Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
2006 Profiles

Anne Osborne

The reporter is covering a news story at the state capitol building.  She does interviews, checks her notes, and returns to her desk where she writes up the story to email to her editor by the deadline.  It probably sounds like a typical day in the life of a reporter, but this young woman is not typical: She is blind.  The remarkable story of this young journalist who loves rural Kansas is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Anne Osborne, a senior in journalism at Washburn University.  Anne was born at Stockton in western Kansas.  Her father Bill is a minister and carpenter.  Her mother Donna is a music teacher.  Only 15 months after Anne was born, she developed a brain tumor in her optic nerve.  The tumor was removed but her sight was lost.  Anne says, “I don’t ever remember anything different.”

The family moved various places around the world doing church work before coming to Missouri.  Anne graduated from UMKC and then chose to attend Washburn University in Topeka.

Anne says, “When we moved to Missouri, I got a taste of country life.  I never want to go back.”  She looked for a rural home and found one near Hoyt, just north of Topeka.  Hoyt has a population of 573 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Anne says, “I love it there.  It’s a straight shot in to Topeka, but we’re out on the gravel roads.  I love the smell of the clover when it rains.”  Anne and her dogs and assorted other animals live out in the country near Hoyt, where she enjoys riding her bike with them.

That’s just another thing you wouldn’t expect a blind person to be doing.  But Anne continues to do remarkable things.  She is pursuing a career in journalism, and in summer 2006, interned with the Topeka Capital-Journal.  That job wasn’t just sitting in an office writing.  She actually went out on assignments.

I had to ask, “How in the world do you do this?”  And she replies, “Why in the world can’t I do this?”  New technology helps enable her do this work.

For example, she uses a tape recorder to record her interviews as do many journalists.  But she also takes notes using a Braille note-taker, which combines a Braille typewriter with a laptop computer.  Her computer has a screen reader which converts web pages, documents, and email into audio, and when she’s done with her stories she emails them to her editors.

She says, “The phone is a reporter’s best friend.  The people I’m talking to have no idea I’m using all this technology on this end.”  So, her blindness is invisible and irrelevant to the people she interviews over the phone.

Anne credits her parents with providing great support.  Her parents moved back to Kansas when Anne came to Washburn, and they now live in Topeka.  Her father works in the Kansas City area and her mother Donna is an accompanist at Topeka High, does music lessons, and is music director at a church.  Donna drives Anne to Topeka when needed, and there are many volunteers and neighbors who commute into town also.

Anne says, “I have found what I love to do.  I have an ability to write, and I enjoy weaving together the comments from several interviews.”  She says, “I hate routine, and in this job I’m dealing with various topics.  I can also be somewhat independent in how I manage my time to get my work done.”  And then she adds, in the college senior’s lament, “I just wish someone would hire me!”

Anne has proven to be a person who can overcome obstacles, and in her own way, she has a vision for a future career in journalism.

It’s time to say goodbye to this remarkable, rural reporter who has overcome her lack of physical sight and is pursuing a journalism career.  We salute Anne, Donna and Bill Osborne for making a difference with her inspiring and groundbreaking pursuits and vision for a journalism career.  In the words of Helen Keller, “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”

 

Bill Forst - Gus Shafer Gallery            
 

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
From skunks to sculptures.  That’s quite a difference, but it’s one way of describing the odyssey followed by a talented Kansas artist who came from rural roots to international acclaim.  His family and Barton County Community College are now helping others view his wonderful artwork.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Bill Forst, Director of the L.E. "Gus" and Eva Shafer Memorial Art Gallery at Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kansas.  Bill shared with us the story of this remarkable artist, known as Gus Shafer.

Gus Shafer truly came from rural Kansas, going from skunks to sculptures.  He encountered the skunks in a rural school after growing up on a farm near Hoisington, population 2,918 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Gus Shafer wrote of finding an old clay pit on the farm where he made mud pies.  He also made something else: Little clay models of all the farm animals he knew.  It was a sign of the sculptor he would become.

But first came his attendance at country school - with a total school attendance of seven children.  Talk about low enrollment weighting...
Friday afternoons at school were drawing time, and Gus said he lived from one Friday to the next.  It was the only part of school he liked.
As he got older, he gained responsibilities at the school, such as sweeping out the school house and building the fire.  This was also where the skunks came in.  For his school duties, he got paid one dollar a month and the privilege of trapping the skunks that lived under the school house.  This was only allowed on Friday, however, so that the school house would be aired out by Monday in case he caught one.  Ah, the challenges of public education...

