Stacy Kreycik Miller of Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Ranch near Niobrara has recently published a children’s book named Suzie Saves The Day.
Miller has been part of the covered wagon tours for years on her family ranch, seeing many visitors each year. The tour takes tourists and locals out in the pastures to get an up close and personal experience with elk and buffalo.
There is one special elk, named Suzie, who will quickly approach the wagon. Forget about personal space, Suzie doesn’t know the meaning.
She was a special calf, she needed to be bottle fed which requires a lot of special attention. Miller’s father, Kennard Frank Kreycik, raised Suzie, making her the friendly elk she is today.
“The story is based on the true story of when all the elk got out of the pasture, someone had opened the gate in the middle of the night,” she explained.
Miller’s parents found the elk the next morning on top of a hill two miles away from the ranch.
Kennard hollered for the elk and Suzie not only followed the sound of his voice, but led all the elk back to him.
In Miller’s story, a naughty elk named Sally convinces the heard to escape from Farmer Frank’s ranch.
“I added some drama, theres coyotes, they get lost, Sally leads them astray,” she said.
Miller says the moral of her story is that God keeps you safe like Farmer Frank keeps his elk safe in the book.
Suzie Saves the Day can also be used as a learning tool. It is filled with many facts about elk, which can be very fascinating to children who don’t know much about elk or have never had the pleasure of seeing one in person.
Farmer Frank is based on and named after Miller’s father. She got a little emotional as she explained that the book is a tribute to him and Suzie.
Miller had always dreamt of writing a children’s book.
“I just never knew what to write about, and this story was right in front of my nose the whole time,” she said.
The entire book, besides publishing, was done by locals, people right here in Nebraska.
“The backgrounds of the pictures were done, originally by Madisen Randa,” Miller said. Randa graduated from Verdigre Public School a few years ago.
“My cousin, Chase, drew the elk. He’s in Lincoln,” she continued.
Her goal was to have everything done in Nebraska, including the publishing. But like many authors do, Miller ran into some issues.
The publishers she was in contact with had told her they could not combine the drawing with the backgrounds and that she would have to pay someone to Photoshop them together. This is no cheap feat, so Miller agreed to have the publishers illustrator redo the pages.
The publisher proceeded to list their workers as the illustrators of the book, which Miller had to disagree with. She ended up getting her cousin and Randa credit as creative designers.
Sharon McGlynn also helped Miller with the story. McGlynn proofed the book and added her input. Miller added more detail and explained more about the elk that isn’t common knowledge to others, per McGlynns request.
Miller’s goal was to have this book done in early summer in time for the elk and buffalo tours. But with the unexpected struggles, the book has come out too late. She is looking forward to selling the book on tours next season.
A sequel has not been ruled out, regardless of the struggles she faced in publishing book one.
“As far as sequels go, I got a few ideas,” she said.
Suzie Saves the day is available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at www.covenantbooks.com/books/?book=suzie-saves-the-day. Be sure to meet the real Suzie in person next season at Kreycik Elk and Buffalo Tours.
Niobrara is going to be celebrating Halloween with their Trunk or Treat Saturday, Oct. 27 from 4-6 p.m. Instead of going door to door for trick or treating Trunk or Treat offers a safer way for children to receive candy. People may decorate their trunks with a theme and offer candy to the local children. Meet at the Lutheran Church at 2532 Apple St, Niobrara.
On Monday night, after the J.V. football game held in Verdigre, both Verdigre and Niobrara held their Coronation. Niobrara named Angel Grant and Erika Kitto this years homecoming royalty.
Santee has chosen their homecoming king and queen this year. They have crowned Mato Thomas king and Stefani Johnson queen.
The 6th annual Night Owl 5k will be held at the Niobrara State Park on Saturday, September 8 at 7 p.m. to midnight. Registration is $25 and pre-registered participants will receive a t-shirt and glow item—head lamps or flashlights are recommended. Call the park at (402) 857-3373 to learn more.
Pease General Store is having an Open house Saturday, Sept. 1 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be food, prize giveaways and sales no one can refuse.
Washington recently announced more than $5 million in funding to Native American tribes and state wildlife agencies through the Tribal Wildlife Grant (TWG) program. The funds, which are provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), give critical support for a diverse array of species and habitats across the country.
A local environmental firm, New Century Environmental (NCE) played a role in getting Santee the competitive grant award at a time where federal dollars are sparse for conservation work.
Nationwide, USFWS received a total of 102 proposals requesting more than $17 million. The proposals were reviewed by regional and national scoring panels and a total of 28 tribal wildlife grants are being awarded, totaling $5,058,496. The USFWS are honored to work with federally recognized tribes to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of tribal citizens and the American public.
Among those, is a project entitled “Representative Small Mammals in Minimally Disturbed Habitats of the Santee Sioux Indian Reservation, Nebraska” for $188,496 that staff scientists at New Century Environmental wrote in 2017.
The Santee Sioux Tribe of Nebraska under the direction of Alisha Bartling, Director, Office of Environmental Protection, proposes to conduct a study of the existing small mammal population presence in some of the most undisturbed areas on the reservation and document diversity and abundance of common, rare and sensitive small mammal species.
