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First-ever group of student mentors sponsored by Nebraska corn and soybean associations.

Don McCabe, Nebraska Farmer Editor

April 17, 2013

3 Min Read

There is more to agriculture than the classroom and the field. Ten University of Nebraska-Lincoln students, as part of the inaugural Corn and Soy Collegiate Mentoring Program in 2013, are getting the chance to learn more about the entire ag industry.


The Nebraska Corn Growers Association and Nebraska Soybean Association launched the program to give students a comprehensive understanding of the industry, say Matt Habrock of the NeCGA office in Lincoln. The program's goals, according to Habrock, are to educate the students about state and federal policy issues affecting agriculture and about opportunities available by supporting industries like the Nebraska Corn Board, Nebraska Soybean Board and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension. "Students will be provided the tools they need to become future leaders and advocates for agriculture," he says.

Geoff Ruth, president of the Nebraska Soybean Association and producer from Rising City, says, "We hope that by the end of the year participants have an understanding of the many moving parts that make the agriculture industry run. When they complete the program in December we will have 10 more energetic leaders telling the wonderful story of agriculture."

Joel Grams, NeCGA president from Minden, referring to an aging population in agriculture, says there are plenty of opportunities for the next generations to step into leadership roles. "As we think to the future of agriculture it is important at we start involving those that will be carrying on our proud tradition of growing the food, feed, fuel and fiber for the masses."

After completing the program, students will be recognized at the annual meetings of the corn and soybean associations, and each will be presented a $500 scholarship to help them with school expenses.

Funding for portions of the program is being provided by the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Soybean Board.

The 10 members of the corn, soy mentoring program are:
•Kristi Block of Cozad, daughter of Michael and Jolene Block
•Michael Brown of Omaha, son of Curt and Tracy Brown
•Emma Likens of Swanton, Daughter of Tim and Sue Likens
•Logan Reed of Elm Creek, son of Doyle and Cheryl Reed
•Andrew Spader of Henderson, son of Janelle Spader
•Scott Speck of Gothenburg, son of Rodney and Marcia Speck
•Courtney Spilker of Beatrice, daughter of Curt and Charlene Spilker
•Boqiang Tu of Beijing China, son of Xiangying Li and Jie Tu
•Amanda Vodvarka of Dodge, daughter of Vern and Becky Vodvarka
•Wade Walters of Shickley, son of Mike and Camella Walters

During the year, they take part in four seminars. Two covering state and federal policies affecting the corn and soybean industries and the role of checkoff programs in promoting corn and soybeans have already been held.

This summer, the students will join with other students in Nebraska ag youth mentoring programs on a bus tour. Stops include ag manufacturing, production and processing industries.

And in September, they will visit UNL's Agriculture Research and Extension Center at Mead to learn UNL Extension's role in educating farmers and others in the ag industry.

During the course of the program, students must dedicate eight hours to promoting the state's corn and soybean grower association. Examples would be the Nebraska State Fair or Husker Harvest Days. Additionally, they must periodically make reports about their experiences and what they've learned.

Applications for the second corn and soybean mentoring group will be taken sometime this fall. For more information on the program, contact Matt Habrock, Nebraska Corn Growers Association at 420-438-6459 ([email protected]) or Lorie Luebbe, Nebraska Soybean Association at 402-441-3239 ([email protected])

About the Author(s)

Don McCabe

Nebraska Farmer Editor

Growing up on a farm near Newcastle, Neb., Don McCabe was always interested in agriculture. After a four-year stint in the U.S. Navy, he earned his journalism degree from the University of Nebraska. He joined the staff at Nebraska Farmer in 1977, first as a writer and eventually serving for many years as the publication's editor. McCabe is now retired in Lincoln, but still contributes regularly to Nebraska Farmer as a freelance writer. 

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