Meet the Kimmel Team

Rex Nelson, Extension Educator, Unit Leader  

Rex Nelson is an Extension Educator  and Unit Leader at the Kimmel Education and Research Center in Nebraska City. Rex specializes in business planning and entrepreneurship, with a focus on enterprises associated with food systems and agritourism.

Nelson grew up on a diversified crop and livestock farm near Curtis Nebraska. Upon graduation with a B.S. in Agronomy from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Rex returned to the family farm, expanding the operation and adding a commercial beef feedlot. From 2001 to 2003 he served as a member of the adjunct faculty of the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis Nebraska. Having become increasingly concerned about the decline of rural communities he began to seek ways to become involved in Rural Economic Development. In 2004, Rex completed thesis research on “Causes of Retail Trade in Nebraska” and received the Master of Agri-Business designation from Kansas State University. This research, a collaborative project with Dr. Bruce Johnson of UNL and Dr. David Darling at KSU, was then refined and published.

Also in 2004, Nelson became Executive Director of McCook Economic Development Corporation.  His work there included delivering services to entrepreneurs, business recruitment and housing development. He directed the renovation of a historic hotel to become the Keystone Business Center, a one-stop entrepreneurship and business service center. The KBC features four floors of class A office space, training and meeting facilities, retail spaces and beautifully restored historic public spaces. In order to serve the diverse needs of the community Rex became a Certified Economic Development Finance Professional with the National Development Council, Certified Community Block Grant Administrator with the Nebraska Department of Economic Development and received the Business Incubator Management Certificate from the National Business Incubation Association.

Motivated to create recreation for underserved youth, Rex served as president of a successful effort to create a skatepark in the community of McCook. The result is Bolles Canyon Skatepark, a premier cast in place facility designed and built by two of the world’s leading skatepark experts.     

Rex and his wife Sonnie have made their home in Nebraska City which they share with one adult son who is handicapped. The move brings them closer to their daughter Bethany, a Lincoln resident and graduate of the UNL master’s program in Psychology, and Jordan, a graduate in computer science from the Peter Kiewit Institute at UNO, who lives with his wife and daughters in Parkville MO.

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Dr. Deb Weitzenkamp, Ph.D., Extension Educator

image"I create experiential learning opportunities for youth in STEM that help them develop life skills to become who they want to be and live where they want to live!" –Deb Weitzenkamp

Dr. Deb Weitzenkamp is an extension educator and leads our Child and Youth Development programs in the fields of Career Development and in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Deb has integrated technology along with resources, tools and her skills to deliver quality 4-H science programming intended to recruit and retain youth in positive development.

Previously, Deb was the extension educator at Pawnee County, Pawnee City, NE and she was an instructor of Educational Technology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and at Peru State College. She also served as PT3 Grant Coordinator and as Director of Field Experiences at Peru State College.

Dr. Deb holds a doctorate in Education Administration, a Master of Science degree in Textile Design and a Bachelor of Science degree in Consumer Science and Education.

Her honors include the North Central Region Educational Technology Award – Team, National Association of Community of Development Extension Professionals; Communicator Award – Team, Periodical Publication Division, Nebraska Association of Extension 4-H Agents; and Communicator Award – Team, Periodical Publication Division, North Central Region, National Association of Extension 4-H Agents. She has been published in several publications and has also given presentations on many occasions.

Deb has a strong presence among several southeast Nebraska schools where she teaches the youth in robotics and offers various after school programs. Her programming enriches science and math education in a fun and exciting environment. Deb serves as a coach to the area robotics youth teams, some which have advanced to regional and state levels in FIRST® Lego League competition.

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Austin Duerfeldt, Extension Educator   

Austin Duerfeldt is the Southeast District Agricultural Economist Extension Educator specializing in accounting, financial analysis and taxation.  Austin’s home office is located at the Kimmel Education and Research Center in Nebraska City. 

Austin began his interest in agricultural economics early in life.  He was raised on a crop farm in southeast Nebraska, just miles from the original family farmstead that has been in the Duerfeldt family for over 150 years.  Austin participated in 4-H, was a summer intern at the Richardson County Extension Office, and a 4-H leader for several years.  Austin was also actively involved in FFA and holds his American Degree.   

Upon graduation, he attended Northwest Missouri State University, NWMSU, earning his B.S. in public accounting with a minor in agricultural business in 2010.  Austin continued his education at NWMSU receiving an MBA with emphasis in agricultural economics in 2012.  During those college years he developed his love of teaching, earning his master level tutor certificate.  Austin also developed and implemented a new accounting system at the university farm, and designed the first university classroom dedicated to agricultural marketing strategies and theory.

Austin served as the Richardson County Treasurer from 2012 to 2017.  During those years he also worked part-time at an area CPA firm preparing income tax returns.

Austin continues to live near Falls City, where he remains active in the family farming operation.  He enjoys staying current with the latest technology, woodworking projects and family time.     

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Kim Wellsandt, Program Assistant/Marketing Coordinator

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Kim is the program assistant for Nebraska Extension's Co-Parenting for Successful Kids courses. In addition to Nebraska, she provides online support to clients in Oklahoma, Indiana and other states, enrolled in Nebraska Extension online programs. 

Through innovative ideas and creative design of special projects, Kim provides marketing & communication support to staff and faculty at Kimmel Education and Research Center. Brochures, flyers, posters and logos are some of her favorite projects. She also assists with customer service, technology, social media and various office assignments.

Kim earned her Journalism degree, with emphasis in design, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her thirty years of experience in communication design, printing and publishing bring a unique set of skills to Kimmel Education and Research Center. Kim and her husband Kurt reside on a farm near Talmage, Nebraska.

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Debora Heidzig, Administrative Support Associate

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Deb has been a native of southeast Nebraska all her life. Her focus has been on managing today for tomorrow opportunities and profits for on their family farm south of Auburn by working on value-added markets with her husband Ken.

Deb has also worked with Nebraska Farm Business Association to help producers learn the importance of managing the marketing of their crops. To stay knowledgeable about the changing aspects of the farming industry by utilizing research and information from extension and by her past service on the Farm Service Agency county committee, she has been able to learn about the governmental aspect of agriculture and the importance of the role the government plays in the future of farming.

Also being involved with the Nebraska LEAD program by being a LEAD fellow and having served 6 years on the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council Board of Directors, she has been able to obtain a global view of the agricultural industry and how it affects different countries around the world. Having seen how other countries have grown with agriculture has helped her find new and inventive ideas to help strengthen our family farms and agriculture here in the United States. Deb can now share her knowledge and skills in agriculture with others as they grow with the rapid changing future with the team members at the Kimmel Education and Research Center.