Gus learned to hunt, trap, and ride from his father, grandfather, and a hired man called Old Ben.  Old Ben’s tales of the old west were fascinating to Gus, as were the stories told by his grandfather who had hunted buffalo with Bill Cody.  In high school, Gus encountered a wonderful art teacher who taught and encouraged him, and a lifelong career in art was launched.  He attended Grinnell College and Emporia State, where he met and married Eva before going on to a 38 year career as a commercial artist in Kansas City.  He painted watercolors and worked in wood.

In 1966, at age 59 - I love that part - he sculpted his first model for casting.  In his illustrious career, he would go on to produce some 150 bronzes plus paintings, wood sculptures and furniture.

Gus Shafer painted and sculpted what he knew and loved – the Old West.  His sculptures such as “Born to Buck” and “Prayer and a Winchester” provide a vivid depiction of western life.  His heroic sculpture “Wagon Master” now stands on Country Club Plaza in Kansas City.  His bronzes were sold to luminaries such as Milburn Stone and Dinah Shore.  He had foundries in Italy produce his bronzes and had works of art commissioned by the Franklin Mint and the  Royal Worchester Porcelain Company of England.  Wow.

In 1985, Gus Shafer passed away, and that is where this story could end.  But thanks to a caring and generous family, this wonderful history lives on. His widow, Mrs. Eva Shafer, made a major donation to Barton County Community College for construction of an art museum, and the resulting Shafer Gallery at Barton County is considered the gem of the campus.

And there’s more.  Thanks to Shafer’s daughter, Pat Rapp, a special showing of his work is now being assembled.  As of July 2006, the public can view more than 100 of Gus Shafer’s sculptures and much more at the Shafer Gallery.  For more information, go to www.bartonccc.edu/gallery.

From skunks to sculptures.  That’s quite a life’s journey, and it was lived by Gus Shafer.  We salute Bill Forst and all the people of Barton County Community College, and especially Pat Rapp and descendants of the Shafer family, for making a difference by preserving and sharing these wonderful works of art.  The result goes beyond skunks and sculptures to a success story in sharing.
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Billy Brown

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
Who will be the survivor?  The competition began with lots of competitors, but now it is down to the very end.  And the winner is: Billy Brown from Westmoreland, Kansas.  No, I’m not talking about the woman who won on the Survivor tv show.  This is a young man from rural Kansas who survived the competition to win the National FFA public speaking contest.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.  Meet Billy Brown from Westmoreland, Kansas.  Since his freshman year in high school when his family was living in Texas, Billy has been active in FFA, the national organization for students of agricultural education.  As a freshman, he participated in a public speaking contest where new members recite the FFA Creed.  Billy says with a smile, “I competed without much success.”

After Billy’s freshman year, his family moved to Kansas when his father accepted a new position as a dairy consultant for the Land O’ Lakes Purina Feed company.  His father’s territory was Kansas and Nebraska.  The family settled in northeast Kansas near the town of Westmoreland, population 628 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Billy enrolled in Rock Creek High School near Westmoreland and again became active in FFA.  He was also in speech class.  One day he was having difficulty picking a topic for a required speech.  Billy saw his ag teacher, Mr. David Holliday, and asked him for ideas.  Mr. Holliday said, “What about the national animal identification system?”  Mr. Holliday knew that this was a timely topic in regard to a proposed system to identify and track livestock across the nation.  That sounded interesting to Billy so he started looking into it.

Not only did he find it was an excellent topic for his speech class, he developed the speech for the FFA prepared public speaking contest.  Public speaking is one of several educational competitions used to help FFA members prepare for careers in agriculture.  These competitions are called Career Development Events, or C-D-Es for short.

Billy explains, “For the public speaking CDE, members are to pick a current agricultural topic, write and present a six to eight minute informative speech on it, and then respond to five minutes of questions.  The questions are very important.”

Billy’s speech, manuscript, and responses to questions did very well at the district CDE and advanced him to state, where he won first place.  That qualified him to participate in the national CDE in Louisville, Kentucky in October 2005.

At Louisville, he advanced through the preliminary and semifinal rounds until he was one of four finalists.  The other three finalists came Texas, California, and Florida, which are  some of the largest states in FFA membership.  Billy says, “I was proud that Kansas could work its way in there against that competition.”

In fact, when the competition was all over, Billy Brown of Westmoreland, Kansas was the national winner.  Billy says that his extensive research and practice helped his confidence. He’s come a long way from that first-year student who didn’t win the creed contest.  Billy says,  “As a freshman, I never thought that I could form my thoughts, present them, and respond to questions in this way.  It’s really great to see how FFA has helped me to progress.”

Billy is now serving as Kansas FFA Treasurer and is majoring in animal science with a dairy emphasis at K-State.  Yet he says the highlight of his FFA career was serving as a chapter officer at Rock Creek, when he was able to encourage younger members to get more involved and excited about opportunities in FFA.  He says, “I look back and find that really rewarding.”

