A dream is coming true. The Prairie Plains Education Center, a concept nurtured with over 35 years of insight and hard work, is becoming a reality. Constructed by moving a nearby historic barn to the Gjerloff Prairie, the center will provide people of all ages a place to gather, learn, discuss, explore, share, work, think, relax...all while surrounded by a beautiful prairie landscape.
In its 1980 Articles of Incorporation, Prairie Plains founders established as one of their founding purposes:
"To provide a center where persons of mutual interest in the natural history, horticulture, agriculture, human culture, sociology, development and the welfare of the Plains may exchange ideas for the benefit and welfare of the members thereof and the state and the nation."
Space to Meet a Variety of Needs
A generous grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust allowed us to purchase the Gjerloff Prairie as the site of the Education Center. The remodeled barn will feature classrooms with lab space, a large activity/meeting space, screened porch, library, conference room, gallery, kitchen and restrooms. Not only will the center provide much-needed space for current Prairie Plains educational and volunteer events, it will allow us to share the work of the institute with more people while we build relationships and identify opportunities for further collaboration. The center will also be available for corporate retreats, community events and family gatherings.
The fundraising strategy for construction of this project has been divided into three phases. The first phase of the plan was to raise $400,000 for initial building costs to construct the foundation, rough in plumbing and electricity, move the barn to the site and fully enclose the structure. Thanks to the generosity of foundations, friends and Prairie Plains members, Phase 1 was accomplished in 2011!
Phase 2 Complete!
Phase 2 called for an additional $500,000 to install the fire sprinkler system, electrical service, HVAC, plumbing and the north deck/walkway. Also included in this phase of construction was the exterior siding, east patio, interior framing of the kitchen and restrooms, and finishing the screened porch. $150,000 from the Mitzi Fox Remainder Charitable Trust combined with $100,000 raised during 2013 and $250,000 of unrestricted donations and operating surplus from our restoration program allowed us to achieve our Phase 2 fundraising goal at the end of 2013! We're now only $400,000 away from completion!!!
Phase 3 - The Time is NOW
The final phase, representing the remaining one-third of our fundraising goal, is $400,000. Construction projects in this phase include the south entry deck, patio and retaining walls, interior finish work, interior windows and doors, kitchen, elevator and furnishings.
The Charles L. Whitney Education Center is really taking shape. We're excited about this outstanding opportunity to increase the reach of our mission, and we'd be honored to have you as a partner in this effort.
Make a Donation
The center will serve as a nucleus of program growth in education, conservation and community development functions, allowing us to share the mission of Prairie Plains Resource Institute with an expanding audience. There are many ways you can contribute. Find out how you can help.