Speakers from the local area and across the state will help celebrate Nebraska water on Saturday, July 28th, during the Splash! Water Symposium. The event will be held at Mid-Plains Community College from noon until 3:00 p.m. Sponsored by the Niobrara National Scenic River (NSR) and Humanities Nebraska, Splash! will feature programs covering the wide range of impacts water has on our daily lives for both adults and children.

The symposium will have concurrent sessions so that people have the option of attending the programs that most interest them. Each session will last approximately 45 minutes and will cover such topics as local water rights, cultural significance of water, artistic inspiration, and water-focused activities for children.

Speakers from the Humanities Nebraska Speakers Bureau will be featured during the event. Twyla M. Hansen, Nebraska’s State Poet and co-director of Poetry from the Plains: A Nebraska Perspective website, will speak at noon. Her program, “The Many Ways of Water: Poems and Stories,” will feature selections of her poetry and stories, and discuss how Nebraska’s water has inspired, influenced, and shaped her writing. The program encourages audience comments and questions about their own water experiences, and on creative writing for their own stories.

Jerome Kills Small, the second Humanities Nebraska speaker, is a retired University of South Dakota Instructor of Language, Philosophy, and Native American Thought. He gained personal experience being around Lakota sacred sites while living with his grandparents. He brings this experience to a discussion of the source and spiritual aspects of water and how what the spirit says and what science says complement each other during “Water: Lakota Spirituality and Science.” He will speak at 12:45 p.m.

Mike Murphy, General Manager of the Middle Niobrara Natural Resources District, will provide insight and an update on the NRD’s efforts to obtain the Spencer Dam and its associated water rights, and how that potential acquisition will affect the local community. He will speak twice, at 1:30 p.m. and 2:15 p.m.

Rachael Herpel, the Associate Director for the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s Nebraska Water Center, will present two programs. The first, at noon, will be “Water Use: What Does it Really Mean?” This program explores human, crop, and other water needs, plus a program to determine your “water footprint.” At 2:15, Herpel will talk about the “Smart Energy Water Meter Project.” Local crop producers who are interested in knowing how much energy and water they are using—at the same time, and in real time—can find out if they can, and how, in this session.

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Hector Santiago, the National Park Service’s Midwest Regional Rivers Coordinator, will present a program on Wild & Scenic Rivers around the country, featuring why our own Niobrara River fits in among the few preserved. The program will be presented twice, at 12:45 and 1:30. The designated 76-mile section of the Niobrara River received protection in 1991 under the Act, in response to local and regional efforts to permanently protect the river from future attempts by the federal government to build a dam along it.

Derrek Schacht, the Fish Culturist Supervisor at the Valentine State Fish Hatchery, will have an informational table about the organization from noon until 12:45. Wendy Murphy, from the Niobrara Council, will share a groundwater model with children and adults from noon until 1:30. Kara Rogers, Student Conservation Association Intern for the Niobrara NSR, will share a children’s program on available water from 1:30 p.m. until 3:00 p.m. The Sandhills Prairie Refuge Association will have an activity from 2:15 p.m. until 3:00 p.m.

All activities are free of charge. Mid-Plains Community College is located at 715 East Highway 20 in Valentine, Nebraska.

The Niobrara NSR is proud to offer this event in partnership with Humanities Nebraska in conjunction with Museum on Main Street and the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service’s Water/Waysexhibit, on display at the Niobrara NSR Visitor Center until August 3rd. For more information, please contact the Niobrara NSR at 401-376-1901.