2022 Distinguished Awardees

Ernie WeyenethErnie Weyeneth

Ernest Weyeneth of Lincoln, Nebraska will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award. Weyeneth serves as President and Treasurer of the Kimmel Foundation Board of Directors. The Kimmel Foundation supports a variety of charitable causes in Nebraska including youth organizations, agricultural programs, higher education and public schools, academic scholarships, among other projects. Over the years, the Kimmel Foundation, led by Weyeneth, has provided the Department of Animal Science with an immense amount of support for its students. Many academic teams and clubs have benefitted from Weyeneth’s generosity. He has provided travel money and scholarships for the UNL Livestock Judging Team, Horse Judging Team, Equestrian Team, and Rodeo Team. The Kimmel Foundation’s support has resulted in the growth of all these programs into well-rounded hands-on learning experiences for students. Weyeneth’s support has helped the department hire new positions as well as providing continued support to established employees. Recently, the Kimmel Foundation committed $1 million to build a new Equine Sports Complex on Nebraska’s East Campus, which will provide students with the opportunity to house horses on campus to give them more time to dedicate to school and extracurricular activities. In addition to financial contributions, Weyeneth has been a strong advocate for our students, faculty, and department. We are very grateful for Weyeneth’s support of the Department of Animal Science.

Willow HoloubekWillow Holoubek

Willow Holoubek, BS 1981, of David City, Nebraska will be honored with the Undergraduate of Distinction Award. As an undergraduate student at UNL, Holoubek served as an Associate of Meat Science. She started early as a leader, shown through her positions as President of Junior Nebraska Stock Growers, Vice President of Block & Bridle, and judging teams. Holoubek comes from an excellent livestock background that has led her to spearhead several contributions to the Nebraska livestock and poultry industries. Holoubek and her husband, Mark have raised four children in David City where they run a cow/calf herd. Holoubek’s family still has the land and facilities of their historic cattle operation near Alliance, where they have a cow herd as well. In June of 2010, she took on the role of Organizational Director of the Alliance for the Future of Agriculture in Nebraska (AFAN). AFAN took major leaps in promoting livestock and poultry expansion in Nebraska during Holoubek’s tenure. The largest and most significant was recruiting the Costco/Lincoln Premium Poultry enterprise to Nebraska. Working through public perceptions, building support of many small communities, and locating the processing plant and headquarters in Fremont were major steps where Holoubek provided vision and clear, communication. Building on this experience, she accepted a position with LPP to recruit growers, assist in getting financing, and building contracting. Due to her efforts, over 500 state-of-the-art chicken barns were constructed and made operational. In Spring 2020, Holoubek joined Prime Pursuits, a conception-to-consumer integrated beef production company because of her passion for beef production. She is the Regional Director and coordinates many of the inventory, procurement, backgrounding, and supply-chain efforts in Nebraska. Her passion for producing quality beef and for relating consumers with how their beef is produced shows her outstanding contribution to society as a UNL Animal Science graduate.

Scott EilertScott Eilert

Scott Eilert, MS 1992, PhD 1994, of Wichita, Kansas will be honored with the Graduate of Distinction Award. Eilert grew up on a grain and cow-calf farm in North Central Kansas. Following graduation, Eilert began his career at Cargill, starting as a Research Manager for Fresh/Processed Pork. Since then, he has been the Director of Pork and Case Ready Research and Development; Vice President and Director of Cargill Meat Technology Development; Vice President of Food Safety, Quality and Regulatory, Cargill Turkey and Cooked Meats; Vice President of Customer Quality, Cargill Protein North America; and now serves as the Customer Technical Lead, Cargill Protein North America. In this role, he leads technical communication and technical issue management with key retail, food service and protein ingredient customers. Eilert served as the 2013 Board President for the American Meat Science Association. He has received numerous awards over his career including the Cargill Breakthrough Award in 2020, the American Meat Science Association Signal Service Award in 2018, and the American Meat Science Association Extension Industry Award in 2016. Eilert is also active in his community, having served as a board president and volunteer for multiple organizations, including the Wichita Children’s Home and HumanKind Ministries. He and his wife, Janine, have two daughters, Emily and Grace.

Ed KruseEd Kruse

Ed Kruse, BS 1973, of Kimball, Nebraska will be honored with the Undergraduate of Distinction Award. During his time at UNL, Kruse was a member of Alpha Zeta Honorary and Block & Bridle Club, was a university-wide Superior Senior Scholar and was recipient of the American Society of Animal Science Undergraduate Scholastic Achievement Award in 1971, 1972, and 1973. After graduation from UNL, Kruse served as a loan officer and vice-president in the banking industry in Nebraska. He then got into a career in livestock show and exposition management. He went on to hold many positions at various stock shows over the years. Recently, Kruse served as Director and Chairman of the Nebraska State Fair Board and on the Board of Directors of the American Shorthorn Association. Kruse and his wife Jamie own Kruse Ranch, a diversified operation of irrigated and dryland farming and cattle in western Nebraska. Their herd of Shorthorn Plus cattle is composed of black-hided Shorthorn Angus composites. Their breeding program emphasizes look, reproductive performance, and balanced breed leading EPD’s. In January, the National Shorthorn Show in Oklahoma City was dedicated to the Kruses for their 60+ year involvement with the Shorthorn breed. The Kruse family continues to be active participants in the livestock industry, including Kruse’s daughters and four grandsons following in his footsteps.

Read more about the awards criteria at https://animalscience.unl.edu/alumni-and-service-awards.