Gene Haarberg saluted by state's association of resources districts

Gene Haarberg saluted by state's association of resources districts

Thursday, November 5, 2020 - 9:30am

NRD board member Terry Martin also honored by state organization

By Jan Shultz
The Imperial Republican

Two men affiliated with the Upper Republican NRD are being honored by the Nebraska Association of Natural Resources Districts (NARD).

Earning one of the organization’s top awards, posthumously, is Eugene “Gene” Haarberg, who was chosen a 2020 Hall of Fame inductee.

Haarberg, who died in 2014, was among the first Upper Republican NRD board members when it organized in 1972, and becomes one of three new inductees into the NARD’s Hall of Fame this year.

Haarberg’s selection represents current or former NRD board members. Other Hall of Fame inductees this year come from employees and supporters.

Besides the Hall of Fame class, the NARD also is honoring six others with awards, one of which is going to Terry Martin as Director of the Year. Haarberg, who farmed in Imperial and Chase County, was nominated by the Upper Republican NRD. He was lauded during his lifetime for his service on the Upper Republican NRD board of directors from the district’s inception in 1972 until 2000. As a lifelong Chase County farmer, Haarberg first served as a representative of Class II cities, working with the Unicameral to establish the NRD system and the Groundwater Management and Protection Act that authorized NRDs to regulate groundwater.

His 28 years as an Upper Republican NRD board member and involvement in state water issues hasn’t been forgotten by his widow, Kay, of Imperial.

She said the work Gene did with the NRD and water was his passion.

“He loved it,” she said.

She recalls him spending a lot of hours at meetings and at the NRD office in Imperial.

Director of the Year Martin, who lives in Benkelman, was also nominated by the Upper Republican NRD.

Martin has been on the Upper Republican’s board of directors since 2013, and is currently its chairman. He also chairs the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement ( N C O R P E ) project board.

The Hall of Fame class and conservation award winners will be honored f o r m a l l y at the 2021 NARD Legislative Conference Jan. 26-27 in Lincoln.

Usually, the NARD announces its Hall of Fame honorees during Husker Harvest Days in mid-September. The other award winners are named during the annual NRD conference at the end of the month.

This year, Husker Harvest Days went virtual, and the NRD annual conference was canceled.

“We expect to host the January legislative conference in person with the necessary social distancing to prioritize the health and safety of attendees,” says Jim Eschliman, NARD president.

“The two-day conference brings together NRDs, elected officials and public-private partners integrally involved in conservation, technology and policy-making,” he said.

Here is a list of the seven other award-winners in the 2020 awards class:

NRD Hall of Fame (employee)—Leon “Butch” Koehlmoos, Ord, Neb. Nominated by the Lower Loup NRD, he is a former general manager of the Lower Loup NRD. He retired in 2017 after 39 years of service. NRD Hall of Fame (supporter)—Doug Bereuter, Almo, Calif., a former Nebraska legislator from 1974-78 and former Nebraska U.S. congressman. In Congress, he was instrumental in helping pass the Water Resources Development Act. Tree Planter of the Year: Terry Holt, Red Cloud, Neb. Educator of the Year: Boyd Bowder, St. Paul High School, St. Paul, Neb. Soil Stewardship Conservation Award: Dan and Melinda Stelling, Pierce, Neb. Grassland Conservation Award: Star Cattle Co., North Platte, Neb. Community Conservation Award: Josh Moenning, mayor of Norfolk, Neb.