CHADRON – Chadron State College’s Rural Law Opportunities Program (RLOP) students attended the Nebraska State Bar Association Leadership Academy (NSBA) in Lincoln, Nebraska, Feb. 1-2. The sessions were planned to help the RLOP students understand more about legislation, and the Nebraska legislative process and counsel, according to Kate Pope RLOP Project Coordinator.

The trip also included a meeting with UNL’s College of Law Admissions, a tour of UNL Law, and a CSC RLOP alumni dinner.  

The legislative session included presentations from Attorney General Mike Hilger, Lt. Governor Joe Kelly, Sen. Carolyn Bosn, and Sen. George Dungan. The students also attended a dinner with the RLOP program liaison Dr. Anthony Schutz with UNL College of Law.  

Students who participated were Ashley Burrows of Hay Springs, Neb., Mekenna Fisher of Hershey, Neb., Megan Hodgson of McCook, Neb., Chambrae Klein of Arapahoe, Neb., Devin Konicek of Ord, Neb.,   Tianna Martin of Kearney, Neb., Hector Nunez of Ohiowa, Neb., Ella O’Brien of Chadron, Sasha Paez of Scottsbluff, Neb., and Amanda Sellin of Norfolk, Neb. Pope and Dr. Tiffany Wasserburger accompanied the students. 

CSC RLOP alumni who attended the dinner are enrolled in UNL’s College of Law. They were Gunnar Buchhammer, Sullivan Jones, Zach Kring, and Micah Stouffer.  

CSC professor’s poem published

CHADRON -- The potential misfortune of accidentally driving into a snowbank provided inspiration for a poem by Chadron State College English and Humanities Professor Dr. Thomas Deane Tucker that was published in the most recent edition of the Cider Press Review, a prestigious journal of contemporary poetry. 

Tucker’s poem, The Other Side, is one of 21 poems in the journal’s first quarterly issue of 2024. Although it describes an incident familiar to many who drive the region’s highways in winter, the poem comes from a totally imagined experience, Tucker said. 

The author of two books on academic subjects and editor of a third, Tucker has also been writing poetry for nearly 30 years. In contrast to the lengthy and tedious research for academic books, he said poetry can come spontaneously.  

Writing poetry is a way of breaking out of logical, rational thinking and becoming fully present, Tucker said.  

“It’s a form of meditation. A poem creates a new world which, paradoxically, has been there all along,” he said. 

This isn’t the first of Tucker’s poetic efforts to appear in literary publications. He won a prize for a poem published in Ice magazine in the early 1990s and in 2019 was finalist for a Best of the Net award for a work published in 805Lit + Art. 

Being selected for publication in a literary journal isn’t easy. The California-based Cider Press Review publishes only about 11 percent of submissions it receives, according to Duotrope, a website that tracks the information for writers.  

Tucker said he uses another website,, to submit finished pieces that he thinks have a chance to win approval from literary journal editors, but frequently comes up empty-handed.  

“I could paper the walls in my entire kitchen with rejection letters,” he said.  

The contemporary flourishing of poetry, reflected in the hundreds of literary magazines that now accept online submissions for publication, comes from the way poems help people see the world and themselves in a different way, according to Tucker.  

“Poetry is a form of communication that resonates with our emotions,” he said. “It is a form of connection both back to ourselves and to humanity in general.”  

Tucker’s poem and the other pieces in Volume 25, Issue 6 of the Cider Press Review can be found at   

Chadron State College introduces CSC Grows  

CHADRON – Chadron State College is introducing CSC Grows, a new collaborative agricultural project between the President’s Cabinet, CSC Food Pantry, and CSC Wellness. CSC Grows is an indoor garden project where fresh produce will be grown on campus to be distributed to students at the CSC Food Pantry.  

The organizer, Kate Pope, said the plan is to place hydroponic garden towers with fruits, vegetables, and herbs in Old Admin, Nelson Physical Activity Center, Math Science Center of Innovative Learning, the Rangeland Complex, and a gardening tent in Burkhiser.  

“The plants are currently seedlings in germination trays at COIL until they’re ready to be planted in the gardening towers and go to their respective buildings,” Pope said. 

Three goals of the project are to encourage healthy eating habits, provide fresh produce in the CSC Food Pantry in the King Library for students, and raise awareness about food insecurity. Pope said research suggests that looking at living plants can increase serotonin and reduce stress.  

Pope is working with Lona Downs Director of the Child Development Center so the CDC children can be involved. 

“We hope they can watch the plants grow and use the produce in the summer months when there are fewer students on campus,” Pope said.  

Pope hopes the project is well-received and plans to explore additional funding sources to sustain CSC Grows.

Graves Lecture Series to include topics of botany; graduate school prep 

CHADRON – The spring Graves Lecture Series at Chadron State College will begin March 19. The speakers will be Dr. Susan Rolfsmeier and senior Emmanuella Tchona of Benin in West Africa. Both events will be in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public. 

Rolfsmeier’s presentation is titled From the Badlands to Lake Baikal: Unraveling a Botanical Mystery. She will discuss how a simple question about two Great Plains flowering plants in the forget-me-not family led her to remote western landscapes, molecular systematics, and eventually Siberia. 

Her presentation will include information about the genus Lappula (stick seeds), a plant group that has tiny blue flowers and spiny nutlets for fruits. Rolfsmeier has a bachelor’s degree in biology, a master’s degree in museum studies, and a doctorate in plant systematics. She is a part-time academic advisor with Project Strive TRiO.  

On April 2, Tchona will present A Path to Graduate School: Research Opportunities offered at CSC. Tchona is a senior who plans to graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry.  

Tchona is an Nebraska Institutional Development Award Program (IDeA) Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) scholar. As such, she had the opportunity for field research ranging from medicinal and organic chemistry to biochemistry and cancer biology. After graduate school she plans to pursue a career in scientific research. 

She is also a tutor in math and science, speaks fluent French, and enjoys cooking. She has been the President of the International Club for three years.