Our Community

Love for the land, our families, our friends and our food – that’s what fuels our CommonGround community. Scroll down to learn where our volunteers are located, or Contact Us to get involved.

CommonGround Nebraska

Ashley Babl

Albion, Nebraska

Our Farm: corn, pigs, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, precision-farming consultant

My Hobbies: baking, movies, overall fitness, photography, traveling

Ask Me About: animal welfare, antibiotics and animal health, farm ownership, food prices, food safety, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: My journey through agriculture has been very interesting. Although I grew up with my mother and stepfather actively farming, I went a different route after the passing of my father in my first year of college and spent the next six years in the medical field. In 2013, I made the decision to go back to school to double-major in agronomy and agribusiness. My husband, Adam, son, Brantlee, and I then made the move back to my hometown to be closer to the farm and give our son the experience of growing up in a small town. Over the last two years, I’ve participated in the Nebraska LEAD Program, a leadership-development program. I also work off of the farm as a precision-farming consultant. I enjoy helping others prosper in the industry and loves sharing the positive message of agriculture.

Facebook: Ashley Babl

Twitter: @Ashleybabl 

Instagram: @Ashleybabl

Shana Beattie

Sumner, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, grass seed, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: attending my children’s activities, teaching Sunday school

Ask Me About: pork production

About Me: My role on the farm varies daily. I may handle harvest lunches, make sweet tea for the cattle crew, drive into town to get parts or run out to the barns in the middle of the night to check baby calves during the frigid winters of Nebraska. I also keep track of the inventory on our farm, which includes monitoring feed efficiencies, herd health and marketing of hogs. This is all a big adjustment for me, as I was born and raised on a cattle ranch in a temperate area of north-central Florida.

Rene Blauhorn

Palmer, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, lawyer

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, cooking, movies, overall fitness, travel, writing

Ask Me About: animal welfare, food safety

About Me:  My husband Brad and I farm in Palmer, Nebraska alongside his parents and his brother. For us, farming is a family affair. We all work together, especially during harvest and planting. It makes me proud that my family and I are able to work together during busy times to maintain a healthy work-life balance. I think the amount of time and energy we put in together really makes us closer and perform better. When I am not farming, I am a lawyer. I own a law firm called Blauhorn Law, where I practice in a variety of law including real estate and estate planning. I am passionate about educating consumers on safe farming practices because my family’s future relies on commodity markets. I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion and I enjoy sharing my story with consumers.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rene.cramer.92

Leslie Boswell

Shickley, Nebraska

Our Farm: corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife

Ask Me About: irrigating crops, GMOs

About Me: After growing up on a hog farm, life on a grain farm seems pretty simple. On our hog farm, chores were done 365 days a year, including holidays, birthdays and days of sporting events. Now our work is more seasonal and dependent on the weather. I am the support staff on the farm, but I especially enjoy harvest time, when I run the combine.

Dawn Caldwell

Edgar, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, sorghum, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, corporate communications manager

My Hobbies: blogging, photography, running, reading

Ask Me About: animal care

About Me: I grew up on a farm, studied animal science in college, married a welder/rancher, raised children on the farm and now I work for a farm service owned by farmers. So for me, everything ties back to agriculture. We love our jobs as ranchers and farmers, and we strive to work more efficiently by embracing technology. We also like to incorporate family fun while working, by using all-terrain vehicles to herd cattle to different pastures or fields.

Facebook: Dawn Caldwell

Twitter: @LadyOfAg

Blog:  Lady of Ag

Deb Gangwish

Shelton, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, oats, sorghum, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: cooking, overall fitness, photography, reading, scuba diving and many water sports

Ask Me About: farm ownerships, GMOs, sustainability

About Me: I was born in a city, and at age 10 moved to the country on a small acreage. It was there I learned where food comes from – we raised much of our own food – even made our own soap and heated the home with the wood we chopped. Most folks today have a different relationship with their food. I want people to know we live, breathe and sleep agriculture – it is who we are, not what we do. Our love of Mother Earth is immense as we rely on her for everything we love. We are a family farm with 20 full -time employees and 10 or so seasonal employees who are all a part of our farm family, or as we call it, our “farmly” Big farms can be quite intimate and efficient. We have people who work along side us who have a passion for agriculture just like we do.

