UNL ‘Listening Tour’ makes stop in Albion

By Gabby Christensen
On Monday, Aug. 6, representatives from the University of Nebraska Lincoln made a stop in Albion as part of a “Listening Tour,” where area residents were invited to attend and share thoughts on the future of agriculture.
Some 20 area residents gathered at the Albion Country Club to listen to Michael Boehm, vice chancellor of the UNL Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, discuss various agricultural topics.
Boehm said he plans to visit each county in the state, and that these stops allow the University to gather a perspective of how things are going throughout rural Nebraska.
Boehm began the discussion Monday by illuminating the three main areas that the Institute focuses on: feeding a growing world, growing in a sustainable way for future generations, and insuring vitality of individuals and communities.
“As we think about feeding a growing world—although it’s not solely our responsiblity—Nebraska, a major agriculture production state, has a huge role,” Boehm said.
Looking at current projections, Boehm said in roughly 32 years, the United States’ population will jump from it’s current 330 million to about 360 million.
Japan, on the other hand, is looking at a 30 to 40 million population decrease in the same time frame.
Asia and India are current markets that the U.S. is aggressively working to engage, according to Boehm.
“And it’s not all about money and markets, it’s also about global stability,” Boehm said.
Boehm pointed out roughly one billion people around the world live in abject poverty.
According to Boehm, 200 people die every hour from food and water insecurity.
Another startling statistic that Boehm offered was that one out of 10 people in Boone County are food insecure and about 15 percent of people in Nebraska are food insecure.
“Food insecurity leads to destabilization, homeland security issues, and global security isues,” Boehm said.
At the University, Boehm said Nebraska is the main focus, with the great plains area being highly relevant, as well.
“We also think about the entire U.S. but we also touch the whole world in some really important ways,” Boehm said.
Boehm said people who grow food, fuel, and fiber, paired with the resilient natural ecosystem, is where the real magic lies.
With that being said, Boehm said the University wants to focus on the success of people and communities.
At the moment, 20 percent of people ages 18 to 24 in Platte County do not have high school dergrees.
Boehm said those who do not graduate high school are 62 times more likely to be incarcerated in their lifetime.
“Obtaining a high school degree is critical,” Boehm said. “In fact, the more education a person has, the better off the entire community is.”
Boehm noted that Albion is a forward leaning, progressive town, with leaders who are interested in seeing the community move forward.

Read the complete story in the Aug. 8 Albion News & Petersburg Press, Print and E-Editions.