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Promoting soil health in Nebraska

Well over 60 area farmers, ranchers, agronomists and agency representatives filled Bridgeport’s Prairie Winds Community Center to learn about soil health at the first installment of three Nebraska Soil Health School events taking place this year.  

“Soil health is defined as the continued capacity of the soil to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals and humans,” Aaron Hird, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service state soil health specialist, said.

On March 2, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln hosted the Nebraska Soil Health School, sponsored by the USDA NRCS. Nebraska Soil Health School lead coordinator, Bijesh Maharjan, associate professor and extension specialist, UNL, welcomed the audience and introduced the keynote speaker, Jerry Hatfield, retired director of the USDA Agricultural Research Service National Laboratory for Agriculture and the Environment. Hatfield began the program by addressing soil health impacts on water, nutrients and farm profitability.

Leslie Johnson, standing, right, extension educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, addresses a group on the role of manure in soil health at the Nebraska Soil Health School on March 2. Johnson with the help of Paul Jasa, standing, left, extension engineer, UNL, demonstrates different soil structures as they break apart in jars of water. Courtesy photo

“We should continue to evaluate and implement practices that increase the value of our soils and create resilience in our cropping systems,” he said. “Opportunity exists for agriculture to meet the demands of the future through our ability to be innovators and revolutionaries.”

The focus of the Soil Health Schools is to offer soil health education while connecting farmers, consultants, educators, researchers and NRCS employees. The attendees heard from Aaron Daigh, associate professor UNL, Michael Kaiser, assistant professor UNL, and Carolina Córdova, assistant professor and extension specialist UNL on fundamental soil health physics, chemistry and biology.


After a brisket lunch, Hird addressed the group by focusing on regenerating soil structure and the soil ecosystem.

“It’s simple — supporting biological activity to build soil structure expands soil function and boosts soil productivity,” he said. “Ninety percent of soil functions are influenced by the organisms living there, which are impacted by management.”

Hird and colleague, Elizabeth Gray, assistant soil health specialist, USDA-NRCS, gave demonstrations using monoliths and soils to compare aggregate stability and much more between no-till and conventional management practices. Gray also lead the group through hands-on activities to identify soil color with the Munsell color chart.

In the afternoon, the group heard from UNL extension educators, researchers and specialists on soil health management practices — no-till, manure, cover crops and livestock integration. 

Presenters and industry representatives interacted throughout the day to answer questions and spark discussion around soil health in the Panhandle.

A group of farmers, consultants, researchers and USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service employees collaborate on an activity to first find the soil type and then it’s appropriate standard at the Nebraska Soil Health School. Courtesy photo

“The (school was) very informative and exceeded my expectations,” a farmer said. “It helped to create a story for tangible benefits. The water evaporation and soil holding examples were some of the best I’ve seen.”

The second Nebraska Soil Health School will be a two-day event at the West Central Research, Extension, and Education Center in North Platte on June 27-28. An agenda and registration announcement will be coming soon.

Wyoming, Colorado need people to report precipitation for life-saving network 

Residents of rural Wyoming and Colorado can help make a difference during critical surprise flooding crises, by volunteering to report precipitation; which bolsters a weather observer network. Through the network: CoCoRaHS, which stands for Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network, volunteers are provided a free rain gauge and issue daily precipitation amounts.  

Currently, there’s a strong need for more people to provide this information in many sparsely populated areas of Wyoming and Colorado. 

“Since there are such open spaces here — areas where we have no data, new observers will help us fill in the blanks, and help more accurately put out the U.S. Drought Monitor maps,” said Tony Bergantino, director of the Wyoming State Climate Office and Water Resources Data System at the University of Wyoming. This program helps farmers and ranchers with any drought impacts, because when people report they’re not receiving rain, the CoCoRaHS network will be able to quantify that certain areas are/or are not getting rain. Relief programs are tied to the Drought Monitor through certain disaster declarations. 

More data points on the CoCoRaHS map are also valuable during intense precipitation events, Bergantino said. 

CoCoRaHS observers report daily but if they’re on vacation, they can submit a multi-day report, where they note the span of time gone and then the amount in the gauge when they return. 

During flooding, observers can file a report any time, and Bergantino will get an email right away; as an immediate heads up that there’s something going on, and, in turn, he alerts the National Weather Service. This information helps NWS meteorologists provide certain details when issuing flood watches or warnings. 

