4-H Foundation commits $2 million to Sandhills Discovery Center  

(Photo courtesy of University of Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.)

The Nebraska 4-H Foundation, in a special board meeting, has committed $2 million to the Nebraska Community Foundation as a match toward the development of a Sandhills Discovery Center. The available funding is a result of the insurance settlement from the Bovee fire which destroyed the 4-H camp at Halsey in the Sandhills last fall. 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.  

Earlier this year Sen. Mike Jacobson of North Platte was instrumental in securing a $10 million appropriation from the State of Nebraska to initially 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, which is envisioned as a multiuse facility that would 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-Hers across the state, to the community which 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,” said Foundation President Roberta Pinkerton. “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-Hers and an economic driver for the wider community.”  

The Nebraska Community Foundation has begun a feasibility study to determine the appropriate plan  and additional funding sources for the project which will include the Discovery Center along with other retreat type facilities. It is expected to take three to five years in development and construction.