Editor’s Note: The Women of ASA is a series of articles highlighting the significant contributions of women in the Simmental community.
Diane Duren is a longtime supporter of youth in the beef industry and has served as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Simmental Association for over 25 years.
Diane Duren has served as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Simmental Association for over 25 years and has been an active supporter of youth in the Simmental breed. The Nebraska native has organized numerous events, including AJSA Classics, and has been an integral part of other junior beef events in the state. Duren grew up outside of Rising City, Nebraska. Her family farmed around 2,000 acres of row crop, raised hogs, and commercial cattle. She came up through 4-H, exhibiting cattle and hogs at the county fair each year. In 1993, after leaving her job with the Columbus Telegram newspaper, her cousin, Russ Ruth, Ruth Simmentals, was on the Nebraska Simmental Association (NSA) Board of Directors and suggested that Duren step in to help with their publication, The Scoop, which had just lost its editor. She recalls, “Based on my newspaper background I started producing The Scoop and covering all of their events, and then in 1995, I moved into the Executive Director position which included managing their day-to-day duties and continuing to publish The Scoop, and planning/coordinating all of their events.”
Duren has been at the core of the NSA ever since and is now seeing the second generation of youth come up through the Nebraska Junior Simmental Association (NJSA). “I literally have seen two cycles of youth come through our NJSA program. The kids that were involved back in the late ’90s with the NJSA and the Nebraska Junior Beef Expo are now getting their kids involved and it’s so rewarding to see them involved and active,” she says. “It is great to see how successful they have all become in their careers, and I know they’ll want the same experiences for their children.”
Nebraska has hosted two AJSA Regional Classics, two AJSA National Classics, and an Ag Summit since Duren started with the NSA. Many events and organizations rely on people like Duren, who dedicate their time, in addition to having a family and a full-time job. When asked why she is willing to do so, she says, “It’s my passion for the junior program and NSA and the cattle industry that keeps me involved. I work a lot of hours and volunteer for a lot of different organizations, so it is imperative that I manage my time well and keep my projects organized well. I have a very supportive family that, throughout the years, have been very involved in this journey, too.”
In addition to AJSA events, Duren also helps host the Nebraska Beef Expo. “I have coordinated the Nebraska Junior Beef Expo — which is seven breeds of cattle coming together under one roof — which allows the youth to exhibit and compete in seven contests and show cattle in one weekend in June of each year, and it prepares them for AJSA Regional and National Classics. I have been doing this for 23 years.”
Duren is also passionate about the role that state associations play in ASA. “State associations are the “heartbeat” of the Simmental industry. They know firsthand what is happening sooner than the national association, many times. Also, the state associations have direct access to the Simmental breeders and commercial cattlemen through print and electronic communication, various cattle sales, and events. It is important for the state associations to keep their members engaged and involved and keep the membership growing and dues affordable. The states can be the best and most valuable asset to a national association if it is allowed, and not circumvented or discouraged. They are what makes the national association strong . . . without them the national association doesn’t survive.”
Youth are at the core of Duren’s involvement. “They are the future, and not just for the cattle industry, but life in general. We need to create opportunities and be the best role models we can possibly be. Many of the youth involved in the NSA and AJSA are going great places in life, and it’s our responsibility to help encourage and be a positive part of that journey.”
She believes that the AJSA is an important part of this. “I think the unique thing about the AJSA program is that it is so educationally driven. All breeds show cattle, so we are not unique in that, but I am a strong supporter of requiring the youth to compete in educational contests before they can show the cattle at regional and national competitions.”
Duren, and her husband, Jeff, have three daughters, Shauna, Joni, and Audra, who came up through 4-H showing cattle and hogs. Duren now has four grandchildren.
Duren now has four grandchildren. Duren has a full-time job at the Foundation One Bank in Omaha as the IT Director and Information Security Officer, as well as the Director of Marketing and Communications. She spent 15 years in the newspaper industry, but as the industry started to struggle, she decided to switch professions. She is also extremely involved in her community and has served through a variety of community organizations over the years. Duren currently serves on the advisory committee of the Butler County Area Foundation Fund and recently headed up the passage of a $1.95 million dollar bond for the Butler County Ag Society Event Center. She is the president of the Rising City Library Board and has been a past member of a number of organizations, including serving as the Red Cross Coordinator for community blood drives for seven years.
- Category: Women of ASA
- Created: 07 December 2020
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