Outdoor Classrooms

Outdoor Classroom Program

The NRD’s Outdoor Classroom Programs were developed to provide funding to promote the education of our natural resources through hands-on learning.  Funding is provided through three types of grants: Outdoor Classroom, Community Grants, and Mini-School Grants (applications below).

Providing lessons in nature ensure that children today are growing up with meaningful daily connections to nature. When children spend time in nature-filled outdoor learning environments, research shows that conflict is replaced by pleasant and positive exploration.


School Outdoor Classroom Grant

Central Platte NRD provides up to $2,500 per school per year with matching funds/labor required for requests over $500. Outdoor Classroom Grants totaling less than $500 require no matching funds. Grants totaling $500-$2,500 require matching funds amounting to 50% of the grant over $500. While finding other funding sources is encouraged, schools and organizations may use their labor involved in the project to satisfy part or all of the matching fund requirement.

Projects that provide awareness about water, soil, wildlife, forestry, grassland, and other environmental connections are eligible. Funds can be requested by teachers and administrators for materials needed to create or expand an outdoor classroom site on school grounds. Appropriate expenditures of funds may include: rain gardens, rain barrels, butterfly/pollinator gardens, seeds, bulbs, live plants, trees, native grasses, wetland or pond habitat, bird/wildlife feeders, identification signs, etc.

Community Outdoor Classroom Grant

The Community Grants Program is to promote water, soil, wildlife, forest, grassland conservation and environmental awareness. Community organizations may request up to $2,000 to provide natural resources awareness to the public or youth. This is a competitive grant and may be applied for at any time. NRD boundaries include all of Dawson County and parts of Frontier, Custer, Buffalo, Hall, Howard, Nance, Merrick, Hamilton Platte and Polk counties in Nebraska.

Community organization and/or non-profit groups may request funds to help with costs to promote indoor/outdoor conservation projects, presentations, print materials, activity materials, educational resources, etc. The Community Grant requires no matching funds. The methods used to promote environmental and conservation awareness and a timeline to meet your goal(s) must be included in the application.


Mini Classroom Grant

The Mini Classroom Grant provides $35 to classroom teachers for natural resources classroom activities, field trips, etc. Additional funding is available for environmental education activities and projects.


Latest Projects Approved

Kearney Public Schools Foundation
$1,335 approved to improve educational opportunities in the Outdoor Learning Area at Kearney High School. Copies of the book 40 Chances by Howard Buffett and signage for the school’s wetland area were approved for funding in the amount of $1,335.

Stick Creek Kids Child Development Center
$2,500 approved to expand the sensory garden in their natural playground including native plants and learning features such as a mud kitchen and a farm-to-kitchen garden in conjunction with the Wood River FFA chapter. The center is licensed to enroll 80 youth from infants to 12 years old.