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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.