A 2020 flash flood 3 miles south of Ten Sleep, Wyo., on Highway 434 where the road was partially washed out. Photo by Becky Mills


Terril Mills of Ten Sleep, Wyo., was the first CoCoRaHS volunteer to join in Washakie County (code name WY-WH-1.) He has a love of weather and previously tracked precipitation 30 years ago with a funnel and a 1-gallon jug. 

“I became interested when neighbors said, ‘We got 2 inches out of that storm.’ I was skeptical. I would ask if the dog dish had straight sides. They always responded with ‘NO, tapered.’ Then, I explained their measurement was not accurate and probably double what we actually got.” 

When Mills learned that this project that started in Colorado was expanding into Wyoming, he immediately jumped on board and received a free 4-inch rain gauge from Tony Bergantino. 

Wyoming CoCoRaHS observers receive this rain gauge; provided to them by the Wyoming State Climate Office. Photo by Tony Bergantino

“That was not long after the creation of CoCoRaHS. After all these years, neighbors do not talk about their dog dish depth around me, they ask “How much did we get?” Mills said. “I would be happy to do anything to help expand CoCoRaHS. Currently there are no observers around Evanston, nor in the county.” 

His father-in-law in New Mexico also became an observer. 

This photo was taken just after a snow storm near east-central Goshen County, Wyoming. Photo by John Maier

In Torrington, Wyo., CoCoRaHS observer and alfalfa farmer John Maier wants readers to know how easy it is to help and contribute to the CoCoRaHS network. Sending in over 4,600 daily reports since 2010, it is now part of Maier’s morning routine. 

“I think I have a near-perfect record of doing it since 2010. I do it on my cellphone as I get ready to go to work,” said Maier, who’s also an attorney. 

Maier also enjoys being a seasonal evapotranspiration (ET) observer. 

“It’s helpful for me or my neighbors who can see where the water balance is. When it goes down, you can figure out how much water your crops need, so you conserve irrigation water by not over-watering and you don’t stress your crops by under-watering,” Maier said. 


CoCoRaHS is run by the Colorado Climate Center and was founded in 1998 by Colorado’s assistant state climatologist Nolan Doesken, who later became the state climatologist and was adamant about helping save lives; following flooding deaths in Fort Collins, Colo.

Picture from Fort Collins flood in 1997. Photo courtesy Colorado Encyclopedia

“There was a highly localized variance from thunderstorms in western Fort Collins that weren’t well-captured or well-warned at the time, and there were fatalities. Doesken determined the localized area of heavy precipitation led to the flooding, and he thought it would be beneficial to have people in a network and direct access to report this to the NWS,” said Peter Goble, climatologist for the Colorado Climate Center and Colorado CoCoRaHS coordinator.  

Colorado Climatologist Peter Goble at the Fort Collins weather station. Courtesy photo

During that deadly flooding, the headwaters of Spring Creek in southwest Fort Collins flooded into mobile homes, causing several deaths. Those residents didn’t know that at the time, that much heavier rain was falling upstream. 

The CoCoRaHS network was launched a year later in June 1998.  

A 2020 severe thunderstorm showing rotation above the house, 4.8 miles north northwest of Ten Sleep, Wyo. Photo by Becky Mills


Colorado also needs more CoCoRaHS volunteers, especially in rural areas; similar to Wyoming. 

In Colorado, the greatest need for observers is in the eastern Plains; eastern Adams County, eastern Arapahoe County, southern Lincoln County, and further east in Washington County, Logan County and Yuma County, also in eastern and southern Weld County, Goble said. 

This year marks 20 years being a Loveland, Colo., CoCoRaHS weather observer for Chris Knoetgen, who’s also a property administrator at the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.  

This photo of a rain gauge was taken during a March 14, 2021 snowstorm near Loveland, Colo. Photo by Chris Knoetgen.

“If we have a significant amount of rain to report, it’s forwarded to the National Weather Service who uses our information and compares the precipitation amounts to thunderstorms they see on radar,” Knoetgen said. “So, my report sent with what I just measured could lead to them issuing a flash flood warning and help save lives.” 

A recent Loveland thunderstorm dumped 1.80 inches of rain, but just three miles north, Knoetgen only received a trace of rain; showing how readings can differ.

He has also figured out an easy way to measure snow. 

