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Prairie Plains Resource Institute director to teach range course

October 11, 2016

Bill Whitney, director of Prairie Plains Resource Institute  in Aurora, Nebraska, will be a Practioner-in-Residence at Chadron State College teaching a range course in October and November 2016 thanks to a grant from the Coffee Family. (Courtesy photo) Bill Whitney, director of Prairie Plains Resource Institute in Aurora, Nebraska, will be a Practioner-in-Residence at Chadron State College teaching a range course in October and November 2016 thanks to a grant from the Coffee Family. (Courtesy photo)

CHADRON – A grant from the Bill and Virginia Coffee Family Foundation is making a Practioner-in-Residence possible this semester in the Chadron State College range program. This collaborative venture between CSC and the Coffee Family will also fund three rangeland student research grants, and a public event, according to Dr. Ron Bolze, range professor.

Bill Whitney, director of the Prairie Plains Resource Institute in Aurora, Nebraska, will teach a one credit hour course “Ecological Restoration on the Great Plains, and Related Natural Resource Issues” in the first four weeks of the second eight-week term. The course will be taught in the Rangeland Lab Room 209.

The subject matter in the course is an outgrowth of the instructor's 40 years of doing ecological restoration and management, and land education on the native prairies of Nebraska. It contains the history of restoration, methods, current issues, landscape scale examples, as well as discussion about wider environmental and cultural issues surrounding natural resources.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University and a master’s in limnology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Whitney returned to his hometown in 1976 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.

With the support of co-founders Curt Twedt and Hal Nagel, Whitney and his wife, Jan, created the Prairie Plains Resource Institute in 1980.

Since then, Prairie Plains has been responsible for thousands of acres of prairie restoration, and it has created an award-winning summer day camp and owns seven prairie preserves.

The Whitneys 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.

Course outline:

Tuesday, October 25

Course introduction andbackground of Prairie Plains Resource Institute (PPRI), its originating purposes, history of projects and future direction.

Thursday, Oct. 27

Case studies of North American and global ecological restoration in various ecosystems: prairies, forests, desert/scrub, coastal/estuarine/mangroves.

Tuesday, Nov. 1

PPRI prairie restoration and management’s basic methods, scientific and cultural bases and biases.

Thursday, Nov. 3

Paradigms and issues including invasive species, fire, preserving diversity, preventing fragmentation, economics and Great Plains ecological restoration issues.

Tuesday, Nov. 8

Restoration visions, public participation and decision making process in natural resource arenas.

Thursday, Nov. 10

The carbon cycle, native grassland restoration and climate change.

Tuesday, Nov. 15

Educating others about native grasslands, prairie restoration and Great Plains natural resources; methods, imagery, content and purposes.

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Dreams followed by pragmatic and purposeful work and course summary.

—CSC College Relations

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