Kenneth and Lareda Hoback receive Bob Steffen Pioneer Award - - Couple presented prestigious sustainable ag award

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Kathie Starkweather,, phone: (402) 617-7946;

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

Lyons, NE - The Center for Rural Affairs recently presented their 2013 Bob Steffen Pioneer Award to Kenneth and Lareda Hoback of Burwell, Nebraska. They were honored for their integrity, leadership and extraordinary efforts in sustainable agriculture at a special awards banquet on February 10, the eve of the Center for Rural Affairs’ 8th Annual MarketPlace entrepreneurship conference in West Point. This honor is bestowed by the Center’s Rural Opportunities and Stewardship Program each year to a person or persons who make an extraordinary contribution to the work of the program and provide a model for innovation, stewardship or community development.

"This means a lot to us. We have long believed in the Center for Rural Affairs and the work they do,” said Lareda. “We're just happy to have been a partner in a few things."

“Kenneth and Lareda Hoback have been long-time supporters of the Center for Rural Affairs,” said Kathie Starkweather, Rural Stewardship and Opportunities Program (ROSP) Director for the Center for Rural Affairs. “They have helped move our projects forward in many instances where without their assistance, we likely would not have been successful.”

According to Starkweather, the Hobacks have been leaders in their community and beyond for years. Lareda's vision and persistence started the annual Junk Jaunt, an economic development project that has grown in success each year. The Junk Jaunt started in 2004 with 75 vendors and 1,000 shoppers. In 2011 and 2012, according to license plate surveys and guest books, over 20,000 people attended from 34 states (including Hawaii), several Canadian provinces and even a few overseas visitors. 

“Kenneth and Lareda were key in opening up doors in Garfield County when we worked on an eco-tourism project in 2008,” continued Starkweather. “And Lareda stepped up with our Women in Conservation project that brought women landowners together to look at the conservation practices they could use on their land. She reached out, making personal phone calls to women landowners in the area, resulting in a very good turnout of women landowners, many of whom ultimately made changes to or adopted conservation practices.”

Starkweather continued, “Our current pollinator project in Garfield and eight other surrounding counties would not have happened if not for Kenneth and Lareda. They came to the MarketPlace entrepreneurship conference about four years ago with their dream of developing butterfly gardens up and down the Loup River Scenic Byway. They took it upon themselves to do considerable outreach to find those communities and community members interested in attracting tourists with gardens that benefit butterflies and other pollinators, and have promoted the idea of developing the gardens using organic practices. This project, like the Junk Jaunt, will be successful in no small way because of the work they have done.”

For a picture of Kenneth and Lareda accepting their award , visit:
(Pictures courtesy of the Center for Rural Affairs)

Bob Steffen was a pioneer in sustainable agriculture, organic farming, and biodynamics and helped found the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society and was a founding member of the Center for Rural Affairs Board of Directors. The Sierra Club, Audubon Society and Nebraska Wildlife Federation recognized Bob for his service to the environment. And as the Farm Superintendent at Boys Town near Omaha for over 30 years, he influenced thousands of young men with his agriculture programs.

For more information about this and other Center for Rural Affairs awards please visit:

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