Crane Enthusiasts in Central Nebraska for a Week-Long ‘Exploritas’ Program

Dr. Doyle Howitt
director of the Elderhostel Program for UNK, 308.627.3222

UNK- Crane enthusiasts from California to Maryland have come to Central Nebraska this week for the 33rd annual Sandhill Cranes Program, according to Dr. Doyle Howitt, director of the Exploritas program for the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The group arrived Sunday for registration and orientation. The rest of the week is being spent learning about the cranes and birding along the Platte River. The group will also explore Rowe Sanctuary, and get additional perspectives on the cranes and crane behavior from area experts.

The program, formerly known as Elderhostel, features presentations by Betsy Finch, director of the Nebraska Raptor Recovery Program; Gene Hunt, superintendent at Fort Kearny State Historical Park; Keanna Leonard, educational director at Rowe Sanctuary; Gary Lingle, area naturalist and published wildlife author; Kent Skaggs, operations manager for Rowe Sanctuary; and Dr. Joe Springer, UNK biology professor.

“Essentially, our participants represent east and west coast corridors,” Dr. Howitt said. The name change from Elderhostel to Exploritas is “…a response to the changing demographics,” he said.

Participants are listed below in alphabetical order by state:

CA         Los Gatos        Betty        Chase
CA        Los Gatos        Jeff        Chase
CA        Santa Cruz        Gary        Upham

CO         Fort Collins        Don        Crews
CO        Lakewood        George        Griffin
CO        Lakewood        Linda        Griffin

IA        Iowa City        Charles        Buckley

IL        Peoria                Rudolf        Habben

MA        Beverly        Pete        Stevens

MD        Silver Spring        Charles        Misner
MD        Silver Spring        Susanne        Misner

MI        Rockford        Gerhard        Ritsema
MI        Rockford        Kathleen        Ritsema

MN        Burnsville        Connie        Snyder
MN        Burnsville        Ronald        Snyder
MN        Eden Prairie        Marlys         Lund

MT        Stevensville        Leonard        Sauer
MT        Stevensville        Marlene        Sauer

NM        Albuquerque        Margery        Barol
NM        Albuquerque        Samuel        Barol

NV        Las Vegas        Joan        Gildner
NV        Las Vegas        Will        Gildner
NV        Las Vegas        Beneth        Morrow
NV        Las Vegas        Lewis        Morrow
NV        Reno        Barbara        Castello

OH        Beachwood        Anita        Friedman
OH        Shaker Heights        Frances Cort

PA        Philadelphia        Lois        Ewart

WI        Shorewood        Jane        Bowers


6:30 – 8:00 am -Field
Prairie Chicken Lek  with Gary Lingle
Interpretative Naturalists         Field
Location of field is not known at this time (Call Dr. Howitt for details.)
8:30 – 9:15 am – Breakfast
Pioneer Village Restaurant
9:30 – 11:30 am – Classroom Time
“Birding Identification Techniques” with Gary Lingle
Interpretative Naturalists – Classroom
12:00 – 1:00 pm        Lunch
Pioneer Village Restaurant
1:00 – 2:00 pm        Exploring Time **
(This is an optional event)        Pioneer Village Museum
2:15 – 3:15 pm        Exploring Rowe Sanctuary **
(Pending Weather Conditions)
By Kent Skaggs & Staff, Wildlife Specialist
Please Note: 2:15 PM is a departure time for Rowe Sanctuary
3:30 – 4:45 pm Rowe Sanctuary
“Another Perspective on the Cranes,” “Crane Behavior,” “Migratory Patterns” – with Keanna Leonard, Education Director Rowe Sanctuary Rowe Sanctuary
4:45 – 5:30 pm Snack Nutrition Break        Rowe Sanctuary
6:15 – 8:30 pm “Roosting Time – Return to Platte River” **
(Contingency: Weather Conditions)
Rowe Sanctuary Viewing Blinds        Rowe Sanctuary
9:00 pm        Light Buffet        Pioneer Village Restaurant

Thursday, March 18
5:45 – 8:00 am        Field
Breakfast with the Cranes  with Gary Lingle, Interpretative Naturalists &  Rowe Sanctuary Staff
Please Note: 5:45 AM is a departure time        Gibbon Viewing Platform or Hike/Bike Bridge
8:30 – 9:15 am        Breakfast        Pioneer Village Restaurant
9:30 – 10:30 am        Classroom Time. “Whooping Crane Migration” with Gary Lingle
10:30 – 11:30 am        Classroom Time. “Another Perspective of the Area” with Gene Hunt, Superintendent
Fort Kearny State Historical Park         Classroom
11:30 – 12:30 pm        Lunch        Pioneer Village Restaurant
12:30 – 2:00 pm        Classroom Time. “Endangered Species” with Dr. Joe Springer UNK Biologist
2:00 – 3:30 pm        Explore Pioneer Village & Museum, Pioneer Village Museum
3:30 – 4:30 pm        Recognition of Scholarly Achievement, Classroom
4:30 – 5:00 pm        Networking Session
A time to share e-mails, stories &
conversation with other Exploritas
(This is an optional event)        Classroom
5:00 – 5:45 pm        Dinner
Please bring evaluations with you to dinner Pioneer Village Restaurant
5:50 – 8:30 pm        Field Observation **
This event is optional
(Weather Permitting)
Please Note: 5:50 PM is a departure time        Gibbon Viewing Platform

Friday, March 19
6:30 – 8:15 am        Field   ** Optional Event Prairie Chickens with Gary Lingle Interpretative Naturalists &  Rowe Sanctuary Staff
Please Note: 6:30 AM is a departure time        Gibbon Viewing Platform or Hike/Bike Bridge
8:45 – 9:30 am        Breakfast        Pioneer Village Restaurant
Friday, March 19        Continued
9:30 – 11:00 am        Visit Pioneer Village
9:30 – 11:00 am        Departure        Pioneer Village
11:00 – 12:00        Lunch        Pioneer Village Restaurant