2020 Distinguished Awardees

Deb VanOverbekeDeb VanOverbeke

Deborah (Roeber) VanOverbeke, BS 1996, of Stillwater, Okla. will be honored with the undergraduate of distinction award. As undergraduate student at UNL, VanOverbeke was highly active and engaged in the department. She served as President of Block & Bridle for two years, was a student worker in the meat science group, and an undergraduate teaching assistant. Following graduation, VanOverbeke worked for Nebraska Cattlemen in the area of producer education and marketing of the Beef Quality Assurance and Nebraska Corn-Fed Beef programs. She went on to pursue her MS and Ph.D. in Meat Science at Colorado State University. After completing her graduate program, VanOverbeke was hired in a research/extension Assistant Professor position at the University of Minnesota. In 2005, she moved to Oklahoma State University as an assistant professor with a teaching/research appointment in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences. Since that time, Deb has been promoted to full professor. She has taught courses from meat animal and carcass evaluation, issues in food science, and capstone in animal agriculture to interpreting animal and food science research and consumer research methods. Her research focuses on quality/sensory attributes related to beef cattle management and has included recent National Beef Quality audits, research on shelf life and consumer preference and the impact of growth promotion strategies on meat quality. For the past three years, VanOverbeke has served as the Assistant Dean for academic programs in the Ferguson College of Agriculture and is the holder of the George Chiga Endowed Professorship in the Department of Animal and Food Sciences.

Trey KellnerTrey Kellner

Trey Kellner, BS 2010, of Audubon, Iowa will be honored with the young alumni of distinction award. While at Nebraska, Kellner was involved in livestock judging, Block and Bridle, and Alpha Gamma Rho. He was named to the Intercollegiate All-American Livestock Judging Team in 2009. Kellner was also part of two Animal Science Quadrathlon winning teams and was a contributing member of a Top 4 Quadrathlon team at the 2010 Midwest American Society of Animal Science Meetings. He was also part of the Champion Communications team at the 2009 National Meat Animal Evaluation Contest. Following graduation, Kellner earned his MS and Ph.D. in Animal Science from Iowa State University. He served many leadership roles during his time in Ames and was recognized as an ASAS Young Scholar in 2017. After earning his Ph.D., he was hired by AMVC Nutritional Services to be their first swine nutritionist. Kellner’s role is responsible for designing and implementing the execution of feeding programs for 140,000 sows and 1,200,000 annually marketed pigs. He increased AMVC Nutritional Services’ business by 55,000 sows and 325,000 annual markets pigs in his two short years there. He has been sought as a keynote speaker at multiple scientific conferences and industry forums. Kellner continues to give back to Nebraska by advising undergraduate students as an Alpha Gamma Rho alumni board director and he also serves as a committee member for regional and national collegiate livestock judging contests. Nominators Thomas Burkey and Jamison Jensen say very few people have more pride in being an alumnus of the Department of Animal Science at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln than Dr. Kellner.

Ken EngKen Eng

Kenneth Eng, BS 1958, MS 1960 will be posthumously honored with the distinguished service award. Eng, a native of Newman Grove, Nebraska, earned his BS and MS at Nebraska before earning his Ph.D. in Ruminant Nutrition at Oklahoma State University. He served as a nutrition consultant to numerous feedlot and ranch clients in Nebraska and surrounding states. Eng’s gift to Nebraska to fund research in confined beef cow feeding helped focus new production alternatives in cow-calf production over a four-year period. The alternatives developed through this research helped producers expand their operations despite high land prices and showcased how young cattle producers can get involved in cow ownership when land resources are limited or unavailable. Eng organized and sponsored four symposiums, two of them co-hosted by Nebraska, focused on limited feeding cows in confinement. Eng has received many awards and recognitions over the years. Nominator Craig Buescher says, “Eng had a life-long passion for the cattle industry and the people in the cattle business.”

Jeremy MartinJeremy Martin

Jeremy Martin, BS 2000, MS 2004, Ph.D. 2007, of Wellfleet will be honored with the graduate of distinction award. During his graduate studies, Martin served as the UNL Livestock Judging Team coach for three years where he was not only coaching the team but teaching AS400 advanced livestock evaluation. He received many awards during his graduate tenure for his work as well as the Holling Family Award for Teaching Excellence. Martin, along with his wife Gail, began building their own herd of registered Angus and SimAngus composite cattle. Over the last ten years, the cow herd has grown to about 300 cows. They now operate Broken Bar M Ranch along with their three children. Martin is also a consulting nutritionist for Great Plains Livestock Consulting, Inc. where he provides advice to several cow-calf operations and feedlots in Kansas and Nebraska. He currently serves on the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Advisory committee where he has helped shape research projects that will benefit cattlemen in the state. Martin has shared his talent and interest in livestock judging at countless contests and workshops. In 2019 and 2020 Martin and his partners supplied the steers to youth exhibitors for the inaugural Nebraska Fed Beef Challenge. They provided a tour of their feedlot and worked with the families to select their calves. The youth were provided an overview of how the feedlot looks at feeder calf value and characteristics they should look for in calves. Nominator Kelly Bruns says, “Martin is making an impact with youth, cattle producers and his clientele across the state of Nebraska as well as in surrounding states. His commitment to the university is demonstrated by the time and resources he provides.”

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