Eakins & Snyder / Snyder Bros of Keith County, Nebraska
2015 Grassland Conservation Award Presented The Eakins & Snyder / Snyder Bros. operation from Paxton has been awarded the Twin Platte Natural Resources District 2015 Grassland Conservation Award. The presentation was made at a December 8th award banquet held at the Haythorn Ranch Figure 4 Traditions Event Center. There to receive the award were Bruce and Roxie Snyder, Ken Snyder, and Don and Karen Eakins. The family members received an award plaque and an outdoor sign which was sponsored by First National Bank of North Platte. (From left) Twin Platte Natural Resources District Board Chairman Dennis Schilz and Grasslands Stewardship Coordinator Bill Carhart, Roxie and Bruce Snyder, Ken Snyder, and Karen and Don Eakins, and First National Bank of North Platte President Greg Wilke. Not present for picture was Chris Snyder, Ken’s wife. (Jeff Headley photo)
Frimann Family Farm of Lincoln County, Nebraska
Steve and Sharon Frimann began planting trees a few years after purchasing their home and rangeland in northeast Lincoln County. The initial planting of 560 trees and shrubs were planted under the Twin Platte NRD Conservation Trees Program in 1998. A combination of Austrian Pine, Jack Pine, Eastern Red Cedar, and Rocky Mountain Juniper were added to existing Cedar windbreaks as additional rows. Shrub plantings included Cotoneaster, Sumac, Sand Cherry, Choke Cherry, and Lilac. All trees and shrubs were planted into a prepared bed with water conservation mulch and drip tape installed under the fabric.
Spurgin Family Farm of Keith County, Nebraska
Elias and Lillie Hanna Spurgin homesteaded in this area in 1884. Their son, Abraham and his wife, Ella, also homesteaded on the same section. Since then, five generations of Spurgins have been involved in agriculture and passed on their love of the land. The Spurgin family farm is owned and operated by Gerald and Janice Spurgin. Gerald and Janice have three sons: Jeremy and wife Caroline, and children, Ali, Kepler, Andi, and Ty; Jonathan; and Jacob; and one daughter Jocelyn, and all are involved in the family farming operation.
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.
Roric and Deb Paulman of Lincoln County, Nebraska
In 1985, Roric and Deb Paulman left Omaha and returned to the family farm in Sutherland, Nebraska. Shortly after they returned, Roric’s father unexpectedly passed away. They were a young couple with two babies, thrown into a whirlwind. Out of the fog emerged Paulman Farms; a custom farming operation. They have, with the help of many, grown their operation to look as it does today.
Conservation, you had to have your plan approved; “highly erodible,” “farmable wetlands,” all became part of your vocabulary if you were to qualify for program compliance. Habitat management captured acres. It was a natural fit to integrate the same kind of thinking to all of the acres. Recently, a good friend of the Paulman’s said, “good conservation will not happen without economic benefit”. With those words echoing in the background, many of the initiatives on their farm in water and land resource management can be quantified in energy and input cost savings.
Otter Creek Ranch of Keith County, Nebraska
The Twin Platte Natural Resources District presented its 2012 Grassland Conservation Award at a banquet held the evening of Tuesday December 11 at the Haythorn Ranch Figure Four Traditions Event Center. The Otter Creek Ranch received the award, which was presented to Don and Joyce Tisdall – Owners and K.C. Peterson – Manager. The award consists of two plaques and an outdoor sign for the northwest Keith County ranch. The award was sponsored this year by Adams Bank and Trust, which was represented at the banquet by Bruce Luehrs.
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.
Whitewater Ranch / Stewart Allen Family of Lincoln County, Nebraska
Whitewater, Inc. operates ranching interests in the Sandhills of Arthur and McPherson Counties. The ranch was established in 1884 and is owned and operated by Stewart and Kathy Allen, Mark Allen, Matt and Audra Allen, and their children Kegan, Kaleb, and Kirsten. Stewart and Kathy manage the business headquarters in Lincoln County. Matt and Audra live at Three Mile Ranch and their children represent the seventh generation of the ranching family. The ranch maintains a cow herd, and the majority of the calves are sold as yearlings.
Krawjewski Family Farms of Keith County, Nebraska
David Krajewski began planting trees for conservation in 1992, with his first 240 machine planted trees under the Twin Platte Natural Resources District Conservation Trees Program. Ten years later in 2002, David and the rest of the Krajewski Family Farms which includes his wife, Diane, and sons, Dan, Dustin, Dean, and Darin, once again planted trees under the Tree Program with another 3,852 machine planted trees. Since 2002, the farm has continued annual tree plantings through the NRD, NRCS, and FSA tree programs.
