Neighbors to the World
Spend 36 hours exploring rural Nebraska
Rural Nebraska has so much to offer that we want to take our readers past the one story/one business model to encompass all that can be seen if you spend an entire weekend exploring this neck of the woods. In this 36 Hours feature, we’ll take you through the Arapahoe, Cambridge, McCook region, exploring what these towns have to offer through video, photos and words. We hope this might inspire you to make plans to visit rural Nebraska on your own weekend adventure. You’ll be surprised at how much you can find in 36 Hours.
Rural Success Stories:
U.S. Custom Harvesters - Tracy Zeorian
From combine cab to board room, technology connects
by Jennifer Chick
As fall corn harvest winds down across much of the state, it’s a time to thank farmers and harvesters for all they do to feed the world. Tracy Zeorian is one of those custom harvesters. She has been harvesting fields for more than 40 years. It’s her passion.
But she wanted to do more for the industry she’s loved since she was 12. In 2004, she decided to step up and take a bigger role in the industry. She ran for a seat on the U.S. Custom Harvesters board of directors. As editor Jennifer Chick finds, that first step has led to more than a decade serving members of USCHI.
And since 2013, Zeorian has been executive director of the membership organization. Members are grain and forage custom harvesters from across the United States. They are a nomadic group, following the harvest each summer and fall from south to north. Zeorian manages it all from her home in Manley, Nebraska. When she goes on the road to harvest, the office comes with her, thanks to a strong cell phone signal. Take a trip around the field in November’s Rural Success Story.
Guardian Angels Life Services
Financial Guardian Angels
This month we visit with Shelly Wieland, chief executive officer of Guardian Angels Life Services, Inc. (GALS). We first visited with Wieland back in 2011, and we wanted to catch up with her to see where the past four years have taken her financial management business.
In this update, writer Betty Sayers learns about the successes that continue to drive GALS forward. The company helps with financial management for those with disabilities who find it hard to manage their own finances.
It is a unique concept and one that is in high demand. The biggest challenge at GALS has been managing growth while always putting the clients’ needs first. Learn how this company has grown from two employees with nine clients to 11 employees serving 704 clients in October’s Rural Success Story.
Everything old is new again
by Michelle McCormick
We showcased Earth Junk in Sargent, Nebrsaka, in a past Rural Success Story, but the antique store has changed and updated its presence so much that we decided it was worth a second look.
In this update, writer Michelle McCormick revisits the antique store that specializes in reselling American-made Ethan Allen and Tell City furniture. She marvels anew at the craftsmanship that comes from made in America quality workmanship.
McCormick also learned about Shop Sargent Saturdays, a strategy led by Earth Junk owner Cindee Haddix to accommodate both the buying public and antique dealers. Learn more about Earth Junk’s latest endeavors in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Oxford Locker takes meat cutting up a notch
Writer Roni Lewis visited Oxford Locker in Oxford, Nebraska, recently where she found owner Carl Kramer has remade the meat locker into a destination that puts the community on the map.
When Kramer bought the locker, he wasn’t content to keep the business just as it was. Instead, his drive and vision transformed the processing plant into so much more. Not only does Oxford Locker provide butchering and processing, the business also serves noon lunches and sells hunting accessories and fire arms.
Kramer caters to his customer’s unique tastes and opinions, which is why he currently sells 15 varieties of jerky. And now Oxford Locker has opened a second location in Kearney, Nebraska. Find out more about Oxford Locker’s recipe for success in this month’s Rural Success Story.
Articles & Essays:
Rural nonprofit organizations serve the poor and provide recreation and education opportunities. But, many of those organizations are led by volunteers and operate on shoestring marketing and fundraising budgets. When these groups needed a way to jumpstart giving, a local community foundation stepped in.
As writer Kristine Jacobson learned, the Phelps County Community Foundation, based in Holdrege, Nebraska, has found a way to help those nonprofits promote themselves and raise funds for operating budgets or special projects through a one-day giving event called give2Grow. Through just three annual days of giving, donors have given more than $1.8 million to Phelps County nonprofits.
The projects funded through give2Grow have helped everyone from children to needy families. Donors have found an easy way to combine their donations to make a big impact in a short amount of time. The 2015 event will be Nov. 19, and 60 non-profits hope to reap the harvest of seeds planted in give2Grow.
