Brothers, Ag Educators Got Start At Northeast Community College

Published on: August 13, 2019

VALENTINE, NE –  Going to Northeast Community College was a family affair for Brent and Justin Nolette.

The Nolette brothers followed in their father’s footsteps. He graduated from Northeast on his way to getting a teaching degree and so did his sons.

Brent graduated from Northeast a little over 10 years ago and now teaches ag in Valentine. When the Nolettes’ dad retired from teaching ag, Justin, a few years younger than Brent, took over their dad’s teaching job at Cody-Kilgore.

“I always knew I wanted to ranch, but we have a small operation, so ag education provides for my family,” Brent said. “I feel like I have the best of both worlds.”

Brent enjoys being involved in production ag every day with the family’s 80-cow herd. He credits dealing with those day-to-day experiences with having fine-tuned the quality of ag teacher he has become. He loves the interaction with high school level students and sharing his real-life knowledge with those young people.

Being part of the livestock judging team at Northeast was especially rewarding to Brent. He became close to the team’s advisor, Mike Roeber, and still keeps in touch with him, often asking for his guidance about ranching.

“I qualified for a regent’s scholarship but I always recommend my students consider the low cost of the quality education at Northeast,” Brent said.

Not only does Brent work day in and out in production ag, but he also fashions himself as the cook in the family catering business. Their smoked meat products have a reputation in the area and are served at wedding receptions, family reunions and make it to camp sites for branding day.

Justin didn’t always think he would be a rancher but he always remembers that his dad set aside a few cows for him and his brother.

“That’s where we got our love for livestock, working alongside helping dad every day,” Justin said.

Justin studied animal science at Northeast with an option for business management and moved on to UNL with a goal of being a pharmaceutical or semen rep. An internship at a feedlot initiated a lot of questions for him. After talking to his dad and brother, Justin made a switch to the teaching program. He eventually came back to take his dad’s teaching position and join the family ranch operation, Diamond Lazy J Ranch.

Justin also enjoyed the livestock judging team at Northeast.

“Being on the livestock judging team opened my eyes to the world and broadened my horizons,” Justin said. “I realized there was more to the world than the Sandhills and there’s a lot more cattle out there.”

“Best thing about ranching for me is the people; people you help, neighbors you work with, being outside and it’s certainly not a job for everybody,” Justin said. “It’s a life I grew up with and I’m glad I finally I realized I had a passion for cattle.”

Funding for the$23 million project is currently being solicited to enhance and expand the agriculture facilities at Northeast Community College. In addition to the College’s commitment of $10 million, Northeast is seeking at least $13 million in private funds to begin the initial phase of construction, which includes a new farm site with a farm office and storage, a large animal handling facility and other farm structures for livestock operations, and a new veterinary technology clinic and classrooms. The new facilities will be located near the Chuck Pohlman Ag Complex on East Benjamin Avenue.

For more information, contact Northeast Community College Associate Vice President of Development and External Affairs Dr. Tracy Kruse,, 402-844-7056. Online donations can be made through the website Checks can be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.


Photo Cutline – Nolette

Brent (left) and Justin (center) Nolette with Brent’s Northeast classmate Aaron Dinklage. In front is Brent’s daughter, Brooklyn.