The Prairie Plains Resource Institute got its start 16 years ago when its founders gathered seeds from prairie grasses near Aurora, Neb., and planted them along a muddy creek in town. By restoring this small 15-acre corridor, "we were making a new history," says institute manager Bill Whitney. Since then the land trust has sponsored environmental education programs and preserved donated prairie lands across Nebraska. Most recently, it acquired a 5,000-acre ranch that will house an education center and public-meeting place along with a small ranching operation. Whitney says the institute doesn't want to freeze time in the 1800s by managing lands as "museum pieces." The group takes an active approach to preserving land through prescribed burning and grazing experiments, he says, as well as becoming involved in community development and offering natural history classes for children and adults. "We'll try anything - carefully," says Whitney. Each year, the institute publishes the 60-page Prairie Plains Journal, with updates on its projects, plus artwork, poetry and tributes to old friends. For more information, or a copy of the journal, write to Prairie Plains Resource Institute, 1307 L St., Aurora, NE 68818-2126, or call 402/694-5535.