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New Workshop Aims to Communicate

The Importance of the Natural World

April 20-21, 2018

EMPORIA, Kansas – Travel writer and naturalist George Frazier will be the keynote presenter at the upcoming Tallgrass Science & Nature Writing Workshop, April 20-21 on the Emporia State campus. An interdisciplinary workshop aimed at communicating the importance of the natural world to a broader audience, the workshop is sponsored by the Center for Great Plains Studies and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emporia State University.

Frazier’s provocative travelogue, “The Last Wild Places of Kansas,” won the Midwest Book Award, Kansas Notable Book Award, Hamlin Garland Prize, and the Ferguson Book Award. His work has appeared in Canoe and Kayak, Wild Earth, and numerous journals and magazines. Frazier lives in Lawrence, Kansas.

Other members of the Tallgrass faculty include Julianne Couch, the author of three books of narrative non-fiction travel-explorations, and one collection of short stories now being re-imagined by her publisher into an episodic novel; Tina Casagrand, an environmental journalist and editor of the The New Territory quarterly, Columbia, Missouri; Kellen Jenkins, a Kansas City area photojournalism who will lead field sessions in drone photography; and Cheryl Unruh, a local author who often writes about the natural landscape. 

Other faculty include retired ESU professors Jim Aber and Susie Aber, who will lead field work on kite photography, weather permitting; Max McCoy, director of the Center for Great Plains Studies, an award-winning author whose new book is “Elevations: A Personal Exploration of the Arkansas River,” from the University Press of Kansas; Kevin Rabas, a department chair at Emporia State University and the current Kansas Poet Laureate; and Liberal Arts and Sciences Dean, Dr. R. Brent Thomas, a professor of biology whose research focuses on herpetology, vertebrate natural history, field ecology, and animal behavior; and Amy Sage Webb, professor of English and director of the Creative Writing Program at ESU, author of  “Save Your Own Life: Kansas Stories.”

 The workshop, slated for April 20-21, will hold field activities Friday, April 20, at the Ross Natural History Reservation, near Americus. These activities will be led by guest lecturers and ESU faculty; a Friday night barbeque, bonfire, and optional campout at the reservation will follow the day’s activities. ESU faculty will be available to mentor participants in writing and science. A complete list of mentors will be available on the center’s website,

The workshop concludes Saturday, April 21, with a full day of presentations by guest speakers on the Emporia State campus. Examples of the kinds of work participants may pursue include, but are not limited to, magazine journalism, columns for their local newspapers, podcasts, blog posts, photo essays, documentaries, commentary for broadcast media, and book projects.

The faculty authors will appear at a book signing from 11:30-1 p.m. Saturday at Ellen Plumb’s City Bookstore, 1122 Commercial, Emporia. The book signing is free and open to the public.

For more information on the workshop, or to register contact the Center for Great Plains Studies, at 620 341-5574; visit; or email

Tallgrass Science and Nature Writing Registration Materials and Brochure 2018

Friends of the Plains

2018 Dinner

Friday, April 27, 2018

George Frazier, The Last Wild Places of Kansas

The annual Friends dinner will be held Friday, April 27, 2018. We will begin at 6:00 p.m. with a hosted reception in Webb Hall Lobby on the second floor of the Memorial Union followed by dinner at 7:00 p.m. and a presentation by George Frazier.

By sending in your $60 membership, you’ll receive dinner-for-two and a subscription (2 issues yearly) to Great Plains Traverse (formerly Heritage of the Great Plains and Great Plains Newsletter). For your convenience, a postage paid reply envelope is included. This is a non-ticketed event. Your membership will guarantee your reservation on the guest list.

 2018 Friends Dinner Guest Speaker

The University Press of Kansas just issued the third printing of George Frazier's provocative travelogue The Last Wild Places of Kansas. Chronicling three years he spent roaming the Sunflower State by car, canoe, and on foot, the book takes readers to the remaining "wild places” of Kansas, places where nature collides with folklore.  From the unexpected wilds of the Kansas City suburbs to the Cimarron National Grassland in the far southwestern corner of the state, Frazier curates an heirloom collection of little-known sites - tenacious stretches of unplowed prairie, centuries old forests, ancient springs, lost Native American landmarks, and other natural gems that have managed to cheat death and incubate the DNA of lost wild America. Packed with stories and a host of curious characters ―ranchers, farmers, Native Americans, explorers, wildlife experts, and outdoor enthusiasts― it’s the ultimate Kansas wild lands road trip. 

 George Frazier lives in Lawrence, Kansas, with his wife and daughter. His work has appeared in Canoe and Kayak, Wild Earth, and other journals and magazines. His first book, The Last Wild Places of Kansas (University Press of Kansas), won the Midwest Book Award, Kansas Notable Book Award, Hamlin Garland Prize, and the Ferguson Book Award. George will have books available and be on hand following the dinner for signing.