I was attending Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island, Neb., about 12 years ago with my wife. We wandered into the Hospitality Tent and were greeted by then-Nebraska Farmer editor, Don McCabe, and then-field editor, Ann Toner Gottwald. Don and Ann were working behind the counter at the Nebraska Farmer booth, visiting with hundreds of folks.
Don caught me as we passed the booth and asked if I might be interested in writing a few farm articles for the magazine as a freelance writer. In addition to farming along West Bow Creek for 25 years, I also had been freelancing, especially in the winter when fieldwork didn’t take up as much of my time. I guess Don must have read an article or two that I had written, and thought I might be able to pitch in.
A couple of years later, after Ann tragically passed away after a battle with cancer, Don and I had a conversation about the possibility that I might step into that full-time field editor role. At that time, I had just lost my own father, and Donna and I were awaiting the birth of our fourth child. It was a time of transition for us. So, I made the decision to start to step away from farming full time and try to fill Ann’s shoes as a competent field editor.
Long history of magazine
In late April 2010, just after being hired as field editor, I spent the day with Don at the Lincoln office talking about my role. My eye-opening moment came when Don showed me the volumes of historic issues of Nebraska Farmer that were kept at the office, going back to the 1800s. As I saw the history of Nebraska within those old magazines, I recognized how humbling it is to have the opportunity to write for a publication that has such a storied heritage with our beloved state.
After more than three decades with the magazine, Don retired five years ago. Tyler Harris joined as the new editor. Over the 10 years I’ve filled the role as a field editor; I’ve tried to live up to Ann’s reputation for quality writing and reporting. I’ve deeply admired Don’s long legacy of written work as editor, and the relationships he built with farm and ranch families across the state. In more recent years, I’ve truly enjoyed working with Tyler to cover the state’s ag industry, especially working as a team reporting on Husker Harvest Days.
Now, as Tyler moves over to our sister publication, Wallaces Farmer in Iowa, I am humbled to take the reins as the new editor of Nebraska Farmer. I fully appreciate the heritage, responsibility and tradition of my new role. I truly look forward to continuing to travel my home state, visiting with farmers and farm folks about our state’s vast and diverse agriculture industry. I look forward to continuing those strong relationships I’ve had the pleasure of forging over the years, as well as making new friends and interviewing new folks from all corners of the state. I hope you will bear with me as I settle into this new role, and I look forward to greeting our readers on their farms and ranches for years to come.