The day peaked at 90 degrees as the 11th annual Tastes in the Tallgrass fundraiser began Sept. 16 at the Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center (SCPAC) south of Denton, Nebraska. But that didn’t stop a record 270-plus prairie supporters from attending and raising an all-time event high of $50,000 for the tallgrass prairie.
“The funds will support our conservation and education programs in the coming year,” said Glynnis Collins, the center’s director for three years.
“Some of our priorities are to make the facility and portions of our trails fully handicap-accessible, expand our Plants for Birds program to encourage more people to use native plants in landscaping that help native birds and pollinators, and help more landowners use prescribed burning to control invasive trees and promote healthier habitat on their land,” she said.
Collins announced at the event that she would be leaving her position as SCPAC director in two weeks.
“As I depart the center director role here on September 28th, I am full of optimism for the future of Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center,” Collins said. “While I’ll no longer be a member of the staff, I will continue to be a part of the community of Spring Creek Prairie friends and supporters, and I hope to see many of you out on the trails.”
When asked after the event about the next step in her career, Collins said she will work part-time with a small startup company, Mammoth Trading, which will allow her to spend more time at home with her family.
On Sept. 28 Meghan Sittler, who has a strong background in natural resource conservation and collaboration, became the new director of SCPAC. Sittler worked eight years as coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance. Most recently with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, she served as the domestic water and wastewater management educator, where she helped facilitate and coordinate a statewide partnership focused on protecting Nebraska’s water resources.
Sittler grew up near Spring Creek Prairie on land farmed by her parents, Lyle and Alice. Her sister and brother-in-law now farm there.
Before his passing, Lyle was a member of Spring Creek Prairie’s stewardship advisory board, noted Collins.
“Lyle and Alice were keen proponents of conservation and have been recognized with many awards and accolades over the years for their conservation ethic,” she said.
Also announced at Tastes in the Tallgrass was the appointment of Kristal Stoner as executive director of Audubon Nebraska and vice president of the National Audubon Society. Stoner joined Audubon Sept. 24 after a successful tenure at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
Guests at Tastes in the Tallgrass began the evening by walking the prairie trails while sipping wine or beer, sampling appetizers and mingling with friends and guests. Many placed bids on silent auction items while being entertained by the Lightning Bugs trio.
After dinner at one long, winding table on the tallgrass prairie, Kellyn Danae Wooten sang songs of the prairie for the audience, accompanied by keyboardist Madeline Rogers.
The event concluded at sunset after a live auction of fine art, dining and other unique experiences.