KEARNEY — Ten farmers, ranchers and agribusiness professionals have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2020 Leadership Academy. They will begin a year-long program starting Jan. 23 in Kearney.

Phil Erdman, facilitator of the 2020 Leadership Academy. said the goal of the academy is to cultivate the talents and strengths of our members and connect their passion for agriculture to opportunities of service within the Farm Bureau organization.

“Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose; purpose fuels passion and work ethic. By developing leadership skills, academy members can develop their passions and positively impact their local communities and the state of Nebraska.” Erdman said.

Area members of the 2020 class are:

Kelsey Scheer of St. Paul is a member of Howard County Farm Bureau. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in animal science with a minor in agricultural economics. Scheer is in feed sales for an ag cooperative. She also works with her family’s cow/calf operation.

Joseph Melnick of Hastings is a member of Adams/Webster County Farm Bureau. He grew up on a family farm and is operations director for a custom cover crop company. Melnick is also an Army veteran.

Brett Santin of Palmer is a member of Merrick County Farm Bureau. He grew up on family farm and received a bachelor’s degree in business management before returning to his family farm where he helps manage their cow/calf herd.

Josh England of Doniphan is a member of Hall County Farm Bureau. He grew up on a family farm and returned after college graduation to work with his father and uncle. They raise corn and soybeans.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership development; understanding the county, state and national structure of Farm Bureau and its grassroots network; policy work on agriculture issues and the importance of agricultural literacy. The group will also travel to Lincoln and Washington, D.C., to visit with elected officials and agency representatives.

Syngenta donates $1,200 to local FFA chapters

Syngenta is donating $1,200 to the Cross County-Stromsburg, Hampton and McCool Junction FFA chapters, with the donation evenly split among the three.

As the number of open agricultural jobs continues to outpace the number of educated professionals available to fill them, the funds support ongoing training and programming for future agricultural leaders in local communities.

“Syngenta takes pride in its support of local ag communities, especially as the need for educated agriculture professionals continues to grow,” says Ann Rengel, Syngenta customer event and trade show lead. “Donations like these directly support the students who represent the future of American agriculture, providing them with education and resources to further their involvement in the ag industry.”

Nature Conservancy-Nebraska receives award

The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska received an award from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum at an awards reception earlier this month in Lincoln. Director of Science Chris Helzer accepted the Blazing Star Award which recognizes an organization “that has made a significant contribution toward advancing the horticultural use of native plants or the restoration of native plant communities in Nebraska.”

Helzer and other Conservancy staff have converted more than 1,500 acres of cropland to high-diversity prairie and wetland habitat as a way to enlarge and reconnect small isolated native prairies in the area.

This work has taken place at the Conservancy’s Platte River Prairies, located between Grand Island and Kearney. These restored prairies were built with locally-harvested seed mixes of up to 200 or more plant species and are now managed with a combination of prescribed fire and grazing. The sites have maintained their plant diversity and also provide much-needed additional habitat for numerous wildlife and insects formerly living in small fragments of prairie.

The Conservancy is an important source of prairie restoration information throughout Nebraska and beyond, and is a founding member and leader of the Grassland Restoration Network, which brings together people from across the country to share their experiences and improve the effectiveness of prairie restoration as a conservation tool.

Within Nebraska, the Conservancy’s work has helped facilitate the use of diverse and local seed mixes in grassland habitat projects on private land and has directly influenced at least 250,000 acres of prairie restoration work across the state.

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