Nebraska Farm Bureau has selected Keith Olsen of Grant as the 2013 recipient of its highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award. The award will be presented to Olsen on Dec. 10 at the 2013 Nebraska Farm Bureau Convention in Kearney.
Olsen has been widely respected for his commitment to young people wanting to stay in Nebraska agriculture, and he served as Nebraska Farm Bureau president for nine years from 2002 to 2011, Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson said Nov. 8.
“Keith farms with his son, Jeff, near Grant in southwest Nebraska where they have a no-till farm producing wheat, certified seed wheat, corn and yellow peas. He began farming in 1967 following graduation from the University of Nebraska’s College of Agriculture. Keith is sought after by university, federal and state governmental representatives and officials for his insights and wise counsel on a wide range of issues affecting agriculture and Nebraska,” Nelson said.
Olsen began his Farm Bureau career on the Perkins County Farm Bureau board and later was president. He served on the Nebraska Farm Bureau Federation (NFBF) Tax Advisory Committee and the State Legislative Policy Committee. He was first elected to the NFBF board of directors in 1992 to represent district seven in southwest Nebraska. In 1997, he was elected first vice president serving in that capacity until Aug. 1, 2002 when he became president.
In January 2004, Keith was elected to the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) board of directors. He also served on the AFBF Trade Advisory Committee. He has accompanied governors and AFBF on trade missions to China, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Cuba, Vietnam, Turkey and Russia.
“During his service to Nebraska Farm Bureau, Keith moved the organization forward by representing them in both Lincoln and Washington, D.C. Keith’s first-hand knowledge of water issues has enabled him to work with state legislators on water issues, advocating the wise use of water, and the availability of adequate water flow to Nebraska farmers and residents,” Nelson said.
Olsen has been honored for his work to increase opportunities in agriculture for young people, his support of the Nebraska Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, his involvement in trade missions and the leadership he has given to Farm Bureau.
“Through the University of Nebraska Foundation, Keith and his wife, Doris, sponsor a $1,000 freshman scholarship and a $500 upperclassman scholarship at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Recipients of the scholarships must be studying agriculture-related fields, just one more way to keep Nebraska youth in agriculture and hopefully bring them back to the farm,” Nelson said.
When Olsen retired as Nebraska Farm Bureau’s president the organization honored him by sponsoring the Keith R. Olsen Agricultural Policy Internship Award, which provides students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources the opportunity to complete an internship in Washington, D.C.
“Students who participate in the Washington, D.C., program work full-time on Capitol Hill for a member of Nebraska’s Congressional Delegation, a selected committee in the House of Representatives, Senate or at one of a number of agricultural organizations based in Washington, D.C. It is an extension of what Keith and Doris already do for young people in agriculture,” Nelson added.
Olsen is a Certified Lay Speaker in the United Methodist Church and a member of the Grant United Methodist Church. Keith and Doris have three grown sons: Craig, Jeff and Curtis, and eight grandchildren.
“Nebraska Farm Bureau is stronger because of Keith’s vision for agriculture’s future,” Nelson concluded. “We congratulate Keith who is extremely worthy of Nebraska Farm Bureau’s highest honor, the Silver Eagle Award.”