The Service to Panhandle Extension Award, initiated in 2015, recognizes persons or groups whose contributions have furthered Extension activities in the Nebraska Panhandle. The Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award recognizes persons or groups who provide outstanding service to agriculture in western Nebraska. Award criteria include value of work done or cooperation with UNL specialists or educators; leadership in agriculture; community service other than agriculture; and level of impact on Panhandle agriculture.
2019: Service to Agriculture, Rick Preston; Friend of Extension, Lynn Reuter
|Left: Rick Preston, 2019 Service to Panhandle Agriculture honoree. Right: Lynn Reuter, 2019 Friend of Extension honoree, with Dr. Jack Whittier, Director of the Panhandle Research and Extension Center|
Nebraska Extension in the Panhandle has recognized Rick Preston, general manager of the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District, for Service to Panhandle Agriculture in 2019, and the executive director of the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission, Lynn Reuter, as a 2019 Friend of Nebraska Extension.
Rick Preston, Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award: Preston was recognized for the grace and professionalism he exhibited last summer following the tunnel collapse that disrupted water deliveries on the Goshen-Gering/Fort Laramie irrigation canal. The nomination recognized the yeoman effort that Preston and the Board of Directors of the Gering-Fort Laramie Irrigation District exemplified during this crisis. His efforts to inform irrigation district members, along with his constant work with associated entities to bring resolution to this circumstance, were commendable. The Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award recognizes persons or groups who provide outstanding service to agriculture in western Nebraska. Award criteria include value of work done or cooperation with UNL specialists or educators; leadership in agriculture; community service other than agriculture; and level of impact on Panhandle agriculture.
Lynn Reuter, Panhandle District Service to Extension Award: Reuter was recognized for her willingness to support and help facilitate extension and research endeavors at the Panhandle R&E Center and in the entire 16-county Panhandle Extension District. Her work as executive director of the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission facilitates a positive relationship with the university, and she is always very helpful in strengthening connections between the university and dry bean growers and processors. The Friend of Panhandle Extension Award recognizes persons or groups whose contributions have furthered Extension activities in the Nebraska Panhandle.
2018: Courtney Schuler, Beau Mathewson, Panhandle Partnership
|2018 recipients of the Service to Panhandle Agriculture and Panhandle Friend of Extension honors: LEFT: Service to agriculture recipient Courtney Schuler (center) with Jack Whittier, UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Director (left) and Extension Educator John Thomas (right). MIDDLE: Service to agriculture recipient Beau Mathewson (center) on the family ranch with wife Kahla and son Lucas. RIGHT: Service to Extension recipient Tyler Irvine of Panhandle Partnership Inc. (right) with Jack Whittier and Extension Educator Jackie Guzman (center)|
The ag honorees are Beau Mathewson of Potter, a rancher and steward of grasslands, and Courtney Schuler of Morrill, a representative of Trinidad Benham Corporation and chair of the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission. Panhandle Partnership Inc., based in Scottsbluff but serving the 11 counties of the Panhandle, was recognized as Friend of Extension.
Courtney Schuler: Courtney Schuler was nominated by Extension Educator John Thomas. She grew up on a farm north of Morrill and has been involved in Panhandle agriculture all of her life. A 2005 graduate of Colorado State University in Soil and Crop Science and Ag Business, she returned to Nebraska to work on her Master’s degree at UNL and has been working in the dry bean industry in the Panhandle ever since. Working with the former Stateline Bean Cooperative as a Field Representative and then Business Development Manager, she was instrumental in helping to get the dry edible pea industry expanded in the region by promotional meetings, contact with growers, and organizing tours and field days. She also helped to get the pea splitting plant established in Bridgeport. Since 2016, Schuler has been working as an Area Field Representative for the Trinidad Benham Corporation. She has been on the Nebraska Dry Bean Commission for the past eight years and chair of the Commission for the past four years. The mission of the NDBC is to allocate dry bean check-off dollars toward research, promotion and educational activities.
