J. Dixon Esseks, Emeritus Professor of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University, conducted two funded projects at the Center.
A USDA Forest Service project (September 2004 through June 2005) is surveying over 1,200 clients of the Service’s Forest Stewardship Program. This program provides assistance to state forestry agencies in developing forest management plans for private owners of non-industrial-size forestland holdings. Among the questions asked in the survey are: whether the owners found the plans to have been clearly written, if they have begun to implement the management practices recommended in the plans, whether any follow-up technical assistance or cost-sharing money was obtained, and did either kind of aid make a difference in the decisions to implement plans. For this project, two graduate students and one undergraduate have been employed.
View the Final Report
The second project (October 2004 to February 2006) is sponsored by the American Farmland Trust and funded by USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service. It focuses on that agency’s Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program (FRPP). Since 1996 this program has been protecting active agricultural land and helping farmers to reinvest in their farm/ranch enterprises. First established in the 1996 Farm Bill and then re-authorized in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, FRPP is a voluntary federal conservation program that provides matching funds to eligible state and local agencies to help buy permanent conservation easements on farm and ranch lands.
The research led by Dick Esseks consisted of interviewing a random sample of 422 owners of agricultural land protected in part via FRPP funds. The interviews aimed to learn about (1) the owners’ satisfaction with the program and (2) the extent to which they used the protected land in ways intended by the legislation that established the program and by the regulations that guided its implementation.
Two graduate students worked with Dick Esseks on this project.
View the Final Report
Forest Service Graduate Research Assistants —
Beth Moorhouse and Jill Mulligan
Forest Service Undergraduate Research Assistant —
Mary Kate McCarney
Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program Assistants —
Jessica Nelson and Monica Stroe
Dr. Richard (Rick) Edwards returned to the faculty in the Economics Department and affiliated with the Center after serving for nearly seven years as UNL’s Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. He has initiated a new research project focusing on economic and social change in the Great Plains, looking at the economics, demography, history, and natural resources (especially water) of the region. The region is undergoing extensive population movement, rural de-population, drought, and changes in international agricultural marketing, and it has high rates of reported poverty; as a consequence, the people and institutions in some areas of the Great Plains are under considerable stress.
Rick is also working with the Homestead National Monument in Beatrice, Neb., and the UNL Libraries to create a microfilm and electronic archive in Beatrice (and Lincoln) of the nation’s homesteading land records. The current paper archive, housed in the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, D.C., contains some 30 million records. The purpose of the project is to enhance public access and ensure preservation of the records; the team of which he is a part has obtained some small grants ($45k) to support a pilot project involving the records of the Broken Bow (Neb.) land office.