Farm Progress

NRD Hall of Fame inductees announced at Husker Harvest Days

Three natural resources champions were named as honorees during HHD.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

September 26, 2017

2 Min Read
NRD CHAMPIONS: Honored as this year's inductees in the Nebraska NRD Hall of Fame are Gayle Starr (left), Dean Rasmussen and Ron Fleecs.

Three longtime champions of natural resources management were announced as new inductees in the Nebraska Natural Resources Districts Hall of Fame during a press conference at Husker Harvest Days. This year's honorees are Dean Rasmussen, Hastings, who joins the Hall of Fame as a former NRD board member; Ron Fleecs, Beatrice, who served as an NRD employee; and Gayle Starr, Lincoln, who worked as a longtime supporter of NRD efforts. The announcement was made Sept. 13 in front of the natural resources building on the HHD show site.

Rasmussen, who was nominated by the Lower Loup NRD, has been an elected LLNRD board member since 1972, when the NRD system was created. He also served as a board member of the Nebraska Association of NRDs and as a representative on the Loup Basin Resources Conservation and Development Council. He was named NRD director of the year by NARD in 2004.

Fleecs was nominated by the Lower Big Blue NRD. He started his conservation work in 1959, working as a watershed specialist for the Natural Resources Commission. Fleecs was instrumental in the development of the NRD system and served as the first NRD manager for LBB NRD, a position he held until retirement in 2004. He has overseen the construction of more watershed projects than any other individual in the NRD system, including 67 flood-damaged reduction dams, five grade-stabilization structures, seven county NRD road structures, over 3,300 miles of terraces, and more than 6,000 miles of grass waterways.

Starr was nominated for the honor by the Lower Big Blue NRD. As a supporter of NRDs from outside the system, Starr worked as an agriculture economist for the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Commission in 1965, and eventually joined the staff of what became the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. He worked in that position with the governor's office and Nebraska Legislature in planning and developing the NRD system. He eventually served as division head for the agency, retiring in 2006.

The official Hall of Fame awards are distributed annually during the NRD annual conference held each fall.

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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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