Beau Mathewson: Beau Mathewson, nominated by Extension Educator Bethany Johnston, is a producer who uses Nebraska Extension research, specialists, and educators to develop superior grasslands in western Nebraska. His family worked with former UNL rangelands specialist Pat Reece in the past, and recently UNL Range and Forage Specialist Mitch Stephenson, to enhance the range health of their pastures. Beau has served on the Extension Board for Kimball-Banner and Cheyenne counties. The Mathewson family was awarded the prestigious Leopold Award for conservation in ranching. Beau also serves at the treasurer of the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, provides insight on extension range materials, and was a speaker on rangeland monitoring at the 2018 Nebraska Grazing Conference. He believes in using new technologies, such as drones for rangeland monitoring, digital grazing records, and learning from other grazers around the country. He represents stewardship, conservation, and innovation.
Panhandle Partnership: For the past 14 years, the Panhandle Partnership Inc., a non-profit, membership-based organization serving the 11 counties of the Panhandle, has served as a catalyst for collaboration in the development of creative opportunities for enhancing sustaining family and community life. Executive Director is Tyler Irvine. PPHHS does not provide services; rather it brings people from diverse backgrounds, disciplines, and sectors together to assess, plan, implement and evaluate systems, policies, practices, and programs, which strengthen communities and increase protective factors for families, children, youth, families, and seniors. Extension Educator Jackie Guzman, who nominated Panhandle Partnership, said the organization has supported her work with outreach to underserved and new audiences. The Partnership, The Panhandle Research and Extension, and WNCC collaborated in developing a leadership program for the Latino youth she works with, youth in foster care, and the youth shelter. The Partnership has supported the TEAMS Program with financial assistance. TEAMS is a program that supports youth and their families as they transition from middle school to high school and high school to college. Panhandle Partnership also has benefitted Extension efforts as a member of the Birth to Eight Systems of Care, a collaboration of Early Childhood professionals across the Panhandle that determines how to best meet the needs of the Panhandle through funding and professional development.
2017: Arden Wohlers, Tom Hayden, Sandra Hansen
|Arden Wohlers (left), Sandra Hansen (center), and Tom Hayden (right), recognized for service to agriculture and service to Extension.|
The ag honorees are Arden Wohlers of Scottsbluff, a retired veterinarian who still operates a cattle ranch along the Niobrara River, and Tom Hayden, supervisor at the Bridgeport office of the Department of Natural Resources. Sandra Hansen of Torrington, who spent nearly two decades at the Star-Herald newspaper covering agricultural and regional news, was honored for Service to Extension.
Tom Hayden: Tom Hayden is long-time supervisor of West Field Office Operations for the Nebraska Department of Natural Resources (DNR), supervising the Bridgeport Field Office. He has been a State of Nebraska Employee for 56 years, all of those with DNR except for the first five years out of high school in 1962. In 1990 he was named supervisor of the Bridgeport office. He is responsible for measuring stream flows across western Nebraska in the Niobrara and Platte rivers, administering surface water rights, and settling complaints between irrigators. According to the DNR Quarterly newsletter: “Over the years, Tom has cultivated lasting relationships across irrigation district managers and staff, representatives from Colorado and Wyoming, individual irrigators, and our federal counterparts tasked with water management. It is the relationships and Tom’s steady hand that have helped keep peace in the valley …” In addition to working with irrigation districts, natural resources districts, and public within the field office area, Hayden oversees and supervises the satellite office in North Platte. Tom assists in the administration of the North Platte Decree, the South Platte River Compact, and the Niobrara River Compact. As much as anybody, Hayden has an encyclopedic knowledge of the flows of the Platte River and the many streams and springs that are part of its hydrology
Arden Wohlers: Arden Wohlers, retired veterinarian and University of Nebraska-Lincoln employee, operates a ranch along the Niobrara River in Box Butte County along with his wife, Sharyn. Wohlers, who received a DVM degree from Colorado State University, was a partner and owner of Pioneer Animal Clinic in Scottsbluff from 1975-98, then served part-time from 1998-2012. In 2001-2002 he was hired to continue operations of the UNL Panhandle Veterinary Diagnostic Lab during its transition before closing. From 2004-08, he continued as an Extension Veterinarian for UNL. Wohlers, a fourth-generation rancher, continues the family legacy started in 1874, taking over the ranch from his father about 20 years ago. Looking for a challenge, a change of pace and more profitable than a commercial cattle operation provided, he experimented with bison, yak, Irish Black cattle and polled Hereford on black. He decided on the Akaushi breed after visiting Heartbrand ranch in Texas and liking the promotion and marketing opportunities they provided. He started raising Akaushi cattle about five years ago. He has volunteered in numerous organizations at the community, state and national level, including the Scottsbluff-Gering Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Committee, Riverside Discovery Center, Scotts Bluff county health board, the Nebraska Veterinary Medical Association, Nebraska Cattlemen Foundation Board, North Platte Natural Resources District Board of Directors, Governor's Riparian Vegetation Management Task Force, and USAID. He is a member of a number of professional organizations.
