Olson honored with Center for Rural Affairs lifetime service award

Small Towns

Brian Depew, executive director, briand@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext. 1015; or Rhea Landholm, brand marketing and communications manager, rheal@cfra.org, 402.687.2100 ext 1025

LYONS, NEBRASKA – Paul Olson, of Lincoln, Nebraska, will receive the Center for Rural Affairs’ 2019 Seventh Generation Award during a ceremony on March 13 in York, Nebraska.

The Seventh Generation Award honors the lifetime service of individuals who have made significant contributions in improving rural life and protecting our land and water.

For nearly half a century, the Center for Rural Affairs has worked to build a vibrant rural future and create opportunity in rural America. Olson has been a supporter of the Center for Rural Affairs since its founding and served on the board for four decades, including many years as board president.

Olson said he led with a vision for the nonprofit as "a place where intellectual power serves rural people, where the fate of rural people and the fate of the earth are seen to be mutually dependent, and where the fate of both starts with action by all of us."

Olson retired from the organization’s board of directors in March 2019.

"I remember Paul most as a gentle yet powerful voice in the boardroom,” said Brian Depew, executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs. “He offered both vision and clarity, carefully considered and beautifully articulated.”

During his time on the board, Olson encouraged the nonprofit’s staff and supporters to broaden their focus beyond creating economic opportunity to consider the importance of culture and quality of life issues in small towns.

"The current staff and board stand on the shoulders of giants, and Paul Olson is one of them," Depew said.

Olson's other accomplishments include founding the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Center for Great Plains Studies, co-founding the Project English Center at UNL, co-founding UNL’s Nebraska Writing Project Rural Institutes, and serving as a longtime board member of Nebraskans for Peace.