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Samuelsons make a game-changing gift to democracy

Matt Samuelson (left) and Drey Samuelson
Civic Nebraska is poised to receive the largest single donation in its history, thanks to the vision of brothers Matt and Drey Samuelson, who are originally from Pender.
The Samuelsons have committed to donating the proceeds from an auction of about 120 acres of Thurston County farmland to Civic Nebraska, which will then leverage the funds to enhance its civic education and advocacy initiatives across the state. This includes a range of rural civic health efforts that center on addressing shared interests, issues, and challenges, and also encourage wider participation in our democratic institutions.
“Matt and I both felt that the time was right for us to sell the farmland, and we wanted to do something good for our home state,” Drey Samuelson told the Pender Times. “Civic Nebraska is a highly effective, nonpartisan nonprofit, and as such it’s a very good fit for what we wanted to do.”
Matt Samuelson retired in 2019 after two decades on the bench. He was a judge in the Sixth Judicial District, which includes Burt, Cedar, Dakota, Dixon, Dodge, Thurston, and Washington counties. Drey Samuelson was U.S. Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D-South Dakota) chief of staff from 1997-2015, Johnson’s entire tenure in Congress.
“The Samuelsons’ generosity will bolster civic education across Nebraska, and will help ensure that generations of Nebraskans regardless of political affiliation can participate in our democracy,” said Adam Morfeld, Civic Nebraska’s executive director.
“Nebraskans take great pride in being civically engaged, and this incredible investment in our communities and democracy ensures that the torch is passed to future generations,” he added.
The online auction closes at 2 pm CDT on Nov. 1. A recent market analysis estimated the farmland at $12,300 an acre, meaning the Samuelsons’ gift is likely to be about $1.2 million.