Jim Goeke, hydrogeologist, retired in 2011 from UNL's School of Natural Resources after 41 years at the university, and became a professor emeritus. He was with the Conservation and Survey Division, the state geological, geographic, water and soil survey, and was stationed at the West-Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte.
Jim was well-known as a speaker on Nebraska groundwater.
His main research interests had to do with the groundwater of central and southwestern Nebraska, groundwater management - particularly under conditions of scarcity - and the age of the Sand Hills. Some key research projects he has worked involved gathering data for modeling the unconfined aquifers near the Platte River in the central Platte region and similar stream-aquifer studies in the Republican River Valley.
One of his long-term and major scholarly service efforts has been assisting the locally controlled natural resources districts (NRDs) in the west-central part of the state, in devising and implementing groundwater management plans. Required by state law, these plans help the districts determine how they want to manage their groundwater reservoir. In particular, the Upper Republican NRD in far southwestern Nebraska has been challenged by declining water tables and water restrictions, including groundwater metering and a moratorium on well-drilling. Since the late 1970s, Jim has worked closely with this NRD to help them adjust to these stresses. He has also assisted the Middle Republican and the Twin Platte NRDs with their groundwater management concerns.
Other scholarly service includes being a state Attorney General's expert witness for the Republican River basin in litigation with Kansas over allocations from that river. He served as the state representative for the Ogallala Aquifer Institute of Garden City, Kansas, and the UNL liaison to the Nebraska Well Drillers Association, an organization that Conservation and Survey helped found. He worked closely with the U.S. Geological Survey on the High Plains Regional Aquifer System Analysis (RASA), and the High Plains National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) programs. He also ran an acid rain monitoring station as part of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program, and monitored dioxin in the atmosphere in conjunction with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
In outreach, Jim has been involved with the Lincoln-based Groundwater Foundation's board and educational events, the High Plains Water Expo, and the Water Riches field days, both sponsored by the Lincoln County Extension office. He has given many talks for schools or community events regarding groundwater geology and Nebraska's groundwater resource.
In 1995, with Keith Blackledge, then editor of the North Platte Telegraph, Jim was awarded the "Friends of the Forest" award from the Nebraska Statewide Arboretum, and the State Forester's Award that same year from the Nebraska Forest Service, both for securing grants to fund local tree planting. In addition, the Groundwater Foundation recognized him with the 2001 Maurice Kremer award. In 2006, he received an Omtvedt Innovation Award from the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, recognizing the outstanding contributions he made during his long career. The Nebraska Chapter of Gamma Sigma Delta presented him with the Excellence in Education Award, citing his leadership in groundwater modeling studies, and recognizing him for having become the point person and leading expert on the Ogallala Aquifer. The Statewide Arboretum recognized Goeke again in 2007 with the President's Citation for speaking on behalf of sound water management practices and for promoting tree planting.
Jim has a bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin in 1966 and a master's degree from Colorado State University in 1970. He has been with UNL since 1970.