Sandra Hansen: As agriculture editor at the Star-Herald newspaper in Scottsbluff from 2000 until 2017, Sandra Hansen regularly promoted the 4-H program and its value to area families. 4-H personnel in the Panhandle noted that she was always able to find space in the newspaper’s weekly Farm and Ranch section, and elsewhere, for 4-H and Extension stories and photos that were submitted to the newspaper. In addition, Hansen was in charge of publishing an annual special section following each Scotts Bluff County Fair, which included photos, stories and pages of fair results. As editor of the Farm and Ranch section published every Sunday, she regularly published news submitted by Extension from throughout the Panhandle. She also covered numerous Extension events, such as field days and educational workshops.
2016: Terrell Farms, Linda Andersen
|Left: The Terrells: Brock (holding Eli), Heidi (holding Ira), Royal (on truck), Marjean, and Vern (holding Ragan). Right: Linda Andersen prepares to teach a sewing class.|
Linda Andersen of Lakeside, who has spent four decades volunteering with the local 4-H program (and 59 years altogether as a member or volunteer), was recognized for Service to Panhandle Extension. Terrell Farms near Hay Springs was recognized for Service to Panhandle Agriculture.
Andersen was nominated by 4-H Assistant Melissa Mracek. As a 40-year volunteer to the Sheridan County 4-H program, Andersen has been extremely dedicated and loyal, helping her two children and four grandchildren become 4-H alumni. (She also has two great-grandchildren.) She has also been an Extension Board member and county fair donor. She has taught sewing and quilting to a number of youth, and is currently helping with a monthly sewing group. She still offers to teach at summer workshops and can be seen helping at the Sheridan County Fair every year. She has helped grow the Sheridan County goat program and sewing program tremendously. While she participated in 4-H she showed market steers, breeding heifers, sewing, baking, public speaking contest, and demonstration contest. She even showed her market steers and breeding heifers in Denver. Linda was a Sheridan County 4-H Queen in 1968-69 and was a recipient of the Friend of 4-H award.
The Service to Panhandle Agriculture honoree, Terrell Farms, is a progressive and diversified farming and ranching operation in west central Sheridan County managed by Vern and Marjean Terrell and their son and daughter-in-law, Brock, and Heidi Terrell, as well as several employees. Terrell Farms has a reputation as leaders of innovation and their management continues to evolve. They grow both irrigated and dryland row crops. On the livestock side, they run a cow-calf operation and recently acquired sheep to help graze their pastures. The sheep tend to follow the cattle and will eat the grasses that cattle will not. In addition to running sheep, they use other new or innovative practices, such as cover crops and annual forages, and irrigated perennial pasture. The Terrells are active in numerous agricultural organizations including the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Nebraska Cattlemen, Sandhills Cattlemen, and Nebraska Extension.
2015: Howard Hale and Elaine Pile
The UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center recognized Howard Hale (left) for service to agriculture and Elaine Pile (right) as a friend of Extension in the Panhandle.
