October 29, 2022 | Last updated Apr 25, 2023

2022 History Nebraska Award Winners

History Nebraska is proud to announce the winners of the 2022 History Nebraska Awards. History Nebraska annually recognizes people that provide significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history. Winners were presented with their awards during the History Nebraska Foundation’s Legislative Luncheon on Tuesday, March 15, 2022, at the Historic Kennard House.

The award winners were:

2022 Champion of History Award – Susan La Flesche Picotte Center, Inc., Walthill, NE

2022 Champion of History Award – Vickie Shaepler, Kearney, NE

2022 History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award – Rod Mullen, Omaha, NE

2022 History Nebraska Advocacy Award – Moni Hourt, Crawford, NE

2022 Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award – Preston and Emily Leise, Hartington, NE

2022 Asa T. Hill Memorial Award – Rob Bozell, Omaha, NE

2022 James L. Sellers Award – Brent Ruswick, Media, Pennsylvania, and Celine Butler, Cheyney, Pennsylvania

Read on more information on each of the winners.

Champion of History

The Champion of History Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions by an individual or organization that helps preserve or interpret Nebraska’s history.

Susan LaFlesche Picotte Center, Inc Winner

The Susan La Flesche Picotte Center Inc, of Walthill, NE, was selected for their diligent work to preserve, promote, and educate visitors about Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte. Since 2019, the organization has raised over $2.9 million to restore the Susan La Flesche Picotte Memorial Hospital, including emergency stabilization and completing the exterior restoration utilizing the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit program. When the project is complete, the organization plans to use the space to interpret Dr. La Flesche Picotte’s legacy, educate visitors about native cultures and language, youth activities, and more. 

The second Champion of History Award will be presented to Vickie Shaepler of Kearney, NE. Vickie has been selected for her efforts to share the history of Japanese immigrants to western Nebraska. Ms. Schaepler has been a key individual behind preserving Japanese Hall in Scottsbluff, NE. After learning that the building, built in 1928, was scheduled for demolition, she and a crew of people from across Nebraska raised money to move the building to the Legacy of the Plains Museum campus. The building will be restored and serve as a museum about the Japanese and Japanese American communities. The goal is to open the museum this year.

Vickie Shaepler Champion of History

History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award is presented annually to a teacher who excels in teaching Nebraska history through creativity and imagination in the classroom by using documents, artifacts, historic sites, oral histories, and other primary sources.

Rod Mullen Excellence in Teaching Award

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award will be given to Rod Mullen, who teaches at Omaha Central High School in Omaha, NE. Growing up in North Omaha, Mr. Mullen’s dedication to the teaching profession has inspired countless students to go into teaching and is an inspiration to future teachers of color. Last year, Mr. Mullen worked with others on the Omaha Public School Making Invisible Histories Visible program. He joined rising 9th graders on a two-hour walk along North 24th Street, sharing memories of growing up in Omaha’s predominantly African American neighborhood. He helped students understand what was a thriving area of North Omaha and contextualized its decline in the 1970s and 1980s. Fellow teachers comment on Mr. Mullen’s passion for history, his reliability, and the relationships he creates with fellow teachers and students.

History Nebraska Advocacy Award

The History Nebraska Advocacy Award is given annually to recognize outstanding contributions or assistance by an individual or organization to History Nebraska through volunteerism, advocacy, or donation.

Moni Hourt Advocacy Award

The History Nebraska Advocacy Award will be presented to Moni Hourt of Crawford, NE. Ms. Hourt was a dedicated teacher for many years and serves as a substitute when needed. As a researcher of Dawes and Sioux Counties in northwest Nebraska, Ms. Hourt is a dependable resource for the Fort Robinson History Center staff at Fort Robinson State Park. Along with providing accurate historical details of the area, she brings home school children to Fort Robinson to instill a passion for Nebraska’s history.

Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award

The Nebraska Preservation Award recognizes significant achievements in historic preservation in Nebraska by an individual or organization. The award is given for two categories: “brick and mortar projects” or “individual or group achievements.”

2022 Award

The Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award will be given to Preston and Emily Leise of Hartington, NE. After purchasing a building built in 1900 in downtown Hartington, they knew that rehabilitation work was in their future. When the Hartington downtown district was named to the National Register of Historic Places, they could begin using the Nebraska Historic Tax Credit to bring their building back to its original luster. The Leises utilized historic images of the original windows to create replacements, replaced the roof, added ADA access, and repointed mortar based on the color and texture of the historic mortar. Elements of the interior that could be saved were carefully refinished, and new electrical and HVAC were added as part of the rehabilitation. The project was completed last year.

Asa T. Hill Memorial Award

The Asa T. Hill Memorial Award was created in 1975 to recognize an individual or organization for outstanding research projects or interpretation of an archeological site(s) in Nebraska.

Rob Bozell Asa T. Hill Award

The Asa T. Hill Memorial Award will be presented to Rob Bozell of Omaha, NE. Over his 40 year career as an archeologist for History Nebraska, Rob has broadened the collective understanding of Nebraska’s past – from the Plains Apache who called the Sandhills home to the scientific expedition wintering over at Engineer Cantonment in 1819, and countless histories in between. Mr. Bozell has made archeology more accessible to all. He has trained and inspired numerous colleagues and students over the past four decades and has served as the face of Nebraska Archeology beyond the field, delivering countless public lectures and making numerous appearances in popular media. His work on developing collegial relationships with tribal communities has been particularly influential. Even in retirement, he continues to lead the effort to repatriate the human remains and sacred objects housed at History Nebraska under NAGPRA. 

James L. Sellers Memorial Award

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award was created in 1967. The award is given each year for the “best article” published in a volume of Nebraska History Magazine. In addition, the author receives $1,000 from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation through the support of Catherine Sellers Angle.

2022 Award

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award will be given to co-authors Brent Ruswick of Media, Pennsylvania and Celine Butler of Cheyney, Pennsylvania, who wrote “No Mutually Acceptable Solution: The Struggle to Integrate Campus Life at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, 1968-1972,” published in the Fall 2021 issue of Nebraska History Magazine. Selected by the Nebraska Wesleyan University history department faculty, the judges chose this article because they were “impressed by the originality of the topic and the strength of the authors’ argument. While many tend to think of the issue of school desegregation primarily in the context of K-12 education, Ruswick and Butler vividly portrayed the unique contours of the issue as it was experienced by college students in Omaha. In doing so, they succeeded in telling a new story about the complexity of historical change in Nebraska, demonstrating how nationally contentious issues played out on the local stage without simply mirroring the familiar themes of national history.”

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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