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Bow Creek Chronicles: Extension touches the lives of people across the state and the country, whether they know it or not.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

February 14, 2024

3 Min Read
Nebraska Extension engineer, Paul Jasa , visits with farmers about a planter toolbar design at the Jeff and Jolene Steffen farm
REACHING OUT: Nebraska Extension engineer Paul Jasa (left) visits with farmers about a planter toolbar design at the Jeff and Jolene Steffen farm near Constance, Neb., at a field day event a couple of years ago. Jasa’s presentation that day is one example of how Extension reaches out to producers, youth and communities across the state — providing consultation, expertise, research and education. Curt Arens

It shouldn’t be a “best-kept secret.” Extension should be known as far and wide as our state and nation. The impacts of Extension on our farms and ranches, for our youth and our communities should never be a secret. It should be common knowledge.

The range of impacts of Nebraska Extension shouldn’t be a secret to Nebraska Farmer readers. If you look at our “Then and Now” columns, you’ll find articles from decades ago that ran in Nebraska Farmer, touting farm research being conducted by Extension personnel and discussed at field days or educational events.

We’ve covered early research from the University of Nebraska about open pollinated corn versus hybrid seed corn back into the late 1930s, along with early center-pivot irrigation and groundwater research dating into the 1960s as a couple of examples of the impacts Extension has had from our pages.

Nebraska Farmer honored

Recently, Nebraska Farmer was honored by the Nebraska Association of County Extension Boards — the organization representing county Extension boards and their members across the state — as an outstanding business partner with Extension.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge this partnership goes back into our magazine’s storied history — much further back than my predecessors Don McCabe and Tyler Harris — almost a century. And the legacy of that partnership is alive and well.

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Holly Wortmann - Charlie Stoltenow, Dean and Director of Nebraska Extension, poses with Nebraska Farmer editor Curt Arens

Read our monthly columns such as Policy Report by Nebraska Extension ag economist Brad Lubben; or Tough Decisions by Extension experts from the Center for Agricultural Profitability; or Farm and Garden where Extension staff involved in landscape, wildlife, horticulture and forestry answer reader questions.

Read our farmer-focused articles that, more often than not, include a voice from Nebraska Extension to support what farmers are seeing in their own fields and farmyards.

On a personal note

This important award also resonates on a very personal level. My father served not only as a local 4-H club leader, but also on the Extension board in Knox County when I was young. One of my first jobs out of college was serving as an Extension assistant in Knox County while our educator at that time, the late Terry Gompert, took a faculty development leave to study alternative forages for livestock.

This is the time of my life when I made great connections with Extension staff, particularly specialists working out of Haskell Ag Lab near Concord and educators working in neighboring counties. These Extension folks over time have not only become trusted sources for research and information for articles we’ve written, but they also have become friends.

My short time at that post also taught me the importance of Extension and how it touches the lives of so many rural Nebraskans, not just through 4-H, but in what Extension now calls the “Big 3.” This includes strengthening Nebraska agriculture and food systems; inspiring Nebraskans and their communities; and enhancing the health and well-being of all Nebraskans.

Those are lofty goals, but the good folks spread out across the state work every day to meet and beat that mission, whether we know it or not.

We will continue to use Extension sources whenever we can, because we trust their information and expertise. And we will continue at Nebraska Farmer to do our part in making sure Extension is not a secret to our readers.

Other NACEB awards 

Other people honored during the NACEB event in Lincoln included Mary Jo Lueckenhoff, outstanding support staff; Dan Stehlik, outstanding advocate; Greg and Tammy Gass, outstanding volunteers; and Jerry Johnson, Friend of Extension.

Learn more at naceb.org.

Read more about:

Extension

About the Author(s)

Curt Arens

Editor, Nebraska Farmer

Curt Arens began writing about Nebraska’s farm families when he was in high school. Before joining Farm Progress as a field editor in April 2010, he had worked as a freelance farm writer for 27 years, first for newspapers and then for farm magazines, including Nebraska Farmer.

His real full-time career, however, during that same period was farming his family’s fourth generation land in northeast Nebraska. He also operated his Christmas tree farm and grew black oil sunflowers for wild birdseed. Curt continues to raise corn, soybeans and alfalfa and runs a cow-calf herd.

Curt and his wife Donna have four children, Lauren, Taylor, Zachary and Benjamin. They are active in their church and St. Rose School in Crofton, where Donna teaches and their children attend classes.

Previously, the 1986 University of Nebraska animal science graduate wrote a weekly rural life column, developed a farm radio program and wrote books about farm direct marketing and farmers markets. He received media honors from the Nebraska Forest Service, Center for Rural Affairs and Northeast Nebraska Experimental Farm Association.

He wrote about the spiritual side of farming in his 2008 book, “Down to Earth: Celebrating a Blessed Life on the Land,” garnering a Catholic Press Association award.

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