Local agriculture producers came together Thursday to listen to speakers and learn more about the industry for the 15th annual Fremont Corn Expo.

The Fremont Corn Expo, hosted by the University of Nebraska Extension in the Christensen Field Main Arena, featured multiple guest speakers, booths for various businesses and organizations and free waffles and barbecue.

Nathan Mueller, extension educator for Dodge and Washington counties and organizer of the all-day event, said there were 42 exhibitors and more than 200 attendees at the event.

“There’s a lot to keep up with in ag industry and professional development for them, just like any other career,” he said. “And so this is an opportunity for them to hear speakers, learn new information and also network with other people, but also meet with a lot of the local agribusinesses that do business with them.”

This year’s expo will be the last for Mueller, who will relocate to a position for Saline, Jefferson and Gage counties after organizing the last five expos.

“I hear not only just from attendees, but the exhibitors’ companies also do these types of events in Omaha, York, other communities,” he said. “And I hear from the exhibitors that they love this particular event, they love the opportunity to meet with some of their customers in this setting.”

Mayor Scott Getzschman thanked the audience for coming to the expo and commended them for their impact on the city.

“We owe you a great amount of thanks for all you do, the risks you take each and every year, because without you, the strength of Fremont, we could never make that happen,” he said. “We could never continue to grow.”

Getzschman said agriculture is vital to the Fremont area.

“We certainly appreciate you taking the time today. You’re the best of the best,” he said. “You’re taking the time to get some education, get some information to become better.”

Tad Dinkins, manager at Butler Ag Equipment, also spoke to the crowd. Dinkins is the chair of the Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Business and Natural Resources Council.

“We advocate for ag-friendly policies and regulations here in the city of Fremont and the local area,” he said. “We also educate chamber members, elected and civic leaders regarding agriculture production practices and national resource issues.”

Dinkins said the council has also advocated for infrastructure development, including the widening of the intersection of Broad Street and Military Avenue, the addition of a traffic light at Broad Street and Cloverly Road and the upcoming southeast bypass.

“So we try to help you guys out as much as we can through our council,” he said.

The expo provided speakers throughout the day that focused on four main themes, Mueller said. Aaron Hird, state soil health specialist for the Nebraska Natural Resources Conservation Service, started off speaking about climate variability and soil health.

Jill O’Donnell, director of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Clayton Yeutter Institute of International Trade and Finance, spoke about international trade, which Mueller said had been a hot topic issue.

Tamara Jackson-Ziems, plant pathologist extension specialist at UNL, spoke about upcoming disease issues, while UNL professor Rick Koelsch and associate professor Amy Schmidt spoke about manure management.

Morgan Wrich, director of grower services for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, said she has been attending the expo ever since she joined five years ago.

“It’s a great chance for us to interact with some of our growers in the area,” she said. “We have two large local associations that attend this show: the Colfax/Dodge County Corn Growers and the Saunders County Corn Growers.”

Aside from the waffle breakfast, Wrich said her favorite part of the expo is meeting with the local farmers.

“We really enjoy the show and we’re excited to talk to people about the great things Nebraska corn is doing,” she said.

This year’s expo is the first for Nancy Hoppes, who is a member of the Nebraska Extension’s Master Gardener program.

Hoppes said she had many people stop by her booth and ask about the program, which provides classes on gardening and combating diseases.

“There’s a lot of interesting booths here, very educational, and it looks like the speakers are going to be really educational and good as well,” she said.

Jeff Mimick, agriculture lender for First State Bank and Trust, said this was his second time at the expo, although the bank has been a sponsor for many years.

“It’s just a chance to get in front of the farmers, a chance to sponsor it,” he said. “And with the great speakers up here, we like to sponsor it and be a part of it.”

The Fremont Corn Expo is a great way for people in the agriculture industry to get to interact with others in a social setting, Mueller said.

“It’s just a good mix of fun and social,” he said. “And it’s also a learning opportunity for them, so it really provides a good environment that I think people enjoy enough that they stay around all day and come back year after year.”

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