The Nebraska 4-H Foundation has committed $2 million to the Nebraska Community Foundation as a match toward the development of a new Sandhills Discovery Center where the Nebraska 4-H camp stood before it burned down.

The funding is a result of the insurance settlement from last fall’s Bovee fire that destroyed the camp near Halsey in the Sandhills. The camp had long been a summer outdoor environmental education center and leadership camping experience for 4-Hers statewide and for use by other organizations. 

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation is a separate entity from Nebraska 4-H that provides financial support to advanc thee work and mission of Nebraska 4-H. 

Earlier this year, Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte was instrumental in securing a $10 million appropriation from the state of Nebraska to fund a new vision for the camp. Access to this funding requires one-to-one matching funds.

The appropriation will be used toward the Sandhills Discovery Center project, envisioned to become a multiuse facility to accommodate campers, educational opportunities and community events. Ultimately, the Sandhills Discovery Center would benefit 4-H programming statewide and economic development in the Sandhills area.

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation’s gift is the first contribution toward that match, solidifying its commitment to 4-Her’s across the state, to the community that supported the camp over its many years at Halsey and to the University of Nebraska Extension’s unwavering support of 4-H. 

“The 4-H Foundation has committed this funding because we realize the importance of an educational center in the Sandhills area,” Foundation President Roberta Pinkerton said. “We were devastated by the loss of the facilities at Halsey but look forward to working with the community in a statewide effort to provide a future first-class educational opportunity for 4-Her’s and an economic driver for the wider community.” 

The Nebraska Community Foundation has started a feasibility study to determine the appropriate plan and additional funding sources for the project, with the Discovery Center as well as other retreat type facilities. It is expected to be 3-5 years in development and construction. 

About the Nebraska 4-H Foundation 

Nebraska 4-H serves 1-in-3 youth, ages 8-18, in Nebraska. The programs in science agriculture, healthy living and civic engagement are backed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as well as a robust community of 4-H volunteers and professionals. 

Through hands-on learning, youth build not only confidence, creativity and curiosity, but also life skills such as leadership and resiliency to help thrive today and tomorrow. 

© 2023 The North Platte Bulletin. All rights reserved.