Shaley K. George

Curator of National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia, Kansas

Shaley George has served as the curator for the National Orphan Train Complex since July 2014. As the curator she operates the Complex which is home to the Morgan-Dowell Research Center and Orphan Train Museum. At the museum she gives tours to visitors of all ages and updates and changes exhibits. At the Research Center, she continues the ongoing research into the Orphan Train Movement, the lives of its riders and the complying of the master-list of names. However, the best part of her job is being able to share the history of the orphan trains and the footprint it left on America. Shaley George is originally from Wyoming. She is the mother of one very spoiled puppy named Charlie Duke and has enjoys exploring the Midwest. She earned a degree in Anthropology the University of Wyoming and a degree in Museum and Gallery Studies from Casper College.


Tracy Tucker

Education Director, Willa Cather Foundation

Tracy Tucker joined the staff of the Willa Cather Foundation in 2012 as education director. A certified archivist, Tracy oversees the WCF collection and presents regularly on topics related to Cather, Great Plains literature and the environment. She is a graduate of Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with degrees in American literature and creative writing, with a specialization in Great Plains studies.

Ardis G. Mullen Yost is one of the teachers honored on the new One Room, One Teacher Honor Wall at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Yost began her career in 1949 at District #85 Garfield in Webster County, signing a contract for $131.28 per month. She owns a one room school near Red Cloud, given to her as a gift by her beloved late husband. 



Dan Holtz

Nebraska Humanities Entertainer and Historian

Dan Holtz is a recently retired professor of English at Peru State College, where he taught from 1987 to 2016. He is the recipient of the 2000 Nebraska State College System Teaching Excellence Award and the 2015 Addison E. Sheldon Award for the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history. He is also a past president of the Board of Trustees of the Nebraska State Historical Society and currently serves as a member of the Nebraska 150 Foundation, a statewide committee involved in planning Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial celebration/commemoration.  He has performed and presented programs for civic, historical, and literary organizations across Nebraska as well as at the Nebraska State Capitol, the Nebraska State Historical Society, the Stuhr Museum of the Prairie Pioneer, Scottsbluff National Monument and the John Neihardt Center.  Additionally, he has appeared at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and at the Bob Devaney Center for the state quarter dedication ceremony in 2006.  In June of 2016, he released his second CD, “All Original, All Nebraska,” a collection songs he wrote about people, places, and events in Nebraska.

Nancy F. Carlson received a MA degree in Anthropology/Archaeology from UNL with a focus on the Great Plains and has been working archaeology projects within the state of Nebraska. A few of the projects worked on include: pit houses in Sherman County, an Oneota lodge/campsite east of Genoa, the NPPD transmission line project from Columbus to Lincoln, mapping archaeological sites on drainage systems including the Loup River and Maple Creek, the Genoa Highway project produced a cache pit and many historical items, the Red Willow Reservoir project had a site with mammoth bone fragments with indications of human breakage which carbon dated to 16,857+/- 70 rcybp.

Interesting volunteer projects include; being a founding member of the Genoa U.S. Indian School Foundation and helping organize the annual reunion for the past 20 years. Giving tours to Pawnee and other Native Americans who visit the area to learn of their history. Other activities include; helping build the Ponca earth lodge, working with the Mormon Trail Association and National Park Service to set up two trail side markers in Nance County, and excavating on the Engineer’s Cantonment site.




Alyce is a retired elementary teacher but still does some substituting.  She moved to Genoa in 1975.  She got involved in the Genoa Indian School when she  was asked to help line up volunteers.  Now what is fun for Alyce is getting a call from someone wanting to schedule a tour.  She considers herself fortunate to be able to hear great stories from Sydney Byrd. He was an inspiration!




Joel Geyer, over a 30 year period at NET Television, produced more than 40 documentaries, including the best selling PBS special Buffett and Gates Go Back to School, the American Masters special Willa Cather—The Road is All, and the national and local success, Coach Osborne—More than Winning. It is the most successful locally produced PLEDGE program in NET history. The Geyer Group is comprised of independent filmmakers and web designers that interned with Joel Geyer at NET and have all gone on to successful free-lance careers with organizations like National Geographic, PBS’s Frontline, and Towers Entertainment.