A day in the life of a Nebraska hunting dog
Here at Nebraska Rural Living, we always strive to give our readers a view of something they haven’t seen or heard about before. So when we received a few beautiful hunting dog pictures, we knew we needed to tell the story behind those pictures.
Enter ShennonDoah, a writer and teacher from Holdrege, Nebraska. Shennon created a voice for that hunting dog and shares that story with us in our feature essay this month. She crisscrosses the Funk Lagoon as Bella the hunting dog, sniffing out pheasants and delighting us with Bella’s antics.
It’s a new view of an age-old pastime, one that hunters across the state will be taking part in starting at the end of October. We hope you enjoy this unique essay with gorgeous pictures.
Phelps County Community Foundation
Community foundation spurs county’s growth
by Kristine Jacobson
There’s one organization in Phelps County that’s had a hand in nearly every major project in the county for the past 40 years, from major projects like the YMCA and the Nebraska Prairie Museum to simple improvements like a soccer fence or a playground update.
Phelps County Community Foundation was established in 1976 from the estate of a generous Holdrege resident. An aggressive and creative volunteer board has grown that initial gift to touch all of the communities in Phelps County for great community impact.
The foundation has changed the entire landscape of Phelps County, creating safe and fun communities where people live, work and play. Find out how the Phelps County Community Foundation grew from a generous estate gift of $300,000 in 1976 to a thriving foundation with assets of more than $17 million in this month’s essay.
Exploring Nebraska from a kayak seat
This month we welcome a new essayist to Nebraska Rural Living. Brad Eifert is a lifelong resident of Nebraska and has worked for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 22 years. His passion for all things outdoors led him and a friend to embark on a 36-mile kayak trip down the Missouri River in July.
What Eifert found along the way was serenity and beauty, coupled with the fierce and sudden intensity of Mother Nature’s whims. Eifert’s trip coincided with the Fourth of July holiday which created the perfect setting to celebrate America’s independence.
All too soon, the trip was over and Eifert found himself lamenting his return to reality. But he has learned that the best way to beat post trip blues is to plan the next adventure. Join Eifert on his adventure in this month’s essay. His tale may just inspire you to plan your own great escape.
Gella's Diner and Lb. Brewing Company
Brewing success south of the Nebraska border
by Roni Lewis
The Rural Foodies will follow a highway, dirt road or trail to the best food around, and this month, that road led them down into Kansas to Gella’s Diner and Lb. Brewing Company. Gella’s is finding success in the brewing industry and is also wowing diners with unique and flavorful fare.
Writer Roni Lewis couldn’t wait to find out the story behind Gella’s. What she found is a brew master who pays close attention to the details, and a chef with a passion for creating the best experience for his adventurous eaters. It’s the perfect pairing and is one of the reasons Gella’s was voted one of the top 20 restaurants in Kansas by Kansas Magazine readers.
As always, this month’s Rural Foodies feature will leave you hungry for more. If that’s the case, head to Hays, Kansas, and check out Gella’s to make your own decision. You won’t be disappointed.
Cedar Hills Vineyard
Drinking in all seasons at Cedar Hills Vineyard and Gardens
by Betty Sayers
The Rural Foodies thoroughly enjoyed the scenery through the South Loup River Valley, but they were even more delighted to find Cedar Hills Vineyard and Gardens at the end of the road. Owners Clay and Heidi Schutz welcomed them warmly and it was the perfect day.
Writer Betty Sayers explores the story that brought the Schutzes to Cedar Hills a bit earlier than they had planned. The couple jumped right in with enthusiasm when they bought the winery in 2014. Heidi, whose former career was in medicine, enjoys the role of winemaker, and Cedar Hills offers red, white, blush and fruit wines.
Cedar Hills is open every weekend and offers a bed and breakfast, along with a tasting room and licensed kitchen. The Schutzes have learned from advice shared by other Nebraska winemakers and though the hours are long, they are enjoying the adventure. Learn more in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
Nebraska Food Cooperative
Nebraska Food Cooperative cultivates healthy food system across the state
by Kristine Jacobson
For nearly 10 years now, the Nebraska Food Cooperative has been connecting small farm producers to customers through their online ordering site. The cooperative has helped many producers grow their businesses substantially and Caryl Guisinger, general manager for NFC, said the cooperative feels like a family.
