer and energy pump in an age of climate change and economic uncertainty.
What if we could use the tremendous power of photography and storytelling to see a watershed in motion? What if we could leverage those images to dig deeper and grow understanding about our water resources, and build community throughout a watershed? What if this could be used as a template to start a conversation and look at other watersheds around the world?
This is what inspires us. This is our aim. Join us on the journey.
We are photographers and videographers, writers and designers, developers and technicians, scientists and researchers, educators and students.
We are storytellers.
Mike has been a professional photographer for almost 20 years, focusing on wildlife and conservation stories in the Great Plains of North America. Born and raised in Nebraska, Mike began his career at NEBRASKAland magazine as a staff photographer and writer. His most recent project was the book Great Plains: America's Lingering Wild and the PBS documentary based on the same title. Mike first fell in love with the Platte while watching cranes on a trip to visit his grandparents in Kearney during high school. Mike lives in Lincoln with his wife Patty, two daughters Elsa and Emme, and a menagerie of animals. To learn more about Mike and his work, visit www.michaelforsberg.com.
Currently the Special Projects Manager for NET, Nebraska’s statewide public broadcasting organization, Michael is a forty-three year veteran in public broadcasting. Forty-one of those years have been spent in production and management in Nebraska and the Great Plains. Michael works tirelessly to share his years of accumulated wisdom and experience with the next generation of story-tellers and he has led the effort to establish an internship program at NET for students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s colleges of Journalism and Fine and Performing Arts (Film) and the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
A former graduate student in the Nebraska Cooperative Fish & Wildlife Research Unit and a transplant from the east coast, Emma is fascinated with the communicative ability and integration of photography and science. Her research on the central Platte incorporates water-quality monitoring and call phenology of birds, frogs, and bats, engaged with PBT’s photos. She has fallen in love with the sunsets, wildlife, and thunderstorms of Nebraska.
Mariah is a wanderlust from Omaha, NE and graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Fisheries & Wildlife. She has been a member of the Platte Basin Timelapse team since 2013 and loves the wild places the project takes her and the passionate humans she continues to meet. She has learned what is required to tell compelling stories about our natural world using time-lapse and traditional photography and videography. In the age of technology, she sees the importance of communicating science and environmental issues through visually innovative ways. With a future of climate uncertainties, alarming rates of extinction, and the mass degradation of our planet’s resources, her goal is to continue to further her skills in conservation storytelling in hopes to protect biodiversity and the wild places these creatures call home.
Mary studies how rivers interact with landscapes over time, and she works to exchange knowledge about connections between human and natural systems. She is an associate professor at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the Departments of Communication and Biology. Her collaborative research spans several large river systems, such as the Platte River and its tributaries in the Sandhills of Nebraska, and includes educational projects to share concepts about science and natural resources with students and the public.
A native of Minnesota’s "Land of 10,000 Lakes", Peter grew up in the outdoors. His family was blessed to spend their free time visiting national parks, state parks, and campgrounds across the scenic United States. After high school, Peter moved to Lincoln, Nebraska with plans of becoming a nurse, though after a few unsatisfied years and adequate time soul-searching, he decided his passion for being outdoors deserved a career. An alumnus of the Fisheries & Wildlife program at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, Peter has an unconditional love for the wild places and things left on this planet.
David has spent the majority of his free time in some outdoor adventure or another; fly fishing, hunting, camping, motorcycling or just walking around with a camera taking bad pictures. After more than twenty years in the IT Industry running a consulting firm with his Dad, he found an opportunity to work with Jeff Dale at TRLcam. Marrying his love for the outdoors with his technical knowledge has been an amazing opportunity for David. He says he learns something new everyday -- electronics engineering from Jeff, photography from the "Two Mikes" or writing and media from the rest of the team. David married his high-school sweetheart, Karen, twenty-six years ago. They have two kids -- Anna who is a Journalism/Marketing major at Hastings College and Eli who is a sophomore at Norris High School. Two Labrador Retrievers are the reason they can't have nice things. There is a cat.
Jeff grew up in the Platte River Basin of Nebraska. There were many days and nights spent camping, canoeing, hunting, fishing and exploring the river basin. During his professional career, Jeff has always been involved in electronics technology and has started or been a partner in five Nebraska businesses. His current venture is TRLcam where he provides specialized camera technology to photography professionals and enthusiasts around the world. You can find more about Jeff and his projects at www.TRLcam.com.
South Platte Field Assistant
Colorado based conservation photographer, Dave Showalter is the author and photographer of the award-winning book "Prairie Thunder - The Nature of Colorado's Great Plains." Dave has a lifelong interest in natural history and has been photographing in Colorado and the west for more than 20 years. Dave's photographs and articles have appeared in numerous publications, including Outside, Outdoor Photographer, National Parks Magazine, Wilderness and elsewhere. Dave is the photographer for Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, a member of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), and supporter of numerous conservation groups. Dave and his wife Marla love adventuring, whether it's reaching for a high summit, waiting for golden light on a prairie butte, searching for wildlife, or trekking in a developing country. Dave and Marla live in Arvada, Colorado.