“If there’s a lot of snow, I’ll melt the snow inside, and pour it back into the gauge to get the accurate liquid reading. Or, you can pour warm water atop the snow to melt it faster, then subtract that extra amount you poured in,” said Knoetgen, who’s also a storm spotter during severe weather, providing life-saving reports to the NWS. 

Snow drifts can make it challenging to measure snow, so observers use their best judgment about how much fell on the ground. Photo by Tony Bergantino

Most of CoCoRaHS observers are heavily concentrated along the I-25 corridor from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs, also in Pagosa Springs, Durango and Glenwood Springs. However, on the eastern Plains there’s a lack of reports and population is sparse.  

“Part of the issue with the 1997 storm fatalities, which wasn’t well-warned, it wasn’t captured by radar or rain gauges, so by the time the warnings were issued, it was too late to evacuate low lying areas,” Goble said. But for people who can volunteer as a CoCoRaHS observer, lets’ say it’s 9 p.m. and there’s been 2 inches of rain in an hour, I could submit that directly to the NWS, so they can use it to issue, or adjust information for a flash flood warning.”  

Remembering CoCoRaHS founder Doesken who grew up as a farm kid in southern Illinois and had a way of relating to farm audiences, Goble said, “Nolan realized backyard rainfall observations had the potential to save lives.” 

To sign up in Wyoming or for Wyoming CoCoRaHS information: CoCoRaHS.org or: Antonius@uwyo.edu 

To sign up in Colorado, contact: peter.goble@colostate.edu or call: (970) 491-8545 or email: info@cocorahs.org.

For information about CoCoRaHS: https://cocorahs.org/Content.aspx?page=aboutus#uses.

Nebraska uses their own NeRAIN program, but began recruiting volunteers for CoCoRHaS after 2012. All their data from standard gauges is uploaded to CoCoRHaS — NeRAIN is a subset of CoCoRHaS.

For persons thinking of volunteering in Nebraska, there are a couple of differences:

  1. Which website would you prefer to navigate? And,
  2. NeRAIN provides the rain gauge for free through various Natural Resource District offices. In Nebraska, CoCoRHaS volunteers buy the same gauge for $40. People looking to join the program should talk to their regional coordinator listed at https://nednr.nebraska.gov/NeRain/Home/coordinators.

An evening Goose Gossage to benefit the ProRodeo Hall of Fame

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is honored to announce a new fundraising event with Colorado Springs native and member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Rich “Goose” Gossage. The event dubbed “An Evening with Goose” will feature an evening of storytelling, an opportunity for Q&A and conversation with the baseball legend. The event will be held on Friday, May 19 at the Hall of Fame beginning at 6 p.m.


Gossage is a native of Colorado Springs, graduating from Wasson High School in 1970 where he played basketball and baseball and was inducted into the high school’s “Wall of Fame.”

Gossage’s career covered 22 seasons in MLB from 1972 to 1994. He was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008. In the 1970s and 80s Gossage became the personification of “the closer” along with his bad guy looks and demeanor. He transitioned from a starting pitcher to reliever, then to closer going on to become one of the all-time pitching forces in major league baseball.

Gossage’s best known for his years with the New York Yankees (1978-1983) and the San Diego Padres (1984-1987), playing in two World Series, earning a World Series ring in 1978 with the Yankees. Gossage played for 10 MLB teams total and one team in the Japanese League in 1990. He was selected for the All-Star game nine times, led the American League in saves three times and was voted the Relief Man of the Year once in 1978.

Gossage played the relief pitcher role in an era where relievers were called to pitch in multiple innings, generally from the seventh inning to the end of the ninth inning. Illustrating Goose’s intimidating style, he still today ranks as the number three all-time strikeout leader among MLB relievers behind Dennis Eckersley and Hoyt Wilhelm and Eckersley pitched both as a starter and reliever in his career.


Raised in Colorado, Gossage has a strong love for the western lifestyle, especially the sport of rodeo. “I know a lot of the guys in the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, and I have a huge respect for them and what they do for a living,” Gossage said. “I’m glad my family and I didn’t have to depend on me riding bulls or team roping or bulldogging for us to live. The rodeo athletes are some of the most underrated in terms of athletics and toughness. They earn every penny they win and they don’t have guaranteed money, they have to win to eat,” he added.

