The Beauty and Complexity of Prairie in 30 Seconds

I frequently give presentations on prairies to various groups of people.  With some audiences, I discuss fairly technical strategies for prairie restoration or management.  Often, however, my primary goal is to introduce my audience to the idea that prairies are more than just a lot of grass.

I think it’s fair to say that most of the general public has very little feel for what prairies really are.  That makes it difficult to sell them on the value of prairie conservation.  My presentations are always heavy on photographs, and I try to tell a lot of interesting natural history stories about the diverse plants and animals found in grasslands.  I hope that when I finish, audience members will walk out thinking prairies are a little more fascinating and worth their notice than they’d previously thought.  Maybe that spark of interest will grow into eventual support for prairie conservation among at least a few of them.

As I was preparing for another of those presentations this week, I thought (not for the first time) about the need to spread that spark of interest beyond the small number of people I can speak to in person.  Online video is one medium that can help accomplish that, so I took a crack at making one.  Since I’m a person who almost never watches a video longer than a minute or two, I kept mine very short.

So – here is my very simple attempt to provide a glimpse of prairie life in about 30 seconds.  There are no stories, just a cascade of images designed to showcase the diversity of plants, animals, and prairie landscapes people might not know exist.  If people want to learn more, they will hopefully explore a little more on their own.  Maybe they’ll even find a blog they could follow…

If the embedded video above doesn’t work for you, try clicking here instead.

And, Grant?  If you’re reading this, this one’s for you pal.  If the photos don’t do it for you, try reading this short essay by Doug Ladd, one of the smartest people I know.

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About Chris Helzer

Chris Helzer is the Director of Science for The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska. His main role is to evaluate and capture lessons from the Conservancy’s land management and restoration work and then share those lessons with other landowners – both private and public. In addition, Chris works to raise awareness about the importance of prairies and their conservation through his writing, photography, and presentations to various groups. Chris is also the author of "The Ecology and Management of Prairies in the Central United States", published by the University of Iowa Press. He lives in Aurora, Nebraska with his wife Kim and their children.
This entry was posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Beauty and Complexity of Prairie in 30 Seconds

  1. Kim Sosin says:

    Love it! And watched to the end, which is rare for me also.

  2. Pat says:

    I like what you did, but I would sit for a one hour documentary.

  3. lauraluh says:

    You should publish a book!

  4. Kim says:

    Makes me want to hop in the car and spend the rest of the day at the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve here in Oklahoma. Sigh.

  5. Malia says:

    Beautiful! I would suggest slowing it down so the viewer can linger with the images. Two minutes would not be too long!!

  6. I loved the photos, but wondered if you could share them in more than 30 seconds. I’d love to linger a while admiring the photos.

  7. Pingback: The Beauty and Complexity of Prairie in Three Minutes | The Prairie Ecologist

  8. James McGee says:

    If you want people to care about something you have to give it a name. I lived in the tall grass prairie region my whole childhood and I never saw a prairie until after I went to college and was directed toward good reference books. I must thank Diana Horton for her guidance. A little knowledge can open a whole new world.

    Please give the living things or landscapes in your pictures names. They deserve names.

  9. Bob Ball says:

    Chris,

    A friend just referred me to your 30 second video. Loved it, but I would like to have been able to pause on the images. I wanted to study all those great photos. I have been a nature photo hobbyist for many years and do Power Point programs on various nature topics here in Springfield, MO where I have been a volunteer naturalist at the MDC nature center since I retired 20 years ago. I feel I have enough material to do a program on Missouri prairies and have started working on one. I love everything in nature, and, as you do, I prefer to do interpretive programs using my photographs to spread the word about the marvels out there that people don’t appreciate or even know about. I find that macro photos, like your jumping spider, are especially eye-opening and entertaining to people because these are images of things they don’t normally see. Keep up the great work. I plan to be a regular to your blog in the future.

  10. Merry Wheeler says:

    Slow it waaay down. Five minutes would not be too long.

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