(Contributed photo) From left, Nebraska’s First Lady, Susanne Shore, Steve Grandfield, executive vice president of strategy and innovation at Blue Cross Blue Shield Nebraska, Suzanne Wise, executive director at Nebraska Arts Council and Phil Clement, project manager at NextEra Energy Resources pose after the Nebraska Experience announcement was made.

The Nebraska Experience for all

NextEra Energy is teaming up with Blue Cross Blue Shield to bring Nebraska fourth graders an opportunity they won't soon forget.

In conjunction with Nebraska's 150th, First Lady Susanne Shore and her husband Gov. Pete Ricketts, helped to organize several different programs centered on Nebraska and all it has to offer. And from that, the Nebraska Experience initiative was brought to life.

The Nebraska Experience aims to offer financial assistance to schools across the state in order to get fourth graders to the state's Capitol or to another historically relevant site.

"We announced it this morning (Monday) as part of the Nebraska 150," said NextEra Project Manager Phil Clement. "We talked to the First Lady about sponsoring a program and she talked about her own experience at the Capitol and we just thought this would be a great thing to sponsor."

Schools can visit the Nebraska 150 website, www.ne150.org and scroll down the homepage to find the winding road icon with "The Nebraska Experience" below to bring them to the application page. 

Funds will be dispersed on a first-come, first-serve basis, so schools are encouraged to submit their applications.

In all, roughly $400,000 will be utilized to cover costs for nearly 80 percent of the schools across the state to get their fourth grade classes to Lincoln.

A partnership with the Nebraska Arts Council, the Nebraska Experience is modeled after the organization’s long-time School Bus for the Arts Grant program. The Nebraska 150 Celebration will underwrite the cost of school buses as well as admission fees to museums and other venues across the state.

In addition to the State Capitol, schools can elect to visit one of the 11 designated sites, which include:

• Buffalo Bill Ranch State Historical Site in North Platte

• Chimney Rock National Historic Site in Bayard

• Durham Museum in Omaha

• Homestead National Monument in Beatrice

• Knight Museum in Alliance

• Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center in Chadron

• Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney

• Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln

• Neihardt Center in Bancroft

• Stuhr Museum in Grand Island

• Scotts Bluff National Monument in Scottsbluff

Sites were selected based on their historic or cultural significance and an effort was also made to select sites throughout the state to make the program accessible to all Nebraska schools.

School superintendents are encouraged to apply for the Nebraska Experience before July 1, 2017, for the upcoming school year.

While this is a one-time committment on the part of NextEra Energy, the company does have a perk that may soon fall in Wayne County.

"We've made the committment that any county hosting one of our wind projects will receive the sponsorship for their schools' fourth-grade classes to visit the Capitol for the entirety of the project, so that could be 20 years," Clement said. "And we plan to do that with each county we have projects in. We want to be a good community member."

The Wayne Herald

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114 Main Street
Wayne, NE 68787
Phone: 402-375-2600

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