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Nebraska Farm Bureau Names 2019 Leadership Academy Class

LINCOLN, NEB. Ten farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2019 Leadership Academy. The selected farmers and ranchers will begin a year-long program starting Jan. 24-25 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney.

“The goal of the Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy is to cultivate the talents and strengths of our members and connect their passion for agriculture to opportunities of service within the Farm Bureau organization. Great leaders have a clearly defined purpose; purpose fuels passion and work ethic. By developing leadership skills, academy members can develop their passions and positively impact their local communities and the state of Nebraska.” said Phil Erdman, facilitator of the 2019 Leadership Academy. Erdman works with Audrey Schipporeit, Nebraska Farm Bureau’s director of generational engagement to help facilitate the program. Erdman also serves as the vice president of membership for Nebraska Farm Bureau.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership skills, understanding the county, state, and national structure of the Nebraska Farm Bureau organization including Farm Bureau’s grassroots network and policy work on agriculture issues. Also, the group will travel to Washington, D.C. in September, for visits with Nebraska’s Congressional delegation and federal agency representatives.

“We congratulate this group of diverse individuals and thank them for their willingness to step out of their comfort zone to learn more about how they can influence their community, state, and world for the better,” said Schipporeit.

The 2019 Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy members are:

Brenda Jean Wendt, a member of the Boyd County Farm Bureau, lives in Bristow. She was born and raised on her family’s farm in Howells. After meeting her husband at Wayne State College, they built a home by Bristow where she is involved with her husband’s family farm.

Owen Seamann is a Wheeler County Farm Bureau member and lives in Spalding. Seamann has been involved in agriculture for many years, first working for farmers and on a feedlot then purchasing his own cow herd.

Cherie Priest is a Brown County Farm Bureau member. She moved to Brown County with her husband, Randy, in 2005 to take over the ranch that has been in his family for three generations and runs a cow/calf operation. She is also the office manager for a local 50,000 head capacity feed yard.

Jolene Dunbar is a member of the Loup County Farm Bureau. After attending college and working for several ag related businesses, she returned home in 2008 and gradually worked her way back into the family farm business. She now resides in Almeria with her two girls, where they enjoy farming, ranching and showing their shorthorns and sheep.

Katherine Martindale is a Blaine County Farm Bureau member. Martindale served as Postmaster for Dunning and Brewster for thirty-one years. Since retiring, Martindale helps her husband Jay and his family operate their ranch/feedlot near Brewster.

Krista Podany is a member of the Knox County Farm Bureau. Podany is a dedicated volunteer to both Farm Bureau and her community. She has a diversified farming operation along with a custom harvest business.

Matthew Erickson is a member of the Johnson County Farm Bureau. Matthew received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanized Systems Management with minors in Agronomy and Animal Science from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. After graduation, Erickson returned home to the farm and continues farming with his family.

Adam Rathman, a member of Hall County Farm Bureau, worked just over four years as a caseworker at the Nebraska Correctional Youth Facility in Omaha before moving back to Wood River to work on the farm. He currently helps his father run a row crop and cow calf operation just outside of Wood River.

Tyrell Fickenscher is a member of Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau. Fickenscher graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Soil and Crop Science and received his Master’s in Agribusiness from Kansas State University. He and his wife started Upward Ag Systems, where he continues to work to help farmers adopt technology focusing on irrigation management and data analysis.

Samantha Dyer, a member of the Dawes County Farm Bureau, graduated from Texas Tech University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Business. Dyer currently is a financial officer for Farm Credit Services of America.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau is a grassroots, state-wide organization dedicated to supporting farm and ranch families and working for the benefit of all Nebraskans through a wide variety of educational, service and advocacy efforts. More than 59,000 families across Nebraska are Farm Bureau members, working together to achieve rural and urban prosperity as agriculture is a key fuel to Nebraska’s economy. For more information about Nebraska Farm Bureau and agriculture, visit

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