Diane Karr

Blue Hill, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, grain sorghum, soybeans, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: cooking, writing, blogging, reading, boating, playing piano and organ, Husker football

Ask Me About: sustainability and conservation

About Me: I’m the sixth generation to make my home on the farm. Water and soil conservation is very important to us, and we use the latest technology to be more productive using fewer resources. As a mom, it’s important that I serve nutritious food to my family, and knowing how we raise our cattle and grow our crops gives me a tremendous amount of confidence. Through our stories, I hope consumers can see how thoughtfully and responsibly we care for our livestock and how we implement good conservation practices that benefit the soil and water.

Facebook:  Real Farmwife on the County Line

Twitter:  @RealFarmWife

Instagram: @RealFarmWife

Blog:  Real Farm Wife on the County Line

Crystal Klug

Minden, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, fitness, running

Ask Me About: animal welfare, hormones in meat and milk

About Me: We are the third generation, and raising the fourth, to live and work on our family farm. It makes me proud to be a farmer and witness every day my family’s commitment to our animals and the land. I want to share the truth about agriculture because my entire family makes their living off the land. I have deep roots in agriculture, and I see how hard farmers and ranchers work to care for animals and the soil. I’m so proud of my family and want to share that pride with others.

Melisa Konecky

Wahoo, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, corn, dairy cattle, soybeans

My Work: farmer

My Hobbies: baking, cooking, overall fitness, reading, traveling

Ask Me About: farm ownership, food safety, GMO foods, local and organic foods, sustainability

About Me: I grew up in agriculture and love seeing all the amazing people and things that are happening across farming communities. In addition to farming, I also work for the University of Nebraska Extension in Saunders County as a 4-H assistant.

Facebook: Melisa Konecky

Susan Littlefield

Surprise, Nebraska

Our Farm:  beef cattle, chickens, ducks, sheep, rabbits

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, firefighter, EMT, farm broadcaster

My Hobbies: cooking, gardening, reading, taking pictures of livestock and kids on the farm

Ask Me About: wool production

About Me: Chore time is family time on our farm. We enjoy talking about each day’s happenings, along with what projects need to be worked on or finished. I love this lifestyle because every day is a different adventure, and it is very gratifying to know that what we are doing on our farm is helping so many different people.

Twitter: @firefighter89

YouTube: littlefieldsusan

Deb Lundeen

Minden, Nebraska

Our Farm: corn, soybeans
My Work: farmer, wife, mom
My Hobbies: baking, biking, cooking, fitness, hiking, reading, snow skiing, travel
Ask Me About: animal welfare, food safety, GMO foods
About Me: Farming is a family affair. My husband and I, along with our sons and my husband’s father and brother-in-law, are all very involved on the farm. I have been a full-time farmer since 2012, but prior to that I was a consumer relations director and have 21 years of experience as a wellness, safety and marketing director for an orthopedic clinic. My passion is accurate GMO education because of the important role it plays as we are tasked to feed 2 billion more people in the next 20 years with less land, fuel and water.

Hilary Maricle

Albion, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, agriculture instructor

My Hobbies: working with livestock, reading, camping, hiking, learning about international agriculture, education, leadership

Ask Me About: animal welfare, food safety and selection, transition planning for our farm

About Me: I farm with my husband and our parents as the sixth generation on our family farm.  If I am not on the farm, I am doing something related to agriculture and love working with youth in programs such as 4-H and FFA. My favorite time of year is calving season, when I assist with birthing and then work with the calves. I enjoy teaching my children how to show cattle and ride horses, and I hope they share my passion for agriculture. Taking care of our animals is important, and my family has learned that they don’t eat until the animals have been fed.

