Honestly, Nebraska isn’t for everyone. But that doesn’t mean our rural state doesn’t have electricity and our citizens have never been to a Wal-Mart, like many think. Nebraska has a lot to offer.
Nebraska Tourism Director John Ricks told Knox County residents on Monday night that he and his creative team spent years researching the opinions of people from other states to find out exactly what they think of Nebraska.
“We went out of state and talked to people,” he said.
Ricks said they discovered Nebraska is the least visited state in all of the United States — right now, at least. He’s looking to change that.
Ricks said he wants to grow familiarity, awareness and likelihood to visit. More out of state visitors means bringing new money into the state to boom the economy.
According to some of their research, there is only a 4 percent awareness level, meaning only 4 percent of people felt they were aware of what Nebraska has to offer.
Ricks believes that previous marketing campaigns were too focused in state or what he refers to as “preaching to the choir.”
“You guys love your state, you travel all over it,” he said. “Our new passport program is even getting you to visit places you have never been in state. So why spend millions of dollars in Nebraska (when) you’re already here?”
What surprises Ricks the most, he said, is when Nebraskans are told their state is the least sought after for vacationing, they do not seem surprised.
“The mis-perceptions of Nebraska have been so ingrained in us and been out there for so long that you guys have believed them,” he said.
During his 30 years of working for ad agencies and specifically tourism, Ricks said he has focused on ways to approach destination marketing differently. His goal is to transcend sightseeing.
“Honestly, every state has neat stuff,” he said. “Don’t compete on the stuff; theres nothing unique about that.”
Ricks is referring to things like events, restaurants, breweries and wineries. Tourists won’t drive to another state for these things. That’s why Ricks said his team needed to find a new way to market and changed Nebraska’s slogan from “The Good Life” to “Honestly, it’s not for everyone.”
“There is tons of stuff to do here. The culture here is really unique, let’s play these things up,” Ricks said. “One thing people always say about New York is ‘It’s nice to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.’ And you know what the people in these focus groups said about Nebraska? They said ‘It would be a wonderful place to live, but I’m not sure I’m excited to visit. It’s right upside down,’ ” Ricks explained.
While researching, the team started finding people who had already or were interested in visiting Nebraska. The team began to profile these people and, according to Ricks, what they discovered was a big find.
“Problem solvers, tinker-ers, creative thinkers, wanderers who see the value in slowing down. These people are the type who would love to visit Nebraska,” he said.
The team quickly discovered that these tourists that were interested in visiting Nebraska were very similar to Nebraskans. Both groups value faith, honesty, family, love, compassion and kindness. Now that they had found their target audience, the team had to find a way to get their attention. The easiest way would have been to focus on all of those values but Ricks decided to focus on only one value, and they chose honesty. Along with honesty comes vulnerability.
Rick and the team sensed they were onto something. Inoculation is highlighting a negative perception and putting a positive spin on it. And they were hoping that using this method in a humorous way would grab attention and interest.
“We knew we had to do something that would startle them,” Ricks said.
We knew some people would be uncomfortable with the new campaign and that was intentional.
With “Honestly, it’s not for everyone,” the simple quote is a short and sarcastic way of saying “Nebraska is a place where honest perspectives and life’s simple pleasures help you realize what matters most.”
According to Ricks, while choosing the value of honesty to focus on, it was also important to not slander other states and other experiences.
“You will see none of that in our advertising,” he said.
The ads will showcase real Nebraskans playing in fields and other uniquely midwestern activities. They won’t showcase Nebraska as anything it isn’t. It might even say something like “Let’s be honest, it isn’t for everyone, but for those who don’t need some mass produced, prepackaged get away, you’re welcome here anytime.”
The raw honesty of this campaign comes with a little bit of sarcasm. Ricks said that they used inoculation in the graphics. The visit Nebraska website now showcases some of the graphics and soon they will be seen all over on billboards and in magazines.
One graphic shows a group of people participating in the new craze called tanking. Livestock tanks are used to float large groups down the river. Across the top of the graphic are the words “lucky for you, there’s nothing to do here.”