North Platte Field Assistant
The only team member based west of the continental divide, Kery lives in Grand County, Colorado where much of the water is diverted east to the Platte River Basin. As an avid boater of both whitewater and flat water, fly-fisherman, outdoor enthusiast, and long-time resident of the arid and growing west, the significance of water as a finite resource is of utmost importance to him. Platte Basin Timelapse project’s vision of conveying that significance with the power and simplicity of timelapse photography is innovative and assuring and Kery is excited to be a part of it. His dog, Oscar, is equally excited to be involved with the project.
Matt Waite is a professor of practice at the College of Journalism and Mass Communications, teaching reporting and digital product development. Prior to joining the faculty, he was the senior news technologist for the St. Petersburg Times of Florida and the principal developer of the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact.
Graduate Research Assistant
From the heart of Nebraska’s largest city, Brooke spent her childhood in her backyard, turning over garden stones and sketching out creatures in journals. During her undergrad at UNL in Agricultural Education-Leadership, Brooke connected with the Platte Basin Timelapse project by taking a class with Mike and Mike. Through the course, Brooke discovered that her passion for the outdoors, education and the arts could merge in a powerful way. For her graduate work in Applied Science, Brooke aims to create a science-based educational mobile app that draws upon PBT images and data. The app will contain downloadable nature guides, unlockable time-lapse videos, and the ability for users to contribute photos and make location-based wildlife sighting reports. By designing the app to encourage groups and families to get outside, Brooke hopes it will help others discover what is in their own “backyard.”
Alex Lundvall is currently a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studying Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Communication with a minor in Leadership and Entrepreneurship. Growing up on a farm in southwest Nebraska helped develop her love and passion for agriculture. Throughout the internship, Alex hopes to help effectively tell the story of the Platte River Basin.
Carlee is a sophomore at UNL majoring in fisheries and wildlife biology and Journalism and minoring in mathematics, biology, and environmental studies. The majority of her childhood consisted of mulberry-stained feet squishing in mud and her arms cuddling the multiple pets she's raised. Carlee's favorite "nights out" include making art and sitting in trees with a camera, if not hiking in the Rockies with her family. She is beyond excited to have this chance to be a part of the time-lapse project team and hopes to educate people about the importance of preserving this beautiful piece of the planet.
Ethan is a junior at UNL majoring in fisheries and wildlife, and grassland ecology and management. Growing up, Ethan's summers were spent exploring the prairies and waterways of South-eastern Nebraska and hiking with his family in Rocky Mountain National Park. Ethan has developed a deep appreciation for the prairies of Nebraska and he hopes to use the power of photography to show others the beauty and importance of these undervalued ecosystems.
Grace is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife with a minor in Animal Science. Originally from Kansas City, MO Grace grew up in the heart of KCMO learning to appreciate the importance of nature not only in the wild, but also in the city. Whether it was summers hiking in the Rockies, spending time at Lake Tanglewood, or exploring her neighborhood, Grace realized that she was happiest when outdoors surrounded by nature. Grace hopes to bring attention to the work of conservationists through multimedia story telling to connect a bridge between conservationists and the rest of the population.
Grant is currently a Junior at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln studying Fisheries and Wildlife with an emphasis in Wildlife Ecology and Management. Growing up, he moved around a lot exploring every new environment I encountered. His love for nature grew because of the numerous hiking, backpacking, and camping trips he went on with his family and friends. He is excited to be apart of the Platte Basin Timelapse project and to help educate people on the importance of conserving this beautiful planet.
Merika is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln majoring in Journalism and English with a minor in History. Originally from California but raised in the Great Plains of Nebraska, she grew up traveling uncharted roads with her family and developed a love of visual storytelling from being surrounded by diverse cultures and lands. Her passion for film and technology only curates her need for innovation and consistently strives to improve her skills so that she is able to correctly justify any story she tells. Currently, she is studying for her part 107 Drone Pilot certification and is practicing with 360 video on a documentary surrounding her native ancestry. She is thrilled to be working on the Platte Basin Timelapse project so future generations have a chance to see the world that exists today.
The Platte Basin Timelapse project (PBT) has been funded and in motion since early 2011. Currently, the project has more than 50 time-lapse camera systems placed throughout the 90,000 square-mile basin, from its headwaters along the Continental Divide in the Colorado Rockies to the river’s confluence with the Missouri River on Nebraska’s eastern border. Like chapters in a book, each time-lapse camera tells one part of the story of that proverbial drop of water as it makes a journey of roughly 900 river miles through the heart of North America.
The PBT team creates innovative multimedia content to tell the myriad stories of the Platte: web-based journalism, STEM-based educational curriculum for middle and high school science students, and a forthcoming documentary film for public television.