Outdoor advocate to share tips of the trade Oct. 18

Nebraska Game and Parks' Greg Wagner
Nebraska Game and Parks' Greg Wagner

Greg Wagner, a Nebraska Game and Parks Commission public information officer known for doing any and everything on behalf of the state’s outdoors, will present a free talk, “The Wild Life of Interacting with the Media,” at 7 p.m. Oct. 18 in the Hardin Hall Auditorium

The talk at the School of Natural Resources is free and open to the public.

“We’re not just on the job, we’re on a mission, and you’re part of it,” Wagner wants people to know. “We’re here to do the best job we possibly can for the betterment of Nebraska’s natural resources.” The Game and Parks Commission is charged with stewardship of the state’s fish, wildlife, park and outdoor recreation resources.

Wagner walks, talks, lives, breathes and blogs on behalf of the outdoors, whether he’s on the job or at the grocery store.

One of Wagner’s main goals is to get people, especially young ones, to spend some time outside. Ten years ago, he worried because young people were spending a lot of time at malls. Now, he worries that they aren’t even leaving their couches, opting instead for virtual hunting, fishing and other electronic experiences.

For anyone who cares about the outdoors, “We have to encourage this generation to step outside,” Wagner said. “If they don’t, our natural resource management decisions are going to be much tougher to get across to these young people who will soon become a voting and working public. They will show up at your meetings and they won’t care about trumpeter swans on Holmes Lake in Lincoln.”

Spending time together outdoors is good for families, too, Wagner observed.

“You’re in a deer blind, and when the deer aren’t moving and the Gameboy gets old, they’ll start talking, and you can solve any problems, and bond one-to-one.”

The Game and Parks Commission is well-networked with other conservation agencies across the country and the world, and is a leader in areas of conservation education that help introduce people to hunting and other outdoor activities, Wagner said. It’s also mostly self-supporting with user fees.

Wagner grew up in rural Gretna, building forts in the woods, hunting, fishing, collecting leaves, and generally thriving on constant outdoor activity. He started at Game and Parks in 1978 at age 16, earned college degrees in biology, English and human resources, and is proud to say that he’s driven on every highway in the state, more than once.

He values hands-on knowledge and experience at least as much as academic knowledge, and would point out to anyone considering a career in natural resources management that working with humans is the biggest part of the job.

As far as working with the media, Wagner recommends total and prompt honesty, and good old-fashioned telephone contact, rather than sending email. Oh, and a collection of zany hats.

Free parking will be available and UNL’s Wildlife Club will be selling baked goods, 6:30-8:30 p.m., to fund educational trips. Wagner’s talk is sponsored by the School of Natural Resources Outreach Committee.

- Kelly Smith, Natural Resources