Another graphic shows a child playing near a beautiful, small waterfall surrounded by a forest with the words “another day on the dusty plains.” Another shows an adventurous duo hiking along a canyon with the words “famous for our flat, boring landscape.”
According to Ricks, even though most people really like the unique campaign, there has been some push back from Nebraskans. He wants to stress to all Nebraskans that this tactic the team has taken is just using inoculation to show others they are wrong about this state.
“These words are what people from out of state told us about Nebraska. We wanted to show them they are wrong,” he said. “We’re not making fun of the place or the people or the culture, we are making fun of the perceptions.”
Ricks wants the whole country to see what kind of humor Nebraskans have. They didn’t want to offend anyone, but they also wanted to push the envelope. Ricks first sent a news release about the new slogan out on October 17, 2018 at 4:30 p.m.
“By 5:15 it had gone viral,” he said.
Without spending a dime on advertising, the world was seeing the new slogan. Stephen Colbert talked about the slogan on his late night show. Kelly Ripa also loved the slogan and had talked about it on her morning talk show.
“I’m not for everyone but the people that do like me really me,” Kelly said on her show.
Since October 17 through the end of November, nearly a billion people had been reached and the publicity value was at $7.1 million — all without spending any money.
“The entire commission budget in a year is $6.5 million,” Ricks said.
To see more on the new campaign, go to visitnebraska.com or pick up a “not-at-all what you thought” state travel guide and keep an eye out for the new commercials that will begin appearing in April.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced that all Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide will soon reopen to provide additional administrative services to farmers and ranchers during the lapse in federal funding. Certain FSA offices have been providing limited services for existing loans and tax documents since January 17, and will continue to do so through January 23. Beginning January 24, however, all FSA offices will open and offer a longer list of transactions they will accommodate.
Additionally, Secretary Perdue announced that the deadline to apply for the Market Facilitation Program, which aids farmers harmed by unjustified retaliatory tariffs, has been extended to February 14. The original deadline had been January 15. Other program deadlines may be modified and will be announced as they are addressed.
“At President Trump’s direction, we have been working to alleviate the effects of the lapse in federal funding as best we can, and we are happy to announce the reopening of FSA offices for certain services,” Perdue said. “The FSA provides vital support for farmers and ranchers and they count on those services being available. We want to offer as much assistance as possible until the partial government shutdown is resolved.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has temporarily recalled all of the more than 9,700 FSA employees to keep offices open from 8 am to 4:30 pm weekdays beginning January 24. President Trump has already signed legislation that guarantees employees will receive all backpay missed during the lapse in funding.
For the first two full weeks under this operating plan (January 28 through February 1 and February 4 through February 8), FSA offices will be open Mondays through Fridays. In subsequent weeks, offices will be open three days a week, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, if needed to provide the additional administrative services.
Agricultural producers who have business with the agency can contact their FSA service center to make an appointment.
FSA can provide these administrative services, which are critical for farmers and ranchers, because failure to perform these services would harm funded programs. FSA staff will work on the following transactions:
Transactions that will not be available include, but are not limited to:
With the Office of Management and Budget, USDA reviewed all of its funding accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation. We further refined this list to include programs where the suspension of the activity associated with these accounts would significantly damage or prevent the execution of the terms of the underling statutory provision. As a result of this review, USDA was able to except more employees. Those accounts that are not impacted by the lapse in appropriation include mandatory, multiyear and no year discretionary funding including FY 2018 Farm Bill activities.
The World War One Centennial Commission - along with the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, the Society of the Honor Guard of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the National Cathedral, The American Legion, and Veterans of Foreign Wars - has announced a nationwide bell-tolling on Nov. 11 as a solemn reminder of the sacrifice and service of veterans of the Great War, and all veterans.
“Bells of Peace: A World War One Remembrance” encourages citizens and organizations across the nation to toll bells in their communities 21 times at 11 a.m. local time on Nov. 11.
In Washington D.C., bells will toll in the National Cathedral at an interfaith service, marking the centennial of the armistice that ended hostilities in what Americans fervently hoped would be “the war to end all wars.”
“I encourage American Legion posts to not only participate, but to encourage participation at local houses of worship, schools, town halls, firehouses, police stations - anywhere people may gather on that day to honor and remember,” says John Monahan, the Legion’s representative on the World War One Centennial Commission.
