Ray and Anita Hengen of North Platte, Nebraska
Ray and Anita Hengen are involved in a farming operation eight miles northeast of North Platte. Ray’s dad, Clarence Hengen, purchased the farm in the mid 1940’s. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, the Hengen family began hand planting 500 Eastern Red Cedar trees for windbreak establishment. The family’s ultimate goal was to provide protection for their livestock, as well as providing protection for the farmstead. Upon Clarence’s death in 1988, Ray and his mother, Ella, assumed the responsibility of ownership and operation of the farm. After years of improvements, the Hengen’s own and operate 800 acres, consisting of 85 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program and 715 acres in rangeland.
Examples of conservation work, which have been or are being utilized, include proper grazing management practices by using a 30 day grazing rotation in a lease operation for 40 cow/calf pairs, which also includes proper water distribution for the livestock. The Hengen’s also have an overflow water system which supplies water to a dam designed specifically for the wildlife.
Through the years, the Hengen’s have been involved in the planting and nurturing of 3,700 trees and shrubs, including Eastern Red Cedar, Green Ash, Honeylocust, American Plum, Caragana, Chokecherry, Cotoneaster, Silver Buffaloberry, and Sandcherry. Maintenance and care for the trees includes hand watering by using a tank to haul the water, and an extensive job of gopher control by applying gopher bait through a pull-type burrow builder gopher machine.
Ray and Anita Hengen reside in North Platte, where Ray is an employee of the Union Pacific Railroad and Anita works at Ace Hardware. Anita is a member of the First Lutheran Church of North Platte.