Nebraska is a national leader in agricultural production, both in grain and livestock.Our leadership role is no coincidence. It’s the result of the University of Nebraska following the land-grant philosophy that informed its founding almost a century and a half ago.
When I enrolled in the Nebraska College of Agriculture in 1949, it was drummed into all of us students that the college was dependent on the model of a three-legged stool. All the legs had to be equal, we were told, or the stool would collapse.
The three legs were the college’s agricultural education programs, the research department and its extension offerings. The college was responsible for educating students, equipping them with information on the best-known methods of production.
Then some of these students would go on to conduct research to find new methods of increasing production in an efficient and sustainable manner.
And then the successful methods they developed would be disseminated to producers so they could adapt to the latest available technologies.
That model worked in 1869, when our university was established. It worked in the 1940s and 1950s, when I was a student. It works today.
And – at a time when innovation in agricultural production is needed more than ever – it will be the model that sustains Nebraska’s leadership in feeding an increasingly hungry and thirsty world.
In earlier years, most of the technologies and improvements to production were the result of research at what would become UNL’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. But as technology has developed at a more and more rapid pace, IANR has wisely taken advantage of the resources and talents of a diverse range of disciplines across the university system.
That kind of collaborative, interdisciplinary thinking is exactly the approach that’s needed to address the complex challenges facing our planet today.
The University of Nebraska, and consequently the state of Nebraska, has benefited from leaders who have recognized the importance of partnership both within and outside of the university system to keep Nebraska at the forefront in agricultural production and efficient use of our precious natural resources. In my view, we’re ahead of other states in gathering the best minds around the table to come up with solutions to pressing challenges – and Nebraskans are better for it.
As one example, consider the development of the university-wide Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute.
I was fortunate to serve on the search committee for the founding executive director of the institute, and I was joined by representatives from across the university as well as external partners. Similarly, stakeholders within the university and beyond provided input on the development of the Water for Food Institute’s strategic plan and programming.
Our partnership is paying off. Only seven years after the institute was established, the University of Nebraska is increasingly recognized as an international leader in developing methods for the most efficient use of water to feed the world. Our global leadership will be on display in a few weeks, when we host hundreds of researchers, producers, business managers, government and non-governmental organization directors, students and others from around the world for the Water for Food Conference in Lincoln.
I’m confident that if we, the citizens of Nebraska, continue to support our excellent university system, our state will lead the nation – and in many ways the world – in developing more efficient and sustainable methods of supporting the growing population. The long-term well-being of the planet depends on our success. Nebraska, through the education, research and extension programs that have been at the heart of the University of Nebraska’s mission for almost 150 years, is ready to lead.
By Eugene T. Glock, Rising City
Eugene Glock raises corn and soybeans, primarily for seed production, on the family farm near Rising City. Eugene was recently honored at the Nebraska Hall of Agriculture Achievement. This is a synopsis of the message he presented that evening.