Nebraska Ethanol Board Welcomes Tracy Zink to the Board

LINCOLN, Nebraska – Tracy Zink, who farms in Indianola, Nebraska, joins the Nebraska Ethanol Board (NEB) as the sorghum representative. She was appointed by Gov. Jim Pillen on Nov. 20, 2023, and confirmed by the State of Nebraska Legislature in early 2024.

A third-generation agricultural producer, Zink farms sorghum and a rotation of corn, soybeans and wheat on both irrigated and dryland acres. She markets some of her grains to Trenton Agri Products, an ethanol plant in Trenton, Nebraska.

“It is an exciting time to be joining this long-standing and successful board,” Zink said. “I have observed the significant impact that ethanol has in expanding marketing options, and I am very excited to be joining a board who has a purpose to promote a product that sustains both the agriculture industry and our planet.”

In addition to her appointment to the NEB, Zink holds positions on the Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association; the Middle Republican Natural Resources District; Nebraska Rural Radio Association; and the Nebraska Extension in Red Willow County Board. She was appointed to the National Sorghum Checkoff Board by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in December 2023.

“We are thrilled to welcome Tracy Zink to the board,” said Jan tenBensel, NEB chairman. “She brings a wealth of experience from the technology and advanced practices she’s incorporated on her farm, along with a strong background of leadership positions in multiple sectors.”

Zink tests out new strategies and technologies as a yearly participant in the University of Nebraska Testing Ag Performance Solutions (TAPS) program. In 2022, she received the honor of the TAPS Sorghum Triple Crown Winner for the greatest grain yield, highest input-use efficiency, and the most profitable farm and in 2023, she was recognized as Outstanding TAPS Advocate. According to TAPS, participants receive plots of land and make their own individual input on the same field as competitors. These decisions include crop insurance, hybrid and seeding rate, nitrogen timing and amount, irrigation timing and amount, and, lastly, marketing of their crop. The competition is focused on evolving profitability and input-use efficiency. Zink will be the first competitor to introduce irrigated sorghum in 2024. Other crop management practices she will test in the future include sidedressing and how many applications make it beneficial.

Zink’s interest in agriculture comes from working alongside her father on the family farm. However, her strength in athleticism drew her to a career in professional athletics and recreation. After high school, she attended the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1994, earning a bachelor’s degree in secondary education and a master’s degree in sports administration from West Texas A&M in 1996. This led to multiple roles within the American Volleyball Coaches Association. Continuing with the health and wellness industry, Zink spent many years helping seniors stay healthy as a fitness trainer and helped clients transition into senior housing. She returned to the family farm in 2012, where she is now dedicated to the health and wellness of its soil, water and crops.

“As you look out and around, none of this would be possible if we weren’t incredibly mindful about proper stewardship, soil conservation, and managing wind and water erosion,” Zink said of Nebraska agriculture. “I look forward to finding ways for those outside of farming to better learn our story, as it is crucial to fully understanding ethanol’s low carbon footprint.”

Outgoing NEB sorghum representative, Tim Else (Belvidere, Neb.), served five terms on the Nebraska Ethanol Board.

“With our greatest appreciation, we thank our dear colleague and friend, Tim Else, for his service to the ethanol and agricultural community,” tenBensel said. “Through 20 years of dedicated service as a Nebraska Ethanol Board member, Tim contributed invaluable institutional knowledge and leadership.”

The NEB is a seven-member board that includes four members actively engaged in farming (general farming, corn, wheat and sorghum), one member representing labor interests, one member representing petroleum marketers, and one member representing business. The Board’s technical advisor serves as a non-voting member. Members of the NEB are appointed by the governor, and confirmed by the Nebraska Legislature, to serve four-year terms.

Zink joins current board members: Jan tenBensel, chairman (Cambridge, Neb.); Scott McPheeters, vice chairman (Gothenburg, Neb.); Randy Gard, secretary (Grand Island, Neb.); Brad Bird, board member (Omaha, Neb.); Taylor Nelson, board member (Jackson, Neb.); Mike Thede, board member (Palmer, Neb.); and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chemical Engineering Professor Dr. Hunter Flodman, who serves as NEB’s technical advisor. The Board reelected tenBensel, McPheeters and Gard as executive committee officers at the Dec. 4 meeting.

The Nebraska Ethanol Board works to ensure strong public policy and consumer support for biofuels. Since 1971, the independent state agency has designed and managed programs to expand production, market access, worker safety and technology innovation, including recruitment of producers interested in developing conventional ethanol, as well as bio-products from the ethanol platform. For more information, visit www.ethanol.nebraska.gov.

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Tracy Zink received confirmation from the State of Nebraska Legislature in February 2024 to be the Nebraska Ethanol Board’s next sorghum representative.
The Nebraska Ethanol Board acknowledges and appreciates Tim Else’s 20 years of service to the agency as the sorghum representative. He retired at the end of his term on Aug. 31, 2023.