A south-central Nebraska family that made a switch from row crops to a cow-calf operation has won the 2015 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award.
Brian Shaw, speaking for the family, says he began his career after playing football and graduating from the University of Nebraska at Lehmann Brothers in New York and Chicago only to return home to the farm near Hastings to become involved in an occupation he calls intrinsically rewarding, because it doesn’t just put food on his family’s table, but it feeds the world.
“And it doesn’t get much better than that,” Shaw tells reporters during a news conference hosted by Gov. Pete Ricketts.
The Shaw family began grazing federally protected wetlands as a way of expanding its cross-bred cattle herd. Shaw says the family found a way to satisfy all the rules and regulations, protect and even enhance the environment, and still make a living.
Shaw said he and his father, Steve, had to think outside the box and adapt to the resources at hand to expand their herd in an area of the state where crops are king.
They knew it would be a risk.
“We decided to take that chance and partner with the organizations in hopes of not only being able to increase our herd, but also to improve the wildlife habitat,” Shaw says.
Shaw says it is more common now to use grazing to improve wetland habitat, but that was far from the case when the Shaw family decided to do so.
Gov. Ricketts honored Steve and Vicki Shaw as well as Brian and Julie Shaw at the news conference held at the Capitol.