Nine farmers and ranchers from across Nebraska have been selected for Nebraska Farm Bureau’s 2017 Leadership Academy. The selected farmers and ranchers will begin a year-long program Jan. 26-27 in Kearney.

“The goal of the academy is to cultivate the talents and strengths of the participants 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 Adam Peterson, 2017 Leadership Academy facilitator. Audrey Smith, Farm Bureau’s director of generational engagement will help Peterson facilitate the program.

Academy members will participate in sessions focused on leadership skills, understanding the county, state, and national structure of the 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 up and out of their comfort zone to learn more about how they can influence their community, state, and work for the better,” said Audrey Smith.

The members of the 2017 Nebraska Farm Bureau Leadership Academy class are:

Tom Waldo, a Junior at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and a Saline County Farm Bureau member. Waldo is studying agricultural economics with an emphasis in agricultural policy. Waldo grew up on a seedstock hog farm near DeWitt that also includes about 1,500 acres of corn and soybeans.

Cadrien Livingston, a student at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln and a Knox County Farm Bureau member. Livingston and her mother own 200 head of registered Gelbvieh-Angus cattle and sell bulls private treaty February through May each year.

Mark Lundeen of Axtell, a Kearney/Franklin County Farm Bureau member. Lundeen is the sixth generation on his family farm in the Minden area. Lundeen grows corn and soybeans on the family farm and also sells seed for Producers Hybrids.

Heath Reimers of Clarks, a Merrick County Farm Bureau member. Reimers runs a cow/calf operation and farms. He also works for his father-in-law on his farm.

William Lechtenberg of Spencer, a Boyd County Farm Bureau member. Lechtenberg runs a cow/calf to finish operation, buys some feeder cattle, provides corn and feedstocks for the cows and feedlot, and sells soybeans off the farm. Lechtenberg is also a partner in a Pioneer dealership that sells to customers in a three county area.

Kelsey Knigge of Broken Bow, a Custer County Farm Bureau member. Knigge is currently employed at Adams Land and Cattle in Broken Bow as a Cattle Health Assistant and Necropsy Specialist.

Katherine Kubacki of Valentine, a Cherry County Farm Bureau member. Kubacki manages the Sandhills Cattle Association where she represents the cattle and resources in the Sandhills of Nebraska and South Dakota.

Matthew Fiechnter of Stapleton, a McPherson County Farm Bureau member. Fiechnter helps on the family owned cow/calf operation and operates a small trucking business.

Cale Pallas of Stromsburg, a Polk County Farm Bureau member. Pallas sells Pioneer Seed.

The Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation is a grassroots, statewide 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 61,000 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