Service to Panhandle Ag: Howard Hale of Minatare, who embarked on a career in broadcasting three decades ago and still broadcasts ag news to the Panhandle as well as radio audiences from the Texas Panhandle to Montana. Two decades of announcing at fair livestock shows also have made him a familiar voice for local 4-H families. Hale has been a longtime supporter of Extension and 4-H through his work in the broadcasting industry. “Howard has always been willing to promote Extension meetings, field days workshops and other events,” according to Jim Schild, longtime Extension Educator and also associate director of the Panhandle Center. “Extension personnel had an open invitation to come into the studio and record informational and promotional pieces.” He called Hale a true reporter who attended and covered countless events. “He has always been friendly and positive of what we’re doing here at the Center.”
Friend of Extension: Elaine Pile of Gering. Over the past 15 years she has been a tireless volunteer, leader and advocate for Extension at the local, state and national levels, on top of a 36-year career in banking in western Nebraska.Elaine Pile, a long-standing supporter of Extension, has served on the Scotts Bluff County Extension Board member and is active on the state level in the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards (NACEB). She also has been involved in Extension’s Master Gardener Program for about 20 years. For much of the past decade, she has served Scotts Bluff County Master Gardener as coordinator of media. In this role, she recruits Master Gardener volunteers to write and record radio Public Service Announcements that encourage sound, sustainable practices in home gardens, lawns and landscapes. She also coordinates the scheduling to provide weekly recording sessions for fresh batches of PSAs during each growing season. She has served four terms on the Scotts Bluff-Morrill County Extension Board (two three-year terms, one term off, followed by two more terms). Her current term ends at the end of this year. She has been a valued board member, attending meetings, participating, holding various board offices, and giving Extension faculty constructive feedback and criticism. She has been a member of the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards (NACEB).
2014: Rick Larson, Lerwick Livestock Inc.
Rick Larson and Lerwick Livestock Inc., the 2014 Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture honorees, are examples of leadership and innovation.
Lerwick Livestock Inc. includes Alton and sons Dean and Grant, who farm and ranch south of Stegall in Scotts Bluff and Banner counties. Alton Lerwick has been farming for 40 years. With his sons Dean and Grant, he has a diverse operation that includes dryland and irrigated cropland and a commercial cow-calf operation. The Lerwicks' approach to cropping features a continuous no-till system with an assortment of crops and some annual forages. After receiving a master's degree in 1974 from Colorado State University in range ecology, Alton Lerwick returned home and began to farm with his father. He began to look at more intensive rotations in the late 1980s and early ‘90s and converted to a full no-till system in 1995. Alton was a pioneer in the production of several new crops, including sunflowers. A typical crop rotation consists of wheat, corn, sunflowers and millet on most of the Lerwicks' farm ground. Wheat is planted into millet stubble. In the ranching operation, Lerwick Livestock has been utilizing artificial insemination for 35 years to improve genetics and performance. The Lerwicks run cattle on owned and rented pasture land. Rotational grazing was instituted more than 30 years ago. The Lerwicks utilize annual forages to supplement range and increase carrying capacity, and have worked to make management practices compatible with Mother Nature. In Alton's words: "I've tried to design a system that recognizes and works within the constraints of our semi-arid climate with blizzards and wind erosion." These include moving calving to a later spring date and instituting no-till to prevent soil erosion and improve soil structure.
Rick Larson farms and ranches in Banner and Kimball Counties. He and his wife, Diane, farm 1,500 acres of both irrigated and dryland wheat, corn, dry edible beans and alfalfa. Rick is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in animal science and has served on the Kimball-Banner County Extension Board. Since 2003 he has served on the Nebraska Wheat Board, where he has been supportive of many UNL research funding proposals. He is currently chairman. He also serves on the US Wheat Board and has worked extensively in recent years with the Nebraska Wheat Growers in implementing their mobile baking lab. The Mobile Baking Lab, a 24-foot trailer with full-service kitchen, is owned by the Wheat Growers and operated with support from Wheat Board and ConAgra Foods. Its purpose is to educate consumers and connect farmers with consumers through fresh-baked wheat food to show their food comes from. Larson has worked in the mobile baking lab since it was founded in about 2009, travelling to numerous states to bake bread, cinnamon rolls, pizza, pasta, and other foods. Stops have included Iowa, Wyoming, Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas, New York, and Washington, D.C. The mobile baking lab averages at least one event per month, and one of its main stops every year is the Nebraska State Fair. It has served more than 220,000 samples at the state fair alone, and more than a million total samples of baked goods over the years. The Larsons have traveled to the state fair and other states with the Mobile Baking Lab, including a tornado-relief effort in Oklahoma several years ago.
