Current Board Members
Mike Abbott

Mike Abbott owns and operates a ranch with his brother and three sisters in Cherry County.  He is married to Pamela Abbott, and together they have a son, John, and two daughters, Margret and Emily.  Mike was a commodities trader before returning to the ranch.  

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Melody Benjamin

Melody is the Vice President of Member Services for Nebraska Cattlemen.  Melody was born and raised on the eastern plains of Colorado.  Her earliest memories of childhood are coming out of her bedroom to see the house full of baby calves taking refuge from a severe storm.  She started in the cattle industry at eight when she received her first heifer.  She was active in 4-H for ten years, raising breeding stock and finished animals.  Melody has been a member of a Cattlemen’s organization since 1975, when she began her life as a full-time cattle producer.  She has a ranch at Lakeside, east of Alliance, where her son Rob and daughter-in-law Kate join her in raising commercial cows and calves.  Over the years, she has gone from the daily work on the ranch to being an advisor and sounding board.

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Homer Buell

Homer is the fourth-generation co-owner of the Shovel Dot Ranch near Rose, Nebraska, and the recipient of the 2012 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award. Buell has advocated for agriculture and the cattle industry through his service in leadership roles in trade organization. He is a former President of the Nebraska Cattlemen’s Association and the Nebraska Hereford Association, as well as holding many positions within the National Cattlemen Beef Association in his 14 years of board service. In addition, he has been President of the State 4-H Foundation, Campaign for Nebraska, Committee Chair, Sustainable Animal Production Systems, and currently serves on the board of the Sand County Foundation and President of Agricultural Builders of Nebraska. A graduate of the University of Nebraska, he is a strong supporter of youth activities and has worked with the University of Nebraska for the benefit of students and research programs, as well as serving on the University of Nebraska President’s Advisory Council.  

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Lemoyne Dailey

Lemoyne started on the board in 2019 and brings a bit of ranching experience with him.  Lemoyne has had several occupations during the years while caring for his ranch, one of the jobs was being a Deputy Sherriff with Lincoln Co. for 13 years!  Lemoyne has been married to his wife for 20 years and he has 6 children.  The last graduating this spring.  He has been active in conservation and has received several awards including Nebraska Grazing Conservative Award, Rangeman’s Award- Nebraska section for range management, and he has taken the Nebraska Ranch Practicum course.  Lemoyne enjoys camping, fishing, and traveling in his spare time.  He jokingly says that ranching is a hobby too, right?

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Steve Fairbairn

Steve is the Nebraska State Partners for Fish and Wildlife Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  He has spent 23 years with the Partners for Wildlife program, serving in South Dakota and North Dakota before moving to Nebraska in 2022.  In his free time, Steve enjoys spending time with family, hunting, fishing, hiking, gardening, and homebrewing beer and wine.  He currently resides in Buffalo County.  

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Eric Hansen

Eric grew up as a 5th-generation rancher in North Platte, NE.  The ranch was founded in 1877 and currently has the oldest registered brand, to one family, in Nebraska.  Eric attended Nebraska Westland College, where he played football and track.  He returned to the ranch in 1994 and married his wife a short time later.  They have four daughters, ages 23, 21, 15, and 3.  The oldest is a teacher in Lincoln, and the next is attending school at UNL for physical therapy.  Eric also has been a part of the Twin Flat NRD for 18 years and is currently the Vice-Chair for the Nebraska Cattleman Natural Resources and Environmental Committee. In addition, he has been a board member on the Sandhills Task Force for approximately 15 years and enjoys the way ranchers can work with the government agencies and reach goals that are important to each other.

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Ted LeGrange

Ted has worked as the Wetland Program Manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission for 27 years. As Wetland Program Manager, he works on a wide variety of wetland issues throughout Nebraska, including partnerships, private land restoration programs, public lands management, research, regulations, and outreach. Before moving to Nebraska, he worked 8 years as a Waterfowl Research Technician for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources.   Ted received B.S. and M.S. degrees in wildlife biology from Iowa State University. His professional interests are in prairie wetlands and waterfowl/waterbird ecology. He has been on the Sandhills Task Force Board since 1993!

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Nancy Peterson

Nancy and her husband, Rex, own and operate Plum Thicket Farms in Sheridan County, Nebraska, with their son, Patrick.  They have two other children, Galen and Kate, and three grandchildren.  Nancy and her family are passionate about using grazing to improve the range and soil.  Because of their efforts, they were honored with the 2016 Aldo Leopold Award for Conservation and named the 2016 Commercial Beef Breeder of the year by the Beef Improvement Federation.  Plum Thicket Farms also provides internships for young adults pursuing ranching and natural resource management careers.  Before moving to the Sandhills in 1998, Nancy was a cow-calf veterinarian in the Colorado Mountain town of Yampa.  She is an active member of the Church of God Leadership team in Gordon, NE; secretary of the Willow Tree Board; and a teacher for the 2nd Street Youth Program.  She also served on the Nebraska Cattlemen Board from 2016 through 2019.  When not working on the ranch or in her other activities, Nancy can be found reading, walking through the pastures, or working in her garden.  

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John Ravenscroft

John is the owner/operator of 3 Bar Cattle Co. in Cherry County, Nebraska, and has been a practitioner of Holistic Resource Management since 1989.   He and his wife of 50 years, Cheryl, have three sons, Eric, Kevin, and Brant. In addition to the Sandhills Task Force, John is a member of the Nebraska Cattlemen, Cherry County Farm Bureau, Sandhills Cattle Association, and the Cherry County Veterans Post Chapter 90. He is active in his church and was a Cherry County Commissioner. He also served in the Vietnam War with the United States Army. As a young man, John enjoyed roping and competing in draft horse-pulling contests. Today his favorite activities on the ranch are moving cattle and monitoring grasses. He also enjoys spending time with his ten grandchildren and watching them play sports and participate in rodeo activities. In 2022 John and his family were honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition!  

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Mary Reese

Mary grew up in North Central Nebraska on a dairy farm where her love of native plants and rangeland management began while tagging after her brothers to range judging events. She has turned this love into a career and began working for the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) as an intern while attending college at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. After moving through the ranks of the NRCS first as a Range Conservationist and then as a District Conservation, she now serves as the Assistant State Conservationist. She supervises a diverse staff of 19 field offices in Western Nebraska. Mary is an active Society for Range Management member and has co-directed the High School Youth Forum since 1999. She and her husband ranch northwest of North Platte. They have two children, Tess and Trent. In her free time, she enjoys scrapbooking and helping out on the ranch during branding and hay season.  

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Rich Walters

Rich is entering his 11th year at The Nature Conservancy (TNC). As Director of Conservation for the Nebraska program, he oversees TNC-owned lands, land protection program, sustainable grazing lands (SGL) strategy, freshwater riverine projects, and representation of TNC in numerous statewide partnerships. Rich has led large-scale collaborative partnerships that implement conservation management actions on private lands. As SGL implementation manager, he assists in developing and implementing SGL strategies. Rich serves on the Governance Committee for the Platte River Recovery Implementation Program, representing the environmental interests of the Platte River. The Program is focused on implementing a shared vision for creating and maintaining habitats on the Platte River with a focus on environmental water flows. Rich also is on the board of the Rainwater Basin Joint Venture. Before joining TNC, Rich worked as a private and public land manager and waterfowl biologist at the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. Rich holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in wildlife biology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney.               

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