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.
James Fleecs Family of Lincoln County, Nebraska
After returning home from the service in 1970, Jim Fleecs began farming and ranching with his brother, Lloyd. Jim started his own cow/calf and yearling operation in 1987. Through the years, the ranch has added and upgraded multiple livestock watering systems and cross fenced pastures. All of this has enabled the ranch to run larger numbers of cattle for shorter time frames as part of a rotational grazing plan, which has led to improved range conditions, plant diversity, and additional wildlife habitat.
Lute Homestead Ranch and Krab Ranch of Keith County, Nebraska
This year, the Lute Ranch of Keith County, Nebraska celebrates its’ 125th anniversary, and continues the family ranching tradition started by brothers Fred W. Lute and John Lute in 1884. The original homestead house located four miles east of Ogallala was built with limestone quarried from the hills located just north of the dwelling, and is still standing today. Fred W. Lute and his son, Fred H. Lute, expanded the operation to land in Arthur County, Nebraska, which continues in operation today. Fred H. Lute’s son, Robert F. Lute Sr. and his daughters, Rose Sara and Lula Lute, shared ownership of the ranch through the 1980’s.
John & Maureen Childears of Northern Lincoln County, Nebraska
In 1992, John & Maureen Childears purchased farmland in northeast Lincoln County. That same year, they repaired the 1954 irrigation well (concrete casing) and repaired/replaced two pivot systems. In the spring of 1993, two pivot corners (Valentine Sand) were planted to trees and shrubs, with fabric mulch for the trees but not the shrubs. These plantings were assisted, guided, and cost-shared by the Twin Platte Natural Resources District. In addition, one corner was placed in a 10 year contract with the Nebraska Game and Parks. This corner included seeding to warm season grasses and native wildflowers, Rocky Mountain Juniper, and a variety of shrubs. Both 1993 and 1994 were very wet years. Plenty of rain and two hand weedings each year resulted in an excellent survival rate. However, the shrub survival without mulch was only two-thirds successful.
Paul & Janet Heinrich of Paxton, Nebraska
Paul and Janet Heinrich began their farming career upon returning home from college in 1978. They now reside in the family home, south of Paxton, built by Paul’s parents in 1950. The Heinrich family currently raises corn, soybeans, and wheat, but has raised crops as diverse as alfalfa, sunflowers, popcorn, kidney beans, pinto beans, milo, barley, rye, and millet. While greatly honored to receive this award, much of the credit goes to Paul’s parents, Benjamin and Ruby, as they made efforts to be good stewards of the land by practicing methods of conservation that available equipment and technology would allow.
JK Acres of Brule, Nebraska
In 1997, with the help of fellow farmer Dave Washa, Tom Kalkowski rented a few hundred acres of crop and accretion ground from the Brown Family Trust. Later, with the help of Mr. Gerald Brown, Tom purchased the ground he had been farming. Sheila and Jerry Jorgensen joined the farm in 1999. Years of grazing on the accretion ground had decimated the existing quail and pheasant populations. The eggs (and a few chicks that did hatch) were easy prey for predators since there was little cover to protect them.
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.
Lute Ranches of Arthur County, Nebraska
In 1884, the Lute Ranches started with the original Homestead Ranch in Keith County along the banks of the South Platte River and beside the Westward Trails. In 1920, the Lute Family began the acquisition of what would eventually become The Lute Ranches of Arthur County. After the death of Robert F. Lute II in 1992, Robert’s widow, Kathy Lute established the Robert F. Lute II Trust to carry on and preserve the legacy of the Lute Family ranching tradition. The goals of the Robert F. Lute II Trust are to preserve and improve the ranching operation, while protecting and conserving the natural resources of this fragile ecosystem.
Don & Marcia Colvin of North Platte, Nebraska
In the spring of 1975, Don and Marcia Colvin began their farming operation in the Platte River Valley area, located five miles west and two miles north of North Platte, Nebraska. In 1981, they purchased the farm where they now reside. The primary crops of their farming operation include irrigated corn and alfalfa. Conventional farming practices have been replaced over the years with minimum and no-till methods.
