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Nebraska Grazing Conference has storied history

The unique conference usually draws about 175 participants from Nebraska and surrounding states.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

July 31, 2023

2 Min Read
attendees of the The Nebraska Grazing Conference in field
GRAZING EXPERTS: The Nebraska Grazing Conference offers opportunities for education, demonstrations and networking with other producers — all to learn more about efficient, profitable, conservation-minded and precision management of grazing lands. Curt Arens

For 23 years, proper management of grasslands and grazing lands has been on the agenda at the annual Nebraska Grazing Conference, this year set for Aug. 8-9 at Younes Conference Center in Kearney.

This year’s featured banquet speaker is Curt Pate, a renowned horseman who is nationally recognized for his animal-handling skills.

One of the organizers, Brent Plugge, Nebraska Extension beef systems educator, says Pate and Ruth Woiwode, University of Nebraska assistant professor in animal behavior and well-being, will set up portable corrals and animal handling in a pasture setting for a field tour on the first day of the conference.

There also will be a panel of past Leopold Conservation Award winners — including Nancy Peterson, Homer Buell and Tim Kalkowski — to discuss an assessment of their past, present and future grazing land conservation efforts. This year’s Leopold recipient, the Logan Pribbeno family from Wine Glass Ranch in Imperial, Neb., will be recognized.

Other speakers on the agenda include Cody Trump, Sandhills Task Force; Rebecca Kern-Lunbery, Ward Laboratories; Alex McKiernan, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition; Jeff Nichols, Natural Resources Conservation Service; and Jerry Volesky and Gwendwr Meredith, University of Nebraska.

With precision

The final day of the conference focuses on precision livestock management, featuring Mitch Stephenson — Nebraska Extension forage and range specialist and associate director of the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center at Scottsbluff — talking about virtual fencing. Yijie Xiong, Nebraska Extension precision livestock management specialist, will discuss opportunities and challenges in precision grazing.

“These topics will provide insights into the current technology producers can use to improve efficiency and utilization of our grasslands,” Plugge says.

There will be sponsor and exhibitor booths showcasing new programs, equipment and products for conference participants.

Since 2001

The conference began in 2001 as the brainchild of the late Terry Gompert and Bob Scriven, then-Nebraska Extension educators who recognized the need to serve farmers, ranchers, land managers and conservation groups who wanted to make grazing a profitable enterprise and manage their grazing lands in a sustainable way, Plugge says. An exploratory meeting was held in 2000, convened by the Center for Grassland Studies at UNL.

“Martin Massengale, founding director of the Center; Bruce Anderson, Nebraska Extension forage specialist; and Rick Rasby with the UNL Department of Animal Science led the discussion,” Plugge says. “As a result of the overwhelming response from a variety of producers, professional organizations, and state and federal agencies, the conference planning committee was established with members representing the diversity of those expressing an interest in a statewide grazing conference.”

To learn more about the 2023 conference, visit

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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