NFC helps more than 80 Nebraska small businesses connect with customers who want locally grown, farm-fresh food. Customers browse hundreds of products sold by Nebraska producers and can receive deliveries at local drop-off sites as frequently as every other week.
And, the food cooperative’s popularity has been growing across the state in the past year as new drop-off sites, new producers and new customers have been added. Read more about this growing cooperative in this month’s Rural Foodie feature.
Bursting with energy at Lewis Produce
by Betty Sayers
Writer Betty Sayers first met Marlon Lewis in Holdrege, Nebraska. They were both attending an meeting organized by Nebraska Food Co-op to discuss how to best highlight fresh local produce. The well-spoken man captured Betty’s attention and she soon arranged to make a trip to his garden near Orleans, Nebraska.
That’s how she found herself wandering through rows upon rows of bright green leaves and vibrant vegetables at Lewis Produce one summer morning. High tunnels loomed large in the background as Lewis talked about how he transitioned from a career as an industrial arts teacher and basketball coach to a full-time gardener.
Lewis Produce vegetables are grown naturally, which can be a challenging way to make a living, Lewis said. But he relies on a network of similar-minded colleagues to share tips and best practices. Find out more about Lewis Produce in this month’s Rural Foodie find.
Keep in Touch
Our newsletter comes out once a month, but today’s social media also allows us to keep in touch between issues. Take a look at our Facebook page. Follow us on Twitter. Find us @NebRuralLiving. And visit our blog. We love hearing from our readers, because (and we’re not biased) we have the best readers around!
Dynamic Towns & Cities:
‘A Good Place to Grow’ is fitting slogan for Stratton entrepreneurs
Sit down for a cup of coffee or lunch in Stratton, and almost invariably, one or two of the locals will begin a story about a business concept that sounded impossible – until some can-do person in Stratton brought it to delicious fruition.
Benkelman is a town with a view...and a view of the future
About as far south and west as you can go and still be in Nebraska, Benkelman is a town with a view, built on spectacular terrain featuring lookouts and ledges. Only three hours from Denver International Airport, you’ll find the hectic, high-priced urban lifestyle evolves into wholesome, affordable, rural living in Benkelman and Dundy County.
The lifestyle of the almost-mythical American rancher and cowboy come alive in Benkelman. There are more veterinarians than doctors in Dundy County, and no wonder: an estimated 70,000 cattle range on land that is all privately owned, with not a single commercial feedlot.
If the perfect small town exists, it just might be Minden
If you could sit down at a drawing board to design the perfect small town, you’d start with a superb education system, then add in gracious and affordable homes. You’d want to make sure you had a prosperous manufacturing sector so there would be good jobs and a sound economy, then perhaps you’d want to add some interesting retail enterprises on wide, safe streets. You’d want to make sure to design in a strong sense of community, with a lot of citizen participation in community decisions, quality healthcare facilities and nearby opportunities for camping, hunting and fishing. Put down your pencil. You’re describing Minden.more...
Holdrege is poster town for mid-western values
If you were looking for someplace that embodied the kind of values America was built on – hard work, education, common sense, care for others – you wouldn’t have to look farther than Holdrege, Nebraska.
Located near the geographic midpoint of the country, Holdrege is one of those towns where all the downtown intersections are paved in brick. The churches near downtown – and there are many – are venerable and substantial, with traditional steeples and stained glass windows, many referencing having been founded in the 1880s or 90s. The trees are old and big – ash and maple and oak and elm – and the houses have spacious, well-kept lawns and generous, shady porches.
Also Featured This Month
It's called virga. Wisps or streaks of water falling out of a cloud but evaporating before reaching the ground. A dry microburst. Like a tantrum cut short.
Changes in feedlot technology drive Holdrege’s MMI International
Feeding cattle isn’t as simple as it once was. A major driver in the state’s economy, Nebraska feedlots comprised some 4.4 million cattle on feed in October, according to the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The Rural Foodies go to the city: experiencing Omaha’s Grey Plume
We chose the Grey Plume Restaurant in part because the chef and owner, Clayton Chapman, serves Blue Valley trout raised in the cold, clean water pumped directly from the Ogallala Aquifer at Sutton, Nebraska.