Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts three Hall of Fame inductees have been announced in a press conference at Husker Harvest Days.
The names of the inductees were announced Wednesday, September 13th outside the natural resources building on the southeast side of the show grounds at Husker Harvest Days in Grand Island. They will be inducted into the Hall of Fame at the Natural Resources Districts Annual Conference September 25th and 26th. Media is invited to attend.
Individuals who have made significant contributions through Nebraska’s Natural Resources Districts resulting in improvements to the state’s natural resources are selected for this coveted honor once a year.
The candidates are elected into the Hall of Fame by vote of current NRD Managers and NARD Board of Directors. There are three Hall of Fame categories. They include: Natural Resources Districts Board member, Natural Resources Districts Employee and Natural Resources Districts Supporter. The NRD Supporter includes individuals outside the NRD system who have shown tremendous care and leadership in Nebraska’s on-going conservation effort.
The Hall of Fame inductees are:
Dean Rasmussen – Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Board member
Ron Fleecs – Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Employee
Gayle Starr – Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Supporter
“I’m excited and surprised; I served on the board for 45 years to the day,” said Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Board member inductee, Dean Rasmussen. “Being inducted into the Natural Resources Districts Hall of Fame is something you dream about but think it will never happen to you; I’ll remember this honor forever.”
Hall of Fame inductee, Dean Rasmussen, was nominated for the Hall of Fame NRD Board member category by the Lower Loup Natural Resources District. He’s been an elected Director of the LLNRD since 1972 when the NRDs were created. He’s from North Loup, but now resides in Hastings. That’s 45 years of service to natural resources. Rasmussen was also one of 23 Directors of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts (NARD) for 24 years and representative on the Loup Basin RC&D Council. He served Valley County as a member of the County Hospital Board of Directors, also in the North Loup Lions Club and has been a guiding force in the annual “Popcorn Days” celebration in North Loup. He’s volunteered countless hours of planning, preparation and hard work for numerous organizations throughout the years. Rasmussen received the “Director of the Year” Award from NARD in 2004.
Hall of Fame inductee, Ron Fleecs, was nominated for the Hall of Fame NRD Staff category by the Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District. He’s from Beatrice. He started his conservation work back in 1959 in the Nebraska Panhandle. He worked as a Watershed Specialist for the Natural Resources Commission from 1963 to 1972. Fleecs was instrumental in the development of the NRD system and was the first NRD Manager for the Lower Big Blue NRD for 32 years until his retirement in 2004. He has overseen more watershed construction projects than any other individual in the NRD system, overseeing 67 flood damage reduction dams, five grade stabilization structures, seven County-NRD road structures, installed more than 3,300 miles of terraces and more than 6,000 acres of grass waterways. It is because of Fleecs’ work that the Lower Big Blue NRD is commonly referred to as “The Watershed Capitol of the World”.
“I can say I’m very proud to have been chosen for this honor because I’ve always valued the Natural Resources Districts and want to see them continue to successfully move forward for years to come, said Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Employee inductee, Ron Fleecs. “Boy, somebody still remembers me; I really didn’t expect it and I think it’s great.”
Hall of Fame inductee, Gayle Starr, was also nominated by the Lower Big Blue Natural Resources District to be inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Natural Resources Districts Supporter. Starr grew up on a Clay County farm near Edgar, Nebraska. He currently lives in Lincoln. He graduated from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln with a Bachelor’s degree and followed up with a Master’s degree in Agricultural Economics. He worked as an ag economist for the Nebraska Soil and Water Conservation Commission in 1965, soon joining the staff at what became the Nebraska Natural Resources Commission. That’s where he worked with the Nebraska Legislature and the Governor in assuring and developing a meaningful NRD planning program. With his help, the NRDs were established in 1972. Starr then moved into the position of Division Head for the agency and retired in 2006.
“Surprised and honored,” said Gayle Starr, inductee of the Nebraska Association of Resources Districts Hall of Fame Natural Resources Districts Supporter. “I always valued my relationships with the NRDs and I sure hope and felt that I left some good things behind me.”
All three Hall of Fame inductees will be presented their awards at the Nebraska Natural Resources Districts Annual Conference Banquet on Monday, September 25th, 2017 at 6 PM. Again, media is invited to attend.