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Help make a green difference in your community

July 19, 2022 | Julie Wasson | community, environment
community environmental projects oppd arboretum
OPPD Wildlife & Natural Resources Specialist Chris Vrtiska examines one of the trees planted in a new orchard at the OPPD Arboretum. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

A sustainable, edible orchard is taking shape in northwest Omaha.

Apple, peach, pear, hazelnut and pecan trees, among others, are growing there. OPPD planted the orchard at the OPPD Arboretum near 108th and Blondo streets, in partnership with Great Plains Nursery.

The orchard is one of two launch projects that are part of OPPD’s new Greener Together Program. It’s also an example of one of the many kinds of community environmental projects that are possible through the program.

The program will help customers collaborate with others to support community environmental projects throughout the greater Omaha area.

To participate, customers subscribe to a green-focused program and partner with OPPD to choose, promote and execute on environmental projects that help educate the community and support a healthier, safer and cleaner environment.

How Greener Together works

The Greener Together Program gives members of the OPPD community a voice. Customers contribute monthly, and all funds collected go toward choosing and supporting green projects within the greater Omaha area.

Based on the amount you contribute, you’ll have full access to all project details, as well as the opportunity to submit ideas and help identify which projects move forward.

The program implements grassroots improvements, such as bike paths, composting, tree planting and solar projects in public parks. Every project funded by the Greener Together Program will have a focus on making a positive, long-term impact on the community’s sustainability.

Membership levels

The program has three levels from which to choose. All levels include access to the Greener Together Community dashboard, where members can find project details, and suggest and vote on upcoming initiatives. The more you contribute monthly, the more involvement you’ll have in the project selection process.

  • Silver
    • Members at this level contribute $4.50 to $6.50 a month.
    • At this level, members have access to program updates and the program dashboard, and they can vote on potential projects.
  •  Gold 
    • Members at this level contribute $7 to $9.50 a month.
    • At this level, members have access to program updates and the program dashboard. They can vote on potential projects and help select winning projects.
  • Emerald
    • Members at this level contribute $10 or more a month.
    • At this level, members have access to program updates and the program dashboard. They can vote on potential projects and help select winning projects. They also receive Greener Together merchandise.

When you sign up, you can instantly gain full access to information about all projects – past, current and future.

Turn your idea into a community project

community environmental projects oppd arboretum
Kirk Scheele, project manager at Great Plains Nursery, plants a tree in the new orchard at the OPPD Arboretum. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

A variety of community-based projects could qualify for funding under the program, including:

  • Projects that support renewable energy through community-based activities or initiatives.
    • Examples include homeowners association solar projects and renewable generation at schools for educational purposes.
  • Projects that promote environmental sustainability and produce a measurable reduction in environmental impact in areas, including kilowatt hours, waste, and gas usage, among others.
    • Examples include energy efficiency projects, pollinator gardens and tree planting initiatives.
  • Projects that encourage community betterment by supporting education, health, culture and the arts, and social services, among others.
    • Examples include bike path construction, low-income energy projects and community gardens.

How to apply

Do you or your group have a community environmental project in mind? Eligible organizations can submit projects for funding consideration. Organizations eligible to submit projects are nonprofits, nonprofit educational institutions, cultural enrichment organizations, or health and human services organizations. Proposed projects can be submitted online to be considered for funding through the Greener Together program.

Project applications will be accepted through August 2022.

Planning to apply? Some things to keep in mind:

  • For the 2022 application period, funding requests must fall within a $10,000 to $100,000 funding range. This may change for future application periods.
  • To submit a project, fill out the application and submit all necessary documentation to Please be sure to read the application requirements before submitting.
  • Applicants will receive a notification when their project application is received, along with a timeline for the project selection process.

Next at the arboretum

COM_Greener Together July Update 2022 Arboretum Orchard Planting_8
Brian Byers, owner and operations manager of Great Plains Nursery, right, and Kirk Scheele, project manager at Great Plains Nursery, work at the OPPD Arboretum. Photo by Danielle Beebe-Iske

The second arboretum project is a demonstration plot of grasses and wildflowers that are native to Nebraska. The grasses and wildflowers chosen are species that grow well in this area.

Each type of grass and wildflower will be planted in its own individual spot, so visitors can see what each type looks like, said Chris Vrtiska, a Wildlife & Natural Resources Specialist in Environmental Operations at OPPD. That way, visitors can decide what combination of grasses and flowers they want to plant. That planting will be done toward the end of August or beginning of September.

OPPD is partnering with Bellevue University on the demonstration plot.

For more information or to sign up for the Greener Together Program, please see the program’s page.

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About Julie Wasson

Julie Wasson is the brand journalism strategist at Omaha Public Power District and the editor of The Wire. She has more than 25 years of print journalism and social media experience, including two stints at the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Julie Wasson >

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