Celebrating Nebraska’s State Parks Centennial on the air

This year, the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission announced the celebration of the 100th anniversary since the first state park – Chadron State Park – was created in Nebraska. There are multiple events planned throughout the year, and you can read more about this Centennial celebration on the official NE Game & Parks website.

Logo that NE Game & Parks Commission created for the Centennial celebration / Credit: NE Game & Parks Commission.

With Parks on the Air being such a great and perfectly fitting community to complement the celebration from a somewhat unconventional (at least for general public) angle, I could not pass on this great opportunity. Adding an “on the air” event to the “birthday menu” gives a unique chance to promote our parks within the radio enthusiasts, and also hopefully bring a spotlight on the amateur radio and remind about our hobby to the general public.

As a POTA mapping representative for Nebraska, I decided to take the lead in coordinating the event – but without any doubt this effort would have been fruitless without the participation of a great bunch of people who collectively make all decisions in the process.

In late 2020 I sent out a message to all activators from the POTA database who have ever activated a park in Nebraska. I asked them if they would be interested in participating in a joint activation commemorating the Nebraska Parks Centennial. I heard back from ~35% (which is not that bad!), and the conversation started. To keep up with the latest updates, I created a dedicated event page, and the map of potential interested activators was compiled (see below).

In December 2020 – January 2021, a survey was rolled out to the registered activators to seek their input regarding several aspects of the future event. After receiving 14 responses, I am ready to present the results that will be used to make further decisions about the dates of the planned park activations.

The first question was to identify the event format that the prospective activators consider the most convenient. Slightly more than a half of respondents voted for it to be a full-week event. While I am personally a bigger fan of a shorter, more “concentrated” and synchronous weekend activation, I understand the appeal of flexibility. All in all, I myself prefer to activate during the week, when possible, to get away of the weekend crowds in parks, and contest/QSO party crowds on the air.

Next question was whether or not we should plan on a rain date in case of an unfavorable weather, or any other circumstances that would make activation on a primary date impractical. Even though opinions here were split almost in half, I do not think that this really makes much difference for the event format that was ultimately chosen – a week-long activation can easily proceed without a dedicated rain date.

The most unanimous was the vote for holding a “two-fer” event with a week-long activation sometime in spring or early summer, followed by another similar week-long period in late summer or fall. It is not that hard to understand – when it comes to an excuse for going out and playing radio while enjoying the outdoors, the more opportunities the better!

In summary, the team of activators, through discussion and voting on potential options, has decided about the format of the upcoming celebration of the Nebraska’s Parks Centennial on the air. There will be two week-long events, one in the first half of 2021, and the other in the second half of the year. The next step is to decide about the dates, and this will be done soon. If you are interested in participating in the event, please go to the Centennial Celebration page, and fill out the form at the bottom of the page to receive all future correspondence.

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