“We are excited to bring these two sports together for an evening of stories and fun,” said Kent Sturman, director of the Hall of Fame. “Colorado Springs is a huge sports town and is the headquarters for several major sports organizations. What better way to support the hall than to have sports fans of all types spend an evening together enjoying their passions.”

“I was honored when they asked if I would speak at the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Gossage said. “It’s in my hometown and it’s for the cowboy way of life that I love. It should be a fun evening.”

“We are offering this new event as a way for local residents who are fans of baseball, Goose and rodeo to come together to support our museum,” Sturman said. “The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is the only heritage center in the world dedicated to the sport of professional rodeo and it is located right here in Goose’s hometown of Colorado Springs.”

The evening will feature a dinner, live auction, stories from Goose about his baseball career, and a Q&A session with Goose. Guests will also be able to tour the Hall of Fame offering them an opportunity to learn about two of America’s favorite sports – baseball and rodeo. Tickets are available at www.prorodeohalloffame.com. All proceeds benefit the ProRodeo Hall of Fame and its programming.

The ProRodeo Hall of Fame is a 501(c)3 educational and charitable not-for-profit organization.

A decade on, Engler Program boasts business leader alumni across state

Like most great ventures, the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program started with an idea, took root and grew. Now, its branches touch every corner of Nebraska.

In 2010, cattleman, entrepreneur and Husker alumnus Paul Engler made a $20 million gift to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to cultivate future generations of entrepreneurs and problem-solvers with an aim on growing and sustaining rural communities.

Within two years, the program was up and running and Tom Field was tapped as director. Just over a decade later, the program’s impact has been extraordinary.

At the end of 2022, there were 344 on the alumni rolls. Nebraska has gained at least 70 new businesses, adding 123 jobs. These businesses reported $147 million in lifetime revenue, including $37 million in the past year alone.

Hannah and Eric Klitz, both Engler alumni, share a laugh as they pack an order for shipment from the Oak Barn Beef store in West Point, Neb. Hannah started the company as a sophomore Engler student. They now ship orders to all 50 states. Photo by Craig Chandler, University Communication

Those successes include a number of growing Engler alumni-owned companies scattered throughout Nebraska — Sehnert’s Bakery in McCook, Stahla Services in Lincoln, My Ellement in Central City, Treadway Ag in Ashland, Oak Barn Beef in West Point, Pioneer Equipment in Hastings.

“We’ve attracted kids from around the country and world, but we have 230 alumni living and working in Nebraska,” Field said. “Most of the alumni who came from Nebraska started companies and are working in Nebraska — many in rural communities.”

Students in the Engler program are offered experiential learning opportunities, specialized courses, networking events and a community of like-minded peers. The Engler program is part of a larger entrepreneurial bent at Nebraska U, Field said, which benefits all students and Nebraskans.

“Entrepreneurial growth is not a one-size-fits-all proposition,” Field said. “We are very fortunate to have a dynamic ecosystem at UNL that includes the Engler program, the Center for Entrepreneurship in the College of Business, the Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts and the Raikes School. As such, UNL has the agility and capacity to nurture a broad array of enterprise builders for the Heartland.

“Any student at UNL has great options, and the ability to interact between the programs creates added value.”

The restless activators, as Field described the students he works with on a daily basis, are often the epitome of Nebraska’s culture and renowned work ethic, which are both huge advantages to a program like Engler.

“This state has not forgotten that being a blue-collar person is a good thing,” he said. “We roll up our sleeves, skin our knees, bruise our elbows and go again. That’s why this works. We’ve tapped into that. The credit goes to the parents and communities that brought these young people up, and we get the privilege of working with them.”

Jeff Hornung, owner of Pioneer Equipment, was definitely restless as a teen, always looking for innovative ways to make money. He started his first business in high school when he recovered and sold scrap metal before pivoting to buying vehicles, fixing them up and reselling them. He enrolled in the Engler program after taking a seminar offered by Field.

Jeff Hornung, and his Pioneer Equipment business in Hastings, Neb. Hornung is a former Engler student and has grown his business selling used large trucks world wide. Photo by Craig Chandler, University Communication

“I was hooked,” the 2017 graduate and Ceresco native said.

Sitting at his desk inside a new office and machine shop building that Pioneer Equipment and its four staff recently expanded into, Hornung said the Engler community, culture and classes all played a role in his success.

