Usually, the Nebraska Association of Natural Resources Districts has a busy September. NARD normally announces its Hall of Fame honorees during Husker Harvest Days in mid-September, and conservation award winners during the annual Natural Resources Districts Conference at the end of the month.
This year, Husker Harvest Days went virtual with the Farm Progress Virtual Experience, and the NRD annual conference was canceled. The NRD Hall of Fame and conservation award winners from 2020 will instead be honored instead at the Legislative Conference, set for Jan. 26-27 at the Lincoln Embassy Suites.
“We expect to host the January Legislative Conference in person with the necessary social distancing to prioritize the health and safety of attendees,” says Jim Eschliman, NARD president. “The two-day conference brings together NRDs, elected officials and public-private partners integrally involved in conservation, technology and policymaking.
"The conference also provides attendees with an opportunity to learn how Nebraska’s NRDs work with ag producers, state and federal agencies, and members of the public to protect Nebraska’s natural resources and the economy.”
Nine award winners, including six conservation award winners and three NRD Hall of Fame honorees, will be honored during the conference in January. Here is a list of the awards being presented from 2020:
NRD Hall of Fame (board member). W. Eugene Haarberg, Imperial, Neb., nominated by the Upper Republican NRD, is the 2020 board member Hall of Fame inductee. Haarberg is being honored posthumously, and he was lauded during his lifetime for his service on the Upper Republican NRD board of directors from the district’s inception in 1972 until 2000.
As a lifelong Chase County farmer, Haarberg first served as a representative of Class II cities, working with the Unicameral to establish the NRD system and the Groundwater Management and Protection Act that authorized NRDs to regulate groundwater.
NRD Hall of Fame (employee). Leon “Butch” Koehlmoos, Ord, Neb., nominated by the Lower Loup NRD, is a former general manager of the Lower Loup NRD. He retired in 2017 after 39 years of service.
Under his management, Lower Loup designated its first groundwater quality areas and commissioned a study, the Elkhorn-Loup Modeling Project, that sought to determine the effects on future groundwater development. The study served as a precursor in the establishment of processes to grant variances and certify irrigated acres.
NRD Hall of Fame (supporter). Doug Bereuter, Almo, Calif., nominated by the Upper Big Blue NRD, is a former Nebraska legislator from 1974 to 1978 and a former Nebraska U.S. congressman, first elected in 1978 and serving in the House of Representatives for 26 years. Bereuter helped create the natural resources fund for special projects and assisted in making the NRDs the implementing agency for the Soil and Water Conservation Commission.
In Congress, he was instrumental in helping pass legislation that opened the door for federal assistance through the Water Resources Development Act.
Tree Planter of the Year. Terry Holt, Red Cloud, Neb., nominated by the Lower Republican NRD, has installed nearly 67,000 linear feet of fabric mulch to protect more than 10,250 planted trees and shrubs.
Director of the Year. Terry Martin, Benkelman, Neb., nominated by the Upper Republican NRD, has been on the board of directors for the Upper Republican since 2013. He is chairman of the Upper Republican board and the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement project board.
Educator of the Year. Boyd Bowder, St. Paul High School, St. Paul, Neb., nominated by the Lower Loup NRD, has set up and run the District 7 range judging contest since 2016, with more than 100 students from 14 schools participating every year.
Soil Stewardship Conservation Award. Dan and Melinda Stelling, Pierce, Neb., nominated by the Lower Elkhorn NRD, have used innovative conservation techniques on their farm for more than 40 years. Adopting no-till in 2004, the Stellings participated in the 2006 Lower Elkhorn NRD cover crop incentive program.
Grassland Conservation Award. Star Cattle Co., North Platte, Neb., nominated by Twin Platte NRD, began when Frederick Star immigrated from Germany and bought a home place at North Platte. They now operate rotational grazing management on 16,000 acres of grasslands.
Community Conservation Award. Josh Moenning, mayor of Norfolk, Neb., nominated by the Lower Elkhorn NRD, got involved with the Tree-A-Thon, contacting community leaders to develop a plan to plant 2,020 trees in Norfolk in 2020.
Learn more online at nrdnet.org.