Twitter:  @mariclefarm

Blog:  Hilary Maricle

Sharon Portenier

Farnam, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, grandma

My Hobbies: quilting, spending time with our family, reading

Ask Me About: corn production

About Me: We run a family farm in Harvard, Nebraska. Our girls have been raised with the understanding that we are a family farm, and it takes the whole family to make it operate.

Marilyn Pribyl

Geneva, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle, corn, fruit, pigs, soybeans, vegetables

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, nurse

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, cooking, movies, walking

Ask Me About: food prices, food safety

About Me: I am a lifelong farm girl, wife, mom and grandma who has had the wonderful opportunity to live on the farm all my life.  As the youngest of 8 children, I grew up on a row-crop farm in Nebraska. Now, my husband and I live on the farm near Geneva, Nebraska, where we have been for 28-plus years.  We raised our four beautiful children on our farm and are now enjoying sharing our farm and the many adventures of it with our six wonderful grandchildren. Outside of helping my husband on the farm, I am a registered nurse. I have worked in hospital, clinic, nursing home and school settings. I love to cook, garden and sew.

Ruth Ready

Scribner, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, chicken, corn, pigs, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, high school drama director, jewelry craftswoman

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, camping, cooking, travel

Ask Me About: animal nutrition and welfare, GMO foods, sustainability

About Me: My husband and I both work at the local high school in addition to farming. Because of my interest in education, I hope that I can help people to identify facts versus fiction when it comes to information about their food.

Mollie Robertson

Elsie, Nebraska

Our Farm: beef cattle, chickens, corn, wheat

My Work: farmer, wife, mother, communications representative for Heartland Farm Partners

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, bee keeping, cooking, overall fitness, running, writing

Ask Me About: family farms, sustainability and conservation

About Me: My husband Greg and I farm irrigated and dryland corn and wheat and also raise cattle in southwest Nebraska. Because Greg is a 5th generation farmer in our county, we are able to farm closely with Greg’s father and three brothers. Although we all have our own operations, we work side by side and help each other out whenever possible. Greg and I find farming to be more than just an occupation, it’s our way of life. We work every day to be good stewards of the land and improve sustainability and efficiency. We also hope to instill these values in our two children as they grow older. I hope to share the truth about agriculture because I believe in what we do. Farmers work tirelessly to protect the land and keep their products safe, and I’m eager to share my story.

Joan Ruskamp

Dodge, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, 4-H leader, volunteer EMT

My Hobbies: landscaping, gardening, horseback riding, reading

Ask Me About: animal comfort and welfare, antibiotics, hormones in food, GMOs

About Me: My husband and I have worked side-by-side to build up our farm, our feedlot operation and, most importantly, our five children. Our farm has been in the Ruskamp family for 100 years. Our nest is empty, with our children spread out near and far. We continue to stay active in our community, as well as developing new ways to improve the quality of care for our land and animals.

Facebook: Joan Ruskamp

Blog:  Dust In My Coffee

Linda Schwartz

Bertrand, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, bees, corn, organic vegetables, soybeans, wheat, milo

My Work: farmer, wife, mom

My Hobbies: reading, cooking, entertaining guests, scrapbooking, crafts

Ask Me About: organic farming, corn production

About Me: My family and I are sixth-generation farmers in Gosper County, Nebraska. In 2010, we built two high-tunnel greenhouses and began growing organic vegetables, such as mixed lettuce, turnips, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and potatoes. One guest even mentioned that it smells like an Italian kitchen when you first walk in! This operation complemented our small apiary, our crop farm and our commitment to growing other organic row and field crops.

Website: Schwarz Family Farm

Glenda Sloup

Seward, Nebraska

Our Farm: alfalfa, beef cattle, corn, soybeans

My Work: farmer, wife, mom, registered nurse

My Hobbies: arts and crafts, baking, cooking, fitness, quilting, reading, walking

Ask Me About: food prices, food safety

About Me: Although we now live in town, my husband still operates our beef farm, which he loves and has been involved in since he was nine years old. We love taking our grandchildren out to the farm to see the cattle and learn about the crops that are grown. I want to teach others about agriculture, just like I teach my grandchildren, and I strive to clear up the many misunderstandings often found in the media regarding food.