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The Nebraska Trucking Association (NTA) won the 2020 Mike Russell Trucking Image Award from the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Oct. 26.  The award is given to one state trucking association that displayed outstanding efforts to improve the image of the trucking industry.

“This award is a great honor to win during a regular year, but with the pandemic, it’s a huge win for our great state,” said Kent Grisham, NTA President and CEO.

NTA staff and volunteers delivered meals, hand sanitizer and helped the Nebraska State Patrol bring 100,000 masks to truckers throughout the year.  The NTA reached out to Nebraska grade schoolers who were forced into Zoom classrooms by offering truck tours online.  It also reached out to the senior community by bringing a truck tour to the parking lot of a senior home in Grand Island.  Webinars were held covering topics ranging from how to properly sanitize the interior of a truck, and “need to know” information from the University of Nebraska Medical Centers.  Even Governor Pete Ricketts led a Trucking Town Hall, giving NTA members an opportunity to ask questions and get firsthand information.  Additionally, children were invited to submit “Thank a Trucker” posters, which were turned into full sized billboards at locations across the state.

“This year has provided numerous examples of what an important role our industry plays in the lives of people across the country,” said ATA Chairman Randy Guillot, president of Southeastern Motor Freight and Triple G Express. “These champions of our industry have gone above and beyond to improve the image of our industry and show just how safe, professional and essential trucking is.”

NTA challenged local chambers of commerce throughout the state to find creative and public ways to honor local truck drivers.  They delivered.

“We know truck drivers are essential, and so are their families,” said Dave Zelnio, NTA Director of Operations and Communication. “Families hold down the fort, while their truckers are on the road.  We asked the chambers to deliver a nice, healthy Schwan’s Home Delivery meal for four to give them a break from cooking one night.”

Twenty chambers signed up for the challenge and found creative ways to deliver the food.  The most creative and effective deliveries were honored with trophies at a Nebraska State Chamber Conference Oct. 7 in Seward.

Taking the Best in State Trophy was the South Sioux City Chamber of Commerce which brought two truckers to its parking lot where balloons, a semitruck, and even the local high school mascot were on hand to deliver their thanks in front of three local television stations.  The Kearney Chamber took second place thanks to its highly polished video featuring numerous local trucking companies and a delivery to a local driver.  The Washington County Chamber took third place with a creative delivery in costume.

“This year has certainly been a challenging year, but a year where we have seen the trucking industry gain incredible momentum in the way we are perceived,” said ATA Executive Vice President of Industry Affairs Elisabeth Barna. “Our drivers became heroes overnight, and they were recognized by families, kids on the side of roadways holding signs, community leaders, public officials and by the media. Our drivers were called frontline heroes – and were mentioned in the same sentence as doctors and nurses, and that is a testament to the work they did under these unprecedented circumstances.”