The Nebraska Statewide Arboretum (NSA) has a new greenhouse on East Campus of the University Nebraska-Lincoln. Earlier this month, NSA held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its Native Plant Production Greenhouse. Previously, NSA had operated out of a facility in Mead, in space borrowed from the University. The new greenhouse is twice the size of NSA’s former location.

NSA works with communities of all sizes across Nebraska to plant trees; make gardens; and develop climate-resilient, green infrastructure. The nonprofit provides access to funding and expertise for arboretum sites, such as at Arbor Lodge State Park in Nebraska City or Prairie Loft in Hastings. NSA also supports community building by assisting with projects such as the redesign of the plantings along Valentine’s main street to better manage stormwater.

NSA leaders and horticulturalists began laying out a vision for a new production greenhouse in 2018. However, the project was shelved in early 2020 after the coronavirus pandemic broke out and project costs soared. When the Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) announced the Shovel-Ready Capital Project program in 2021, NSA Executive Director Hanna Pinneo saw a path to move the project forward. “We fit the program criteria to a T,” Pinneo said. “Thanks to the shovel-ready grant, we were able to do more fundraising to work on the project. People were excited, and it helped to be able to say, ‘We already have a good chunk of the funds, we just need you to help us get the rest of the way there.’” The DED grant covered more than 30% of the project’s costs, and NSA successfully raised the remaining amount to fund site prep and construction. NSA took possession of the Native Plant Production Greenhouse on February 1, 2024—just in time to start growing plants for its production season.

NSA manages grant programs funded by private donations or by entities such as the Nebraska Environmental Trust. Through these programs, NSA distributes funds or directly provides plants and trees to recipients. “Doubling our output enables us to provide more plants to our grant projects than in the past,” Pinneo said. “Now, they won’t have to go order them from greenhouses outside of Nebraska. This keeps funding right here in the state.” Having more production capacity comes at an opportune time. NSA recently received $10 million from the federal government to provide grants for tree planting, care, and removal in Nebraska over the next five years.

Increased production is also helping NSA host more plant sales to fund its ongoing operations. “As a nonprofit, we have to find a way to support ourselves,” said Pinneo. “Plant sales are our biggest source of unrestricted funding.” NSA has an upcoming plant sale scheduled for May 31st at NSA’s greenhouses on UNL’s East Campus. Additionally, NSA loads plants from the greenhouse onto a trailer to do plant sales on the road. “In past years, we haven’t had enough stock remaining by June to do a sale in Gering. Since we increased our production, we have a lot more opportunity—and variety of plants—for those sales in Western Nebraska.” Next month, NSA will be at Community Ever Green House in Gering on June 8th for a morning plant sale.

Across Nebraska, NSA serves 110 accredited arboretums or landscape steward sites (e.g., pollinator gardens or prairies). For these sites, NSA provides technical expertise at low to no cost, offers help with tree inventories and labeling, and assists with promotion. The sites also receive first access to NSA’s grant programs that encourage the use of native plants.

“There are unending benefits to having native plants,” Pinneo said. “Native plants do better in the long run. They are drought resistant, can withstand our extreme temperature differences in Nebraska, and require little to no fertilizer. They help communities save money and reduce water usage. Native plants also help our communities that are having a hard time finding staff to work their public parks since they require less maintenance.”

To learn more about the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum and its programs and services, visit

For more information about DED’s Shovel-Ready Capital Project program, go to