Gerry and Shari Kraus of Keith County, Nebraska
Gerard Kraus grew up on the family farm north of Madrid, NE. In 1971, after graduation from the University of NE at Omaha, Gerry returned to his Dad’s (John Kraus) farm in Perkins County. In 1973, Gerry married Shari Dodson of North Platte. They both had teaching degrees but continued to farm with his Dad until 1975, when Gerry took a job with Sisco Fertilizer, where he helped develop some of the first no-till corn crops in the area. In 1978, the family (now with two daughters), moved to a farm-job south of Paxton. In 1980, they had the opportunity to buy some dry-land cropland in Perkins County, which was then converted to center-pivot irrigation. In 1981, they moved four miles east of Ogallala and rented farm land from Robert Lute.
They have remained on the Lute Homestead since, acquiring more land to rent and purchase. The family continued to grow with two more daughters. Shari has helped by being the bookkeeper, and also working in the field at critical times. In 1981, the family began planting trees on the home-site and used no-till farming practices. Gerry raised corn and wheat in a three year rotation before adding millet, sunflowers, popcorn, and soybeans. Eventually they completely dropped the “fallow-period” and went entirely to “continuous-crop” farming. The end result of these conservation practices has been a reduction in both wind and water erosion, with an increase in the overall health of the soil, not to mention a more profitable way of farming.
Their center pivots have also been converted to low-pressure which have increased efficiency and conserved water, and the corners of the pivots have been planted with trees. Gerry and Shari currently rent from five different landowners and are grateful to be able to pursue innovative conservation farming practices which have been beneficial towards the land which they farm.
Gerry and Shari’s daughters have all graduated from college and are working professionally. Denise & husband, Jim Ryan, live in Chicago, IL and have an infant son, Aaron. Laura & husband, Tim Moulton, Lincoln, NE are parents of Katie (4) and Jessica (18 months). Lisa resides in Washington, DC and works in U.S. State Department for Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. Amy, an Architect, is working in her profession in Omaha, NE. Gerry and Shari are active members of St. Luke’s Catholic Church and volunteers to Ogallala’s Blood Mobile, Food Pantry, and Habitat for Humanity.