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Watchable wildlife grants

This granting opportunity seeks to help develop Watchable Wildlife Grants, funded through the Wildlife Conservation Fund and Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, to help develop wildlife-viewing and nature-based experiences in Nebraska. The intent of these grants is to help the public build appreciation and stewardship for natural resources through an experience.

A maximum of $6,000 is available per proposal. A 25% match is required, which may include an in-kind match. Potential projects include but are not limited to viewing site development, events, infrastructure, interpretive signs, equipment and plan development.

Eligible projects

  • Non-profit, governmental, and for-profit entities are all eligible to apply. If the application is by a for-profit entity, the applicant must describe how the project is not designed for the sole benefit of profit of the organization or company.
  • The proposal must distinguish if the majority focus is on game and/or nongame species, as related to wildlife-observation.
  • The project must develop ways to improve wildlife observation.
  • The project must have a net positive impact on natural resources and wildlife.
  • The project must promote stewardship and appreciation of local natural resources.
  • A project that is already completed prior to completion of the grant process is ineligible.
  • Computers, software, and items of similar nature are ineligible.
  • A project funded previously will not be funded.


  • Maximum of $6,000 per proposal.
  • A 25% match on total costs is required.
  • In-kind match is acceptable.


  • You can download and work on the application at any time.
  • We will accept emailed applications from September 5 through November 5, 2023.
  • Deadline to submit proposals is November 5, 2023 
  • Grants will be reviewed by a Nebraska Watchable Wildlife Committee.
  • Awarded projects will be announced in late November 2023.
  • Projects must be completed, with final reports and invoices submitted by May 31, 2024.

Grant application

  • Email the completed Grant Application Form and any required additional materials to Olivia DaRugna
  • See the application and the sample budget sheet for more details under the below Resources button.

  • To receive a grant award, a contract between the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and the recipient will be established (allow 3–4 weeks).
  • Watchable Wildlife Grants are a reimbursement program, and must show receipts, established match, and a final report in order to receive reimbursement.
  • Depending on the nature of the project, an interim report may be required describing project progress including photos if applicable.
  • Projects must be available for site visits from Nebraska Game and Parks Commission staff.
  • Projects must give credit to the Nebraska Wildlife Conservation Fund and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission when appropriate.
  • If your project includes building a permanent structure (e.g., viewing deck), an environmental review is required to make sure that it is not going to negatively impact listed species or cultural resources. Click HERE to learn more and to get started on the review.
  • A final report is due upon project completion, with a deadline of May 31, 2024.
    • There will be no ability to extend these funds past the May 31, 2024 deadline.

1) Wildlife Observation Value:

  • Does this project provide a reasonable opportunity for people to observe wildlife?
  • Does it provide an observation experience that is not damaging or disruptive to wildlife?
  • Does this project reasonably relate to game and/or nongame species and habitats?
  • Does wildlife benefit from this project, such as through habitat creation or promotion of ethical wildlife viewing?
  • If your project includes building a permanent structure, an environmental review is required to make sure that it is not going to negatively impact listed species or cultural resources. If applicable, the environmental review must be included with your application. Click HERE to learn more and to get started.

2) Engagement Value:

  • Does it educate people on recreation opportunities at this location appropriately?
  • Does this project educate people about what they are experiencing?

3) Reach/Participation:

  • How many people are likely to be impacted by this project annually?
  • What is the target audience of this project?
  • How will this project recruit individuals to participate?
  • How will it encourage more nature-based recreation?
  • Can the project do more or reach more people with less funding?

4) Integration:

  • How will this project impact or integrate with the region or local communities?
  • Does your project promote a larger region or your community as a tourism destination?
  • Are partners engaged in this project?

5) Capacity Building:

  • Is this a new development or a new component of an existing endeavor?
  • Does this project encourage new partnerships or secure new funding sources?

6) Sustainable:

  • Will this project be maintained in the future? How?
  • What is the expected lifespan of the project?
  • Is this something that will require this grant annually in order to continue?
  • If you are considering applying for permanent viewing optics; please consider other optic options such as binoculars or viewing scopes that can be checked-out for the day.

Awarded Projects 2023-2024

OrganizationProjectAward Amount
Audubon of KansasGrouse Viewing at Hutton$4,776
City of North PlatteSandhill Crane Viewing Blind$6,000
NE State Historical Society FoundationSpotting Scope for Trails at Chimney Rock$599.99
Spring Creek Prairie Audubon CenterAccessible Bird Outing Backpacks & Equipment$2,400
UNL- College of Architecture, Jason GriffithsPrairie Dog Blind Trail$5,307
UNL- School of Natural Resources, Lindsey ChizinskiFlying Squirrel Squad$5,963
Fort Kearny State Historical ParkWildlife Viewing Sign & Brochure Rack$4,338.44
Platte River State ParkPollinator Habitat$2,598
Ponca River State ParkBirding at Ponca Cabins$3,405.42

Frequently asked questions

Email a .pdf, .doc, .dox, or scanned images of the proposal to the Watchable Wildlife Biologist: Olivia

Save your proposals as .pdf, .doc, .dox or scanned images.

Yes; please email our Watchable Wildlife Biologist and she can explain other options.

Definitely; we are always happy to help.
For-profit companies should clearly state in their narrative how this project would not solely benefit the for-profit entity. This could be in the form of opening it up to the public, having free public days, collaborating with a non-profit that will benefit from the project, etc.

If your narrative clearly responds to most of the questions in the Ranking Criteria section and provides the need and justification for your project, then it should be in good shape. You can include why this project is meaningful to you and the community and what has been done already to engage with people about wildlife viewing.

Details are helpful. You can provide links or pictures of the exact items you plan to purchase. For larger or custom items, a cost quote and estimate timeline for delivery from the company is helpful.

Prices are always fluctuating. Once a project is awarded funding, we cannot increase the amount even if prices go up. Thus, it is sometimes better to overestimate the costs.

Match Amount ÷ (request amount + match amount) = Match %. Costs associated with the project that are not being covered by the grant, hours worked, etc. Please refer to the Sample Budget Sheet in our Resources section on this web page for more details and an example.

This grant is a reimbursable grant, so you must cover the costs upfront. After the project is complete and the final report (with pictures), invoice, and receipts are emailed to the Watchable Wildlife Biologist, then you will receive the funding.
For Nebraska Game and Parks internal projects, we will provide the funding number for your card invoice logs.

Yes; please include the results in a separate attachment along with your application. It may take a week to get the results, so the earlier you can start the review the better. You can find information and a link to the review tool here, as well as the people to contact for questions regarding the review tool and how
to use it.


Have more questions? Please contact our Watchable Wildlife Biologist: Olivia DaRugna

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