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Prairie dinner raises $40K for birds, prairie and people

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Despite rather unseasonably hot temperatures in the 90s on the evening of Sept. 18, Tastes in the Tallgrass, the annual fundraising dinner at Spring Creek Prairie Audubon Center, raised over $40,000.

Overlooking the 850-acre tallgrass prairie preserve and nature center, this outdoor dinner brought nearly 260 patrons from around southeast Nebraska to help support the center’s education and conservation programs.

Conservation-minded supporters, bird and prairie lovers, friends and partners arrived to live music performed by the Lightning Bugs during a social hour with drinks and delicious passed appetizers from Venue Catering.

Along with the lovely prairie vista on view, the event provided opportunities for guests to support prairie conservation by bidding on silent auction items from local artists, as well as donated experience packages like a “Treat Yourself” spa basket and “Support Local” Gift Card package, all put together and donated by Spring Creek Prairie’s Stewardship Board members. Some of the most popular items were a wine and charcuterie basket, a pair of beautiful pearl earrings by local artist Donna Burdic, and a family-fun backpack filled with opportunities for a family to go on adventures around Lincoln and the prairie.

The silent auction was in the shade, allowing attendees to cool off, bid and grab a Tallgrass Tonic from the bar.

As the air began to cool, visitors migrated from shade to the sunny seats at the arc of tables set in view of the prairie. Kicking off the event were speeches by Board President John Becker, Center Director Meghan Sittler and Executive Director and Vice President of Audubon Great Plains Kristal Stoner. All three speakers emphasized not only the importance of the prairie in its current state of conservation for birds and wildlife, but throughout time – from its stewardship for millennia by the indigenous peoples of the prairie to its future as a working land for wildlife and people in a shrinking landscape.

After enjoying a buffet dinner with all the fixings, the Lightning Bugs returned, along with event emcee Jason “the Birdnerd” St. Sauver, for a few final numbers including bird songs and nature metaphors. The music was the perfect introduction to the evening finale – a live auction and a challenge to “Raise Your Paddle” to support Spring Creek Prairie’s programs, led by past board member Marilyn Moore and this year’s event chair Bailey Feit. Supporters raised their paddles to support youth field trips, prescribed burning, habitat management and more.

It was a perfect end to an important evening on the prairie to help support birds, prairie, and the people who love them both.

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