“I don’t think the Engler program made me start my business, but I can definitely say that it took me, as an executive and as a business owner, from good to great,” he said. “It helped take me to that higher level of thinking about the big picture. The Engler Program fosters that ability for people to think on a bigger level.”

Jeff Hornung talks with employee Kelton Walz in the shop as Walz works to recondition a 2019 Kenworth for resale. Hornung is a former Engler student and has grown his business selling used large trucks world wide. Photo by Craig Chandler, University Communication.

Hornung also continues to leverage his Engler connections, including mentors, staff and fellow alumni.

“Everybody says connections and networking in college is really important, but I don’t think you realize how important it is until you’re 10 years out,” he said. “Just off the top of my head, I can think of five of my Engler classmates that I do fiscal business with on a monthly basis. Did I know as a student that was going to happen? No, but I made so many connections in Engler.”

Hannah Klitz, owner of Oak Barn Beef in West Point, agreed.

“The mentorship and networks you’re exposed to play a really big role,” she said. “You learn from people from across all industries and meet a lot of people you’d otherwise probably never cross paths with. You have people to talk to, to help you figure out those hard decisions or big decisions.”

Hannah, Eric and their 4-month-old daughter Millie in the Oak Barn Beef retail storefront and warehouse in West Point, Neb. Oak Barn Beef was Hannah’s Engler project which combines Engler entrepreneurship and her beef genetics education at UNL. Photo by Kylie Kai, K & Camera

Klitz launched her business when she was a sophomore in the program in 2018. Her parents, who still farm near Unadilla, were a major support for her venture, but Engler’s community and culture helped instill the confidence needed to make the jump from idea to startup.

“The biggest difference-maker, I think, was that encouragement to start,” she said. “There are small steps you can take to start a business, and taking those steps is really powerful.

“It’s hands-on entrepreneurship; it’s not just classes. They really encourage you to get out there and learn by doing. I think that makes such a big difference in encouraging you to take risks and get started.”

After doubling sales year over year from 2018 through 2021, Oak Barn Beef now ships to customers in all 50 states and, in January, opened its first retail store.

“We want to keep serving more customers, and we added the local aspect of that, too, with the store,” Klitz said. “That will be a big part of this year — serving a local market while also reaching more customers online, as well.”

Hornung and Klitz both said they’re still actively involved with the Engler program. Engagement with alumni is a key component, Field said, for both student mentorship and to continue to help build a “sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem” in the state.

Hannah and Eric Klitz run Oak Barn Beef in West Point, Neb. OBB was Hannah’s Engler project which combines Engler entrepreneurship and her beef genetics education at UNL. Photo by Craig Chandler, University Communication

“The name of the game for us is not to build a good company, but to build a community of people who want to build companies, so that we have multitudes of companies that stick in Nebraska and stick in the Great Plains,” he said.

While the success of the Engler Program in its first decade is remarkable, Field said they’re just getting started.

“Truth is, across the board, the data on entrepreneurship says most companies and small businesses are started by people in their late 30s and into their 40s,” he said. “We are planting the seeds, but they’re going to germinate at different times. It’s super exciting to think about what this will look like another decade from now.”

Krutsinger gift to grow the next generation of beef industry leaders

LINCOLN, Neb. — Ron Krutsinger’s life was defined by his passion for Nebraska’s cattle business. He embraced the freedom of wide open spaces growing up on his family’s southwest Nebraska ranch and built a career in the industry by raising, buying and selling cattle.

So when Ron passed away in 2020, his wife, Carol, of Norfolk, decided to honor his legacy by helping to ensure the future of Nebraska’s beef industry.

Carol made a $1 million gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to benefit the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture. The gift to help develop the next generation of beef industry leaders was made possible by the sale in December of the couple’s 15,500-acre ranch in Dundy County in southwest Nebraska.

Carol Krutsinger’s gift to help develop the next generation of beef industry leaders was made possible by the sale in December of her and her late husband’s 15,500-acre ranch in Dundy County. Courtesy photo

The gift will support three priorities: 

> $700,000 to create a permanent endowment to support the Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which prepares students to be leaders of the beef industry through an academic minor. The program will be renamed the Krutsinger Beef Industry Scholars Program in honor of Ron and Carol Krutsinger.

