Fifteen farmers and ranchers have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau's 2008 Farm Bureau Academy leadership development program. They began the program on Feb. 1-2 in Kearney.
The academy is a series of seminars designed to develop and retain leaders for County Farm Bureaus and the state organization, according to Larry Zimmerman, academy coordinator and vice president of member services for Nebraska Farm Bureau.
"Part of the academy curriculum focuses on the opportunities for leadership within Farm Bureau and the opportunity to influence public policy through a Farm Bureau leadership role, both at the county and state level," he says. This is the second year for the academy; two graduates of the first academy class were elected to the Nebraska Farm Bureau Board of Directors last month.
Academy members will participate in sessions on entrepreneurial thinking, anticipating the future, the policy process, policy issues important to agriculture, issue management, relationship building, presenting viewpoints and media training.
Participants attend three two-day seminars in February and March. A summer meeting is planned for August, and in September the group will travel to Washington, D.C., for visits with Nebraska's Congressional delegation and federal agency representatives. Academy participants are expected to increase their leadership involvement in Farm Bureau upon completion of the program.
2008 academy members are:
Beau Bearnes of Central City is a member of Merrick County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Courtney, raise seed corn, commercial corn, soybeans and wheat and have a cow herd.
Matt Burkholder of Cozad is a member of Dawson County Farm Bureau. He operates an alfalfa dehydration plant in Cozad. He harvests alfalfa to supply the plant and also raises corn and soybeans.
Andy DeVries of Ogallala is a member of Keith County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Laura, farm row crops. He also has a crop consulting and trucking business.
Aaron Fehringer of Lincoln is a member of Lancaster County Farm Bureau. He works on an irrigated corn and soybean farm.
Zachary Hunnicutt of Aurora is a member of Hamilton County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Anne, farm with his father and older brother and grow corn, soybeans, wheat, seed corn and popcorn.
Mark Jorgensen of Cortland is a member of Gage County Farm Bureau. His farming operation produces wheat. He also works full-time in a job that deals with the use of corn-based ethanol.
Kristen Klein of Cairo is a member of Hall County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Michelle, have a cow-calf operation and beef feedlot and grow corn and hay and have pasture ground. They farm with his parents.
Craig Kuszak of Wolbach is a member of Howard County Farm Bureau. He farms and ranches in northern Howard County where he and his wife, Elizabeth, and his father raise corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. He also has stock cows.
Steve Kyser of Beatrice is a member of Gage County Farm Bureau. He operates a dairy, raises heifers, and grows corn and soybeans.
Dustin Ladenburger of Stratton is a member of Hitchcock County Farm Bureau. He raises cattle and some dryland corn and wheat. He also farms with his parents and younger brother.
Scott Moore of Bartley is a member of Frontier County Farm Bureau. He farms with his father and raises corn, soybeans and wheat. He also has a cow/calf operation.
Todd Schmieding of Gresham is a member of Seward County Farm Bureau. He raises irrigated and dryland corn and soybeans and has a replacement dairy heifer program.
Martey Stewart of Dixon is a member of Dixon County Farm Bureau. He manages and is part-owner of a farrow-to-feeder pig operation. He and his wife, Linda, also have a cow-calf herd and sell feeder cattle
Margaret Valladao of Broken Bow is member of Custer County Farm Bureau. Her family raises hay and has cow-calf and lambing operations.
Kevin Zuhlke of Creighton is a member of Antelope County Farm Bureau. He and his wife, Lora, custom feed hogs. He is a seed dealer, takes in summer cattle, and raises corn and alfalfa.