Now we know who is the survivor.  No, not on some so-called reality show on television, this is the young man who survived and won the national FFA public speaking contest.  We salute Billy Brown and all those FFA members who are making a difference by building their skills and encouraging other young people.  Billy Brown is utilizing his skills and helping other youth develop theirs as well.  With his attitude of service, I believe he will not just survive, he will thrive.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.
   
 

Brooke Corporation

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Would you like dividends with that?”  That’s not the type of question you would get at your typical hamburger joint.  But what if the principle of franchising which has worked so well in the fast food business could be applied to the financial service industry?  Or put another way, in the insurance and related services industry, is there a way to combine the benefits of a large, national business with the strengths of local ownership and customer service?  Brooke Corporation believes that there is – and that belief has spawned a phenomenal business, based in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Rob Orr, CEO and Chairman of the Brooke Corporation in Phillipsburg, Kansas.  Rob is founder of this remarkable company, which goes back to his rural roots.  Rob and his brother Leland Orr, Brooke Corporation Chief Financial Officer, were born and raised in the Phillips County town of Logan, population 589 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Rob was a banker in Smith County and Leland was an accountant when they started their own company to purchase an insurance agency.    Due to the tough market in the insurance industry, the idea was born to affiliate with other community banks that had insurance agencies like theirs.

In 1996, the company adopted a “franchise” approach to expansion.  In other words, just as successful companies in other fields have grown themselves by offering franchise opportunities to local entrepreneurs, Brooke Corporation did so in the insurance and related services industry.  Brooke offers insurance policies and financial products, marketing support and financing so that a local owner can create or acquire an insurance agency.

I remember being in Phillipsburg for the Huck Boyd Community Center groundbreaking ceremony, where it was announced that Brooke would locate its main office in Phillipsburg.

The processing center for Brooke Corporation remains in Phillipsburg where an advertising center is now also under construction.  In 1998, a national office for Brooke was established in Overland Park.  Regional offices were later opened in Kansas City, Dallas, Denver, Nashville, and Sacramento.

Services are delivered through three company subsidiaries: Brooke Franchise Corp., which distributes insurance and provides administrative services for the franchise network’s agents; Brooke Brokerage Corp. which sells insurance to those franchises and others at a wholesale level; and Brooke Credit Corp. which provides financing to help Brooke’s franchises expand. 

The Brooke Corporation philosophy is based on the belief that insurance is usually distributed more efficiently by local business owners than by employees of large corporations, and that local business owners are more likely to know and to satisfy their customers.

The results of this approach have been phenomenal.  In 2005, Brooke Corporation had total assets of 135 million dollars, up from 108 million in the previous year.  Profits grew by 45 percent.  Brooke had 647 employees and 552 franchise locations in 29 states from Florida to California in 2005, and that’s up to more than 600 franchise locations currently.  Those 600-plus locations are up from just 106 locations in 2001.  Entrepreneur Magazine’s Franchise 500 Rankings listed Brooke as number 1 in its industry category.  Wow.

In fall 2005, a special ceremony was conducted in New York.  In honor of Brooke’s move to the NASDAQ National Market and the completion of a secondary offering, Rob Orr and other senior Brooke executives participated in the closing bell ceremony at the NASDAQ Stock Market.
    It’s a long way from Phillips County to Wall Street, but the Orr brothers and Brooke Corporation have made the trip.  More information can be found at www.brookecorp.com.  That’s www.b-r-o-o-k-e-corp.com.

“Would you like dividends with that?”  No, it’s not a question from some hamburger chain, but it symbolizes a different way of thinking about the insurance business.  Brooke Corporation is a fast-growing company that is pioneering an innovative, franchise-based model for the insurance and related services industry.  We commend Rob and Leland Orr and all the people of Brooke Corporation for making a difference with their hard work and vision.  As a result, the benefits to rural Kansas can be super-sized.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

David Rice Atchison

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

How many presidential libraries are there in Kansas?  Obviously there is one, belonging to that Eisenhower fellow from Abilene.  But now, Kansas can lay claim to a second presidential library, although it is with tongue-in-cheek.  It’s the world’s smallest presidential library, in part because it is based on the world’s shortest presidential term.  I’ll explain on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Chris Taylor, Executive Director of the Atchison County Historical Society.  Chris is working on the world’s smallest unofficial presidential library, which features David Rice Atchison.

David Rice Atchison was born in Kentucky and moved to Missouri as a young man.  He practiced law in Missouri and then was appointed to the United States Senate where he served for 12 years.  He became a highly influential senator, who served as the Senate presiding officer, Senate President pro tem, for some 13 terms.

