Student | Teacher Resources

Nebraska’s NRDs have a variety of projects and programs to educate both youth and adults about conservation and natural resources. The Central Platte NRD coordinates the Nebraska Children’s Groundwater Festival, classroom presentations, provides funding for outdoor classrooms, and more. CPNRD also coordinates regional Land Judging Contests, Range Judging Contests, and the Nebraska Envirothon.

Free Arbor Day Seedlings & Butterfly Milkweed

ARBOR DAY SEEDLINGS  Arbor Day is Friday, April 26th – what do you have planned for your class? Central Platte NRD will be delivering free Colorado Blue Spruce seedlings to schools to help students celebrate this Nebraska-born holiday. The seedlings are 6”-12” tall and will be contained in plastic plugs to make it easier for students to take home. Planting instructions will also be provided. Colorado blue spruce is native to the Rocky Mountain region but grows well in central Nebraska. The color ranges from dark green to silvery blue-green. Blue spruce will form a very dense windbreak when planted close together, but they only have a medium growth rate. In 20 years, the trees will be 18’-25’ in height; and will reach 30’-45’ at maturity.

The NRD is also offering Butterfly Milkweed to schools who would like to improve or start a new habitat area. Why milkweed? Milkweed produces a key nectar source for pollinating insects and animals that are critical to our environment, food supply, and economy. It’s an essential habitat component for birds, insects, and particularly Monarch butterflies.

Did you know that the Monarch population reached a historic low in 2018? The western population declined 86% from 2017 to 2018 and has seen a 97% decline in the total population since the 1980s. An estimated 10 million Monarchs spent the winter in coastal California in the 1980s and the number is now estimated at 20,456. The continued drop in numbers is alarming and it’s one of the reasons we’re offering the milkweed at no cost. In a 2017 study, scientists estimated that the Monarch butterfly population in western North America had a 72% chance of becoming near extinct in 20 years if the trend is not reversed.

Your school can help! Order the milkweed and find a sunny spot to plant it at your school. Monarch butterflies migrate through Nebraska and cannot survive without milkweed. It’s the only type of plant on which the eggs are laid and the larvae will feed to mature into a chrysalis. The cardiac glycoside chemicals from the plant also make the Monarch caterpillar’s flesh distasteful to most predators.

PLANTING  Butterfly milkweed increases by underground shoots and can be invasive. It is ideal in semi-dry places where it can spread without presenting problems for other ornamental species. The leaves are 5-10 cm long, shiny green, and velvety beneath. Each flower has 5 petals that are orange, red, or yellow.
MAINTENANCE  Breaking off as many stalks as possible or burning in the fall encourages resprouting in the spring.
ORDERS  Since milkweed stems grow best in numerous clumps, CPNRD will provide 10 plants per order. If you have enough space for 20 or more plants, you are welcome to order that many; just be aware that they may spread.

To order Colorado Blue Spruce or Butterfly Milkweed seedlings, contact Marcia Lee at: or call (308) 385-6282 with the following information:

* Teacher Name(s)    * # of seedlings per classroom     * Phone #     * Email & School addresses    * Dates in April that will not work for delivery


Last Child in the Woods

Have you read the book “The Last Child in the Woods” by Richard Louv?  It’s highly recommended for educators.  This book brings up a growing issue in our society which the author terms, “Nature Deficit Disorder” discussing the lack of outdoor time our youth are experiencing today. Cell phones, television, and technology are greatly reducing the amount of time our young people spend outdoors experiencing nature that adults have fond memories of such as fishing, camping, climbing trees, walking through fields, exploring outside for even the littlest things.

Youth today long to get out and experience nature (even if they don’t know it) and it’s our responsibility to provide them with those experiences.  We don’t have to take them fishing, we just need to insist and encourage them to “GO OUTSIDE”.  Spend time exploring their own backyard, neighborhood park, picking up leaves, touching dirt & sand, playing in the rain, and just experiencing everything nature has to offer.

The Central Platte NRD will purchase this book for you if you’d one! Contact Marcia at (308) 385-6282 or


Natural Resources Link – Educator Newsletter

January 2018 Edition:
~ Environmental Education: Nebraska Focus (K-12)
~ ACE Camp: Is Learning Really This Fun? (Middle School)
~ Free Arbor Day Seedlings (K-12)
~ Prescribed Fire/Range Management Outreach (High School)
~ Scholarships Available for College Students (College)
~ Register for Central Region Envirothon Contests (High School)

November 2017 Edition  Articles: Connecting With Nature, Register for Groundwater Festival, Change to College Scholarships, Free Arbor Day Seedlings, Citizen Science in the Classroom

March 2017 Edition  Articles: Outdoor Classrooms-Take It Outside!, Free Arbor Day Seedlings, Free Monarch Habitat Educator Packets, CPNRD-Ron Bishop College Scholarship Program, Taking Registrations for Groundwater Festival, Adventure Camp About the Environment for Middle School


Outdoor Classroom Program (K-12)

The NRD’s Outdoor Classroom Programs were developed to provide funding to promote the education of our natural resources through hands-on learning.  Funding is provided through three types of grants: Outdoor Classroom, Community Grants, and Mini-School Grants (applications below). Providing lessons in nature ensures that children today are growing up with meaningful daily connections to nature. When children spend time in nature-filled outdoor learning environments, research shows that conflict is replaced by pleasant and positive exploration.  Click here for programs & funding available.


Mini Classroom Grant- $35 per teacher   Application 

The Mini Classroom Grant provides $35 to classroom teachers for natural resources classroom activities, field trips, etc. Additional funding is available for environmental education activities and projects.


High School Contests

Click on the contests hosted by CPNRD below for details/results of each contest:

Envirothon   |   Land Judging   |   Range Judging



Scholarship Program

CPNRD-Ron Bishop College Scholarship   This program awards $1,000 scholarships to 5 students majoring in or enrolled in a natural resources field and is open to college students and high school seniors.  Return applicants and recipients are welcome to apply.   Scholarship Page


Conservation Resources

 Energy Efficiency Guide: Save Money on Home Energy Costs
Jessica and Bri requested that CPNRD add this guide to our website for conservation education and to earn a Girl’s Scout Badge.

If you have any suggestions to add to this page, email Marcia.