Nebraska Sheep & Goat Producers

The Nebraska Sheep and Goat Producers Association honored Ivan and Doris Rush for their many contributions to the sheep and wool industry at the annual conference held in Alliance, Nebraska.  The award named the Ted and Alice Doane Outstanding Contribution Award was presented to Ivan and Doris at their annual meeting on October 17, 2020 at the West Side Event Center in Alliance. 

Ivan has a long history of involvement and contributions to the sheep and wool industry in Missouri, Oklahoma, Colombia, South America, Lexington and Scottsbluff.  He has devoted a lifetime to raising livestock.   He loved showing cattle and started with 25-30 head of ewes.  He started with Corriedale while in Missouri. 

      He started as the extension agent in Dawson County for 2 years.  He also started there with few sheep and worked with the producers there doing judging workouts with 4-H clubs.  He began taking an interest in dorset sheep because they breed out of season. But Ivan got the opportunity to go to Colombia, South America as a livestock extension specialist for the University of Nebraska’s international program.  While in Colombia, Ivan worked with cattle mostly and, also swine and sheep.  While in Colombia he was asked to head up the National Sheep Program.  Clayton Yeutter was his boss at the time.  He finally agreed to let Ivan head up their national program.  He found that all he was dealing with was personal issues and he really wanted to worry about sheep production.

Finally, Ivan and Doris decided they wanted their daughter, Cynthia to grow up under the U.S. flag.  He finished is Ph.D. at Oklahoma State University at Stillwater.  During that time, their second daughter, Angela was born.   After getting his Ph.D. Ivan was hired as the feedlot extension specialist at the Panhandle Research and Extension Center in Scottsbluff.  The family arrived in the valley in 1974.  Even though he intended to only stay a few years he fell in love with western Nebraska.  He retired from the university in 2009 after 35 years with 40 years of combined service with extension. 

Ivan got back into sheep when daughters started 4-H.  They started out with 4 or 5 ewes.  Ivan would take them to be bred and the kids and Doris would take care of them.

After the girls left the nest, he sold all of his sheep and never though he would get back in the sheep business.  Then a family with children moved to a rental they owned.  He told them that if they wanted a 4-H project he would buy them a couple of lambs.  And so he was back in the sheep business.  Today his herd is about 150 ewes.    Ivan has 38 years experience as a 4-H leader.  He sells lambs to 4-Hers.  His dad was a 4-H leader.  “I saw that value, but it wasn’t until my own daughters got involved that I really got to it.”

“It’s just so fun to see them grow, and now as an old man I get to see a lot of 4-Hers that I watched grow up,” “I smile knowing that I had a little bit to do with having some responsibility.”

The plaque that was presented has the following statement “A person has not lived until he has done something which does not benefit himself, but rather benefits another.  This is not only Christianity in practice, it is the finest principle upon which a person can base his life”.  The plaque was presented by Al Weeder, past president of NSGP and author of the inscription on the plaque. Those words were very fitting for Ivan and Doris Rushs’ service to the sheep and wool industry