For immediate release:  April 15, 2019


The Buffalo County Historical Society is pleased to announce the winners of the ‘2019 Preservationist of the Year Award’ and the ‘2019 Volunteer of the Year Award’.


The Preservationist of the Year award honors a person, organization or business working to preserve Buffalo County's physical history. Completed or ongoing projects or renovations, longtime work in preservation or a commitment to preserving historical structures and places are eligible for the award.

The Awards Committee met and had a tough time deciding amongst the nominees, but one dedicated lady really stood out. Congratulations to the 10th Annual Preservationist of the Year Award winner: Elaine Batenhorst.

Here is a quote from one of the nominating letters we received: “When someone needs to find a long-lost piece of sheet music or becomes overwhelmed while trying to make sense of the system in the Trails and Rails archives, when a member of the public needs help finding out about an ancestor or when no one else seems to be available to cover a shift at the museum, Elaine Batenhorst is always a good choice to ask for help.

Not only is Elaine almost always available and always knowledgeable, but every time I’ve asked her for help, what interested me quickly interested her. That enthusiasm for Trails and Rails and Buffalo County’s history transmits itself to visitors and members and makes her a great ambassador for the museum and the society.

For those reasons and for her dedication to Trails and Rails, I would like to nominate Elaine Batenhorst as Volunteer of the Year for the Buffalo County Historical Society. She’s a volunteer, but I believe she qualifies as almost essential personnel and that value makes her a great choice for the award.”

Roger Davis, BCHS Board President, and Elaine Batenhorst, 2019 BCHS Preservationist of the Year award winner. photo credit: Jennifer Murrish

Previous winners of the Preservationist of the Year Award are:  2010-Chan Lynch; 2011-June Flesner-Becker; 2012-Bobbie McKenzie and Mardi Anderson; 2013-the Pleasanton FBLA and their instructor, Corliss Dixon; 2014-Dr. Walter Martin; 2015- Kent and Ray Buchanan; 2016-Richter Family, 2017- the Gibbon Heritage Center; 2018-Corene Phillips.

The Volunteer of the Year Award honors those that go above and beyond to help with fundraising, maintenance, archive research, answering phones, giving tours, and/or many other ways to assist BCHS with their mission of preserving and sharing Buffalo County’s vast history. 

The Awards Committee had another hard decision when debating the nominations for the Volunteer of the Year Award.  The Museum had many volunteers representing the Society that put in approximately 4,000 hours just in 2018 both at the Museum and off property. Congratulations to the 7th Annual Volunteer of the Year Award winner: Mary Beth Lowe. 

Mary Beth signed up to be the BCHS treasurer, Eagle Scout committee chair, volunteering down at the Museum, serves on the Building committee, the Finance Committee, the Nominating Committee and on the Fabulous Friday committee.  She does all of this with a smile on her face!  She has also been known to rope her hubby in to help us with emergency maintenance issues.


“We are super excited and blessed to have Mary Beth Lowe this involved with the Society activities.” said Jennifer Murrish, “We are very grateful for Mary Beth’s time, energy and her enthusiasm.


Previous winners of the Volunteer of the Year award are: 2013-Todd Pickering; 2014-the 1733 Blacksmith Guild; 2015-Elaine Batenhorst; 2016-Katherine Wielechowski, 2017-Dora Day; 2018-Robyn Kendle.

To nominate someone, e-mail, mail a nomination to Buffalo County Historical Society, P.O. Box 523, Kearney, NE 68848, or call (308) 234-3041. Please include your name, phone number and the reason the nominee should be honored. Winners are picked by a committee choosing from nominations by the public and committee members. Both awards are announced at the historical society’s Annual Meeting each April.  Nominations are accepted all year long but are due by April 1 annually. 

Contact information:

Jennifer Murrish, Executive Director

Buffalo County Historical Society/Trails & Rails Museum

PO Box 523, 710 W. 11th St., Kearney, NE  68848               (308) 234-3041


About Trails & Rails Museum

The Trails & Rails Museum has six historic buildings visitors can tour, as well as a livery barn, the new JC Marlatt blacksmith shop, and a Union Pacific steam engine and caboose.  The Family History Center building will house the Buffalo County records and archives, which are used by researchers worldwide.  The Trails & Rails Museum is located on the original Mormon Trail route at 710 W. 11th Street in Kearney. The Museum is owned and operated by the Buffalo County Historical Society, which is a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization. Join us on Facebook at “BuffaloCounty HistoricalSociety”. Please visit for additional details and special events.