PPRI’s plans for the future build on what we have always done — community-based conservation and education. We are experienced in developing working groups and partnerships with other organizations, but we also believe strongly that a fundamental one-on-one approach to working with people is critical. Satisfaction is derived from deliberate progress towards our goals and making friends along the way. That takes time.
Beginning in 2004, PPRI began a concerted effort to involve more people in all of its activities. This means more visitors to our beautiful properties, more educational events and seminars, and more volunteer opportunities. Along these lines, we drafted a five-year strategic plan outlining the steps necessary to achieve our goals. The centerpiece of this plan is our new Education Center, on which we began construction in 2006.
Ribbons of Prairie
Ribbons of Prairie is a restorative multigenerational vision for the Great Plains landscape, particularly the eastern half of the Plains, a cornucopia of cultivated agriculture once covered by mixed and tallgrass prairie. The ribbons metaphor helps us to first imagine, and then create, an endless continuous network of restored prairie wilderness along stream and river corridors over the next 100 years. This restoration idea is a pragmatic way to work toward multiple goals by enhancing relationships among people and this landscape to:
- Steward our water resources;
- Increase native habitat for biodiversity and wildlife;
- Protect scenic, scientific and cultural resources;
- Integrate diversified working agriculture, urban and natural landscapes;
- Provide educational and recreational opportunities to enable people to interact with the landscape.
In essence, the goal of Ribbons of Prairie is to foster a more sustainable way of life. Sense of place is important for a healthy connection to nature, soil and water, our commonly held sources of all wealth and prosperity. It is also vital for our society's connection to history, culture, agriculture and sense of community, and our personal connection to cultural expression, emotional well-being and sense of wonderment about the world.
To learn more about our vision for Ribbons of Prairie, download our Ribbons of Prairie Core Values here.
Solutions to Save the Great Plains
In February 2013, Executive Director Bill Whitney participated in an event hosted by the Nature Conservancy and the Center for Great Plains Studies. The Conservation Jam event called together Nebraska's conservation leaders and asked them to present, in three minutes, what they would suggest be done to save the Great Plains. Read Bill's three-minute solution here.
In 2011, Prairie Plains was given a unique opportunity to enhance a public/private corridor along the Platte River in Hamilton County, Nebraska, with an option to purchase 650 acres one mile downstream from Gjerloff Prairie and Farm. Read more about this addition to Ribbons of Prairie here. Before his death, Tom Sherman offered Prairie Plains this option with the intent of keeping the property open for public use and enjoyment. Watch an interview with Tom and hear more about his connection with his land.
A Populist Approach to Land Use
Involving people in discussions about land use now and in the future is nothing new for Prairie Plains. In fact, we started the Platte Corridor Initiative in 1999 with John Heaston of the Nature Conservancy to do just that. Read more about the Platte River Corridor process here.
The Platte Corridor Initiative was a watershed initiative based on social science principles. It stemmed from our conviction that long-term progress in solving environmental problems depends on social and cultural approaches rather than solely technical ones. The project involved listening to watershed residents, creating forums for inquiry and discussion and forming groups of people willing to work on the resource issues. Underlying these efforts was the development of a vision for Platte Corridor sustainability — a populist, environmentally based vision integrating economic, ecological and social concerns. PCI began with assistance from an Environmental Protection Agency grant in 1999. Download more history of the Platte Corridor Initiative here.