Erin Schoenberg, senior development associate, 402.499.2781, firstname.lastname@example.org; Teresa Hoffman, senior communications associate, 402.687.2100, ext. 1012, email@example.com
VALPARAISO, NEBRASKA – Richard “Dick” Potter of Valparaiso received the 2023 Outstanding Farmer Veteran Award at the 56th annual Triumph of Ag Expo on March 2 in Omaha. The award is sponsored by the Center for Rural Affairs.
U.S. Congressman Don Bacon, recipient of the 2022 Agri-Award, recognized Potter for his service to the country in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, as well as his contributions to the farming and ranching community and to the American Legion.
“About 45% of America’s military personnel come from our rural communities,” said Erin Schoenberg, senior development associate with the Center for Rural Affairs. “And many of those, like Dick, either return to a family farm or ranch or transition into the agriculture sector.”
Potter grew up on land near Valparaiso that his dad bought using money from the GI bill following World War II. They grew corn and milo and raised cattle, hogs, and horses.
Drafted in 1968, Potter completed basic training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Lewis, Washington. After training, he was sent to Vietnam as an infantryman, and later a mortarman, a point man, and a machine gun operator in the 199th Infantry Brigade. He received six awards, including the National Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Bronze Star Medal, the Air Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
"Dick, his father, and grandfather, were all drafted in the U.S. Army,” said Dan Benes, past department commander with the Nebraska American Legion. “All three served in combat arms, on foreign soil, boots on the ground. All three sacrificed. It's an incredible piece of history, these three generations of dedication and service to their nation in the Potter family."
Potter was discharged in 1970, returned home to farm with his father, and has been there since. He married Marcia Liska in 1974, and they had four children: Casey, Cody, Catherine, and Carla, and 16 grandchildren. His sons started farming with him in 2013.
The farm has evolved over the years, and they added soybeans and removed hogs. They also downsized the cattle feedlot operation and now run a cow/calf operation.
Potter is a member of the American Legion, Sons of the American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Wahoo Saddle Club, and Saunders County Livestock Association. He has served as vice commander of Legion Post 371 and is responsible for rounding up animals for the petting zoo during the Legion’s kid’s fun day in the spring. The third weekend in July, you will find him running the livestock gate at the Wahoo Rodeo. He has been honored with the Quilt of Valor and the Veteran of the Month award in Saunders County.
“Dick has lived his life according to the values most Americans can relate to especially in rural America; love of God, family, and country,” his nomination reads. “He is not the biggest farmer in the county, but no one represents the community better in terms of hard work, appreciation of the lifestyle and honesty.”
Feature photo: Retired Brigadier General Jim Murphy, who introduced the award winner at the ceremony; 2023 Farmer Veteran award winner Dick Potter, Center for Rural Affairs staff member Erin Schoenberg; and Dan Benes, past department commander with the Nebraska American Legion.