Connecting farms, businesses and families for the past seven years, the Northeast Nebraska Ag Banquet highlights the importance of agriculture in the region. This year’s event was held June 16 in the newly-renovated Commercial Building at the Madison County Fairgrounds in Madison, Nebraska.
Norfolk and Madison Area Chambers of Commerce host the event primarily as a scholarship fundraiser. The first year the event was held, two scholarships of $500 were awarded. Just shy of $27,000 worth of scholarships have been given throughout the past seven years, said Dave Spencer, co-chair of the event. Scholarship recipients must be pursuing post-secondary education in an ag-related field.
FFA chapters from Battle Creek and Lutheran High Northeast volunteered throughout the evening, setting up and tearing down tables, as well as helping serve the meal.
Mark McHargue, Nebraska Farm Bureau president, spoke to the crowd about maintaining symbiotic relationships between business and agriculture:
“They are certainly a marriage, and there is no way that agriculture can flourish without the business sector, and really the business sector certainly cannot flourish without agriculture,” McHargue said. “That’s a symbiotic relationship that at many times we take for granted.”
He acknowledged how people outside of agriculture do not understand farming, yet “tell us how to do our job.” Climate change and how to respond to such change was one such example.
Kris Bousquet, director of livestock development for the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN), was the other keynote speaker of the evening.
“I am proud to be a member of the ag community,” Bousquet said.
He encouraged farmers and businesses to support livestock development at zoning meetings and county government to “get projects across the finish line.”
AFAN resolves to stimulate economic development and support producers endeavoring to build agriculture facilities. Bousquet said AFAN has helped develop companies such as Lincoln Premium Poultry, The Maschoffs and Cactus Feeders.
After the keynote speakers, scholarships and awards were presented.
The following four youth will receive a $1,000 scholarship to be used toward post-secondary education:
• Jacob Cleveland of Meadow Grove, Nebraska
• Lane Kudera of Clarkson, Nebraska
• Ritter Oestreich of Norfolk, Nebraska
• Amanda Sellin of Norfolk, Nebraska
In addition, Zach Anderson of Columbus, Nebraska, was honored as the 2021 Norfolk Beef Expo scholarship winner. The 72nd annual Norfolk Beef Expo was held last September.
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The Ag Business of the Year is Northeast Community College. NECC has continually expanded its opportunities for students interested in ag-related fields, such as the dedication of the Veterinary Technology Building earlier this year.
“Northeast Community College has been a leader in the agriculture industry since 1973, when we began our first agriculture program with three students. Since that time, we have grown to more than 300 students in 13 agriculture programs,” said Dr. Tracy Kruse, Vice President of Development and External Affairs. “It is wonderful to be recognized for the partnerships and graduates we provide to the industry that is so critical to our regional economy.”
The Bruce and Karen Grant family of Meadow Grove, Nebraska, was named the Farm Family of the Year. The Grants raise row crops and alfalfa, as well as a farrow-to-finish hog operation. Lifelong supporters of both 4-H and FFA, they are active in the community and have served on church and agricultural boards such as Nebraska Farm Bureau, Nebraska Pork Producers and Ag-Ceptional Women’s Conference.
2022 Northeast Nebraska Ag Banquet Scholarship Winners
Jacob graduated from Elkhorn Valley Schools in 2021, where he was active in FFA. Jacob currently attends NECC and is majoring in Ag-Agronomy and Welding. After graduation, Jacob hopes to pursue a career as an agronomist and start a mobile welding business, as well as grow his herd of cattle and continue to farm. He is the son of Ryan and Tiffany Cleveland of Meadow Grove, Nebraska.
Lane is a 2021 graduate from Clarkson High School and has been involved in agriculture his entire life. He is majoring in Ag-Precision at NECC. Lane hopes to buy an acreage in the Clarkson area and continue to raise cattle alongside his father. He aspires to eventually own a trucking business. Lane is the son of Barret Kudera and Jessica Achterhoff.
Ritter graduated this May from Pierce Junior / Senior High School. In the fall, he plans to attend Northwest Missouri State University and major in Ag-Business. Upon graduation, he plans to work as a seed / chemical sales manager. Ritter is the son of Todd and Carla Oestreich of Norfolk, Nebraska.
Amanda graduated from Norfolk Senior High School in May. She plans to attend Chadron State College, where she will major in Legal Studies and minor in Agri-Business with an emphasis in Ag Law. She is the daughter of Todd and Rhonda Sellin of Norfolk, Nebraska.
2021 Norfolk Beef Expo Scholarship Winner: Zach Anderson
Zach is a 2022 graduate of Lakeview Junior / Senior High School, where he served as FFA officer and was on the FFA livestock judging team and Platte County 4-H Council. Zach plans to attend the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to major in Agricultural Engineering. Zach is the son of Chad and Holly Anderson.
Reporter Kristen Sindelar has loved agriculture her entire life, coming from a diversified farm with three generations working side-by-side in northeastern Nebraska. Reach her at Kristen.Sindelar@midwestmessenger.com.