Author Archives: Chris Helzer

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.

Down A Deer Vetch Rabbit Hole

A single observation recently led me down a pleasant rabbit hole of data, plant species trends, and unanswered questions about interactions between climate, grazing, fire, soils, and other factors.  Read on if you want to follow me down that hole… … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Management, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Photo of the Week – August 11, 2017

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you’ve probably noticed that I take a lot of photos of insects, especially on flowers.  For some reason, my eyes just gravitate toward flowers in search of little invertebrates.  Over … Continue reading

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Miscellaneous Sightings

One of the best perks of my job is simply that I get to be outside enough to see a lot of interesting ecological phenomena.  Today, I thought I’d share a few vignettes from the last couple weeks. Last year, … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , | 7 Comments

Photo of the Week – August 3, 2017

Quick note on this Saturday’s Field Day.  We will be there rain or shine, and have indoor presentations , if needed, if rain keeps us from seeing insects outdoors during part of the day.  Please come join us for this … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Animals, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Popular Sunflowers

Plains sunflower (Helianthus petiolaris) is an annual plant that responds quickly to bare ground in the Nebraska Sandhills.  They pop up after fire, intensive grazing, pocket gopher activity or something else allows light to hit the soil.  At times, they … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography, Prairie Plants | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Photo of the Week – July 28, 2017

My daughter and I are on a short working vacation in the Nebraska Sandhills this week, so I don’t have much time to write.  Instead, here are two of my favorite photos from my trip to the Niobrara Valley Preserve … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Pollinators and Insect Conservation Field Day – August 5

Here are some more details on our upcoming field day at the Platte River Prairies on Saturday August 5.  The day will run from 9 am to 2 pm and will focus on pollinators and other invertebrates.  We’ll talk about … Continue reading

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Hubbard Fellowship Applications Are Being Accepted NOW!

Applications for the next round of Hubbard Fellowships with The Nature Conservancy of Nebraska are being accepted from now until September 8, 2017.  This is a one year position aimed at recent college graduates  – with undergraduate or graduate degrees … Continue reading

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Photo of the Week – July 20, 2017

Wow, this was a hot week.  About the time I stopped hiking hills and collecting data at the Niobrara Valley Preserve yesterday, my truck’s thermometer said it was 111 degrees Fahrenheit.  Sure, it was really hot, but I figured the … Continue reading

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Prairie Noise

I just finished a great but very long day at the Niobrara Valley Preserve.  We were collecting sweep net data and counting flowering plants to evaluate the impacts of various fire and grazing treatments.  There was a lot of action … Continue reading

Posted in Prairie Insects, Prairie Natural History, Prairie Photography | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments