Science on Screen® Lives of Cows and Cowboys

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  • Date: Jan 30th, 2020
    Time: 7:30pm

Science on Screen® film event features science and art of ranching and the cowboy life

The Jan. 30 Science on Screen® “Lives of Cows and Cowboys” event at the Midwest Theater will feature a documentary film about modern working cowboys on “big outfit” western ranches, alongside a panel discussion with a beef genetics specialist, a range and forage specialist, and a cowboy poet.

At 7:30 p.m., UNL Animal Science Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist Matt Spangler, UNL Assistant Professor and Range and Forage Management Specialist Mitch Stephenson, and cowboy poet Tim Nolting will take the stage for a discussion of the science, art, and life of rangeland cattle ranching. Following the discussion and audience Q&A, the film “Cowboys – A Documentary Portrait” will screen.

This event is open to the public, and admission is FREE, thanks to event sponsors and partners, including the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center, B&W, Inc., Attitudez Salon, Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply, Nebraska Arts Council, and Nebraska Cultural Endowment. Every audience member will get a free ticket for a chance at winning a raffle prize. Science on Screen is an initiative of the Coolidge Corner Theatre with major support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

WHAT: FREE Science on Screen discussion and screening of “Cowboys – A Documentary Portrait”
WHEN: Thurs., Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: Midwest Theater, 1707 Broadway, Scottsbluff


Matt Spangler is a Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist at the University of Nebraska. He grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm in Kansas. He received degrees from Kansas State University (BS; 2001), Iowa State University (MS; 2003), and the University of Georgia (PhD; 2006) and is currently a Professor and Extension Beef Genetics Specialist at the University of Nebraska. He works as part of a team with colleagues at UNL and US MARC to improve genetic/genomic selection tools and methods and currently leads a USDA funded project to develop web-based decision support tools for genetic selection.

Dr. Mitch Stephenson began his current position in 2015 as an Assistant Professor and Range and Forage Management Specialist at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff. Stephenson received his MS degree in 2010 from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln where he studied the influence of different grazing strategies on vegetation and livestock production in the Nebraska Sandhills. Between his MS and PhD, he worked as a rangeland consultant on Wyoming and Nevada grazinglands. He received a PhD from New Mexico State University in 2014 where he evaluated livestock grazing behavior and targeted grazing practices in southern New Mexico. Currently, Stephenson’s research is focused on better understanding spatial and temporal relationships between vegetation and precipitation in the Nebraska Sandhills and how this influences cattle grazing behavior and forage availability. Other research in the Nebraska Panhandle is focused on better understanding targeted grazing strategies to better manage cheatgrass within perennial grass/cheatgrass systems.

Tim Nolting is a fifth generation westerner of pioneer stock born and raised near the family homestead in northeastern Kansas. He has been presenting his original poetry across the west for more than 25 years and has been a featured poet at Cowboy gatherings from Elko, Nevada, to Ruidoso, New Mexico, and a bevy of states across the west. Tim’s original verse paints word pictures of the west and captures the spirit, drama and humor of a life lived among cattle, horses, humans and the grandeur of God’s creation. Tim resides with his singer-songwriter wife and partner, Deb Carpenter-Nolting, in Bushnell, Nebraska. Tim has recently published a two-volume set of short sketches of life in the Heartland, from historical events to personal reflections, entitled “101 Yesterdays”.


Title: Cowboys – A Documentary Portrait
Film synopsis: Told in the cinematic tradition of classic westerns, “COWBOYS – A Documentary Portrait” is a feature-length film that gives viewers the opportunity to ride alongside modern working cowboys on some of America’s largest and most remote cattle ranches. The movie documents the lives of the men and women working on these “big outfit” ranches – some of which are over one million acres – and still require full crews of horseback mounted workers to tend large herds of cattle. Narrated through first-hand accounts from the cowboys themselves, the story is steeped in authenticity and explores the rewards and hardships of a celebrated but misunderstood way of life, including the challenges that lie ahead for the cowboys critical to providing the world’s supply of beef. “COWBOYS” was filmed on eight of the nation’s largest cattle ranches across ten states in the American West.
Film not rated
Film run time: 90 minutes

COWBOYS: A Documentary Portrait (Official Teaser) from ultralitefilms on Vimeo.

For more information, visit the Midwest Theater website or call 308-632-4311.

This film-and-discussion event at the historic Midwest Theater in Scottsbluff is a part of the national Science on Screen program supported by The Coolidge Corner Theater and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The goal of the Science on Screen series is to increase science literacy by creatively pairing screenings of classic, cult, science fiction, and documentary films with lively presentations by notable experts from the world of science and technology. Each film is used as a jumping-off point for a speaker to introduce current research or technological advances in a manner that engages popular culture audiences. For more information about Science on Screen, visit