Waits Ranch, McPherson County
In 1972 Vernon and Pauline Waits purchased the ranch operation consisting of 1,280 acres from Vernon’s father, Lee Waits. After several years of leasing rangeland for their livestock operation, Vernon and Pauline purchased an additional 7,720 acres in 1990. In 1991, they began operation of their Uncle Francis Waits’ place which had been the original Waits and Wisner homestead. Following many years of improvements on the ranch, they now utilize 16,000 acres which complement their 1,000 cow/calf operation and the raising of 450 yearlings. With sons Steve and Mike Waits and other family members actively involved in the operation, the Waits Ranch is successful as they continue to use conservation practices on their grasslands. (more…)
Brosius Ranch / Robert & Jennifer Bosius of Lincoln County, Nebraska
John Brosius was born in 1838 at Schleidweiler, Germany, where he was educated above the average. In 1883 Mr. Brosius came with his wife and children from Germany to Minnesota and then in early 1884 came to Logan County, Nebraska and took up homestead five miles south of Gandy on 159.89 acres. It was a time when there were no fences in the County.
Broken Box Ranch / Sundstrom Family of Lincoln County, Nebraska
2011 State Award Winner
The Sundstrom family has owned and taken care of land in Lincoln County since the early 1900’s. Edward Sundstrom came to the United States from Sweden in 1904. In 1908, he married Christine Pearson in Dawson County. She also was born in Sweden and came to America seeking a better life. They settled on land between Brady and Moorefield and had three sons. Their youngest son, Chester, was born in 1913 and continued an interest in the land and raised cattle. Chester married Thelma Miller in 1940 and lived briefly in California when their son Larry was born. They soon moved back to the “good life” in Nebraska. Two more children, Kay and Raymond, joined the family. They lived many years in the hills between Brady and Moorefield. Larry married Donna Sommer in 1967 and they continued working with the land and livestock. Larry and Donna’s sons Rustin (Russ) and Neil are the 4th generation of Sundstroms to provide stewardship for the land. The boys credit their Dad and Grandpa for the strong conservation education they received from them growing up on the land.
Edna Peterson of Brady, Nebraska
Edna Peterson was preparing for life on the ranch at an early age, having ridden a horse to school three miles each way, including to high school at Farnam. After graduation she took a K-8 teaching position in Stapleton. She also taught at Eustis and at various rural schools. Edna and Lloyd met and were married on December 31, 1948. They had no children of their own, but took in numerous foster children over the years. Though challenging at times, raising foster children was rewarding for the Petersons, especially as Edna sees them succeed later on in life.
Clarence & Lila Arensdorf of Sutherland, Nebraska
Clarence & Lila Arensdorf are being recognized for a long-standing commitment to conserve and enhance the grasslands of southwestern McPherson County. Clarence has lived and worked there his entire life on land that has been in the family since 1919, when Clarence’s Dad, N.G. (Nick) Arensdorf, bought the property. Clarence and Lila were married in 1949, and they have been taking care of the place ever since. In 1953, they bought out the family’s land and cattle.
Fear Ranch Co. of Sutherland, Nebraska
The Fear Ranch Co. is a good example of how commitment to land stewardship contributes to the stability and longevity of a ranch. Landan and Larren Fear have the privilege of being the sixth generation to live on the Fear Ranch. Their dad, Larry, is currently taking care of the land and cattle on the cow-calf-yearling operation, located about halfway between Sutherland and Wallace, Hershey, and Dickens. Bob Fear, Larry’s father, recently moved to town after his long career managing the place. The ranch currently consists of 16,700 owned and leased contiguous acres, which has been added to mostly a section or two at a time. At one time, both of Larry’s paternal great-great grandparents lived on what has now been acquired by the ranch.
Don and Rosemary Johnson of North Platte, Nebraska
The Johnson Ranch originated in 1898 when Don’s grandfather, Chris Johnson Sr., homesteaded on the present headquarters of the Johnson Ranch. The ranch was expanded by Don’s parents, Chris Jr. and Katherine Johnson. Under the management of Don and Rosemary, the ranch has expanded further to its present size of 9,100 acres.
Kelly Ranch of Sutherland, Nebraska
The Kelly Ranch of Sutherland, Nebraska was named winner of the 1997 Twin Platte Natural Resources Districts Conservation Award. The Kelly Family has steadily made improvements to their ranch over the years, by being committed to the needs of natural resources in their care. They have initiated conservation practices on their own, and have also participated in the Agriculture Conservation Program and Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Program. Not only have range conditions improved for livestock, but also wildlife has benefitted. The ranch is home to mule and whitetail deer, pheasants, quail, grouse, turkey, and a few antelope. The Kelly’s have fenced off their land from the North Platte River to keep cattle from the river to improve water quality and to prevent streambank erosion.