The past few months have been challenging for Nebraskans. Unprecedented flooding and severe weather led to the most widespread natural disaster in state history. The massive flooding of the Platte, Loup, Elkhorn and Missouri rivers affected many of our families, friends and neighbors. Not only has the flooding transformed our landscape, it has changed who we are as Nebraskans.
While the images of the flood will forever be etched in our minds, so too will the many scenes of compassion. Neighbors helping neighbors, strangers driving through the night to deliver hay and supplies, and community-organized donation drives are just a few of the ways people have come together. These acts of goodwill are proof that we are in this together and exemplifies the resilience of Nebraskans.
The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources and our colleagues across the university system are standing alongside Nebraskans during this trying time. Individuals across each of the University of Nebraska’s five campuses are working to support those affected by the flooding. For example, in addition to our Nebraska Extension professionals who live and work in affected areas providing boots-on-the-ground assistance in the days immediately following the floods, Extension launched a comprehensive resource hub for families, businesses, producers and community leaders facing flood recovery – flood.unl.edu. New and updated information is added daily and will continue to be as recovery efforts continue and needs change.
Our university is also working hard to provide flexibility for students whose families, homes, communities or financial situations have been impacted. Campuses have enacted a number of student-friendly changes for incoming and current students ranging from providing greater flexibility for submitting course assignments and offering alternative living arrangements to stretching application deadlines and creating flexibility around scholarship start dates.
Other university efforts also include mental health and well-being support from the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s Behavioral Health Education Center of Nebraska. A student serviceship program to assist with flood recovery efforts will place up to 50 students directly in communities impacted by the flooding.
We are fortunate that Chuck Hibberd, dean and director of Nebraska Extension, agreed to lead the university’s coordinated response and recovery efforts. He has assembled a team of experts from across the University of Nebraska to help facilitate volunteer opportunities, connect with community experts and coordinate other agencies and efforts to ensure that support is provided where and when it’s needed for as long as it’s needed.
This issue of Growing is dedicated to the resiliency of those Nebraskans impacted by the flooding and to those who produce the food, fuel, feed and fiber that sustains a growing world. It explores and highlights the Institute’s efforts – and our shared commitment – to accelerating crop and livestock production and profitability in a manner that ensures the resiliency of Nebraska’s water, soil, and air, and the vitality of our rural communities. I am fortunate to witness the bright minds of IANR working in partnership with Nebraskans as they go about advancing the health of production agriculture and natural resource systems. From grazing research in the Sandhills (pg. 8) to enhancing the quality of life for individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups in rural areas (pg. 20), this issue offers you a glimpse at IANR’s commitment to the vitality of individuals and communities.
If you have ideas on how IANR can help ensure a resilient future for Nebraska, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts with me. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael J. Boehm, Ph.D.
Vice President, Agriculture and Natural Resources
University of Nebraska
IANR Harlan Vice Chancellor,
University of Nebraska–Lincoln