Forsberg to explore Great Plains in Dec. 6 Thompson Forum

Michael Forsberg. Photo by Joel Sartore
Michael Forsberg. Photo by Joel Sartore

Acclaimed conservation photographer Michael Forsberg, whose life’s work has given him a unique perspective on the Great Plains, will discuss his experiences and insights about the ecosystem’s fragility when he delivers a Dec. 6 lecture as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues.

Forsberg will present “Pulse of the Plains: A Photographer’s Journey Connecting Water, Wildlife and Landscape,” beginning at 7 p.m. at the Lied Center for Performing Arts. Through words and images, Forsberg will share what he has discovered: why this elegant yet compromised ecosystem and its creatures matter here at home and around the world.

Forsberg is a Nebraska native and UNL alumnus who has spent the last 15 years documenting the natural environment and the ever-changing water resources found at the heart of North America. His work has focused on North America’s Great Plains, once one of the greatest grassland ecosystems on Earth. Among his current pursuits is a time-lapse photography project focused on the Platte River Basin that has teamed him with Michael Farrell, a special projects manager for NET Television. The two hope their work will show the role that human and natural circumstances play in shaping where water comes from.

Forsberg has seen firsthand the transformation of the Great Plains into an agricultural- and energy-producing region. But despite that radical change, it remains virtually invisible to most of the world. He understands that this region as it is currently configured plays an important role in sustaining human lives and institutions. His message is a critical one for anyone to hear, Farrell said.

“As we pump our groundwater, divert and dam our rivers and streams and alter our climate, we must adapt and so must the region’s wildlife,” Farrell said. “Some of what takes place is within our realm to decide and some is beyond our control. Knowing which is which and making decisions when decisions are in order is our human challenge. And that is what I imagine Mike Forsberg is going to ask us to consider.”

Forsberg’s work has been featured in Audubon, National Geographic, National Wildlife, and Natural History, among other publications. He also has been recognized in the Pictures of the Year and Wildlife Photographer of the Year competitions. In 2001, his image of a Nebraska tallgrass prairie was selected for use on an international postage stamp. In 2004, he was awarded a Conservation Education Award from The Wildlife Society. Recently, he was featured in the PBS documentary Crane Song, and was the 2009 recipient of the North American Nature Photographer’s Association Mission Award. He also is a recipient of the Great Plains Distinguished Book Prize from UNL’s Center for Great Plains Studies.

Forsberg earned a degree in geography with an emphasis in environmental studies at UNL.

This season’s Thompson Forum lectures have been organized around the theme of water and global security.

To reserve free tickets, call the Lied Center at (402) 472-4747 or (800) 432-3231. Tickets may also be picked up in person or ordered by downloading a form from the forum’s website, All tickets are for general admission seating.

Thompson Forum lectures will be available live online at, and on Lincoln Time Warner Cable Channel 21 or 5, UNL campus Channel 8 and UNL’s KRNU radio (90.3 FM). Live satellite broadcasts and follow-up discussion will be available in Kearney, Hastings, Columbus, McCook, North Platte, Omaha and Scottsbluff.

Sign language interpreters will be available at each lecture for the deaf and hard of hearing.

The preeminent lecture series is a cooperative project of the philanthropic Cooper Foundation, the Lied Center and UNL. It was established in 1988 to offer all Nebraskans a better understanding of world events and issues.

— Jean Ortiz Jones, University Communications

More details at: