Grant to fund volunteer-building project for Master Naturalist program

A new grant is aimed at growing the number of volunteers in the Nebraska Master Naturalist program. | Courtesy image
A new grant is aimed at growing the number of volunteers in the Nebraska Master Naturalist program. | Courtesy image

The Nebraska Master Naturalist program has received $68,073 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust to continue helping to protect and preserve the state’s natural resources through its Volunteers in Action project.

The project is one of the 105 projects receiving $18,301,819 in grant awards from the Nebraska Environmental Trust this year. Of these, 66 were new applications and 39 are carry-over projects.

The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program gives Nebraskans an opportunity to contribute to natural resource conservation through meaningful science-based volunteer experiences. Over the past seven years, the program has established a highly motivated workforce of 336 volunteers that are actively contributing to at-risk species conservation, restoring native habitats, preventing degradation of waterways, and improving waste management.

Their impact has been substantial. Master Naturalists have contributed 40,148 hours to conservation action on more than 2,800 projects in Nebraska which translates to a value of $945,886 in salary savings to natural resource agencies and organizations.

The goals of the Volunteers in Action proposal are to increase the number of newly certified master naturalists by 90 over the next three years; support the established Master Naturalist Community through continuing education on advanced topics; empower local, coalesced workforces to conserve Nebraska's natural resources by providing at least 7,500 hours of volunteer service that support at least 20 conservation organizations or agencies, and reach over 15,000 individuals by informing and educating citizens about natural resource conservation; and increase program sustainability.

The additional trained Master Naturalists should help fulfill the demand for volunteers, which currently far exceeds the capacity.

Master Naturalist began in 2009 through a public and private partnership that recognized Nebraska’s conservation agencies and organizations have limited resources and capacity for proactively managing natural resources.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Environmental Trust in 1992. It is funded by proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery and has awarded more than $250 million to more than 1,900 conservation projects in Nebraska since 1994.

Natural Resources