William S. Whitney,
Bill's hometown of Aurora, Nebraska, beckoned back in 1976, and he listened. With a B.S. in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and an M.S. in limnology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Bill returned home with thoughts of making the landscape of his youth available for science, education and recreation. He saw opportunity in improving small parcels of local land by working them back to native prairie and making them accessible to anyone interested.
Fortunately, Bill didn't give up on the dream. With the support of co-founders Curt Twedt and Hal Nagel, Bill and wife Jan created Prairie Plains Resource Institute in 1980. While the ideas of the Institute grew and spread, Bill painted houses and picked prairie seeds and stayed true to the mission of the organization. And now that Prairie Plains is responsible for thousands of acres of prairie restoration, has created an award-winning summer day camp and owns seven prairie preserves, Bill dreams of one day sitting on the deck of the Education Center and playing his mandolin in harmony with the local frogs.
Bill and Jan received the Nebraska Wildlife Federation 2006 Conservationist of the Year Award, The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Blazing Star Award and the Wachiska Audubon Earthkeeper Award in 2000, Crane Conservationist of the Year from Wings Over the Platte in 1999 and in 1998 they received the Lincoln Journal Star Outstanding Wildlife conservationist of the Year Award and were made Admirals in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
Education Coordinator/Publication Director
Although Jan shares equal responsibility for the creation of Prairie Plains she forever casts the limelight on the talents and success of others. She earned a B.S. in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University, moved to Aurora in 1976 with husband Bill and worked a variety of "interesting" jobs in between raising the couples’ two daughters and helping manage Prairie Plains.
In her current position Jan is responsible for coordinating SOAR, the award-winning day camp that each year includes over 100 elementary-aged campers, their teenage peer leaders and countless presenters. She handles layout and copywriting for Prairie Plains publications, organizes events, manages the membership database and makes the most incredible oatmeal chocolate chip cookies you've ever eaten.
Bill and Jan recieved the Nebraska Wildlife Federation 2006 Conservationist of the Year Award, The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Blazing Star Award and the Wachiska Audubon Earthkeeper Award in 2000, Crane Conservationist of the Year from Wings Over the Platte in 1999 and in 1998 they received the Lincoln Journal Star Outstanding Wildlife conservationist of the Year Award and were made Admirals in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska.
Restoration Ecologist and GIS Specialist
Mike joined the Prairie Plains staff in 2000 armed with a B.S. in wildlife ecology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to manage our prairie restoration program. He also has solid GIS (Geographic Information System) skills which he uses for the benefit of the Institute and our agency and landowner partners.
Development and Administrative Director
Amy has a B.S. in business administration from Peru State College and came to Prairie Plains in 2004. What the Whitneys didn't know when they hired her is that she rarely works alone - Amy's parents, husband and two sons are regulars at special events and volunteer activities.
Greenhouse Manager/Restoration Assistant
Sarah came to Prairie Plains in 2010 as an intern responsible for managing the new greenhouse and learning everything possible about the restoration program. As fate would have it, she had the perfect mix of energy and knowledge, and we begged her to stay as a full-time employee. Sarah holds a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a natural outdoor educator, and knows just what kind of rock and roll prairie seedlings need to thrive.
Land Steward/Restoration Assistant
Jeff was hired in 2011 to serve as Land Steward and to help out with the restoration program. He holds a B.A. in history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and has special interest in local history and the community development aspects of our mission. His job includes prescribed burning, grazing management and involving people with our land preserves, but we suspect Bill may have hired him for his mad drumming skilz.
1307 L Street
Aurora, NE 68818