The North Bend Eagle


Ag Week
Kurt Dunker and his father Richard have been farming together for 14 years.

Generations nourishing generations on farm

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 3/20/13

Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 4.5 million acres of land, 93 percent of the state’s total land area according to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture.

The men and women who farm this land are being honored this week during National Agriculture Week. There won’t be a parade or any celebration, as the farmers are too busy getting ready for the upcoming season to take time out for such.

Generations of farmers in our area nourish younger farmers to carry on the farm traditions passed to them. Fathers, sons, son-in-laws, and nephews are all working the land to feed the world.

Richard Dunker is a third generation farmer. His grandfather, Richard, first came to the area in the 1920s. Richard’s son, Roy, started farming in the ‘50s. Dunker, 63, graduated from high school in 1967, served in the Army in Vietnam and held odd jobs in Fremont before returning home to farm.

“Dad said it was there if I wanted to farm,” Dunker said. “He went through the depression and that wasn’t good. There were a lot of political overtones he didn’t like. It was a 50/50 mix - he said I could farm if I wanted to, but if I didn’t want to it was OK with him.”

Dunker came back to farm, eager to be his own boss.

“The farm controls your destiny,” he said. “You are somewhat in control but there are still a lot of things you can’t control.”

Dunker has two sons, Kurt and Neal. He told them there was the opportunity to farm if they wanted to, but not to treat it as a last resort.

“There is a lot of risk, but you can manage that,” Dunker said.

Kurt Dunker, 38, is now farming with his dad. He was a draftsman for five years before returning to farm in 1999. He said his dad did not encourage him to farm when he was in school.

“I helped him,” Kurt said, “but I was not interested, though the option was always there.”

Kurt said that his dad passed on to him a philosophy of farming that your success or failure depends on what you do.

“It’s up to you, what you put into it,” Kurt said.

Glen Chvatal’s great-grandfather Anton Chvatal came to the area south of Morse Bluff when he was 14. In 1877 he started farming, succeeded by his son Charles and grandson Francis.

Glen said he was not encouraged by his father Francis, but farming was always something he wanted to do.

“Dad tried to encourage me to go to college,” Chvatal said. “I started farming with Bill Chromy in high school.”

Chvatal joined the National Guard in high school, fulfilled his obligation, and has been farming since.

Chvatal’s two sons, Eric and Bryon, both farm with their dad as well as on their own.

“I helped them get a decent start,” Chvatal said. “I hope they learned something from me so they can take over when I retire.”

Eric Chvatal, 33, always wanted to farm and was encouraged by his dad to do so. He attended college and was a diesel mechanic for 11 years while farming part time. He now farms full time and has livestock with his dad.

“It’s a learning curve for both of us,” Eric said. “I bring more technology that he hasn’t been around.”

Eric said that growing up he saw that farming was a way of life. Most of the time it is laid back, but some times it isn’t.

Bryon Chvatal, 30, graduated from University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a degree in diversified ag. He held different internships and was an ag research technician at the UNL Agricultural Research Center in Mead for 3 1/2 years, all the while farming part time. In 2008 he made to commitment to full-time farming.

“Dad said, ‘You sure you want to do this?’ as prices were still low then,” Bryon said. “Ever since later in high school I knew I wanted to farm, be my own boss, work with the soil and animals.”

Bryon said he learned a lot in college, but there is still a lot you can’t learn in college. For that he appreciated the knowledge his dad has to impart.

“He’s lived it and it’s priceless - the day to day knowledge of different farming situations.”

In the 1870s Peter Emanuel started farming in the Webster area. Following generations - Joseph, his son Joseph, Wendell, Tom, and now the fifth generation of this Emanuel family line, Jordan, continues farming in the area.
Wendell Emanuel, 74, said he always planned to farm. His dad didn’t really encourage him, but he said a lot of men his age eventually migrated back to the farm.

All of his children went on to further education after high school. Sons Ron, Tom and Bruce have all returned to farm.

Emanuel said he tried to pass on to his sons that they should enjoy what they do.

“I myself enjoy seeing cattle, crops grow,” he said. “It ain’t work if you enjoy it.”
After graduating from community college with a degree in diversified ag, Tom Emanuel came back to farm. He worked with his father for a while and then with Stan Jorgensen. He continues to farm Jorgensen’s land and works with his dad and brothers on the family farm.

He values the ability to work with family, his father and sons, as a benefit of farming.

“I hope to pass on to my sons the opportunity to farm if they want to,” Tom said. “To work side by side with family, not many businesses have that opportunity. The work has it challenges. It teaches them what it takes through hard work.”

Jordan Emanuel, 24, never planned on farming because he had to do it every day against his will while in high school. He went to UNL as a broadcast journalism major. His dad had told him to do what he wanted to do, but the option was there to come back and farm.

“When I got to college I realized (farming) is a way of life and it wasn’t too bad,” Jordan said. “It’s fun once I started doing it not because I had to, but because I want to.”

Jordan graduated with a ag economics degree and came back to the farm with his own philosophy:

“Working hard ever day. Having faith that it will all turn out, work hard no matter what you do,” said the fifth generation farmer nourished by the farmers before him.

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