2013: Keith Rexroth
Keith Rexroth farms near Sidney and has a passion for conservation. Rexroth is a longtime supporter of agricultural research in the High Plains. A member of the High Plains Ag Lab Advisory Board since 1973, he chaired the committee to raise funds for a new headquarters and laboratory building. Ground was broken on the project at the Aug. 6 open house. He also served on the board of the USDA Agricultural Research Service station at Akron, Colo.
A well-known figure in statewide conservation circles, Rexroth has served on the South Platte Natural Resources District Board of Directors since 1993, including a stint as chairman. He has been the NRD's delegate on Panhandle Area Development District (PADD) and Panhandle Resource Conservation and Development (RC&D). He served eight years on the Nebraska Association of Resource Districts Information and Education Committee, including five years as chair. He was named NRD Director of the Year for Nebraska in 2005. He was appointed by the governor as advisor for the Three-State Cooperative Agreement on the Platte River. He also served on the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission and volunteered in classrooms for 15 years.
Rexroth also has a long involvement in ag leadership positions, both on the local and state levels. In 1983-84 he received the Outstanding Young Farmer Nebraska award. And he served for 10 years in state management for Outstanding Young Farmer program, during which time there were seven national winners from Nebraska. He served on the Dalton Co-op Board, and in the mid-1990s served two years as the Mid-States Advisory for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Chief Pearlie Reed. He has been Cheyenne County Extension Board Chair and South Panhandle Chair. He served two years on the UNL Chancellor's Advisory Board, and was vice president and held other offices on the Nebraska Wheat Growers.
Rexroth organized the Tri-State Ag Summit, which included the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the agriculture directors from Wyoming, Nebraska and Colorado. Rexroth has worked to pass on his love and knowledge of agriculture, volunteering in classrooms for 15 years and hiring high-school and college students to work on the family farm, a "classroom without walls."
2010: Kevin Hall
Pictured: Kevin Hall (third from left) with parents George and Jeanette Hall and wife, Vickie.
Kevin Hall is a leader in Nebraska's sugarbeet industry who operates a diversified farming operation near Bridgeport. Hall produces wheat, corn, dry edible beans, sugarbeets, and sorghum. In 2010 he harvested 6,600 total acres of crops, irrigated with 69 center-pivot systems. He is the largest, by acreage, sugarbeet grower in Nebraska with about 2,800 acres annually, and also has a beef feedlot. He has been a leader in agricultural organizations, especially those related to sugarbeets. He was one of the initial committee members to organize the growers' purchase of Western Sugar; has been on the Board of Directors of Western Sugar Cooperative since its formation; and is currently the board president. He has served on a national committee charged with preserving use of Roundup Ready sugarbeet seed. He and his wife, Vickie, have three teen-age children. Kevin grew up on his father's farm, rented his grandfather's farm when he was a senior in high school, and grew the operation from there. He's also willing to share his ideas with anyone. Hall was the first Nebraska beet grower in recent times to purchase a European-style, self-propelled harvester, also one of the first in the United States. In the four years since, two other Nebraska growers have followed his lead. Hall has participated with UNL on several projects and has allowed faculty to conduct demonstrations in his fields, including direct harvest of dry beans; field-scale comparison of 18-inch and 30-inch row sugarbeets; and comparison of harvest loss and soil compaction between the self-propelled system and conventional methods. Recently he has switched from 30-inch rows to 20-inch rows, a major system change but a progressive one to improve production efficiency.