If Atchison is a controversial figure in history, it is probably because he was a pro-slavery Democrat.  He worked with the southern states prior to secession.  He even became general of the Missouri militia that attacked Lawrence, although accounts of his participation range from him trying to dissuade the troops from violence, to him firing the first shot – a fair amount of difference there.

Even as a pro-slavery leader, however, he wanted to keep the Union intact.  He is credited by some sources as being the key player in getting the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed in Congress, so Kansans can give thanks for his role in giving birth to our state.

Some of his Missouri friends crossed over into Kansas and founded the town and county of Atchison, naming them in his honor.  Atchison is a beautiful rural town, population 10,140 people.  Now, that’s rural.

But how did David Rice Atchison come to have a presidential library?  He was never sworn in as President.  Chris Taylor explains that Atchison was President, in one sense at least, for only one day – and he slept through most of that.

This happened when Atchison was serving as the Senate President pro tem, which under the Constitution at that time was next in the line of succession to the presidency after the vice-president.  In 1848, Zachary Taylor was elected President to succeed James K. Polk.  Polk’s term and that of his vice-president officially ended at midnight on March 3, 1849.  But March 4 happened to fall on a Sunday, and Zachary Taylor, a highly religious man, refused to have his inauguration on the Sabbath.  So the new president’s swearing in took place on Monday.

But what about Sunday?  Polk’s term had ended and the new president had not yet become official.  The highest ranking official still in office was David Rice Atchison - President for a day.  But Atchison was tending to his legislative duties and paying no attention to such silly stuff.  There had been several late night sessions as Congress dealt with President Polk’s year-end business.  So Atchison was very tired, and when Sunday came, he slept most of it away.  As the saying goes, you snooze, you lose.

Chris Taylor recounts this history in the displays at the Atchison County Historical Museum.  The display cases take up only about 6 x 14 feet in the back of the old railroad depot, so Chris calls it the world’s smallest unofficial presidential library.  Since Atchison’s term was so small, it’s fitting that his library is small as well.  But included here are pictures and papers, plus a genuine Whitney Navy Revolver which was carried by David Rice Atchison.

February 20, 2006 – President’s Day – is grand opening of this new presidential library.  For more information, go to www.atchisonhistory.org.

Chris Taylor says, “Our mission is to tell the rich history of Atchison County.  This is a fun way of getting people’s attention, and it can lead to more opportunities to share the history of Atchison.”


Now you know.  Not one, but two presidential libraries can be found in Kansas.  We salute Chris Taylor and the Atchison County Historical Society for making a difference by finding creative ways to share this Kansas history.  We’ll learn more about some high-flying history of Atchison on future programs.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Community Readiness Communications Conference

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

 “Are you ready?”  That sounds like me trying to get my kids out the door to school, or maybe to church on time.  But that phrase takes on a whole new and serious meaning in the post 9-11 world, and even so in light of tsunamis and tornados.  Communities must be prepared for the disasters which are a part of life today.  And in our modern world of mass communications, there is another challenge: Communicating promptly and accurately in the midst of crisis.  That’s a challenge for both communities and the news media.  All this has led to a national conference on community readiness communications to be held right here in our state.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Gloria Freeland, director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media, our counterpart in the A. Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at K-State.   The center is one of the sponsors of this conference, along with the McCormick Tribune Foundation in Chicago.  The Miller School is directed by Dr. Angela Powers.

Gloria says, "The idea for this conference came from a former colleague, who was interested in K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute, which will open on campus soon. From there, it evolved to include other aspects of readiness."

The theme of the conference is Community Readiness Communications: Accurate Messages in Times of Crisis.  It will be held November 8 to 10, 2006 in Manhattan.

Gloria says that the goal of the conference is that when disasters strike, there will be communication which is informed, timely, accurate and trustworthy.  The conference is for both communities and news media, plus more.  This conference will bring together journalists, government officials, health and safety experts, military personnel, public relations specialists and beyond.

This is truly a national conference.  Speakers will come from universities in Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Texas, and Florida.  Wow.

Media speakers will come from the New York Times, radio and tv stations in Indianapolis, Chicago, and Oklahoma City, and also from one of my very favorite newspaper names, the Times-Picayune.

Of course, there is a strong Kansas flavor to the program.  K-State experts will brief participants on biosecurity risks from such hazards as the Ebola virus, mad cow disease, anthrax, and more.  Local Kansas reporters and agency representatives will be involved, along with police and emergency preparedness personnel.  Also featured will be the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s Homeland Security Specialist – I’ll bet you didn’t know there was one.  Special sessions will be targeted to the military, health departments, businesses, and community issues.

Some of the session titles sound fascinating, such as the ones on Emergency Communications with Non-English Speaking Populations, The Personal Face of Tragedy, and Heroes of Everyday Journalism.  Following the conference will be tours of K-State’s new, 5o million dollar Biosecurity Research Institute facility.

