Wisner Woman Planned Northeast Classes Around Family Business

Published on: August 27, 2019

Wisner, NE – As Casey Schantz Bellar graduated from Northeast Community College she knew what she wanted to do. Having grown up watching her dad and grandpa Schantz tend their shorthorn herd, she didn’t have to think twice about returning to her family’s feedlot. When the ink dried on her degree in livestock management and her parents asked her if she wanted a job, the answer was an enthusiastic, “Yes.”

            Not only did Bellar return to the location where her parents, Tom and Cheryl Schantz, had established a 5,000-head feedlot in the fall of 2000, but it’s the same land her grandparents, Warren and Alice Heller, had farmed since they married in the 1950s. And also the land where her great-grandfather, Hugo Heller, farmed. Casey’s roots in agriculture, as you can see, run deep.

Today, Bellar’s days are full at Schantz Cattle Company, divided between work in the office and hands-on work in the pens. Bellar’s husband, Justin, father and brother are also partners in the South Point feedlot about three miles down the road. She keeps books, works cattle and other outside duties at both feedlots.

“I can run the feed wagon, the pay loader, the tractor, and take over the books,” she said.

As a youngster, Bellar showed breeding heifers at the Cuming County Fair and other places around the country. As a high school student, she was involved in FFA. As a teenager, she handled bookkeeping duties, billed feed and recorded medications on her family’s feedlot.

When the day came to head to college, she knew she had enjoyed her time at the feedlot and wanted to continue in a similar business. She thought about a larger university out-of-state, but was swayed by Northeast’s reputation for a good ag program. She also played basketball with the Hawks, and was able to continue working on the feedlot on the weekends.

“I liked the atmosphere at Northeast,” she said. “The class size was not overwhelming, and we could be one-on-one with instructors.” She remains in contact with a number of them today, contacting them, for example, when Schantz Cattle Company is looking for employees.

When Bellar enrolled at Northeast, she went right into the ag curriculum. She had completed most of the first-year general-education classes through college-credit classes at Wisner-Pilger High school.

 As a result, few classes were necessary during her final semester. She regrets, however, not taking more accounting or computer-based classes instead of having to learn some skills on the job.

As she looks back, she wishes she would have convinced herself to take those extra classes, “even if you think you won’t need it.”

“If I had any advice, that would be it,” she said.

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, tracyk@northeast.edu, 402-844-7056. Online donations can be made through the website agwaternexus.com. Checks can be mailed to: Nexus Campaign, Northeast Community College Foundation, P.O. Box 469, Norfolk, NE 68702-0469.

Photo Cutline – Casey

Casey Schantz Bellar at the family feedlot near Wisner. (Courtesy Northeast Community College)