The nationwide program is designed to honor Americans who served 100 years ago during World War One, especially the 116,516 who died. The war ended by an armistice agreement at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918.
The commission has a page on its website - ww1cc.org/bells - where people can find poetry, music, sacred service options and more. Individuals and organizations can sign up online to participate in the bell-tolling, and follow up after Nov. 11 with photos and video of their service or ceremony. Posts will be added to the commission’s permanent archive.
Please join us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Kenneth and Phyllis Meier on September 9 from 2-4 p.m. at the VFW Hall in Hartington.
While the methods and reasons may differ, one thing every grazing system you might stumble across strives to maintain the pasture so it can be used year after year. We can’t do anything about the most critical part of making sure we have plant growth, moisture. However, grazing properly is within a producer’s control to maintain a healthy pasture.
To understand pasture health, we need to know a bit about how the plants in a pasture function. Each year, plants go through a cycle. Stored reserves start growth and produce leaves to manufacture more energy. These resources are used to reproduce (seeds/vegetative) or stored for next year’s growth.
Drought, grazing, mowing, fire; all these events disrupt energy production in the leaves and cause more reserves to be used for regrowth. Most plants have factored in disruptions to this annual cycle and have extra reserves tucked away and can rebound from these events.
When we constantly take away the plant’s ability to produce energy through defoliation, like chronic overgrazing, the reserves get so depleted that the plant’s overall health starts to suffer. Because the plant no longer has energy to spend even maintaining itself, roots are actually sluffed off to reduce energy demands. This leads to decreased nutrient and water uptake by the plant and a longer recovery.
Some of the earliest work done on the effects of grazing was done at the University of Nebraska by John Earnest Weaver from 1932-1952. Weaver and his students would dig trenches of up to 15 feet deep into pastures and prairies, then carefully excavate plant roots in incredibly detailed drawings.
His work began laying the groundwork for our understanding of how plants handle grazing, drought and other stresses. In these studies, Weaver noted decreases of up to 60% in root production for plants that had been subjected to heavy grazing. Multitudes of studies across every ecosystem that you could think of have been done since Weaver’s work and they all paint the same picture. Grazing stress causes plants to lose anywhere from 35-70% of their roots.
Knowing this, it’s easy to see how prolonged grazing stress by overgrazing causes pasture productivity to decrease. Plants don’t produce as much growth and the vigor of desirable species lessen. This leaves the door open for weedy or undesirable species to establish themselves and lower available forage even further.
If we don’t adjust stocking rate accordingly and let the pasture recover, further overgrazing occurs creating a negative feedback with worse and worse results. Not only do we reduce production, but we now have to spend more money on weed control and other management options like fertilization.
So what do we do? Proper grazing and stocking of pastures is key to maintaining the long-term health of grasslands. As a good rule of thumb, we often say that 50% of the plant should be left behind to maintain vigor, take half - leave half. Of that 50% we allot to animals, only 25% is actually consumed with the rest trampled, fouled, or consumed by insects/wildlife.
How do you tell if your pasture has been grazed enough for the animals to be moved? First, identify key management species you want to focus on. In a smooth brome pasture, this is pretty straight forward: brome. In a native pasture or other mixes, we need to decide what these plants are. Your local extension office or NRCS is a great resource for this step.
After we know the key species to focus on, go out to your pasture and see how much of these have been removed. That 50% we were shooting for earlier is by weight, not height, so visual assessment can be a bit tricky.
An easy way to calibrate your eye is to find an intact grass plant and cut it off at ground level. Take this plant and try to balance it on your finger. This can be a bit tricky in the wind, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, just get close. This balancing point is your 50% utilized level. If you look around and see plants have been grazed even lower, balance it again and you get 75% used to compare it to. Do this in several places across your pasture that are fairly representative and you’ll have a good idea of how much plant you’ve been removing.
Overgrazing can be very detrimental to pastures, especially if it’s repeated year after year. By taking the time to assess your pasture’s utilization and rotate animals accordingly, you’ll not only maintain better pasture health, but save yourself some time and effort in the long run.