History Nebraska Blog

2020 History Nebraska Award Winners

History Nebraska is proud to announce the winners of the 2019 History Nebraska Awards. History Nebraska annually recognizes people that provide significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history. Winners will be presented with their awards during the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation’s Legislative Reception on Wednesday, February 19th, 2020, at the Nebraska History Museum.

The award winners are:

  • 2019 Champion of History Award – Doug Rung, Geneva / Mark Griep, Lincoln
  • 2019 History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award – Stacey Haney, Humann Elementary School, Lincoln
  • 2019 James L. Sellers Award – Nathan Tye, Kearney
  • 2019 Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award – Ben and Erin Schroeder, Hartington / Jo Lynn Petty-Blackwell, Highlands Ranch, CO

Read on more information on each of the winners.

The Champion of History Award will be given jointly to Doug Rung of Geneva and Dr. Mark Griep of Lincoln. Mr. Rung has served as the president of the Fillmore County Historical Society since 2011. Each year, the organization sponsors a Museum Day where Doug portrays a pioneer settler, sharing stories of pioneer life and hardships, showcasing his buffalo hide robe and buffalo gun. Doug has organized fly-in air shows at the World War II-era Fairmont Army Airbase, and his love for history has taken him across the state to share topics ranging from Nebraska photographer Solomon Butcher slang words of the 1890s.

Dr. Mark Griep’s historical research has had an ongoing national impact. In 1996, his curiosity about Dr. Rachel Lloyd, the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry and the second chemistry professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, uncovered her story and her impact on UNL’s chemistry department and her critical role in launching the state’s sugar beet industry. In 2014, Dr. Griep received permission to break open the date stone of Avery Hall on the UNL campus to remove its time capsule, where he found a high-resolution photo of Dr. Lloyd that was used in the only known copy of her biography. Dr. Griep's work has given Dr. Rachel Lloyd the recognition she deserves across Nebraska and throughout the discipline of Chemistry worldwide. 

The Champion of History Award, formally the Robert W. Furnas Memorial Award, recognizes outstanding contributions by an individual or organization who helps preserve or interpret Nebraska history.  

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award will be given to Stacey Haney of Lincoln. Stacey is a 4th-grade teacher at Humann Elementary and has served in a leadership capacity for social studies education. Last year, Stacey was the only classroom teacher in Lincoln Public Schools to take advantage of an opportunity to work with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to implement a “History Harvest” program with her class. Through the project, her students learned how to use primary resources, artifacts, and oral history to understand how to interpret history and to ‘read and think like historians.’

The History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award is formally known as the James C. Olson Award. It 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.

The James L. Sellers Memorial Award will be given to Nathan Tye of Kearney, Nebraska. Nathan is being recognized for his article, “Billy Clubs and Vagrancy Laws: Confronting the ‘Plague of Hobos’ in Nebraska, 1870s-1930s,” published in Nebraska History Magazine in 2018. Judges from Chadron State College selected the article to be the recipient of the award and stated: “the author masterfully uses a wide range of primary sources to overcome the fragmentary nature of the archive and place the important and overlooked voice of hobos into Nebraska history.”

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. The author receives an award and $1,000 from the Nebraska State Historical Society Foundation, through the support of Catherine Sellers Angle.

The Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award will be given jointly to Ben and Erin Schroeder for their preservation work in Hartington, and to Jo-Lynn Petty-Blackwell for her efforts to save the Oshkosh Water Tower.

Ben and Erin Schroeder have supported historic preservation efforts in Hartington, Nebraska, for the past several years. They renovated the former Globe Clothing store building into a residence, but also provided a rental space on the first floor for community events. Their next big project led them to renovate and reopen the Hartington Hotel, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. They were catalysts for listing Hartington’s downtown in the National Register of Historic Places in 2019, spurred others to invest in their downtown and explore historic tax credits, and have supported Hartington as the city researches the Certified Local Government program. Veterinarians by trade, the Schroeders are currently starring in a new reality series called, “Heartland Docs, DVM,” which can be seen on Nat Geo Wild.

Since March 2018, Jo Lynn Petty Blackwell has spearheaded local efforts to save the Oshkosh Water Tower. Taken out of operation by the City of Oshkosh and proposed for removal, Jo Lynn’s effort to preserve and protect the Oshkosh Water Tower resulted in its listing in the National Register of Historic Places in June 2019. It is the first water tower individually listed in the National Register in the state of Nebraska. She is the president of the 501(c)(3) Oshkosh Water Tower group, which has purchased the tower and is committed to not only recognizing the tower for its historic significance but also ensuring that the Oshkosh Water Tower is a focal point of the Oshkosh skyline and community activity for years to come.

The Nebraska Preservation Award was created in 1988 to recognize significant achievements in historic preservation in Nebraska by an individual or organization.  The award is given for one of two categories: "brick and mortar projects," or "individual or group achievements."

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