Whether the issue is Katrina or a Kansas tornado or the threat of mad cow disease in the food supply, these are vital issues that cut across communities rural and urban, large and small. One of the presenters will talk about the tornado which hit southeast Kansas a few years ago.  That presenter is the publisher of the Parsons Sun in Parsons, Kansas, population 11,384 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Gloria says, "Although we can't be totally prepared for every natural or man-made disaster that comes along, we can think in terms of being as ready as possible. Communities — whether large or small — should have at least some knowledge of how to deal with crises and how to get accurate information to community members."

For more information, contact 785-532-3928 or go to http://jmc.ksu.edu/conf/.
 

“Are you ready?”  No, not ready for school, but ready for effective communication which is so crucial in those hectic times of crisis.  We commend Gloria Freeland, Angela Powers, the director of the Miller School, and all those involved with this conference for making a difference by helping Kansas communities and communicators be prepared for disasters before they strike.  Now if you’ll excuse me – I need to get ready.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Delpha Godsey - Valley Community PRIDE

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s look up Valley on a Kansas map.  Hmm, there’s Valley Falls and Valley Center – and there are plenty of rivers that have valleys – but we don’t find a town named Valley.  Yet there is an award-winning PRIDE organization that goes by the name of Valley Community PRIDE.  It’s an excellent example of people in a rural area who found a way to work together effectively regardless of political boundaries, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Delpha Godsey, President of Valley Community PRIDE.  Valley Community is an umbrella term for a group of rural communities who have found a way to work together.  The communities are the northwest Kansas towns of Gaylord, Cedar, and Harlan in Smith County.

Delpha lives at Gaylord, where her husband has retired as postmaster after serving for 37 years.  He is originally from the nearby town of Harlan, and Delpha is originally from Smith Center.  They had a girl and a boy who are now grown.  Coincidentally, I had the opportunity to meet their granddaughter who is an outstanding student at K-State.

Delpha was a longtime President of the Gaylord Commercial Club, which was kind of like a chamber of commerce.  This organization was founded in Gaylord back in the 1930s.  In 1988, a PRIDE organization was formed in Gaylord as well.

PRIDE is a community betterment organization co-sponsored by K-State Research and Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce.  For more than 20 years, Kansas communities have been able to work through the PRIDE program to identify what they would like to preserve, create, or improve in their community. Then, working with the resources of K-State Research & Extension and the Kansas Department of Commerce, community volunteers pull together to create their ideal community future.  Typically, the PRIDE organizations serve a particular town.

PRIDE and the Commercial Club were working together in Gaylord, but the town and its neighboring communities were hit hard by the tough times of the 1980s.  When the Gaylord school closed in 1992, several local businesses closed also.

It was decided that the Commercial Club and Gaylord PRIDE would merge, which also entailed involving the neighboring communities.  These are the nearby towns of Harlan and Cedar.

This is truly a rural area of Kansas.  Gaylord has a population of 109, Cedar has 12 - as in one dozen people - and Harlan has a population of 8.  Now, that’s rural.

It’s tough for towns that size to sustain their organizations.  These towns found they could pool their strengths and energies and benefit the entire region.  Since they are all located along the Solomon River Valley, they named their new organization Valley Community PRIDE.


Through a joint newsletter, the three communities now share news and area events.  Valley Community PRIDE has done highway cleanups, park improvements, and more than 20 other community projects.  In November, PRIDE sponsors a turkey supper and bingo event at the beginning of pheasant season.  This is an attraction for out of town hunters, and some 160 people attended last year.

On Labor Day, a Watermelon Celebration is sponsored by Valley Community PRIDE, as had been sponsored by the Commercial Club for more than 80 years.  The celebration begins with a Sunday morning church service in City Park and gospel singing service in the evening.  On Labor Day, as many as 2,000 people may participate in the festivities.  Wow.  Festivities include a parade, craft show, vendors, homemade ice cream, and free entertainment.  Hundreds of volunteer hours are committed to make this possible.

And at the 2006 PRIDE Day, when the Community of Excellence Awards were announced, Delpha Godsey came forward to receive the award on behalf of Valley Community PRIDE.

