N150 traveling exhibit

Diane Mendenhall, assistant to the chancellor for external engagement at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, walks around a display promoting the university's 150th anniversary Friday at the Siouxland Garden Show in South Sioux City. The exhibit is on display this week at the South Sioux City Public Library.

SOUTH SIOUX CITY -- Thousands of University of Nebraska alumni live across the state, aware of many notable achievements made over the years on the Lincoln campus.

Yet, to many Nebraskans, the main claim to fame for the state's flagship university is its football team.

To celebrate the university's 150th anniversary this year, a touring exhibit aims to educate Nebraskans on all aspects of the university, showing them there's more to be proud of than a few national championships earned by the school's athletic teams.

The N150 Traveling Exhibit is open to the public this week at the South Sioux City Public Library, 2121 Dakota Ave., after appearing over the weekend at the Siouxland Garden Show.

"That's what's exciting about coming here is bringing to people information about their university and the impact it's had on the state," said Diane Mendenhall, assistant to the chancellor for external engagement, who was at the exhibit Friday to greet visitors and brag a little.

There's a lot to be proud of, as the stories told in the exhibit show.

"It's really a point of pride I think people will have when they read it and engage with the exhibit. It really does show the broad impact the university has, not only on students, but the whole state," Mendenhall said of the university, chartered on Feb. 15, 1869.

That was one of the reasons Carol Larvick sought to get the exhibit to the Garden Show.

An extension educator for the University of Nebraska Extension in Dakota County, Larvick said extension offices across the state offer numerous services, including supporting 4-H and having a big presence at county fairs. Having the exhibit at the Garden Show, put on in cooperation between the Nebraska and Iowa State university extensions, was a chance to show people that both universities offer a lot more than just plant education.

"What a great opportunity to share that birthday party, so to speak, with people who use the services we provide at the extension," Larvick said.

The N150 exhibit tied in so well with the Dakota County Extension's yearlong celebration of the university's sesquicentennial, that Larvick secured it for an extra week to display at South Sioux City's library.

Those who visit the exhibit can walk through four large two-sided panels and read short stories highlighting research, notable alumni and the university's impact on the state.

The exhibit highlights famous alumni such as author Willa Cather, billionaire investor Warren Buffett and late night talk show legend Johnny Carson. It also shines the light on lesser-known alumni such as Gladys Henry, a 1900 graduate who teamed with her husband to create a vaccine in the 1920s to treat scarlet fever.

It's one of many stories people read and wind up saying, "I had no idea," Mendenhall said.

The exhibit not only celebrates the past, such as the story behind Morrill Hall, the on-campus museum that houses and exhibits the university's collection of prehistoric fossils, but also the future, with a feature on the Drone Journalism Lab, which is exploring the expanding role of remote controlled drones in news gathering.

After starting its tour in February on campus and the State Capitol in Lincoln, the exhibit traveled to O'Neill in March before arriving in South Sioux City. It's currently scheduled to appear in cities from one end of the state to the other, including Beatrice, McCook, North Platte, Scottsbluff and Valentine.

The visit to northeast Nebraska was a special one, Mendenhall said.

"We had South Sioux City on the map from the get-go," she said. "There's a lot of alumni and friends of the university up there."

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