Elevate Nebraska

Our Story: John and Nancy Becker

"The diversity of wildflowers and grasses found on Audubon's land proves that good stewardship is worth every penny." - John Becker, Landowner and Volunteer

They Love Their Land

Don’t be surprised if John and Nancy Becker seem immersed in the restoration of their 160-acre property, situated just a few miles from Lincoln, Nebraska. The Beckers understand the importance of stewarding this land and are dedicated to returning it to what it once was.

Land stewardship is part of their heritage. This land has been in Nancy’s extended family for nearly 90 years. Her grandparents, who homesteaded nearby and worked this land, passed it to her parents. They, in turn, passed it to their daughters. Nancy and John spend their time tending the land. It’s where they feel at home.

With such little tallgrass prairie left, the Beckers believe that it’s more critical than ever to collaborate with and empower neighbors who also own and manage prairie. The Beckers partner with the team at Spring Creek Prairie by helping the staff conduct prescribed burns on the Audubon property, and then the Audubon team helps John and Nancy do burns on their land. The community support doesn’t end there. Through their involvement with the Tri-County Burn Association that Audubon also supports, John and Nancy help neighbors with prescribed burns and other restoration practices on their property.

“It’s that give-and-take like it was back in the day,” John explains. “You help your neighbors, and they help you.”

Even after years of devotion to restoring their land, it’s still a work in progress. Their efforts, the Beckers say, are paying off—and they see the signs. More birds, as well as other pollinators and wildlife, are returning as the grassland becomes healthier. It took 10 years before they heard their first pheasant.

“I tell people I want our ground to grow up to be just like Spring Creek Prairie,” John says. “The diversity of wildflowers and grasses found on Audubon’s land proves that good stewardship is worth every penny—and every ounce of sweat and labor— invested in it.”

Like the staff at Spring Creek, the Beckers are on the lookout for prairie chickens, which remain elusive in the area. “We don’t have them yet,” John says, but he knows that Prairie Chickens need large expanses of habitat. It will require many landowners working across fence lines and restoring prairie to bring them back. “That’s a special type of habitat to create. But it’s possible, if we work together.”

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