History Nebraska Blog

2020 History Nebraska Award Winners Receive Awards

History Nebraska's mission is to preserve, share, and teach Nebraska History, but we know that we're not in this alone. There is a whole host of amazing people who help to promote our state's history. That's why we have the History Nebraska Awards!

The History Nebraska Awards are given annually to recognize people that provide significant contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Nebraska history. There are four different awards: the Champion of History Award, the History Nebraska Excellence in Teaching Award, the James L. Sellers Award, and the Nebraska State Historic Preservation Award. This year we presented a total of six awards at 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​

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 to slang words of the 1890s.

Senator Tom Brandt presented the award. He represents Mr. Rung and the rest of District 32 in the Nebraska State Legislature.

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. 

Senator Patty Pansing Brooks presented the award. She represents Dr. Griep and the rest of District 28 in the Nebraska State Legislature.

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.’

History Nebraska Director Trevor Jones presented the award in place of Senator Kate Bolz, who represents Stacey and the rest of District 29 in the Nebraska State Legislature but could not make it to the event.


Nathan was 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.”

Senator John Lowe presented the award. He represents Nathan and the rest of District 37 in the Nebraska State Legislature.

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.

Senator Tim Gragert​ presented the award. He represents the Schroeders and the rest of District 40 in the Nebraska State Legislature.


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.

Senator Steve Erdman​ presented the award. He represents Jo Lynn and the rest of District 47 in the Nebraska State Legislature.

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