The Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement will honor Doris and Ivan Rush, Doug Gibson and Frank Johannsen at a banquet at 6 p.m. April 8 in the Great Plains Room of the Nebraska East Union, 1705 Arbor Drive.
Formed in 1916, the hall of achievement is dedicated to preserving and improving the state’s agriculture. Each year, the group recognizes at least one honoree and elects new members.
Doris Rush is a longtime advocate for Nebraska agriculture. She has been active in the Nebraska CattleWomen and the American National CattleWomen since 1972. Rush has also promoted beef as a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Promotion and Research Board.
Ivan Rush was a beef extension specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center for 40 years, which provided him a venue to serve agriculture and the beef industry. He had state and national leadership roles for implementation of Integrated Resource Management in the beef cattle industry. His involvement greatly impacted productivity of cow/calf operations. Rush was on the planning committee of the Range Beef Cow Symposium, one of the most respected production-level beef cow/calf meetings in the nation.
The Rushes have also contributed to 4-H. Ivan Rush has been a 4-H leader in Scotts Bluff County for 40 years, and his wife was a 4-H leader for 35 years.
Doug Gibson was chief administrator and secretary-treasurer of the Nebraska Farm Bureau and Affiliated Companies from 1981 until his retirement in 2009. During that time, the Nebraska Farm Bureau more than doubled its membership, expanded programs and elevated its public policy for agriculture.
Gibson spent six years as director of the Nebraska 4-H Foundation, six years as a director of the Nebraska Agricultural Leadership Council and many years as a presenter at the final seminar for each class in the Nebraska LEAD program.
Since 2010, Gibson has been the secretary to Agriculture Builders of Nebraska, which works with the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at UNL.
Frank Johannsen is a native of the Bayard area and still lives on the dryland wheat farm his father started in an area known as Goodstreak. He is one of the founding members of the Nebraska Wheat Growers Association. The group was instrumental in establishing the wheat check-off program in 1955, which was the first commodity check-off program in Nebraska. Johannsen was named the Nebraska Wheat Growers Man of the Year in 1969, state president in 1975 and National Wheat Growers president in 1988.
Johannsen also worked closely with the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff, providing land and support for research and demonstrations. In recognition of his efforts to help the research staff identify a wheat adapted to his part of the state, the variety “Goodstreak” was released by UNL in 2002.
This year’s new Nebraska Hall of Agricultural Achievement members, listed by hometown, are:
Belden: Jim Miller is a fourth-generation family farmer with his sons. He is on the board of directors for the American Soybean Association and is vice president of the U.S. Soybean Export Council.
Friend: David Bruntz is co-owner of a cattle operation. He is a founding member of the Beef Pit, Nebraska Cattlemen and Pit Boss. Bruntz has been on the board and as president of the Exeter Feeders Association and Nebraska Cattlemen.
Hastings: Dee Griffin is a professor and beef feedlot management veterinarian at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center. He is active in the American Association of Bovine Practitioners, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Beef Quality and Safety Taskforce and Advisory Board.
Leigh: Charles Folken is a cattle feeder and farmer at Folken Feed Yards. He is chair of the Property Rights and Environmental Management Committee of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. He is also active in the Nebraska Cattlemen, being on the board for seven years including as president.
Lincoln: Robert Graybosch is a supervisory research geneticist with the USDA Agricultural Research Service, where he is the research leader of the Grains, Forages and Bioenergy Research Unit. He has participated in the development and release of numerous winter wheat germplasm lines and cultivars that jump-started the white wheat industry in Nebraska.
Mitchell: Dennis Strauch is the manager of Pathfinder Irrigation District. He is recognized throughout the state as a champion for western Nebraska irrigation and as an advocate for a realistic and balanced approach to water use in the region. Strauch was part of the 49-member state Water Policy Task Force that eventually led to LB962.
O’Neill: Gary Stauffer is a Nebraska Extension educator in Holt and Boyd counties. He provides leadership in the areas of livestock production, crop production, grazing management and youth development.
Seward: Merlyn Nielsen has contributed to Nebraska agriculture through research, teaching and service as the Kermit Wagner Distinguished Professor of Animal Science. He has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in animal breeding, experimental design and analysis of breed resource evaluations and selection, and popular genetics for more than 40 years.
York: Jerry Stahr is an active member of the York County Extension Board, York County 4-H Council and other community organizations. He participated in the Nebraska LEAD Program and was on the LEAD Alumni Board. Stahr is on the board of directors of Agriculture Builders of Nebraska.