CHEERS — Hip Hip Hooray!
This column salutes REAP businesses that are
finding ways to increase their success.
Enterprise Blend Supplements Agriculture for an Orleans, Nebraska Family
Converting a pasture to a higher-return
recreational enterprise is one way this family is coping with agriculture’s
Keith and Sue Roberts of Orleans, Nebraska, are
prime examples of the innovative entrepreneurial drive shown by rural
residents in Nebraska. In the midst of declining family farm income due to
drought and poor prices, the Roberts own 188 acres of ground and help
Keith’s folks on their farm.
To create enough total family income, Keith and Sue are blending outside
employment with agricultural and non-agricultural small business
enterprises. These include an active and successful recreational business,
Twin Creek Paintball in Orleans.
This enterprise is a clear example of taking an agricultural resource,
native pasture, and converting it to a higher net income from a
non-agricultural use. They are also initiating a meat goat enterprise on
their farm. Keith and Sue both maintain outside employment. Sue is the
Director of Nursing at the Arapahoe Good Samaritan Nursing Home, and Keith
is a substitute school bus driver for Orleans.
The couple also owns the Sappa Creek Trading Post in Orleans, which features
t-shirts, collectibles, upholstery, working furniture, etc. Keith mows lawns
at two area cemeteries. Their two boys, Caleb and Cody, and their daughter
Courtney provide help in some or all of the family’s entrepreneurial
Twin Creek Paintball is their oldest and most lucrative venture, with an
8-year history and steadily increasing volume of revenue and net
profitability. The Roberts have used two REAP peer loans to help this
enterprise expand and grow in net returns.
As resourceful and steeped in the work ethic as they are, the Roberts
illustrate why Nebraska ranks #1 in the number of jobs held per person in
the U.S. As Keith states, “You have to have a lot of things going these days
to supplement ag income in order to make a decent living.”
The Roberts are charter members of the South Central Business Development
REAP association (SCBDA) in Phelps and Harlan County. Keith is the current
chairperson. He has generously donated time to speak out on behalf of small
He served on panels at the Women in Agriculture conference in Kearney, at a
South Platte United Chamber of Commerce meeting this summer, and as a panel
member at a Curtis, Neb. meeting on alternative agriculture enterprises.