Hale, Pile recognized for service to ag, extension
The University of Nebraska Panhandle Research and Extension Center has recognized two western Nebraska residents for their decades of service to agriculture and Extension in the Panhandle.
The Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award was presented to Howard Hale of Minatare, who embarked on a career in broadcasting three decades ago and still broadcasts ag news to the Panhandle as well as radio audiences from the Texas Panhandle to Montana. Two decades of announcing at fair livestock shows also have made him a familiar voice for local 4-H families.
The Service to Panhandle Extension Award was presented to Elaine Pile of Gering. Over the past 15 years she has been a tireless volunteer, leader and advocate for Extension at the local, state and national levels, on top of a 36-year career in banking in western Nebraska.
The awards were presented by Dr. Jack Whittier, Research and Extension Director for Nebraska Extension in the Panhandle.
The Outstanding Service to Panhandle Agriculture Award recognizes persons or groups who provide outstanding service to agriculture in western Nebraska. Award criteria include value of work done or cooperation with UNL specialists or educators; leadership in agriculture; community service other than agriculture; and level of impact on Panhandle agriculture.
The Friend of Extension Award, initiated in 2015, recognizes persons or groups whose contributions have furthering Extension activities in the Panhandle. It will be an annual award, just as the Service to Agriculture Award.
Both of the 2015 award recipients are natives of the Panhandle who were raised around agriculture and have long careers that have kept them in contact with local ag sectors, as well as 4-H and Extension.
Howard Hale has been a longtime supporter of Extension and 4-H through his work in the broadcasting industry.
“Howard has always been willing to promote Extension meetings, field days workshops and other events,” according to Jim Schild, longtime Extension Educator and also associate director of the Panhandle Center. “Extension personnel had an open invitation to come into the studio and record informational and promotional pieces.” He called Hale a true reporter who attended and covered countless events. “He has always been friendly and positive of what we’re doing here at the Center.”
Elaine Pile, a long-standing supporter of Extension, has served on the Scotts Bluff County Extension Board member and is active on the state level in the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards (NACEB). She also has been involved in Extension’s Master Gardener Program for about 20 years.
For much of the past decade, she has served Scotts Bluff County Master Gardener as coordinator of media. In this role, she recruits Master Gardener volunteers to write and record radio Public Service Announcements that encourage sound, sustainable practices in home gardens, lawns and landscapes. She also coordinates the scheduling to provide weekly recording sessions for fresh batches of PSAs during each growing season.
She has served four terms on the Scotts Bluff-Morrill County Extension Board (two three-year terms, one term off, followed by two more terms). Her current term ends at the end of this year. She has been a valued board member, attending meetings, participating, holding various board offices, and giving Extension faculty constructive feedback and criticism. She has been a member of the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards (NACEB).
“Elaine’s passion for Extension has been a positive asset for the Panhandle District,” Schild said. “More than once she has testified as to what Extension has done for her in her life and her family’s life. Even though she will be finishing her term and leaving the County Extension Board, we still know we have a friend and supporter in Elaine.”
Hale was born in Scottsbluff and raised on a farm and sheep- and cattle-feeding operation in the Scottsbluff area, graduating from Scottsbluff High School. He received an associate degree from Scottsbluff College (now WNCC) and attended the University of Colorado in Boulder until joining the Army Reserves. After a stint on active duty and in the reserves he returned to farming, feeding cattle and raising sheep. For years he sold life and health insurance with the Frank Kleager agency while farming and feeding livestock part time.
Along with two other partners he built an indoor arena in 1975 and worked with horses and at the arena before returning to the Kleager agency. Hale went into broadcasting in 1985, becoming the Farm Director at KOLT. He has been a broadcaster since then. He later worked as a farm broadcaster for Tracy Broadcasting, and after that at KNEB.
In 1994 he went out on his own with Hale Broadcasting. He currently produces and airs three feature programs: The Harvest USA Report, The Cattleman’s Corner and The Horseman’s Corner. Fifteen stations carry a least some of the programs, from the Texas panhandle to northern North Dakota and over into central Montana with The Harvest USA Report carried locally on KNEB. From May 2014 through April 2015 Howard filled in as the farm director at KNEB as a replacement for Leslie Smith until the current director, Jeanna Boland, started.
Hale announced the livestock shows at the Scotts Bluff County Fair for a number of years. He has been a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasting for 30 years. For 15 years he was the public address announcer for Cougar Basketball. Two years ago Howard was inducted into the U.S. Custom Harvesters Hall of fame. He also had a minor part in the documentary film The Great American Wheat Harvest. Howard and his wife, Pat, have three children.
He said four people were a very great help in developing any broadcasting and interviewing skills that he might have, by critiquing his work in an honest manner. They are the late Ted Pope, who was the program director at KOLT, and Dennis Ernest at KNEB, plus Frank Kleager and his wife Pat.
Pile, a fourth-generation Nebraskan, was born and raised in Banner and Scotts Bluff Counties, living on the ranch in the summer and in Scottsbluff in the winter, enabling her to attend Scottsbluff Public Schools. She received an associate degree from Nebraska Western College (now WNCC) and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Chadron State College. She and husband, Bob, have lived in Gering for more than 40 years. She has nine nieces and nephews and eight great nieces and great nephews.
In 1973 Elaine began a 36-year banking career, working with the Kosman family at Scottsbluff National Bank, FirsTier Bank and Platte Valley Companies. She worked primarily in commercial banking and human resources.
Her affiliation with UNL Extension began about 15 years ago, when she joined the UNL Extension Master Gardener Program. In 2003 Jim Schild approached her about becoming a member of the Scotts Bluff/Morrill County Extension Board. In 2009 Pile was nominated to serve as a Director on the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards (NACEB). Presently she is chairperson of the Nominating Committee.
NACEB’s purpose is to advocate for and support the mission of Nebraska Extension by meeting with elected officials on federal, state and local levels to encourage their backing of Extension programs; by talking about the work of Extension to stakeholders and general citizenry; and by advocating for Extension wherever and whenever the need or opportunity arises. She represents seven Panhandle Counties – Scotts Bluff, Morrill, Kimball, Banner, Cheyenne, Garden, and Deuel.
Her other affiliations include First United Methodist Church (Board of Trustees, Memorial Fund Treasurer Worship Committee); charter member of Western Nebraska Agri-Women, serving as Secretary; charter member of WNCC Alumni Advisory Committee; Friends of Regional West Auxiliary.