> $250,000 to award scholarships to students in the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Preference will be given to students who are graduates of high schools from the southwest Nebraska counties of Dundy, Hitchcock, Red Willow, Frontier, Hayes, Chase and Perkins. 

> $50,000 to award scholarships to Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture students. The Krutsinger gift will be matched by other funds to create a $100,000 scholarship fund. NCTA, a two-year technical college in Curtis, prepares students for careers in livestock industry management, animal science, veterinary technology systems and other agriculture-related industries.

“Scholarships are critical for our students to be able to complete their education and prepare for the agricultural workforce,” said Larry Gossen, NCTA dean. “Without generous donors and sponsors like Carol Krutsinger, many of our students may not be able to attend college.” 


Ron was born in Benkelman on Aug. 22, 1939, graduating from high school there and learning the strong work ethic of living and working on a family ranch. He moved to Norfolk in 1966 to work for Production Credit Association, an agriculture lender. He fed cattle on the side before purchasing and operating the Fore-Quarters Feedlot from 1972 until 2005.

Ron Krutsinger

Carol said her husband of 46 years loved his work with cattle and ranching. Carol, a retired kindergarten teacher in Norfolk, recalled how she met Ron at a party hosted at his home, having been invited by mutual friends. Ron was late arriving because he was out feeding cattle. 

“He was a worker and always up for a challenge,” she said. “I supported that because I knew he was happy. He told me once that he would never retire.”

Ron’s longtime bookkeeper, Sheila Dreismeier, described him as someone who did business on a handshake.

“He was a gentle giant,” she said. “He was compassionate. He got along with everybody. All the cattlemen respected him and his opinion, and he guided a lot of young people.”

Ron died Nov. 15, 2020, at a Norfolk hospital after contracting COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic.

Carol said that after the unexpected loss of her husband, she decided to sell the Krutsinger family ranch, which had grown from 160 acres to 15,500 acres through land purchases by Ron’s late father, Bus, and later by Ron and his late brother, Garry. 

Stretching nine miles from north to south, the family had spent many Thanksgiving holidays at the ranch, and Ron enjoyed trout fishing and duck hunting there.

With no children, Carol knew the sprawling ranch was more than she could manage.

Ron and Carol Krutsinger

She devoted some of the proceeds from the sale to help agriculture students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and NCTA. Ron attended Colorado State University for one year, then went back home to work on the family ranch. He always wished he had been able to get his degree, Carol said. 

“I knew that this was what I wanted to do for Ron,” she said.


The Krutsinger Beef Industry Scholars Program is housed in the Department of Animal Science. The program develops students to be leaders of the beef industry through academic coursework, tours of Nebraska cattle operations and the building of relationships with ranchers, cattle feeders, processors and industry leaders. 

“I cannot express enough gratitude for the gift that Carol Krutsinger has provided in support of our Nebraska Beef Industry Scholars Program,” said Thomas E. Burkey, interim head of the department. “Since 2006, this program has leveraged our strengths in beef systems education to provide students with unique opportunities to apply knowledge gained to address current and emerging issues in the beef industry. This generous gift will help us to solidify our commitment to providing opportunities to develop the next generation of beef industry leaders.”

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Nebraska, and cattle production represents the largest segment of the industry, according to the Nebraska Beef Council.

Tyler Perrin is a senior animal science major at Nebraska and Beef Industry Scholar. Having grown up on his family’s farm near Ogallala, he said he wants to work in the beef industry after he graduates in May and eventually own a cow herd. He said his experiences in the program have given him a better understanding of the consumer impacts of cattle production and allowed him to meet people in Nebraska’s beef industry.


“It’s very beneficial,” Perrin said. “I’ve made a lot of connections through the university, through classes and guest speakers. So later when you go into business with them, you know them and can relate to them on a personal level.”

Carol Krutsinger’s gift in support of agriculture students is part of “Only in Nebraska: A Campaign for Our University’s Future.” Announced last fall, the campaign has a goal to raise $3 billion from 150,000 benefactors to support the University of Nebraska. The campaign’s biggest priority is students, with more than half the funds dedicated to ensuring a high-quality, affordable education for Nebraska students. For more information, visit https://onlyinnebraska.org.

Farmers and ranchers step up with innovative drought resilience strategies

When asked to propose innovative drought resilience projects last fall, Colorado farmers and ranchers stepped up. Thirty projects distributed across the state have been selected to receive financial and technical support with funding the Colorado Agricultural Water Alliance obtained from the Colorado Water Conservation Board and private donors.