It’s time to fold up our Kansas map.  We never found a town named Valley anywhere.  But we have learned about Valley Community PRIDE, which represents several communities working together.  We salute Delpha Godsey and all the volunteers of Valley Community PRIDE who are making a difference by coming together to sustain their organization and to benefit their region.  We never found a town named Valley, but we did find plenty of pride.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Speed -  Hot Wheels

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

When my two little boys play with their Hot Wheels cars - as they like to do frequently - they are really after one thing:  Speed.  They want to make those cars go as fast as they can.  So they set up their racetracks in all kinds of funny, creative ways so as to achieve maximum speed.  Making cars go faster seems to fascinate kids, and for some of us, that interest lasts a lifetime.  Of course, having a fast car is especially useful in the heartland of the country, where people
must travel long distances.  So how fitting that a special, national festival to celebrate the American automobile in general and Hot Wheels cars in particular is being held in rural Kansas.  Rev up your engine, it's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Denise Lyon, mayor of the town of Speed, Kansas.  She grew up at Speed, went to college at Hays, married a young man from Phillipsburg, and after a few years moved back to Speed.  Denise says, "This is a great small town."  On August 6, her town of Speed is expected to be host to a remarkable, one-of-a-kind festival.

This all started with Mattel, maker of Hot Wheels.  Mattel executives wanted to do a special mid-year promotion.  They had the idea of a community-based festival that might attract thousands of people and generate national attention.  But where to put on such an event?  After
doing a national search, they came upon the town of Speed, Kansas. What a great name for a place to host a Hot Wheels festival.

Company executives were intrigued by the name of Speed, but the name itself was not enough.  A company representative came to Speed, and what he found gave him great encouragement.  The people were very nice, very willing to work, and very excited about the possibility of hosting such an event.

So plans are moving forward to put on this special event in Speed, Kansas.  Speed is truly a rural, heartland community.  It is located in Phillips County in northwest Kansas. Yet Speed only has a population of 43 people.  Now, that's rural.

How can a town that size put on an event with thousands of people?  The answer is, in the same way that people in rural America have managed through the years:  Friends and neighbors work hard and pull together.  In this case, numerous task forces of people from across Phillips County are working hard to put on this event.

Jackie Swatzell is Director of the Chamber of Commerce in Phillipsburg, county seat of Phillips County.  She is serving as events coordinator and working with an army of volunteers to bring this about.  Jackie says, "This will put Phillips County on the map.  It's a great opportunity to show what a small town can do.  We want every town in the county to benefit."

So what will we find in Speed on August 6?  A parade, Miss Hot Wheels pageant, live bands all day, food, vendors, and - what else?  -- Cars.  Lots and lots of cars.  Mattel plans to bring some lifesize models of Hot Wheels concept cars.  A hot rod show is being held, with a goal of having some 200 cars.  Motorcycles are also expected. A free Hot Wheels commemorative car will be given away while supplies last.

The city will temporarily rename two intersecting streets Power Drive and Performance Boulevard.  Thus it can be truly said that this is where Power and Performance meet.

This fun event is expected to draw national attention.  It is sure to bring in Hot Wheels collectors as well as kids and families.  Some 5,000 people are expected to attend.  More details are available at www.hotwheelscollectors.com.

When my two little boys play with their Hot Wheels cars, they want one thing:  Speed.  So how fitting that the town of Speed will be the site of this remarkable festival.  We commend Mayor Denise Lyon, Jackie Swatzell, and all those involved with putting on this tremendous event.  Not only will it benefit all of Phillips County and the region, it will showcase rural Kansas and respond to our need for speed.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Ed Seaton - Manhattan Mercury - 1

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Deep roots.”  That’s a phrase we use often. It describes long-time family histories and deep connectedness which we can find in rural Kansas.  Today, we’ll learn about a Kansas newspaper family with deep roots in the early history of our nation and of our state.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Ed Seaton, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Manhattan Mercury in Manhattan, Kansas.  The Seaton family truly has deep roots in this country, beginning with their ancestor’s arrival on this continent in 1635, not long after the Mayflower.  In 1690, Henry Seaton settled in Virginia, where his family would become neighbors of George Washington.  Henry’s grandson Asa fought in the Revolutionary War.

Asa’s cousin W. W. Seaton became the first prominent editor of the Seaton family.  W. W. Seaton’s mother happened to be a cousin of Patrick Henry, by the way.  W. W. Seaton was owner and editor of the National Intelligencer, which is described as the most important daily newspaper in Washington D.C. from the city’s founding to the Civil War.  He was editor of the paper from right after the outbreak of the War of 1812 until 1864, just four months prior to Lincoln’s assassination.

Mr. Seaton was one of Washington D.C.’s most prominent citizens, serving as Mayor from 1840 to 1850.  Among his friends were the Presidents and First Ladies of the time, plus Daniel Webster, Henry Clay, John C. Calhoun, Lafayette, Charles Dickens, and more.

Meanwhile, Asa Seaton had moved to upstate New York.  His descendant Oren Seaton served with distinction in the Civil War.

