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Weekend feature

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Weekend feature

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Filming continues for new Hartington-based TV show

Kenneth Ferriera

Cedar County News

HARTINGTON — Imagine this, you are sitting in front of your television in your favorite spot. 

Dinner in hand, you flip through the channels endlessly searching through the mundanity of TV. Then, while surfing the channels you see your next door neighbor flash across the screen. Quickly you flip back to the National Geographic channel to see the veterinarians that you take Fido to on screen. 

For Hartington area residents this may soon become a reality.

Local veterinarians Ben and Erin Schroeder are in the midst of filming a TV show with Glass Entertainment that will be aired on Nat Geo Wild sometime in January 2020. The working title currently is Homestead Vets. 

The nationally syndicated show focuses primarily on the couple’s love of animals as well as area farmers’ connection to the animals that help fund their livelihood.

It all started just about a year ago when the Omaha World-Herald published an article about the couple fixing up the Historic Hartington Hotel. 

That story generated quite a bit of interest. It was picked up by the Associated  Press where it then found its way into the hands of Glass Entertainment’s research team. 

They were not the first to find the family though. After the article came out, many different media outlets tried to reach the Schroeders.

They never expected such a huge response.

“It is just too weird, this just doesn’t happen to people. It is crazy,” Dr. Erin Schroeder said.

After some Skype interviews, it was decided  a crew of  seven would come to Hartington in August 2018, to film a little bit of their lives.

Once it was edited, the Glass entertainment group pitched their TV series idea to National Geographic. After another Skype interview with Ben and Erin, the TV network immediately ordered not just a test episode, but sent it straight into a production as a new series.

They got the news just before Christmas last year.

The call came as a big surprise, but it was a surprise they had to take advantage of, Erin said.

“There wasn’t going to be another knock on the door like this  to be an advocate for Nebraska,” Erin said. “I felt it was too important of a role to pass up.”

Matt Carte, the executive producer of the first season, said what made the two veterinarians stand out was their personalities and the kind of animals with which they deal.

“Their passion for animals is evident in everything they do,” Matt said. “Vets pay a central role in this area compared to vets you would see in more urban areas. They are directly involved in the economic development and well-being of the community.”

The crew returned in full force and began filming.

“We spent every hour for the past 12 weeks with them,” Matt said in an interview in June. “We live in their hotel, we eat their food and buy from local businesses, it is an investment,” he said.

The film crew follows the family around 24-7 — practically every hour of every day when they are here. 

It makes for a long day of work, Ben said.

Plus you always have someone watching your every movement and action, but the Schroeders have taken it in stride.

“I told Erin a while ago, I think having people follow us around makes us better vets,” Dr. Ben Schroeder said. “We slow down, talk to people and that reminds us why we love to do this. We get a chance to take the time and meet with people and not just work.”

As for the film  crew, they are hard at work, as well. 

They have been put into a new environment. They have gone from crowded streets to open pastures and cowpies. What has been most affected is probably their golf game.

“I definitely can’t hit a golf ball and putt it into a pasture from my apartment in NYC,” Matt said. 

However, Nebraska has had quite the effect on the city dwellers, as well. 

The rest of the United States may see midwestern areas as flyover states. That all changed pretty quickly for the crew when they caught a glimpse of the idyllic hills  of northeast Nebraska.

“This community is not what you think when you hear Nebraska,” Matt said.

Perhaps most startling to the crew has been Nebraskans connection to their livestock. He saw first-hand that for many farmers and ranchers it is about more than just the money.

“We’ve seen people cry when an animal dies and it was startling because they are raising these for meat,” Matt said. “It isn’t just money, but people’s genuine connection to the animals, and I think that is really going to surprise people.”

The Schroeders said after awhile they saw a change in the crew.

“About two months into it, all of them came up to us and told us they had no idea what they were getting into and how much they learned,” Ben said.

What started as a challenge has now become somewhat of a blessing. An opportunity to share with the world this little piece of heaven called Cedar County. 

A fun and  informative way to let others around the country, especially in large urban areas, know that Nebraskans are more than meets the eye.

“We stepped into this world and people welcomed us with open arms,” Matt said. “whatever happens with the show, Ben and Erin are going to have a successful business  because of how much they care for people and animals alike.”

Here is a link to the photo page on Ben and Erin. 

https://www.hartington.net/article/day-life-hartington-veterinarians

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