Sandy is the daughter of a teacher who started her career in one room schools in northwest Nebraska.  Scofield grew up on a small farm and ranch near Chadron and attended Chadron Public Schools.  After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln she taught at Omaha Westside High School and then moved to Hawaii where she worked as a technical writer at an aerospace firm.  She returned to Nebraska and finished her MA degree.  She worked with NET and the NE Dept of Education as a writer of award winning instructional programming.  When her father died unexpectedly she returned to her childhood home and managed the farm and worked at Chadron State College as a career counselor and a project director.  Sandy was appointed to the Nebraska Unicameral in 1983 representing northwest Nebraska.  She resigned in 1991 to become Chief of Staff to Governor Ben Nelson.  She returned to higher education serving as UNL Director of the Math and Science Initiative, the CLASS project and finally as Director of the Rural Initiative. Since her retirement she and her husband travel internationally, volunteer, and divide their time between Lincoln and



David Vail is an assistant professor of history at UNK. He grew up in Southern Oregon's Rogue Valley and spent much of his youth exploring the state's mountains and wilderness areas. He holds a BA from Southern Oregon University, an MA from Utah State University, and a PhD  from Kansas State University. Dr. Vail’s specializations include Environmental and Agricultural History, Science and Technology, the Great Plains, and Public History. He has published articles in academic journals such as Kansas History, Endeavour (History of Science), and Middle West Review. Dr. Vail’s current book manuscript, Chemical Lands: A History of Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America's Grasslands, is an environmental-agricultural-technological history of aerial pesticide application, agricultural science and food production in North America’s grasslands. 

Dr. David Vail

Assistant Professor, Environmental and Agricultural History, Science & Technology, Great Plains

Sheryl Feinstein is Dean of the College of Education at University of Nebraska Kearny. Dr. Feinstein is widely published, with numerous books and journal articles, primarily on adolescent development and brain research. She has taught a variety of courses in higher education, including Educational Psychology and Adolescent Development.


Her work includes authoring the book Secrets of the Teenage Brain 2nd Ed, which was a national and international best seller for Corwin Press; The Praeger Handbook of Learning and the Brain 2 vol., Praeger Publisher; Parenting the Teenage Brain: Understanding a Work in Progress, Teaching the At Risk Teenage Brain, and Inside the Teenage Brain: Understanding a Work in Progress, Rowman & Littlefield Publisher; and 101 Insights and Strategies for Parenting Teenagers, Healthy Learning Publishers.


She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship in 2007-2008 to Tanzania where she taught at Tumaini University in Iringa and conducted research involving the adolescent. In 2006 she was a fellow at Oxford, UK and wrote the book Parenting the Teenage Brain. In 2014-2015 Dr. Feinstein participated in a Fulbright scholarship to Moldova in Eastern Europe where she taught in their MA in Education programs and did research concerning online courses. While there she also volunteered at a high school for orphans.


Prior to being in higher education, Feinstein was a curriculum coordinator for a K-12 school district in Minnesota and taught in the K-12 schools in South Dakota and Missouri. While she greatly enjoys her career, Sheryl would say her biggest accomplishment was raising her own four children.

DR.Sheryl Feinstein

Dean of the College of Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

Chris Steinke’s work focuses on Plains Indian history in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He is particularly interested in indigenous communication and transportation networks and how they linked Plains groups to one another and to colonial outposts. His current book manuscript, “Rights of Passage: Indigenous Travelers on the Missouri River,” reconstructs the history of indigenous mobility on the Missouri River, a vast transcontinental corridor of Native movement and travel. His research in Pawnee and Arikara history has appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly and Great Plains Quarterly

Dr. Christopher Steinke

Assistant Professor, American Indian, Regional History

Gary Mitchel Zabokrtsky was born to Louis and Ruby Kuhl Zabokrtsky on January 15, 1938 in southwest Washington County, Kansas where they operated the Enosdale Country Store.  Mitch attended three country one room schools in the 1940's.

He graduated from the Steele City, Nebraska High School in 1955 and the Fairbury, Nebraska Junior College in January of 1957.  He began teaching at the Harvard, Nebraska Public Schools in January 1957.  For two years from 1957 through 1959 he taught at the Huscher country one room school near Concordia, Kansas

He received his Bachelors of Science, Maters of Science and Specialist in Education degrees of Emproia, Kansas State University.   After thirty-six years in the field of education he retired in 1993.  During his career he was a classroom teacher, reading specialist, counselor, school psychologist, school administrator and director of special education.  He served six years in the Nebraska and Kansas Army National Guard as a Special Fifth Class (E5).

Gary Zabokrtsky