After the war, Oren Seaton migrated west, coming to Kansas in the 1870s.  He homesteaded near the rural town of Jewell.  Today, Jewell is a town of 458 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Ed Seaton says with a smile, “I don’t think he was a very good farmer.  He moved to town and got into the grain business.  He went on to own the opera house and other enterprises.”    

Oren’s two sons would have tremendous careers.  His son Roy became an engineer and educator.  In fact, Roy became the longest serving Dean of Engineering in K-State history.  The building on campus named Seaton Hall is named in his honor.

The oldest son, Fay, worked for Joseph Bristow, who represented Kansas in the U.S. Senate.  When Bristow lost his re-election in 1914, he made a fateful suggestion to young Fay Seaton: He suggested that Fay buy the Manhattan newspaper, called the Mercury.

The Seaton family has owned that newspaper ever since.  In fact, there have been five generations of the Seaton family involved in the paper.  Fay was succeeded by his son R.M. and then R.M.’s son Edward, the current Editor in Chief.  Now Ed’s son Ned is General Manager.  The newest generation involved is Ned’s son Jake, who works in transportation and delivery.  That means that Jake, who is 11, is a paperboy.

Fay Seaton’s older son Fred was involved in journalism and politics, serving as Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Secretary of the Interior.  The Seaton family has newspapers in four states and radio stations in Manhattan.

So the members of this wonderful family have given tremendous leadership to their communities, state, and nation, and certainly to the profession of journalism.  Ed Seaton has served as President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, President of the Inter American Press Association, and Chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board.  Wow.

How exciting to find someone from the heart of Kansas who could provide such national and international leadership.  In fact, Ed is only the second Kansan to have ever served as President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors.  The other is some fellow named William Allen White.

“Deep roots.”  It’s our term for those longtime family histories and deep connections which we sometimes find in Kansas.  We commend Ed Seaton and all the members of the Seaton family for making a difference with their legacy of service and community journalism.  Those deep roots have enabled this family tree to grow and flourish.

And there’s more.  We’ll learn about the international dimension of this family’s interests on our next program.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Ed Seaton - Manhattan Mercury - 2


This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Freedom of the Press.”  That’s a lofty phrase which many U.S. citizens probably take for granted.  Today we’ll meet a newspaperman who has worked in the press to benefit his own community, while also helping to extend democracy and freedom of the press throughout the western hemisphere.  He is internationally influential in newspaper circles and has a strong history in Kansas journalism.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

On our previous program, we met Ed Seaton, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Manhattan Mercury.  In this edition, the second and final part of this series, we’ll learn how his history has translated into international influence.

The Seaton family came to Kansas originally in the 1870s and would later take up the newspaper business.  Fay Seaton bought the Manhattan Mercury in 1915.  It has been owned by the family ever since, involving five generations.

Fay was succeeded by his son R. M. Seaton and later his grandson Edward, the current Editor in Chief.  Ed’s son Ned is General Manager.

R. M. Seaton provided yet another link to Kansas newspaper history by marrying Mary Holton, whose grandfather was a rural newspaper publisher.  Mary’s grandfather started the Holton Recorder back in 1874.  At that time, Holton was a town of 650 people.  Now, that’s rural.

All told, this family has been involved in Kansas newspapers for six generations – probably the most of any family in Kansas.

By the way, Holton Hall on the K-State campus is named for Mary Seaton’s father Ed Holton, who started what is now the K-State College of Education.  So this may be the only family anywhere that has two buildings on the K-State campus named for their family members: Holton Hall and Seaton Hall, which is named for Roy Seaton, the long time Dean of Engineering.

Anyway, R. M. and Mary Holton Seaton had three sons:  Dick Seaton, a leading attorney in Manhattan; David Seaton, publisher of the Winfield Daily Courier; and Ed Seaton, now publisher of the Mercury.

I asked Ed if there was any future for community journalism. He replied, “Oh, I think local journalism is the hope of community newspapers.”  He says, “Local news is our strength.  You can’t get that from CNN or Google.”  He adds that local news stories aren’t confined to the city limits.  Happenings in Iraq or other places around the world can impact people and families here.

As mentioned on our previous program, Ed Seaton has served as President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Chairman of the Pulitzer Prize Board, and President of the Inter American Press Association.  He is currently President of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Foundation, meaning that he does a lot of fundraising to support the journalism profession.  As a result, he is in touch with several prominent foundations.

One of those was the McCormick Foundation in Chicago.  Those contacts would pay off for his hometown of Manhattan.  When Manhattan was hit with the flood of 1993, Ed contacted the McCormick Foundation to see if they could help.  McCormick offered a matching grant, and some $437,000 were raised to help flood victims.  It worked so well that a donation program has been continued through the years, and more than $4.7 million has been distributed to Manhattan-area recipients since.

