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November 2018 Issue

From the Executive Director:
Top Ten Things I Learned Over Two Crazy, Crazy Months of Travel


UNO Student Success Academy


Prairie Loft Center


Urban League of Nebraska

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Prairie Loft Education Center Cultivates Appreciation for Nature and Agricultural Roots

Raising the Bar | Thriving Places | November 2018

In March of 2014, the foundation awarded a $100,000 capital grant to Prairie Loft, a nonprofit center for outdoor and agricultural learning located near Hastings, Nebraska.

The Prairie Loft grant supported the renovation and transformation of an early 1900’s farm building into a modern education center recently named The Workshop. The name is a nod both to the building’s history as a former machine shop and its future as a hub for hands-on activities and cultural events.

“We’re so fortunate to have the encouragement that we have. The funding from Kiewit strengthened our statewide presence and support and reputation. It’s been a huge help to us.”

– Amy Sandeen, Executive Director

The mission of the organization is to teach agriculture appreciation, outdoor education, cultural connections and the wise use of natural resources. Prairie Loft hosts approximately 10,000 visitors a year and the new space has resulted in expanded programming and the ability to host multiple simultaneous activities.

Prairie Loft works to establish the connection between the soil and the dinner table through their educational programs. Camps and workshops provide kids and adults alike with agricultural education with the hope that these experiences prompt important conversations at home and school about the ties between people, food, and land.

“It’s imperative that kids, parents and educators know, appreciate and understand food origins,” says Sandeen.

By the end of this year The Workshop will have a new kitchen, meeting space, a family bathroom and much-needed storage. “We’re building something durable. We’re maintaining the integrity and legacy of the place while creating a hub for the community that is innovative and sustainable, based on a site that was a working farm for the state regional center with a history we want to honor. At the same time, we’re creating a modern space that keeps the character of agrarian heritage,” says Sandeen.

Part of Prairie Loft’s goal is to be a hub for learning and enhancing community. The third and final phase of the organization’s capital project will help them achieve that goal. By 2020 Sandeen projects they will have completed renovation of the remaining areas of The Workshop to include an enhanced lobby space and a large meeting area for the community.

Sandeen is mindfully balancing the commitment to build a durable and sustainable space that honors the location’s agrarian past while creating a modern, functional space to host future visitors and nature-enthusiasts.

“There is a huge amount of excitement about what this place is going to be,” says Sandeen.