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Wayne native receives Nebraska Farmer scholarship

Emily Eilers is a junior at the University of Nebraska, majoring in agriculture and environmental science communication.

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer

June 14, 2023

3 Min Read
Ag communications building at UNL
COMMUNICATIONS MAJOR: Wayne, Neb., native Emily Eilers was recently named the 2023 Nebraska Farmer scholarship winner. Curt Arens

Nebraska Farmer is pleased to announce that Wayne, Neb., native Emily Eilers is our 2023 scholarship recipient. Eilers, who is a junior at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is an agriculture and environmental sciences communication major, with minors in agronomy and agriculture leadership.

In high school in Wayne, Eilers first found her passion for agriculture while participating in FFA, serving as chapter secretary as a junior and as president as a senior.

The class valedictorian honed her communication skills in FFA leadership development events such as parliamentary procedure, employment skills and ag demonstration contests. Her Supervised Agriculture Experiences included working as a kennel attendant at the local veterinary clinic and working at the nursery and greenhouse at Bomgaars, along with gardening at home.

In 4-H, she participated in shooting sports and enjoyed horticulture and floral projects, woodworking, and welding. “I like anything that allowed me to be creative,” Eilers says.

One of her high school activities included Power Drive electric vehicle racing, competing against other high schools in Nebraska and neighboring states. This competition allows high school students hands-on experience in building a safe, energy-efficient electric vehicle and testing that vehicle against other teams in several categories.

Increasing ag literacy

As an FFA member, Eilers became more aware of those who were willing to believe anything in the media about the ag industry, much of which was not accurate.

“I noticed that there were people, even in a rural community, who just didn’t understand agriculture,” Eilers says. “I kept seeing that disconnect, so I saw the need for more advocacy and increased ag literacy.”

Along with her coursework, Eilers is involved in college clubs at UNL. She was president of the rifle club and the Ag Communicators of Tomorrow. She has served as vice president of communications for the collegiate Farm Bureau chapter at UNL, is also involved in the UNL CASNR Change Maker program and in a campus Bible study.

Last summer, Eilers worked in an internship for the Wayne Area Legacy Fund as a Nebraska Community Foundation intern. This summer, she has been working for KTCH radio in Wayne and the plant nursery at Bomgaars. “I keep coming back to plants,” she says.

After college, Eilers hopes to get a job where she can increase ag literacy in urban communities to help people understand agriculture better. “That way they can make well-informed decisions when they go to the grocery store, and they can make good decisions when the vote, so they vote for people who will support agriculture,” she says. “Ag is the backbone of our country.”

Scholarship legacy

The Nebraska Farmer scholarship dates to 1962. Glenn Buck, president of Nebraska Farmer Co. at that time, created the scholarship to support agricultural journalism students at UNL. According to the University of Nebraska Foundation, which administers the scholarship, Buck was the first agricultural journalism graduate from UNL, receiving his degree in 1927.

Nebraska Farmer, among the oldest farm publications in the Great Plains dating back to 1859, is honored to continue that legacy and award Eilers the 2023 scholarship as she continues her education at UNL.

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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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