Lincoln, Neb. —Apprenticeships and internships give students a chance to work hands-on something they’re passionate about. Cabela’s, the Nebraska-based outdoor retailer, gives many fisheries and wildlife majors, the opportunity to work on projects important to them through the Cabela’s Apprenticeship Program. This past summer, Josie Ivy was one of those students.
Ivy, a Fisheries and Wildlife major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is currently working with Prairie Plains Resource Institute (PPRI) under Sarah Bailey in Aurora, Nebraska, for her apprenticeship. PPRI is a non-profit organization that has a goal to connect people to prairies through increasing access of their prairie preserves.
“I've actually been involved with Prairie Plains now for over 10 years,” Ivy said. “As a kid, I attended their summer camps and then worked at them as a teenager.”
Ivy has volunteered for Bailey over the past few years to assist with restoration plantings on the Haines Branch Corridor near Lincoln.
Tallgrass prairie ecosystems are essential but shrinking, Ivy said. Publicly accessible prairies give people who might not otherwise have the chance an opportunity to visit these unique ecosystems. This is especially relevant in Nebraska, where much of the land we live on was prairie at one point in time.
“By working with PPRI, specifically in their education efforts, I believe that we can build a sense of place amongst the members of our community, driving change through recognition of their place within the land.” Ivy said She even developed a program, called Story at the Creek, which she hopes encourages families to discover the prairies.
This project hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Ivy’s biggest hurdle was reaching people who weren’t familiar with PPRI. “While social media outreach helped to spread the word,” Ivy said, “the largest hurdle was getting to an audience that may not have known about our organization to begin with.” But Ivy said that in the end, she had a positive response from the community. She’s overall happy with the new families she was able to reach and is something she always looks forward to week after week.
It just goes to show that regardless of where you come from and what your experience is, you can make a difference in the world if you set your mind to it. “The response from the community has been amazing,” Ivy said. “It's something that I genuinely take a ton of pride in.”