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SOAR and Other Education

SOAR Raindrop Relay

Prairie Plains Resource Institute wants to share something - close-up, hands-on experiences on the Nebraska landscape. It's easy to take our surroundings for granted. And yet it's often a connection with the outdoors that makes us appreciate where we live. We refer to it as "sense of place" - the kind of thing that makes you want to come back home to raise your kids. Or at least come back to visit.

Prairie Plains has a calendar full of events that allow people to build lasting relationships with the land and with each other. As an educational land trust, our goal is to relate all aspects of our program to education and service to people - teaching about place, land stewardship, restoration and sustainable development.

SOAR (Summer Orientation About Rivers) is our model education program for youth, an intensive hands-on week-long summer daycamp where local grade school children and their high school peer leaders trek to area natural and historic sites, integrating natural sciences, art, history and writing. SOAR concludes each week with a morning in the Platte River. A creative program for students, educators and volunteers alike, SOAR is now planning its 26th year!

But that's not all. We also work with landowners and other interested people, sharing information about range management, prescribed burning, plants, wildlife and history through individual consultation, working groups and special events. Our prairie preserves are excellent living laboratories for study and research and we encourage local schools and organizations to utilize the preserves for classes and field trips.

SOAR Image

What is SOAR?

SOAR (Summer Orientation About Rivers), is a nature day camp where kids explore the Platte River and other outdoor environments in the area. By taking part in the many activities about science, language arts, history, agriculture, and art, SOAR campers learn while having fun. The Aurora Camp offers two five-day sessions for grades 3-6. 

Why should you come to SOAR?

Because it's a blast!!! You can get wet and do stuff you don't get to do during the school year. You'll also learn some pretty cool things about where you live.

More Information

  • In October 2009 Bill and Jan Whitney presented at the Land Trust Alliance Rally in Portland, Oregon.  The title of their presentation was "Connecting People to Land Through Educational Programming," and you can download a copy of their handout here!
  • Check out photos from SOAR in our Scrapbook.


SOAR is open to any student presently in grade 3, 4, 5, or 6. We can register up to 60 students for each week.

Week One: July 9-12, 2018

Week Two: July 16-19, 2018

SOAR is headquartered out of Aurora, Nebraska. Bus travel to various field sites in the area is included.

How much does it cost?
The registration fee for the entire weeklong program is $150; $130 for families who are PPRI members. Financial assistance is available for a limited number of qualified applicants. Please call 402-694-5535 for more information.

More information about SOAR

  • The 2018 SOAR Registration form will be available on this website on April 1, 2018.

Youth Naturalist Program

Grade 6-9 students who are looking for a great outdoor summer adventure are invited to participate in this unique naturalist-based program in June. The group will enjoy hikes, learning about the ecosystem in which they live and how to care for, protect and restore it. Students will actively explore natural areas along the Platte River in Hamilton and Merrick Counties, observing the landscape, plants and animals present. This is an exciting opportunity to gain valuable knowledge about nature and our Nebraska ecosystems and participate in outdoor recreational activities such as kayaking and camping. Campers also have the opportunity to interact with professionals in careers in the natural resources and habitat/wildlife management. These activities are intended to open new doors for students interested in the natural world and help them find new ways to enjoy the outdoors.

Students presently in grades 7-11 are eligible for the Youth Naturalist Program. Students must apply to participate in the program and we will accept 15 students each year. If there are more applicants than we have space for in the program, we will select students based on their expressed interest in participating in the program and a teacher recommendation.

June 18-22, 2018

Students will be bussed to field sites in Hamilton in Merrick Counties. Aurora students will meet in front of the Aurora High School to load and unload the bus. Information will be made available prior to June 18 regarding pick up and drop off sites for Central City area students.

WHY participate in the Youth Naturalist Program?
The Youth Naturalist Program has an active, hands-on approach to learning and enjoying nature. This is like nothing you experience in the classroom. You will gain many skills, such as identifying plants and animals on the prairie, learning to grow your own food in a small garden and feeling confident about going out on a camping or kayaking trip in the wilderness. You will have the chance to meet those that work in the fields of conservation, natural resources and habitat/wildlife management. You will view the area where you live in an new and exciting way. Students interested in the natural sciences, agriculture, conservation, our outdoor recreation are strongly encouraged to participate. Any student interested in spending more time outdoors, hiking and exploring natural areas should participate!

HOW do I participate in the Youth Naturalist Program?
To apply to the Youth Naturalist Program, download and complete the Student Application found below including parent/guardian signature and a recommendation from one current teacher at school. Completed applications and teacher recommendations should be sent to the Prairie Plains office (address listed on application form.) The cost of the program is $150.00. Scholarships may be available.

Download the complete Youth Naturalist Program description here.

Download an Application Form here.

Scholarships are available - dowload a Scholarship Form here.




Prairie Plains
Resource Institute

1307 L Street
Aurora, NE 68818
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