2009: Lynn Myers
Lynn Myers of Lewellen is a Sandhills rancher who is dedicated to improving pasturelands and sharing what he learns with other ranchers. He ranches in northern Garden County. He works and manages the home place, the Tippet Myers Ranch, which has been in the family for 100 years, and several leased pastures between Ashby, Arthur, and Lewellen. His philosophy is to leave the pastures, rented or not, in better condition than he found them in, resulting in several long-term leases. Lynn has worked closely for years with UNL Extension and numerous other agricultural organizations, including the Nebraska Cattlemen and Nebraska Grazing Coalition. He worked closely with former UNL range specialist Pat Reece and preaches the importance of SanDRIS (a UNL Extension grazing management decision-support tool). He actively shares what he has learned. He started and serves on the Nebraska Ranch Mentor Program (now known as "Cowboy Logic") and has hosted student interns interested in grazing management.
Several years ago, Myers leased a new ranch, the Curry Place, and wanted to develop a technique to monitor the improvement in pasture health and production of the pastures. He called the local extension office. Working with Reece, Extension Educators Cindy Tusler, Jay Jenkins and Bethany Johnston, and NRCS staff, a photo-monitoring technique was developed. An Action Team grant led to a successful program to educate other ranchers on this technique. This program had an impact on more than 150,000 acres of rangeland and 12,000 cows. Immediately following the program, two ranches set up photo-monitoring on their ranches. Myers also received a grant from Sandhills Task Force for improvements on the Curry Place, including the continuation of monitoring with assistance from Extension staff. Photo-monitoring workshops have been conducted at GSL, Women in Ag Conferences in Kearney and Sidney, Nebraska Cattlemen meetings, NRCS Drought Meeting, and Nebraska Grazing Conference as a result of Lynn's involvement with the various groups. The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition will continue the efforts, and set up monitoring on 50 ranches in eastern Nebraska and 50 ranches in western Nebraska.
2008 -- Charles Fenster
Charles Fenster is a pioneering researcher who retired nearly 30 years ago but remains active in Nebraska agricultural circles. During a long and successful career with the University of Nebraska, he became nationally and internationally known for his work in conservation tillage systems. His work on conservation tillage and ecofallow is fundamental to the environmentally sound cultural practices used in dryland farming today. Charlie and his wife, Eunice, live in Gering. He holds the title of professor emeritus at the Panhandle Center. He retired from university employment in 1980, but did not retire from an active life. After retirement, he volunteered to help the University of Nebraska Foundation and the University of Nebraska Alumni Association.When the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association could not find qualified inspectors for western Nebraska, Charlie was there to satisfy the need. He worked for NCIA for 12 years inspecting wheat, millet, grasses, dry beans and other crops. He also represented NCIA at grower meetings in the Panhandle. He has successfully nominated a number of Panhandle residents for membership in the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement. He still attends and actively participates in UNL programming.
Charlie and Eunice have generously funded a number of programs for the Panhandle District. They established the first endowed professorship for an off-campus site. They have also been major contributors to the Panhandle Dryland Crops Fund, the Panhandle Alumni Scholarship Fund, the Fenster Fund for Family and Consumer Sciences, and the Panhandle Research and Extension Center Director's Discretionary Fund. Charlie regularly tells the story of agriculture in the Panhandle to widespread and diverse audiences. He speaks to Nebraska LEAD groups about the history of agriculture in the Panhandle. He has been involved in FARM, the Farm and Ranch Museum, in Gering since its inception, and developed a major display on the development of conservation tillage in the High Plains. An active community member, he belongs to the Kiwanis Club and has been chair of the Gering Parks, Cemetery and Tree Board for many years.
2007: Robert Busch
Robert Busch is a leader in numerous agricultural organizations in western Nebraska and a respected voice in statewide water policy discussions. He doesn't stand back and complain when he feels agriculture is getting the short straw from government. He gets active in the political process and educates those who need to know the situation in modern agriculture. Bob, who with his wife, Norma, operates an irrigated farm south of Mitchell, is a long-time member of the Sugar Beet Growers and active in the American Sugar Beet Growers. He has been on the corporate board of the Western Sugar Cooperative.
He has devoted considerable time to educating the general public and policy makers about water issues in Nebraska. He has served as chairman of the water tours of the North Platte System sponsored by the Scottsbluff/Gering United Chamber of Commerce. He sits on the North Platte Natural Resource District Stakeholders Group and also on the Platte River Basin Wide Stakeholders Group, which is concerned with issues of the five NRDs along the Platte River in Nebraska. He has made numerous visits to the U.S. Congress and the Nebraska Legislature to lobby for agriculture interests. He has made as many as five trips during a legislative session. He represents not only agriculture interests but the whole community in several capacities, including serving on the Regional Airport board.
