Farm and Rural Leaders Honored for Vision, Leadership

Release Date: 



Elisha Smith,, Phone: (402) 687-2103 ext.1007


Lyons, Nebraska – On the eve of the Center for Rural Affairs’ MarketPlace: Opening Doors to Success conference held in Kearney, Nebraska on February 28, 2007, several farm and rural leaders were honored for the effort, integrity, and leadership they bring to rural America.

Bob Warrick, Seventh Generation Award
Bob Warrick received the Center for Rural Affairs’ Seventh Generation award. Bob served on the Center Board about 25 years from 1975, until he became Board Emeritus about five years ago. Bob was instrumental in publication of Wheels of Fortune, an early Center for Rural Affairs study on center pivot irrigation development in the Sandhills.

That report helped put the Center on the map. It was Bob who first proposed that the Center hire a lobbyist for regular representation in Lincoln. He was extraordinarily active in the Center’s farm bill campaigns, from 1990 through 2002, traveling on many occasions to Washington and to meetings of the Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SAWG) to develop farm bill proposals.

Bob was an ardent conservationist on his farm near Meadow Grove. He and his wife Gudron enrolled in Land Link and through it helped Todd and Julie Stewart start farming. Bob served for many years as chair of the National Sierra Club Agricultural Committee. He and Gudron currently live in Oceanside California, where they moved upon retirement.

John Hansen, Special I-300 Award
John Hansen received a special award from the Center for Rural Affairs Board for extraordinary service in defending Initiative 300. John is President of Nebraska Farmers Union, a post he has held for more than a decade. John has definitely provided a lifetime of service. Before Initiative 300, John would routinely line up bus loads of farmers from Madison County, where he farmed, to go to the legislature for the hearings on corporate farm legislation. He was active in the Initiative 300 drafting committee and campaign. He worked with the Cetner on beginning farmer legislation in the 1980s.

Since becoming Farmers Union President, John has fought many fights for family farmers, but none harder than the fight to defend Initiative 300. John has been the leader of the effort to defend Initiative 300. For that, he has earned the Center for Rural Affairs’ deepest gratitude.

Mark Leonard, Citizenship Award
Mark Leonard received the Center for Rural Affairs’ Citizenship award. Mark has a livestock and grain farm in Holstein, Iowa, and is extremely entrepreneurial. He started his own bank a few years back, having gotten into it through helping his neighbors in the mid to late 1980’s when they were losing their farms.

Mark has been very vocal in his support of payment limits and rural community development. He has gone back to Washington and spoken to the Iowa delegation and others of influence on both subjects for the Center.

He worked long and hard to get a public meeting with the Center for Rural Affairs and Representative Jim Nussle to have a public conversation about payment limits. Rep. Nussle was the chair of the House Budget Committee and was key in the conversation.

Mark has spoken out in behalf of issues important to the Center, though at many times they were the unpopular view. He has been a strong supporter of the Center and our policies. He remains a very influential member of the Republican Party.

Konnie Frederick, Bob Steffen Pioneer Award
Konnie Frederick received the Center for Rural Affairs’ Bob Steffen Pioneer award. Konnie owns and operates a farm two miles directly north of Randolph, Nebraska. She first became connected with the Center for Rural Affairs in 2003 after completing “Tilling the Soils of Opportunity,” an entrepreneurial business training course. Konnie developed a business plan and obtained a livestock loan for Boer goats through a Heifer Project International pilot program in 2004.

Now managing partner of Frederick Boer Goats, Konnie has increased her herd to more than 80 nannies and is in the process of purchasing 100 head or more. She is also a founding member of Many Rivers Producer Cooperative, an association of goat and sheep producers in Nebraska. With technical assistance from the Center and others, the cooperative received both state and federal value added grants to examine the possibility of putting up a processing facility in Nebraska.

Konnie is now one of the most sought after experts in the science of raising Boer goats in the US. She is truly an example of what Bob Steffen had in mind as a responsible livestock producer.

Bob Steffen was a pioneer in sustainable agriculture and organic farming. He also helped launch the Center for Rural Affairs.

For more information visit:

Back to News Releases.

The Center for Rural Affairs is a private nonprofit specializing in strengthening small businesses, rural communities, and family farms and ranches.

Get the Newsletter