Agriculture group honors Johanns, names new members |

Agriculture group honors Johanns, names new members

Jim Schild, Alton Lerwick and Chris Cullan (from left) were among the 10 new members of the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement recognized recently in Lincoln. Courtesy photo.

Mike Johanns has been recognized by the Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement for his advocacy of agriculture.

The banquet honoring Johanns and 10 new members of NHAA took place March 12 on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. Formed in 1916, the NHAA is dedicated to preserving and improving Nebraska agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.

During more than 30 years of public service, Johanns has worked tirelessly for Nebraska and American agriculture as a U.S. senator, U.S. secretary of agriculture and Nebraska governor.

A member of the Senate from 2009 to 2015, Johanns served on several committees including the Agriculture committee. He championed new trade agreements and worked to strengthen ties with Asia-Pacific countries to expand the market for agricultural products.

As U.S. secretary of agriculture from 2005 to 2007, Johanns conducted 32 international trips to advance trade, aid and food safety. Johanns opened or increased access to 40 international markets and accomplished agricultural breakthroughs as a member of the U.S. negotiating team for the World Trade Organization Doha Development Round.

Johanns developed an in-depth farm bill proposal, which became the foundation for improvements and reforms adopted in the final 2008 farm bill. He also promoted renewable fuels and advanced natural resources conservation.

During his tenure as Nebraska governor from 1999 to 2005, Johanns advocated for rural communities, farmers and ranchers. He led seven delegations of agriculture, business and government leaders on international trade missions. He also created incentives for business growth and job creation, emphasizing value-added agriculture, especially ethanol.

This year’s new NHAA members, listed by hometown, are:

AXTELL: A lifelong Nebraska farmer and supporter of agriculture, Steve Nelson is a member of many state and national agricultural organizations. Past president of the Kearney/Franklin Farm Bureau and the Nebraska Farm Bureau, he also was on the American Farm Bureau board of directors and was chairman of the Feed Grains Committee.

BELDEN: Jana Miller promotes agriculture locally, nationally and internationally. She produces corn, soybeans and pork with her husband, Jim. Miller was president of the Nebraska Pork Producers and was on the board of directors of the National Pork Producers.

HEMINGFORD: Chris Cullan is a strong leader for agriculture in western Nebraska. A farmer and certified seed dealer, he also is a Nebraska Wheat Board representative. He has a diversified farming operation with both dryland and irrigated production. He has worked to enhance the family seed and farming operations. He has furnished land each year for university wheat variety trial plots. He has hosted trade teams from other countries to give them a look at production agriculture and has traveled abroad as a Nebraska Wheat Board representative to visit flour mills and noodle companies. Memberships include the Nebraska Crop Improvement Association, Nebraska Wheat Board, U.S. Wheat Marketing Center, Wheat Quality Committee for U.S. Wheat Farmers Cooperative Elevator Co., UNL High Plains Ag Lab Advisory Board, Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Agriculture Builders of Nebraska.

HUMBOLDT: As president of Nebraska Agriculture Builders, Ben Steffen is dedicated to the sustainability of the agriculture industry. He is also a member of the University of Nebraska President’s Advisory Committee and served six years on U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns’ Ag Advisory Council.


UNL Extension engineer Paul Jasa has developed educational programs related to no-till equipment and system management since 1978. He manages research and demonstration projects at UNL’s Rogers Memorial Farm.

Steven Jones, UNL professor of animal science, has taught more than 4,000 students in the past 30 years. A leader in online course development, he created a beef carcass 3-D digital model and software program to be used in beef anatomy instruction.

Jack Schinstock, emeritus professor of biological systems engineering, also served as assistant dean and associate dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. He helped students obtain financial aid, created scholarship programs for community college transfer students and developed the CASNR study abroad program.

Ken Vogel is a retired USDA research geneticist. His research has had a significant impact on U.S. strategic bioenergy plans. Vogel also was adjunct professor of agronomy at UNL.

LYMAN: A cropland and commercial cow-calf operator, Alton Lerwick is one of the pioneers of no-till in Nebraska. He has been involved with cooperative research projects with the University of Nebraska and the University of Wyoming for more than 30 years. He converted to full no-till in 1994 and has gained a wealth of knowledge about differences between no-till continuous cropping and traditional wheat-fallow systems through cooperative research and extension demonstration projects with the University of Nebraska and Wyoming. Memberships include the UNL High Plains Ag Lab Advisory Board and Dryland Vision Committee, Pumpkin Creek Advisory Board, National Cattlemen Beef Association, High Plains Dry Pea Growers Association, school board, tax equalization board, Colorado Conservation Tillage Association.

SCOTTSBLUFF: Jim Schild is an extension educator known for innovative approaches to traditional extension programming. He is associate director at UNL’s Panhandle Research and Extension Center. Schild has been in Extension for 32 years, 27 of those in Nebraska. He has been involved in applied research and extension in dry bean production, grape and wine production, and turf management, specifically low water use turf in western Nebraska. He developed the West Nebraska Turf and Landscape Conference; provided the weekly Lawn and Garden Show for KNEB Radio during April and May for the last 10 years; and coordinated Master Gardener training. His memberships include the Bean Improvement Cooperative, Nebraska County Extension Association, National Association of County Agricultural Agents, UNL Faculty Senate.