Seeds of Support
It all began with $12. Keith Heuermann was studying agriculture at the University of Nebraska in 1943 when he had an idea: he wrote to his father about a new way their family could produce its own hybrid seed corn. Keith used the $12 his father mailed him to purchase foundation seed to plant two acres of hybrid seed corn. The crop was successful, and soon a business was born: Prairie Valley Hybrids in Phillips.
Rooted in "pop" culture
After selling his business to Stauffer Chemical 36 years later, and officially retiring in 1990, Heuermann turned his attention to popcorn.
"I always wondered what I'd do when I turned 65," he quips. "I decided I'd mess around a little bit with some popcorn." He felt popcorn had poor agronomic traits and figured it could be improved. A little luck and a generous helping of business finesse contributed to the success of BKH Popcorn, which sold worldwide via the QVC Shopping Network and other outlets until just recently, when Heuermann sold the family company to Omaha-based ConAgra Foods.
And still, Heuermann isn't done; at age 82 he's gone back to farming. "I've seen him through the seed business, the popcorn business and now farming," says Norma, Keith's wife of 46 years. "I realized a few years ago that he'd finally done it – he'd made a farm wife out of me."
Plan now to sow seeds of support
The Heuermann's have supported dozens of local charities over the past two decades through their foundation, including the University of Nebraska Agronomy Department, Nebraska Wesleyan University, Hastings College and local nonprofits that support the disabled and the elderly. Their top priority is education, particularly for rural people in rural areas.
This emphasis on education is one reason Keith and Norma have supported NET Television so generously. "NET is one means of education," says Keith. "It has a high caliber of programs, and it's better for families."
Keith and Norma are also strong advocates of planned giving. "Planning ahead enables you to see the results of where your assets go," says Keith. "We are grateful and thankful to all the people who supported us; now it's our turn to give back."
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