Burke Scholarship

The family of Raymond A. Burke established this scholarship in his memory for the benefit of young men and women interested in pursuing careers in natural resources related fields. Mr. Burke was a land improvement contractor and farmer with very strong interests in the management of conservation and educating young people. He served for 40 years on the elected boards of the Polk County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District. From time to time, donations memorializing other individuals have been added to the Raymond A. Burke Scholarship Fund. The Upper Big Blue NRD administers two scholarships awarded annually in the amount of $2,000 each. 

You can complete the application online or download and complete the application then send it to the office. If you complete the application online, please send your three letters of recommendation to:

Chrystal Houston, Public Relations Manager

Upper Big Blue NRD
319 E 25th St, York, NE 68467

Application DEADLINE: Friday, March 22, 2024, 5:00 p.m.

Not sure if you live in the Upper Big Blue NRD? Use the Find Your NRD tool

Qualifications include:

1.) The legal home permanent address of the applicant is in the Upper Big Blue NRD.
2.) Attend or plan to attend in the upcoming semester, a two-year or four-year Nebraska college or university
3.) Are enrolled or will be enrolled in the upcoming semester in a course of study leading to an associate or undergraduate degree in a natural resources-related field
4.) Intend to enter the workforce upon graduation in a "hands-on" position, such as soil/water conservation, resources manager, or engineering technician.
5.) Are not a family member of staff/director of the Upper Big Blue NRD.

Water Leaders Academy Sponsorship

The Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District will sponsor one individual per year to attend the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy. The purpose of this sponsorship is to provide training to those who may eventually serve on the NRD board of directors or in another water leadership capacity.

  • The sponsorship will be provided to any district resident (non NRD employee) with interest in attending. It is not restricted to those working in natural resources or land management.
  • If there is funding from another source (such as an employer) for a participant, it is recommended that those options be utilized first.  
  • Each applicant must have a board member recommendation in order to be considered for the sponsorship.
  • The application for the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy will also be the application used for the NRD sponsorship (includes a one-page description of why you want to attend the program, a resume, and a letter of recommendation).
  • Applications to the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy are due by December 1 (but may be submitted at any time earlier). Early application is preferred as the cohort may fill up. Applications for the NRD sponsorship should be submitted by September 1 so that the candidates may be discussed and voted upon at the September or October executive committee and board meeting. When an applicant has been approved for the sponsorship from the NRD, it is their responsibility to submit their application to the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy. Approval from the NRD for the sponsorship does not guarantee acceptance into the Water Leaders Academy. 
  • For consideration for the NRD sponsorship, please submit your application materials to

Cost and Responsibilities

  • The total tuition for attendance of the Water Leaders Academy includes lodging and meals. The first $500 associated with tuition is the responsibility of the applicant. This is considered an application fee.
  • NRD scholarship will cover full tuition cost minus $500. Additional costs (travel cost, incidentals, etc.) are not covered by scholarship and are the responsibility of the applicant.
  • The program includes six 1.5-day sessions in a variety of locations across the state. To receive the NRD sponsorship funds, the selected applicant must attend at least five of the sessions.
  • The NRD sponsorship funds will be available as a reimbursement at the completion of the program.
  • The selected applicant is expected to give a brief presentation to the board upon completing the Water Leaders Academy.
  • If the Nebraska Water Leaders Academy class is full, the applicant may be asked to delay entry until the following year. The NRD sponsorship would remain available to the candidate for a later entry.