Rocky & Diane Hoffman of North Platte, Nebraska
In 1978, Rocky and Diane Hoffmann purchased an acreage 10 miles south of North Platte. The tract was part of the old Hunter property, and a neighbor remembers planting corn with a horse-drawn planter on the site in the late 1920’s. Later, during the dust bowl years, the fields that he had worked with horse and planter blew into a huge sand dune. In the late 1930’s, Hunter planted a few rows of Cottonwoods he had pulled from the South Platte River to control the blowing sand. Most of those Cottonwoods had died by the time the Hoffmanns had moved onto the acreage, but remnant survivors of that original planting symbolized hard work with a shovel and a bucket to conserve the fragile soil. Those old Cottonwoods triggered a plan for a new planting. The wind blew constantly during July when the house was being constructed, and the Hoffmann’s were determined to temper the harsh environment.
Most Farms of Ogallala, Nebraska
In 1950 following his high school graduation, Don Most began his career of farming and ranching on the family farm southeast of Ogallala. In 1951 after the death of his father, Don took over the farm. In 1955 he purchased the home place and married Anita Gengenbach, and they have resided there ever since. Two children were born to Don and Anita; Melanie and Samuel. Sam joined the family farm in 1982 following his graduation from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in Agricultural Economics.
Wayne & Joan Hansmeier, Kingsley Cattle Co. of Keystone, Nebraska
Wayne and Joan Hansmeier, owners of Kingsley Cattle Company, purchased their Keystone, Nebraska ranch in 1987 from Terry and Chris McGinley and Bill and Jane Walker. With the help of the cost-share program with Twin Platte Natural Resources District, the Hansmeier’s have planted trees almost every year since purchasing the property. During the first few years, they planted trees and used water conservation mulch to build a windbreak for livestock. It became a struggle to get this windbreak established due to drought and rodent damage, so the Hansmeier’s shortened the grove and transplanted some of the trees.
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.
Krab Inc. of Paxton, Nebraska
Mads and Kirsten (Norgaard) Krab came to the Paxton area in 1891 after arriving from Wahoo, Nebraska, and having previously sailed from Denmark in 1880. The home site consisted of a quarter section of leased school land and they lived in a sod house until 1912 with two sons and six daughters. Their son, Martin, and Lucille (Hagge) Krab were married in 1928 and continued the operation by purchasing a section of grassland in 1940. Their son, Gene, and Jeanne (Perlinger) Krab were married in 1953. When Gene returned in 1955 after serving four years in the Air Force as S/Sgt, they continued operating the land near Paxton and in 1973 incorporated to form Krab Inc. with the help of their family. Their children include: Rhonda & Mike Bailey of Lincoln; Mike & Chris (Buss) Krab of Ogallala; Rod Krab of Paxton; Steve & Tweety (Kramer) Krab of Paxton; and LuAnn & Jeff Kluch of Papillion. Gene works with Rod and Steve as the main operators for Krab Inc. Their operation also relies on the help of the Rollie Albro family, Brad Bown, and Gene’s grandchildren, the Bryan Krab family and Martin Krab, who is presently serving in the U.S. Army.
Larry & Phyllis Kracman of North Platte, Nebraska
Larry and Phyllis Kracman were married in 1966 and lived in Gothenburg, Nebraska. At that time, Larry’s lifelong practices of good conservation really began to take hold. Phyllis was a schoolteacher north of Gothenburg, and Larry farmed some of the family ground. In 1967 Larry and Phyllis started Kracman Fertilizer Inc. at Brady. This well known fertilizer business was a labor of love for Larry and Phyllis. They operated the business for 23 years, with Larry as the owner/manager, and Phyllis as the bookkeeper. In 1980 they purchased their home north of Brady, where they planted hundreds of trees. At this time, Larry realized that he would not live there forever, but the trees would be there long after he was gone.
Skip and Eileen Marland & Schaeffer Family Farms of North Platte, Nebraska
In the fall of 1979, Skip and Eileen Marland purchased a half section of sandhills valley land from Levi and Amelia Powell, approximately nine miles northeast of North Platte. This was in conjunction with a full section of land selling at public auction that Mr. and Mrs. Powell had owned from 1947 to 1979.
Grapes Farms of Brule, Nebraska
In 1934, Ivan Grapes and his brother, Bill Grapes, moved to this part of the country. In those first years living on a farm 15 miles northwest of Brule where the north table dropped down to the North Platte River, there were very few conservation practices being utilized. That changed with the drought of the thirties, and the need to stop the north and west winds on one of the highest elevation points in Keith County. After only one year of surviving the elements, Ivan’s brother Bill and his wife left for California. Ivan remained on the farm and began planting trees to provide shelter. He was on his own until 1938 when he married Tiny. Together, Ivan and Tiny continued to plant more trees for protection against abrasive storms. In both 1956 and 1957, Ivan and his son Ron planted several more windbreaks with bareroot trees, utilizing a Tree Conservation Program with the Halsey National Forest in Halsey, Nebraska. The trees were all hand plants, with replacement trees being taken from the pasture.