In October 2012 NCE documented the most endangered mammal in North America, the black-footed ferret (Mustela nigripes), on Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota.
In October 2015 NCE scientists (Kurt Tooley and Chris Shank) also discovered the northern long eared bat, Myotis septentrionalis on Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. The species is listed as threatened.
New Century Environmental LLC (NCE), an environmental consulting business based in Columbus, Nebraska, employs a team of environmental and ecological professionals who provide quality environmental services across the Great Plains. They provide wetland science expertise, and a broad spectrum of environmental impact assessment services related to rare plant and animal species.
Michael Gutzmer, principal and owner of the firm, has been in business for almost 12 years in the Columbus area. Currently Madeline Franks, biologist for NCE, is writing a USFWS grant to study amphibians and reptiles on reservation lands in North and South Dakota.
A viewing of “The Magic Pill” is set for August 21 at 5 p.m. at the Santee Community Center, 104 N Memorial Dr., in Niobrara.
This free event is sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs and the Santee Health & Wellness Center.
“The video addresses healthy eating and how changing the way a person eats, to natural food, fruits, vegetables, etc., helps many of the health issues that are common in our community,” said Lizzie Swalley, community food associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “One issue we have is diabetes, and we’ve also had an increase in cases of ADHD and autism in our youth.”
After the screening, a meal will be provided. Staff will complete a food demonstration using vegetables grown on the Santee Reservation, followed by a question and answer session.
“We hope this event will help reinforce our garden project so people in our community grow more vegetables and fruit,” said Swalley. “We are also introducing a new food, the Indigo potato. We are teaching our community about new foods and how to cook with them, so the foods will taste inviting.”
The Santee Garden and Market Project, a joint effort between the Center for Rural Affairs and Nebraska Indian Community College (NICC) has offered a series of garden, market, and artist trainings. The sessions include demonstrations on garden soil preparation, growing techniques for produce, and preparations for direct sales. In addition, beading and artist workshops have been held to provide resources for selling artwork or other handmade projects. The market launched in 2012 and served more than 1,000 customers during the 2017 season.
This event is made possible through a partnership with a tribal entity, the Santee Health & Wellness Center's health educator, Jay Canning. His role is to provide educational material and information to the Santee community.
For more information, contact Swalley at email@example.com or 605.857.1063.
By Trisha Zach
Niobrara has been hardware store free for about a year and a half, leaving the townspeople to go elsewhere for some basic needs. Many were elated to find out Pease General Store opened a month ago on July 5.
Owners, Jay and Amy Pease say business has been great since opening last month.
“We have seen overwhelming support from the community, it’s been really great in that aspect and we are very appreciative of that,” Amy said.
Amy said many in Niobrara have come to check out the store and look around. They have already made a presence in the community by donating and customers recognize that.
Jay has worked with plumbing and heating for 22 years and has had his own business for 12 years.
When he was approached to purchase the space where Pease General Store is now located, him and his wife began thinking it was a great idea to combine Jay’s already established business with a hardware store.
The Pease’s had to consider many things when thinking what to stock the store with and it continues to be a learning experience.
“We really try to make sure we have stuff for the weekenders, the campers and the town,” Amy said considering that Niobrara State Park brings many people to the area every summer.
Pease General Store has something for everyone. There are isles of tools, parts, shovels and everything else expected of a hardware store. There are seasonal things such as traeger grills, pool blow ups and bird seed, displayed currently. But that is not all they offer.
Amy also has a variety of gifts in a separate space dubbed Somer’s Corner in honor of Amy’s maiden name. This space houses stationary, bath bombs, jewelry and more.
The Pease’s aim to be more than just a hardware store and to be more of a general store as their name suggests, in hopes to provide more for the town and everyone in general.
With this approach, the store has been attracting both men and women alike.
Overall, they are trying to see a need and fill it. With Jay’s heating and plumbing business and Amy manning the store there is no limit to the people that will benefit from their venture.
They plan to have an open house Saturday, September 1, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“We will be doing our grand opening, there will be food and treats, prizes and sales,” Amy said inviting the public.
The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska will celebrate a milestone Aug. 10-12 by hosting its 25h Annual Powwow at the Ponca Community Grounds, located southwest of Niobrara, Nebraska.
The powwow is a celebration of the tribe’s culture, heritage and traditions, and will feature a variety of dancers, drum groups and vendors. Admission to all events is free, and the powwow is open to the public.
Grand entries will be at 7 p.m. Aug. 10, 1 and 7 p.m. on Aug. 11 and 1 p.m. on Aug. 12. Meals will be provided to all in attendance an hour before each grand entry.
One of the special events that will take place during this year’s powwow is the unveiling and dedication of a statue of Chief Standing Bear created by artist Benjamin Victor. The ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. Aug. 11.
In addition, the tribe’s diabetes program will host a Superhero Diabetes Dash at 5 p.m. Aug. 10. Participants will run 2 miles while dressed as their favorite superheroes.
This year’s powwow also will include a Team Dance Contest and a horseshoe tournament. Visit https://www.poncatribe-ne.org/25th-annual-powwow-set-for-aug-10-12-in-niobrara/ for additional information.