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.

Our History

The Platte Basin Timelapse project (PBT) has been funded and in motion since early 2011. Currently, the project has more than 60 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.


We are photographers and videographers, writers and designers, developers and technicians, scientists and researchers, educators and students.

We are storytellers.

Mike Forsberg


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.

Michael Farrell


Currently Associate Professor of Practice at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln and the co-founder of Platte Basin Timelapse. 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.

Mariah Lundgren

Producer & Project Manager

Mariah is a wanderlust from Omaha, NE and a graduate of the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a degree in Environmental Studies, and Fisheries & Wildlife. She has been a member of the Platte Basin Timelapse team since 2014 and has learned what it takes to tell compelling stories about conservation using time-lapse and traditional photography and videography. Her goal is to further her skills in conservation storytelling and science communication to better educate the public about our natural world and the challenges we continue to face. Her love lies with open spaces, wild places, wildlife and people.

Morgan Spiehs

Digital Journalist

Morgan, the daughter of Platte Valley farmers, grew up near the town of Cairo, Nebraska. Working as a photojournalist in Fort Collins first ignited her love for the Great Plains and agrarian communities. Morgan is interested in how modern food systems affect local economies, people and ecosystems. After working on documentary projects in three states, five countries and Puerto Rico she couldn't be happier to join the PBT team and tell stories of the Platte Basin where her family's made a living for over a hundred years. She graduated from UNL with majors in journalism and Women's & Gender Studies.

Peter Stegen


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.

Emma Brinley Buckley


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.

Mary Harner

Ecosystem Ecologist

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.

David Weber

Camera Technician

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 Dale

Camera Technician

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.

Dave Showalter

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.

Kery Harrelson

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


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.

Brooke Talbot

Graduate 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.”

Grant Reiner

Graduate Assistant

Grant is currently a graduate student at The University of Nebraska-Lincoln in the Masters of Applied Science program with an emphasis in conservation photography and science communication. Growing up, he moved around a lot, exploring every new environment he encountered. His love for nature grew as a result of the numerous hiking, backpacking, and camping trips he went on with his family and friends. The connection to nature through these trips has influenced his direction in life and has led him to pursue a graduate degree and career in conservation photography.

Ethan Freese

Graduate Assistant

Ethan is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln pursuing a Masters of Applied Science. 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.

Amy Morris

Production Intern

Amy is a sophomore political science and environmental studies double major at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln with a minor in German. She grew up in Aurora NE where she spent her early years exploring her backyard collecting soil and water “samples” for her science kit and facilitating her fascination with nature. She grew up taking field trips to the Platte river and spending every possible second of summer in the water of various lakes and rivers around Nebraska. Amy has always felt at home in the outdoors and currently enjoys hiking, climbing, skiing, and scuba diving. She hopes to bring a unique perspective into the conservation conversation and showcase the importance of our water systems.

Carlee Koehler

Production Intern

Carlee is a senior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln where she majors in both fisheries and wildlife conservation biology and journalism and minors in mathematics, biology, and environmental studies. Having grown up in the southeast region of Nebraska, the majority of her childhood consisted of mulberry-stained feet, handmade tree forts, and companionship of the multiple pets she's raised. Carlee recently returned from a semester abroad in Scotland where she hiked through the highlands, backpacked through national parks, and studied film and the evolution of landscape- largely shaped by water processes. She is very grateful 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.

Gabriella Parsons

Production Intern

Gabriella Parsons is a documentary photographer and journalist born-and-raised in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is a senior journalism major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she concentrates in photo/video production, women and gender studies, English and Spanish. In her work, Gabriella combines the ethical integrity of a journalist with the stylistic flare of an artist, focusing on topics from the environment to mental health to unsolved crime scenes to liberation movements. For the past year, Gabriella has been a fellow of the UNL international photojournalism program, Global Eyewitness, which took her to Uganda and then Puerto Rico to report on emerging global issues. She also works with newly resettled youth at Lincoln High School mentoring them in iPhone photography and videography. The summer before she graduates college, Gabriella is excited to join the PBT team as a production intern to better understand this place she calls home and all the stories that make it unique.

Michaela Daugherty

Social Media Intern

Michaela is a senior at University of Nebraska - Lincoln, majoring in Environmental Studies and Anthropology, and minoring in Environmental Education. She is from Omaha, Nebraska, but spent most of her summer and winter breaks from school traveling through numerous national parks and public lands where she learned to love the outdoors. The time outside taught her the importance of conservation and now she wishes to educate others on environmental issues. She is excited to be a part of the Platte Basin Timelapse project and hopes to make a positive impact on the planet’s health.

Mikaela Deptula

Production Intern

Mikaela is a sophomore at UNL majoring in Fisheries and Wildlife with a minor in Spanish. Every year her family would go to Colorado to ski but she was more interested in the hikes and sitting on top of the mountains in the snow. Her love of nature comes from playing in the mud, searching for animal bones, and climbing trees when she was little. She has a passion for the natural world and hopes that she can contribute in any way to preserve and portray the importance and beauty of wildlife.

Alexandria Lundvall

Former Intern

Andrew Wentz

Former Intern

Ariana Brocious

Former PBTer

Brian Seifferlein

Former PBTer

Cristina Woodworth

Former Intern

Grace Bullington

Former Intern

Joe Arneson

Former Intern

Kat Shiffler

Former PBTer

Mary Anne Andrei

Former PBTer

Merika Andrade

Former Intern

Sarah Brey

Former PBTer

Sierra Harris

Former PBTer

Steven Speicher

Former PBTer

Valerie Cuppens

Former PBTer

Zoe Mays

Former Intern

Our funders and partnering organizations.

with additional funding by:

Steve Miura