A Monthly Publication of the Nebraska Environmental Trust

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Dave Heineman, Governor

Board of Trustees

District I
District II
District III

Agency Directors

Trust Staff

February 2014

In This Issue:

  1. Executive Director's Corner
  2. Trust Invites Comments on 2014 Preliminary Rank Order List
  3. Meet Our New Grants Assistant, Allison Alley
  4. Grantee Seminar Dates for 2014
  5. Joslyn Institute Begins Work in Minden, Broken Bow and Lincoln
  6. Upcoming Events
  7. Like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and find us on YouTube


Executive Director's Corner

We are happy to welcome Allison Alley as our new Grants Assistant.  She started on February 10th.  We held our first quarter board meeting on February 13th and the second quarter meeting will be April 3rd.  The 2014 Preliminary Rank Order List was announced.  We received a record number of applications, requesting record funding.  Unfortunately we had fewer funds available this year and there were some very good projects that were not funded.  To put it into perspective, in the past the cut-off has normally been around 125 to 130 points and this year the cut-off was at 149 points. 

We have started notifying applicants and reminding them of the process of the final determinations and public hearing on April 3, 2014.  We have set the grantee seminar dates for the week of April 14th.  Those meetings will be held in Lincoln, Grand Island and North Platte to meet with successful grantees to give them information on grant requirements and updates.

The Legislature has passed the half-way point of the 60 day session and will conclude by mid-April.  The Trust is currently asking for a deficit appropriation to allow us to expend as many of the funds we have available to us as possible.  These funds are available, but we must seek the approval of the Legislature to expend those funds through the appropriation process.

The daffodils on the south side of the Ferguson House are starting to poke out of the ground and are trying to tell us that spring is just around the corner, but this is Nebraska and we all know, there is potentially a lot of winter left. 

Mark A. Brohman
Executive Director


Trust Invites Comments on 2014 Preliminary Rank Order List

The Board of the Nebraska Environmental Trust received the Grant Committee’s proposed funding of 132 projects for a total of $21,750,000 in grant awards at its meeting on February 13, 2014. Of these, 56 were new applications and 76 are carry-over projects. This is the 21st year of grants from the Trust, which has provided over 209 million dollars in lottery revenue to preserve and protect the air, water and land in Nebraska.

As part of the grant making process, the Trust is seeking public input on the proposed grants before announcing final awards on April 3, 2014. A list of all recommended grants and project information is available on the Trust website at: www.environmentaltrust.org.

Written public comments will be accepted until April 2, 2014 at the Nebraska Environmental Trust, P.O. Box 94913, Lincoln NE 68509-4913 or via email at: marilyn.tabor@nebraska.gov. Please include your name, address and organizations (if applicable) and be sure to reference the project name and number in your correspondence. Comments can also be presented in person during a public hearing on April 3, 2014. The meeting begins at 1:30 pm at the Ferguson House, 700 South 16th Street, Lincoln NE.


Meet Our New Grants Assistant, Allison Alley

Allison joined the Trust in February of 2014. Prior to joining the Trust, she was employed as a seasonal Park Ranger in California, Alaska, Virginia and Florida and most recently, worked as a Park Guide for four years at Homestead National Monument of America in Beatrice, Nebraska. Allison grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota and has always had a passion for the environment and working with people.

She graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a B.A. in Biology and a minor in Natural History Interpretation and went on to pursue her Masters in Resource, Recreation, and Tourism from the University of Idaho, which she completed in 2007. She currently resides in Pawnee City, Nebraska with her husband, Wayne.



Grantee Seminar Dates for 2014

As in past years, the Trust will hold a series of Grantee Seminars for new grant recipients in April. You may choose from the following dates, time and venue that best suits your needs:

  • Grand Island on April 14,10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Central Platte NRD Office, 215 Kaufman Avenue
  • Lincoln on April 15, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ferguson House, 700 South 16th Street
  • North Platte on April 16, 12:00 noon to 3:30 at Mid-Plains Community College, 1101 Halligan Drive
  • Lincoln on April 18, 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the Ferguson House, 700 South 16th Street

Grant recipients will be receiving a letter from the Trust about the grantee seminars. The grantee seminars are intended to help grantees manage their grants in an effective and efficient manner. For any questions, you may call Allison Alley at 402-471-5417.


Joslyn Institute Begins Work in Minden, Broken Bow and Lincoln - submitted by Joslyn Institute

The Joslyn Institute for Sustainable Communities (JISC) has announced partnerships with groups in Minden, Broken Bow and Lincoln in its new grant-funded program to help foster and facilitate targeted communication strategies and deliberative, democratic decision-making surrounding specific issues in which each community is now involved. The two-year program, funded by the Nebraska Environmental Trust, is headed by Dr. Jay Leighter, Associate Professor of Communication Studies at Creighton University and a member of the JISC board of directors.

"Our inquiry is entirely collaborative," said Leighter. "It is based on these local leaders' desire to investigate their typical communications processes—everyday interactions between citizens and their city government, for example— and to how communications strategies can lead to both improved communications and more sustainable conditions and outcomes."