2006: Ken Green
Ken Green is a leader in the beef cattle industry in the High Plains and a driving force behind the expansion of the University of Nebraska Panhandle Research Feedlot, which increased the number of pens and made numerous other improvements. In addition to advocating the project, Ken has been a major financial donor. As a key figure in the regional cattle industry, Ken recognized the need for research that provided timely, precise, science-based information to allow beef production to continue to become more efficient. Ken's vision for a profitable feedlot industry supported by a world-class research feedlot was key in the development of over $600,000 in private donations. Ken said his vision is for the Panhandle Research Feedlot to become the center of beef research for this part of the nation, with the just-completed improvements as one step in that process.
Ken is managing general partner of Agra Holdings LP, a liquid feed manufacturer based in Firestone, Colo., with facilities in Minatare, Lexington, and Bradshaw, Neb., Fort Morgan and Lucerne, Colo., Garden City and Scott City, Kan., and Merrill, Iowa. He also is a partner in Finney County Feeders of Garden City, Kan., and Pruvit Cattle Co. He is on the board of directors of Premium Protein, a further possessed meats company which operates a beef abattoir and is highly focused on the international markets. He is a director for Consolidated Beef Producers, the nation's largest cattle marketing cooperative; partner and director of Valley Bank and Trust; partner and director of Kansas Feeds LLC, a liquid commodity trading company with facilities in Dodge City and Scott City, Kan., and Dalhart, Texas; president and director of Dinklage Feedyards Inc.; partner and director of Premier Cattle Co. of Syracuse, Kan.; president of Evergreen Ranch Inc. of Scottsbluff. Ken was raised in the Nebraska Panhandle and is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He and his wife, Trish, have two children and four grandchildren. They have raised and shown American Quarter Horses for the past 15 years and have earned seven World Champions.
2004 and before:
- 2004: Dan Laursen, Alliance
- 2003: Dennis Strauch, Mitchell
- 2001: Hod Kosman, Scottsbluff
- 25th Anniversary Celebration Founder's Award: Terry Carpenter, James Massey, John T. (Jack) Selzer, John Weihing
- 1999: Fred & Viola Kriesel, Gurley; Leon & Cheryl Kriesel
- 1998: Harry T. Cullan, Hemingford
- 1997: Cliff Walker, Scottsbluff
- 1996: Gary Darnall, Harrisburg
- 1995: Doug Schmale, Lodgepole
- 1994: Doug Kizzire, Bayard
- 1993: Jim Gran, Gordon
- 1992: Terry Terrell, Hay Springs
- 1991: Virginia Smith, Chappell
- 1990: Connee Quinn, Chadron
- 1989: Jim Irwin, Alliance
- 1988: Frank & Tootie Johannsen, Bayard
- 1987: Merlyn Carlson, Lodgepole
- 1986: Calvin Coulter, Bridgeport
- 1985: L.D. "Lou" Towater, Scottsbluff
- 1984: Fred Ehrman, Gering
- 1983: Robert Gifford, Harrisburg
- 1982: Don Steen, Morrill
- 1981: Cliff Quick, Alliance
- 1980: Louis Knoflicek, Alliance; Jim Laessle, Scottsbluff
- 1979: William L. Siegel, Morrill; Dwight D. Baltensperger, Bushnell
- 1978: Ray Cruise, Lodgepole
- 1977 Jim Numon, Scottsbluff
- 1976: John R. Jirdon, Morrill; Charles Reisig, Scottsbluff
- 1974: J.G. Elliott Building Dedication, Terry Carpenter
- 1973 Cliff Ashburn
- 1972: Memorial to Chester I. Walters; Phil Sheldon, Honoree
- 1971: Lionel Harris - Honoree Dedication of Lionel Harris Building
- 1970: Progress in Agriculture: John R. Jirdon, John R. Jirdon Industries, Inc., Morrill