Citizenship Award winner advocates for farm and family


Text messages, social media posts, and emails may be the primary forms of communication in today’s technology-driven world, but it was a simple postcard delivered to Will Corman’s mailbox in Superior, Nebraska, that started his advocacy journey.

In 2021, the Center was soliciting feedback about the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP). Will received a postcard and his interest was piqued, so he called the Center with the goal of sharing his experiences for the greater good.

Will, a third-generation farmer, said his father and uncle were early adopters of conservation practices. In 2014, he returned to his family’s Nuckolls County farm to help his father, uncle, and cousin manage a diversified operation of corn, wheat, soybeans, and cattle, and his father put him in charge of managing their CSP contracts.  

“It’s the first thing he handed to me,” Will said.

Since that first phone call, Will has become the Center’s most reliable CSP advocate.

He has participated in a producer listening session, submitted a comment to the House Agriculture Committee, and met with Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer’s staff about the significance of soil testing on his operation. These actions contributed to the Center’s efforts to introduce CSP legislation as lawmakers worked to draft the nation’s next farm bill.

“Will played an important role in the development and promotion of our marker bill, ” said Kalee Olson, policy manager with the Center. “He’s also willing to share his story with other farmers and the general public, and was featured in Nebraska Farmer magazine and a producer spotlight created by our staff.”

Kalee said Will is an advocate who can always be counted on to say “yes.” In recognition of his participation in the civic process and for working closely with the Center to advance public policies to strengthen family farms, ranches, and rural communities, Will was awarded the Center’s 2023 Citizenship Award.

Will said he and his wife Brenda are big-picture thinkers and want to make a difference in the industry and their community. Sharing his experience with CSP and other conservation programs is just one example of how they are giving back.

“I know a lot of people that don’t use it (CSP), and it’s a great tool,” he said. “It’s a great way to try something different without a lot of financial risk.”

CSP provides financial and technical assistance to producers. The program is designed to enhance existing conservation efforts operation-wide and requires applicants to demonstrate they are addressing resource concerns with additional conservation practices.

Will has implemented several conservation practices to increase the profitability of the farm and become a better steward of natural resources. Over the years, three practices—nutrient management, irrigation water management, and a pest management conservation system—have made significant contributions to his conservation goals.

Will said it’s not lost on him that he’s fortunate to have the opportunities he’s been given to work on and continue to build his family’s operation, Tri-C Farms, in Hardy, Nebraska.

“Advocating is one way I can give back to those who are not as fortunate or need more assistance,” he said.

He also advocates for future generations. Will said sharing his experiences and implementing conservation practices are his way of making sure his children, Maria, Ava, and Henry, or his cousin’s children can farm the same land if they choose to become part of the operation.

Will doesn’t remember a time when he lacked the confidence to speak up, joking that he’s comfortable in his own skin “because I’m not afraid to embarrass myself.” He understands that others may not be as comfortable advocating, but he wants them to know it is important for decision makers to hear from the people who are doing the work.

Will said he was “pretty tickled” to receive the Center’s Citizenship Award.

“It feels nice to be recognized for getting out of your comfort zone,” he said. “It’s not necessary and not why I do it, but it’s a nice gesture.”

Feature photos: 

Top: Center Policy Manager Kalee Olson and Policy Director Jillian Linster present Will Corman with the 2023 Citizenship Award. 

Bottom: Will is joined by his wife, Brenda, and children, Maria, Ava, and Henry.