Michael Lobato, one of the selected producers, said “the urgent need to conserve western water has inspired me to test a novel method to increase soil water holding capacity.”

Other applicants were motivated by the desire to address water challenges they are experiencing on their own operations. 

A total of $375,000 will be distributed to implement the projects, which include developing new irrigation technologies and strategies, planting less thirsty crops, using innovative soil amendments, and restoring wet meadows to improve rangeland. Each project will be assessed for its impact on water use as well as other metrics related to resilience, such as soil health and profitability.

You can see the distribution of projects and read descriptions of each one on a web-based map at https://www.coagwater.org/drought-resiliency-projects. To get more details about particular projects or to get in touch with the masterminds behind them, contact Greg Peterson at CAWA (720) 244-4629, coagwater@gmail.com.

The drought resilience program was designed to provide seed funding to support early-stage projects with the potential to reduce water use, improve water management, and/or demonstrate drought resilience and adaptation. Project Manager Greg Peterson explained that “the end-goal is to identify projects that can be scaled up to a level that can help keep Colorado agriculture as healthy and productive as possible under the hotter, drier conditions that have become more common in the region.”

Hannah Holm, with the environmental organization American Rivers, sees benefits for rivers in these projects. “If farms and ranches can thrive while using less water, that will reduce the instances of warm, low streamflows that are really tough on fish,” she said. Aaron Derwingson, with The Nature Conservancy, sees benefits for everyone in the region. “These projects represent the culture of innovation that we need to thrive, not just survive, with the water supplies we have.”

A robust group of partners, including Colorado Cattleman’s Association, Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, The Nature Conservancy, American Rivers, Trout Unlimited, the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Wilson Water Group, Colorado Corn Administrative Committee, Colorado Pork Producers Council, Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Grand Valley Water Users Association, Colorado River Water Conservation District, Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, Colorado Farm Bureau, Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association, and Colorado Master Irrigator all came together to support the program and select the most promising projects.

Details on the program can be found at  https://www.coagwater.org/drought-resiliency-projects.  For more information contact: coagwater@gmail.com.

Talbott honored as 2022 CFVGA Member of the Year

Bruce Talbott, Talbott’s Mountain Gold, Palisade, was recognized as the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association’s 2022 Robert Sakata Member of the Year, during the CFVGA 9th Annual Conference, Feb. 22 in Westminster. He was first elected to the CFVGA board in 2015 as part of the first board seated by the organization after CFVGA incorporated in 2014. He served on the CFVGA board a total of nine years and was president for the past two years. 


Established in 2017, the first award was presented to then CFVGA President Robert Sakata and is named after him for his excellence in Colorado produce production and his tireless work to start CFVGA. Among other accomplishments, Talbott was recognized for his long-term work developing CFVGA into a thriving organization.

“I have to recognize all the others who worked so hard to shape CFVGA into a thriving organization that today very effectively represents and advocates for Colorado produce growers,” said Talbott. “These individuals include other founding board members Robert Sakata, Mike Bartolo and Adrian Card.”

Talbott is a fifth-generation fruit grower from Colorado’s Western Slope. He served two terms on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee and two terms on American Farm Bureau’s Labor Committee. He is active in the Western Colorado Horticulture Society and has represented the Western Slope on numerous water and labor issues. In addition, he has served on numerous boards including Child and Migrant Services, the Colorado Rural Housing Development Corporation, the Cross Orchards Museum, and the CSU Western Colorado Regional Advisory Board.

Talbott will continue to represent Colorado produce as he begins a term this year on the Western Growers board of directors.

The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.

CFVGA members elect 4 board members, Mix new president

Members of the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association attending the 9 Annual Conference, Feb. 21-22, elected or re-elected four board directors. David Harold, Tuxedo Corn, Olathe, was re-elected to a two-year term. Newly-elected board members, each elected to a three-year term, include Ewell Culbertson, Fortunate Fruit, Delta; Cade Kunugi, Kunugi Farms, Blanca; and Colleen Daszkiewicz, Food Bank of the Rockies, Denver.