After a series of discussions about the aims of the project with leaders and stakeholders across the state, these three communities agreed to join JISC as collaborators in the project. The three communities—Minden, Broken Bow and Lincoln—have distinct geographical and demographic differences, with different sets of issues and with varying capacities in place to address such issues.

"Because the challenges we will be addressing in each community are different," said Leighter, "we want to be able to understand and evaluate local communication strategies. We hope by doing so, we will be able to develop new communication strategies that will have an impact on sustainability outcomes. What we want is innovative practices that drastically improve decision-making capacity on sustainability issues in a given community."

In Minden, JISC will work with the City of Minden and City Administrator and Finance Director Matthew Cedarburg to address citizen concerns about high electric utility rates. This recurring issue is an opportunity for communication strategy facilitation, according to Leighter. How residents understand the concept of energy has bearing on how receptive they are to accessing the programs that may benefit them most.

JISC's project is also attempting to connect with ongoing sustainability efforts in the region. Minden is already a participant community in a Nebraska City/Council Management Association (NCMA) project seeking funding to assess opportunities for low-energy housing. If funded, the results of Joslyn Institute's partnership will give Minden a jumpstart on projects such as the one led by the NCMA.

In Broken Bow, JISC, in partnership with WasteCap Nebraska, will work with Broken Bow's Green Coalition as it works to build support for Zero Waste in the community. What does the community regard as waste and how can its residents be persuaded to begin to understand waste as a resource? The goal of the partnership with WasteCap Nebraska is to facilitate community-wide education on waste streams and, potentially, begin to implement long-term waste reduction plans. If successful, this program also has the possibility of being utilized in other Nebraska communities.

Lincoln already has a robust, priority- and outcome-based budgeting process, Leighter said. Six years ago, the City of Lincoln began a long-term commitment to move toward an outcome-based budgeting process. The 2013 Taking Charge Budget final report, which had input of citizens, identifies and assesses priorities and performance criteria that will provide a basis for the City's biennial budget decisions.

In addition, a 2012 effort to develop Lincoln's first sustainability plan, led by the City's Blue Ribbon Leadership Team, identified a series of sustainability indicators and measurable targets, many of which complement outcomes sought in the Taking Charge budget process. In developing the sustainability indicators and targets, the team and Milo Mumgaard, Senior Policy Aide for Sustainability for Mayor Chris Beutler's office, were influenced by JISC's SustainometricsSM and EcoSTEP® methodologies for design and planning in sustainable ways.

"Mumgaard and Mayor Beutler have been leaders in sustainability and facilitating community participation," Leighter said. "We hope to build on their success of citizen engagement and help design a way for citizens to have more say in how sustainability indicators are reflected in the city's budget."

The Rural Futures Institute (RFI) at University of Nebraska–Lincoln is working with JISC in the strategic communications program in Minden and Broken Bow. Dr. Randolph Cantrell, Extension Professor, is spearheading the effort for RFI. His experience in working in and with communities throughout Nebraska has provided strong insights into the varied issues faced by rural and urban populations, geographic and demographic differences, and also what common threads and interconnections exist among them. "Sustainability issues are found in both large urban and smaller rural communities," said Cantrell. "However, the communication that occurs around those issues is likely to be very different for two reasons.

"First, while urban centers such as Lincoln are likely to have administrative departments committed to an environmental or other sustainability issue, rural places are not," he explained. "In rural places, those communications are much more likely to fall to an individual or group—often volunteer—with limited resources in time and expertise to commit to the task. "Second," he continued, "while communication regarding sustainability issues in an urban setting most often come from the work of more or less anonymous individuals, communications in rural places are likely to be associated with individuals for whom biographical information is readily available. In rural places, the biography of an individual can have a dramatic effect upon the way in which communications are viewed."

Leighter agreed, saying, "Each problem/opportunity in the quest for sustainability is a local matter and thus requires a distinctive understanding of what will work in a particular place at a particular time." He anticipates the program will result in innovative and robust best practices that may help to build capacity for deliberative, democratic communication that increases understanding and enhances positive community attitudes in towns and cities across Nebraska. That, he said, would go a long way in determining how communications influence sustainability.


Upcoming Events

- April 3, 2014 (Thursday), 1:30pm - 2nd Quarter Board Meeting.

- April 12, 2014 (Saturday) - Lincoln Earth Day

- April 14, 2014 (Monday) - Grantee Seminar in Grand Island, Central Platte NRD

- April 15, 2014 (Tuesday) - Grantee Seminar in Lincoln, Ferguson House

- April 16, 2014 (Wednesday) - Grantee Seminar in North Platte, Mid-Plains Community College

- April 18, 2014 (Friday) - Grantee Seminar in Lincoln, Ferguson House

- April 19, 2014 (Saturday) - Earth Day Omaha

- May 13, 2014 (Tuesday) - Nebraska Children's Groundwater Festival

- May 16-18, 2014 - Spring Into Spring Festival, Lauritzen Gardens


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