Educational opportunities abound within the Upper Big Blue NRD’s Public Relations Department.  From traveling, hands-on inactive exhibits and programming to professionally qualified guest speakers, the NRD can assist you and enhance a meeting of your organization.  We specialize in inter-facing with your local service club, community chamber, farm group, and business meeting to keep you and your constituents up-to-date on Nebraska’s natural resources. 

Burke Scholarship

Burke Scholarship
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 24, 2023, 5:00 p.m.

Not sure if you live in the Upper Big Blue NRD? Use the Google Earth zip file below for a detailed map.

Educational Capital Project Fund (ECAP)

Educational Capital Project Fund (ECAP)
Educational Capital Project Fund (ECAP)

The purpose of ECAP is to create, develop, or enhance natural resources related educational capital projects that create experiential learning environments and opportunities for District citizens.

Grant applications are due May 1 of each year. Awardees will be notified in June.
To qualify for the Educational Capital Fund Program (ECAP) educational/conservation projects must be physically located, constructed, and maintained within the Upper Big Blue NRD boundary.  These educational capital projects are generally constructed on school property, however can be located elsewhere in the NRD boundary if there is a more suitable eco-system which again is determined on a case-by-case basis for funding determination by the board of directors.
This fund is for capital items only, deemed to have educational/conservation value, and determined worthy of funding on a case-by-case basis by Upper Big Blue NRD.  (This is not a scholarship fund for individual/group of students).    
Examples of such projects include, but are not limited to greenhouses; commercial and botanical gardens/vegetative learning plots; beekeeping/honey production equipment; rain/flood/dam/erosion/wind simulators; interactive and hands-on exhibits; educational learning displays/pods; digital/electronic equipment/devices; and research/demonstration equipment, etc.
Funding Parametric
If the total project cost is $1,000 or less, then the cost-share may be 100% of the actual cost.  If the total project cost is greater than $1,000, then the cost-share may be $1,000 + 5% of the total cost not to exceed $10,000 (funding scale on page 5 of the application).
Funds Available to Cooperators
Maximum Payment from NRD Funds:  $10,000.00 (labor costs excluded) 
Minimum Payment from NRD Funds:   $100.00 (labor costs excluded) 
State Cost-Share:  None
Federal Cost-Share:  None

Online Application 

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagements
Speaking Engagements

Need to find a professional, courteous, and knowledgeable speaker who can address some of the most current and pressing issues concerning Nebraska’s natural resources? Choosing the right speaker for your next board meeting, strategic planning session, business conference, professional association meeting or in-house educational workshop could be one of the most important business decisions you make this year. A knowledgeable, seasoned speaker will inform, engage and provide working knowledge for your people to use in their decision making. From the halls of Nebraska’s State Legislature to the cab of a harvesting combine, the Upper Big Blue NRD staff have interacted with local, state and federal folks to promote and protect our state’s natural resources. And now you can take advantage of this wealth of knowledge with the NRD SPEAKERS BUREAU. Collectively, our featured speakers have over 160 years of experience in the natural resources field and possess a vast historical perspective of Nebraska’s past and present...the majority of our speakers are also responsible for having created some of this history. 

Call Chrystal Houston, Public Relations Manager, at (402) 362-6601, to find a solution for your speaker needs.

Water Leaders Academy Sponsorship

Water Leaders Academy Sponsorship
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 cost of attendance of the Leaders Academy is $2,000, which includes lodging and meals. The application cost is $500 (this amount goes toward the $2,000 fee). Additional costs include travel related expenses.
  • The NRD will fund 75 percent of the cost of attending the Water Leaders Academy ($1,500) but will not pay for travel.
  • 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.

Environmental Education Resources

Environmental Education Resources
Environmental Education Resources
Looking for a presenter for youth environmental education? Reach out to Chrystal Houston, public relations manager to get started. 

Adventure Camp about the Environment

Adventure Camp about the Environment
Adventure Camp about the Environment
  • Join with youth from across the state, June 26-29, 2022
  • Held at the State 4H Camp in Halsey
  • Only for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students or equivalent for homeschooled individuals
  • Hands on sessions educating about natural resources
  • Cost is $235, but scholarships are available for district residents who wish to participate
  • Registration Link
ACE Camp poster