Following the election, board members selected Roger Mix, Mix Farms, Center, to lead the organization as board president. Harold was selected to serve as vice president. Mix, who has served on the CFVGA board of directors for seven years, replaces Bruce Talbott, Talbott Mountain Gold, Palisade, who had served CFVGA as president for the past two years. Talbott was the only voting member still on the board since 2015 when the first board was seated.


Nick Heitkemper, Rabo AgriFinance, Loveland, was re-elected to serve as secretary, and Alisha Knapp, Knapp Farms, Rocky Ford, was re-elected treasurer.

Conference attendees had an opportunity to delve into and learn more about the key issues facing Colorado produce growers during the two-day conference. Topics included drought resiliency, ag labor, advocacy, food safety, implementation of the Ag Labor Rights & Responsibilities Act as well as dry bean production and marketing. The conference concluded with the Grower-Buyer Networking Session, an opportunity for growers and buyers to meet and explore doing business together.

The CFVGA is comprised of more than 250 members, including growers of all sizes and types of production throughout the state, as well as representatives of allied industries. The Colorado fruit and vegetable growing sector contributes nearly $485 million to Colorado at the farm gate and is multiplied as it goes through the distribution chain. Over 90,000 Colorado acres are in fruit and vegetable production.

CCAC supports 3 FFA chapters through grants

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee is pleased to announce that three Colorado FFA chapters have been awarded a grant to help them give students more opportunities. 

“The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee is proud to provide grants to these FFA Chapters, so they have the tools to develop agriculture’s leaders of the future,” said Nicholas Colglazier, executive director for the CCAC.  

The three chapters who were awarded a grant include:  

Soroco FFA (Oak Creek): To improve the capabilities of Soroco Meats (food processing lab and store front), which provides lab-based facilities for students to practice food processing, packaging, safety and marketing standards. 

“The grant we received from the Colorado Corn Administrative Committee will allow us to purchase essential supplies to operate the meat processing and food lab. Without your support, we would be delayed in our instruction and drastically further away from ensuring this facility is self-sustaining financially,” said Reece Melton, Soroco agricultural education instructor. 

North Fork FFA (Hotchkiss): To purchase laptops and Microsoft Design Edge, to improve students’ technology and design skills in the use of the Plasma CAM equipment and learn career-ready skills in this area.  

“Our chapter is working very hard this year to update our shop to a safe learning environment, with up-to-date technology for students to gain career-ready skills. This grant allowed us to purchase laptops, so that more than one student can practice designing projects for our plasma cutter. It usually takes much longer to design projects than it takes to cut them. These funds will increase student productivity and accessibility to career skills,” Lindsay Todd, North Fork FFA advisor, said.  

Bethune FFA (Bethune): Addition of CNC Plasma cutter as second phase of tech and equipment upgrades to give students opportunity to acquire skills in metal fabrication. 

“As we are still a newly formed chapter and ag program, our resources to purchase updated and relevant equipment have been stressed. The Colorado Corn Administrative Committee grant will permit the Bethune FFA Chapter and Bethune School District to acquire technology and equipment that is industry-relevant to our students interests and pathways,” stated Jerrod Bessire, Bethune FFA advisor.  

Each fall, the CCAC puts out an application to all Colorado FFA chapters to apply for a grant for their program. All applications are reviewed by the CCAC board of directors, and applicants are selected based on project and need, and the grants are awarded in the spring.  

Sign-up for pig lottery due March 15

Deadline to sign-up for the Lincoln and Logan County 4-H Pig Lottery is March 15, 2023. To be qualified for the 2023 Lincoln and Logan County Pig Lottery, youth must be currently enrolled in 4-H in Lincoln or Logan County, Neb., and compete at county fair.

There will be a boarding option for the lottery pig for 4-H youth that do not have facilities to house the pig (e.g. lives in town). Please contact the Extension Office at (308) 532-2683 if you are interested in this as space is limited and available at a first come first serve basis. Youth participating in the boarding will still be responsible for the daily care and expenses for the animal.

The lottery pig program was developed to help youth find pigs to show for fair and learn about caring for a market hog. To sign-up, a $75 non-refundable deposit is required along with the name of the youth participating. The rest of the cost of the pigs will be due at the first meeting and weigh-in date on Sunday April 2, 2023. The pigs will be officially owned and taken home by the exhibitor at this time. Total cost will vary depending on the market price of pigs (usually between $250 and $300). Exhibitors will be required to attend two of the three educational meetings.