Newman Family Farm of Big Springs, Nebraska
Dick Newman owns a farm approximately 20 miles southwest of Ogallala, Nebraska. The property was deeded as the “Lone Tree Ranch” due to the fact that only one tree stood on the entire ranch and surrounding area. The original owner was Cyrus McCormick, who purchased the land in 1885 from the Union Pacific Railroad via a government program to help fund the railroad project.
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.
Korty Land & Cattle of Paxton, Nebraska
Marcellus and Phyllis Schulz began in 1944 what would become Korty Land & Cattle with 563 acres of land, 10 milk cows, 100 baby chickens, and a bank loan to purchase feed, equipment, and 30 head of steers. The cattle were fed with a small wagon and a scoop shovel in those days. Marcellus competently guided those early years of the operation with the help of his wife and their four children; Sharon, Calvin, Dennis, and Marcia. With the additional help of dedicated employees, this family enterprise has grown into the present farming, ranching, cattle feeding, and land improvement business that it is, which provides a good living for many families while conserving natural resources.
Richard & Elaine Bode of North Platte, Nebraska
In April of 1978, Richard and Elaine Bode began their farming operation located three miles south and three miles west of Hershey, in partnership with Elaine’s parents, Orval and Frieda Einspahr. Orval and Frieda retired in 1984. Elaine’s grandparents, Fred and Ruby Hackbarth, had originally owned the land. Rick farmed with his family and worked as a well driller for Staska Well Drilling Co. at Albion, Nebraska, before he and Elaine moved to the Hershey area.
Dave and Denise Manary of North Platte, Nebraska
Dave and Denise Manary operate a ranch 10 miles northwest of North Platte. Ranching is not their primary business, as Dave has been a dentist since 1971, practicing in North Platte for 21 years. Denise is a Certified Dental Technician with a bachelor’s degree in nutrition, and has worked in their dental office for the past 18 years. Dave’s grandparents ranched near where Dave and Denise now live, and a portion of that ranch now belongs to Dave and Denise. When Dave was a youngster visiting his grandparents ranch, he frequently admired the nearby ranch of Fred and Nellie Jackson. The Jackson property was especially appealing to Dave because of the numerous trees and the six acre spring fed pond. The pond is the headwaters of the White Horse Creek. As a young man, Dave hoped to someday own the Jackson place, a goal he never forgot.
Harms Inc. of Brule, Nebraska
The Harms Family came to Brule, Nebraska in 1909. The youngest son of the Harms family, Evert, farmed north of Brule. Evert entered into a rental agreement with his son Milan to farm the land and to share rangeland from 1955 until Evert’s death in 1960.
The farm was incorporated and named Harms Inc. Milan then became a full time partner with his mother Margaret, until purchasing Harms Inc. in the late 1970’s.
Greg and Peggy Gade of Lewellen, Nebraska
The Gade Ranch is located nine miles east of Lewellen on Highway 92. Greg’s parents purchased the land several years ago. Greg moved there after graduating from high school in 1980, and began ranching full-time with his father.
In 1983, Greg married Peggy Stockey. They made their home on the ranch and have lived there for the last 15 years. They have a 12 year old daughter Tara, and a 10 year old son Blake.
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.
Melvin & Faye Bayne of Hershey, Nebraska
Currently, the farming operation consists of 460 total acres. The cropland includes 350 acres of irrigated corn and 100 acres of irrigated alfalfa. Conservation work, which has been or is being utilized, includes 350 acres of minimum tillage, with 450 acres of proper treatment of cropland.
Geisert Family Farm of Ogallala, Nebraska
Soil conservation has always been a big part of this farm operation. Even though primitive efforts were made in the early years, improvements began with some of the first terrraces in Keith County under the newly formed Soil Conservation District. These terraces, which have been built with a John Deere A and a two bottom plow, were seeded to grass and are still in existence today. Currently, 20 miles of terraces have been installed and rebuilt at various times.
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.
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.
Denny and Rona Ansley of Lemoyne, Nebraska
After years of improvements, the Ansleys own and operate 3,200 acres consisting of 135 acres of alfalfa and oats under pivot irrigation, and 3,065 acres of rangeland which supports a 250 cow/calf operation. Examples of conservation work which have been or are being utilized include: proper irrigation management practices by using minimum tillage and low energy pressure on an irrigation pivot system; proper planned grazing and range rotation; three miles of livestock pipeline to include five tanks; and one windmill and two miles of cross fencing.