Vice Chancellor's Op-Ed: Nebraska - A living, learning laboratory

Mike Boehm

August 30, 2017

By Mike Boehm - IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor

Since coming to Nebraska in January, I have travelled to 76 counties in the state. I am continuously surprised by the uniqueness of each town, festival, school and county fair. The one thing that is consistent, is the generosity and kindness of Nebraska residents and their love of the state. And, what’s not to love. With its deep agricultural roots, entrepreneurial spirit, and can do attitude; the future is bright. We’re in such a great position thanks to the hard work of our elected leaders, public- and private-sector partners across the state, and Nebraskans in all 93 counties who want the same things for our children and communities: good jobs and a vibrant economy, high-quality and affordable education, and access to health care. I couldn’t be more excited about Nebraska’s future and the opportunities ahead of us to work together to grow our state.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to travel across the state attending various open houses at our research and extension facilities in Concord, North Platte, and Whitman. The new discoveries and engagement that is occurring at those facilities is truly impressive. Whether the topic was pesticide application, irrigation strategies, cattle or rangeland management; our university professionals created a great opportunity for collaborative learning and engagement between individuals of all backgrounds and levels of experience.

New this year, the first annual Farm Management Competition was held during the North Platte field day. Producers competed against each other as well as UNL scientists for the most profitable farm, highest input (water and nitrogen) use efficiency, and greatest grain yield. The goal of the Nebraska Farm Management Competition is to promote efficiency and profitability while giving a chance to learn from those who grow corn profitably. The competition was a great way to exercise the lessons learned through previous workshops/experiences and is a great example of public/private partnership as it was supported by Nebraska Extension, various natural resource districts, non-profit organizations and industry organizations.

This is just one example of the great work being done all across the state of Nebraska. I cherish any opportunity I have to get out on the road and do, see and hear. Earlier this month, we took thirty of our newest hires on a bus tour across the state. The looks on their faces as they experienced sugar beet processing in Scottsbluff, saw Lake McConaughy for the first time or when they stepped on the giant interactive map at Raising Nebraska in Grand Island; was priceless.

Speaking of Grand Island, I hope to see you at the Nebraska State Fair this week. The fair is an opportunity for thousands of youth who participate in Nebraska 4-H – sponsored by Nebraska Extension – to share what they have learned and worked on throughout the year. Much of that work would not be possible without the daily support and encouragement of our Nebraska Extension professionals, 12,000 4-H volunteers and the 4-H’ers families, so be sure to give those folks an extra pat on the back when you see them at the fair. I’m personally looking forward to attending a number of livestock shows, checking out the newest interactive learning experiences within the Raising Nebraska building and experiencing all that the fair has to offer. If it’s anything like my other new experiences in Nebraska, I’m certain information will be gained, ideas will be generated and new friendships will be made.