Experience abroad informs senator’s work at home

Above: Sen. Bruce Bostelman and his wife, Jan, visited the Great Wall of China in 2015.

Sen. Bruce Bostelman, who is rooted in small Nebraska farming communities, witnessed agriculture’s global scale on a recent trip to South Korea where he stood in a dockyard watching ships unload American grain.

He was traveling with fellow graduates of UNL’s Leadership Education/Action Development program, in which participants spend two years studying national and international issues facing farmers and ranchers. Bostelman said meeting with U.S. Foreign Service officials and international agencies gave him a better understanding of how global forces affect Nebraska agriculture.

Now he hopes to apply that experience as a state senator.

“International study was very helpful in understanding roles between countries and how our government interacts with them,” he said.

Bostelman, a lifelong traveler, joined the U.S. Air Force after high school and spent four years in the U.S. and U.K. guarding aircraft and missile installations. On a later duty assignment in Turkey, he trained to be a paralegal and spent the rest of his 20-year career managing various law offices that handled cases in military justice, civil law, claims, contract law and international law.

He said his legal experience prepared him for his job as a senator, which requires the careful scrutiny of proposed legislation and the ability to think critically about how a bill would affect existing laws and the people of Nebraska.

“I think it gives me a good background,” Bostelman said.

The senator maintains a farm near Loma, where he grows woody floral stems and pecan trees. He grew up near the state’s southern border in the small farming community of Superior, where his parents still live. His two children and two grandchildren live in Lincoln.

A sportsman who also enjoys scuba diving and hiking, Bostelman said he and his wife, Jan, try to travel abroad whenever they can. Their destinations include the Arctic Circle, New Zealand and the Great Wall of China. They visited Namibia in 2014.

“We’d love to get back again,” he said. “You can just see amazing sights — animals everywhere.”

For now, though, travel is limited mostly to his district as he visits constituents in the areas of Schuyler, David City and Wahoo. Bostelman said property taxes are the chief concern there, along with funding for education and correctional services, all issues he hopes to address during his time in the Legislature.

He looks forward to serving on the Natural Resources Committee, which he requested, and on the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, where he hopes to expand broadband internet access in the state’s rural areas.

“I think that would really provide us opportunities for more families to move back either to the farm or to our small communities,” he said.

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