Ed’s international interest goes back to college days when he was a Fulbright scholar in Ecuador.  Then in 1990, he became President of the Inter American Press Association which spans the American continents.  In subsequent years, Ed was instrumental in creating the Declaration of Chapultapec, which is a statement for freedom of the press in North and South America.  That statement, endorsed by most heads of state, helps protect freedom of information and democracy throughout our hemisphere.

“Freedom of the press.”  It’s not just a lofty ideal, it is a fundamental part of American democracy.  We salute Edward Seaton who has made a difference by coming from small town roots to be an international influence for a more open, democratic society across the globe, while at the same time working to benefit his community in Kansas.  To that, I say, Press on.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Frank Reese, Jr.  Turkeys

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go to a taste test of New York food editors.  Thirty of the top chefs and food writers in New York are doing a blind taste test to determine the best tasting turkey in America.  Now here’s the winner: A special type of bird called a heritage turkey, which was born and bred in rural Kansas.  How did rural Kansas develop a nationally acclaimed breed of turkey?  The answer to that question is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Frank Reese, Jr. of Lindsborg, Kansas.  Frank is a fourth generation Kansas farmer and the owner of Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch, the source of this nationally winning turkey.  Here is his story.

Frank grew up on a farm north of Salina.  He and I have something in common: We were the younger kids in our family, so we were not entrusted with the cattle or tractors or other glamorous chores.  Instead, we were assigned to look after the chickens.  In Frank’s case - unlike mine - he was smart enough to find how poultry could create a wonderful career.

When he was five years old, Frank went to visit a neighbor and saw an amazing sight: A flock of 5,000 bronze turkeys.  It began Frank’s lifelong fascination with these interesting creatures.  He got some turkeys to show at the county 4-H fair – and won first place.  Later he won at the state fair.  There he saw a whole variety of turkey breeds and met leaders of the industry.  He’s raised turkeys ever since.

Frank’s other interest was medicine.  He went to Hesston College, got a nursing degree, and studied anesthesia.  Currently he is an anesthetist in the Salina area.

But all along he has maintained a flock of breeding turkeys.  And these are not your average grocery store generic turkeys, these are a special type of birds called Authentic Heritage Turkeys.

Heritage turkeys are the original, classic breeds of turkeys which were raised throughout our nation’s history.  Frank Reese explains that these are called Standard Breds.  They include five primary breeds:  Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red Standard, Narragansett, Black, and White Holland.  These were the historic breeds of turkeys in our nation’s history, but were largely lost with the onset of large scale production for the mass market.

Turkeys became bred to be so meaty that they couldn’t breed naturally and required artificial insemination to reproduce.  Not so the original breeds which Frank Reese raises and produces so carefully.

Frank says, “My whole purpose is to save these breeds from extinction.”  At his Good Shepherd Turkey Ranch near Lindsborg, he maintains the oldest continuous flock of Standard Bred Turkeys in the United States.  Wow.

These classic breeds of turkeys live longer and grow slower than the commercial birds of today.  For example, a commercial bird grows to 20 pounds in 12 weeks.  It would take one of the standard breds six months to get to the same weight.  But the result is a more mature bird with longer legs and richer flavor.

Frank says, “Our birds’ dark meat is almost twice as dark as a commercial bird.  They don’t require any butter flavor or water injection.”  It is these birds which have consistently won taste tests as the best tasting turkeys in America.

Now Frank is partnering with other producers in rural Kansas to bring these turkeys to the consumer.  Heritage Foods USA is marketing these specialty turkey products and Frank is working with other farmers to produce them.  His partners are found near communities such as Glasco, population 520; Tampa, population 152; and Oneida, population 68 people.  Now, that’s rural.

How exciting that rural Kansas is once again home to these historic breeds of turkeys which are earning premium value and national acclaim.  More information can be found at www.reeseturkeys.com.  That’s r-e-e-s-e-turkeys.com.

It’s time to say goodbye to this national taste test, where Frank Reese’s turkeys are found to be the best in the nation.  We salute Frank Reese Jr. and his partners for making a difference with their hard work and commitment to preserving this history.  So don’t let the turkeys get you down – the right kind can lift you up.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

 

Fran Richmond - Leadership Osage County

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Balance.  That’s an important part of life, in everything from good nutrition to riding a bicycle.  It can also be an important part of leadership training.  Today we’ll learn about a leadership development program that not only provides a balance between different types of leadership skills, it intentionally builds in a balance of youth and adults into its annual class membership, and that balance has produced very strong results.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Fran Richmond, County Director for K-State Research and Extension in Osage County.  Fran and her fellow Extension agent Rod Schaub coordinate the annual Leadership Osage County program, with support from the Osage County Economic Development organization.

Leadership Osage County began back in 1991.  The program is aimed at developing a pool of informed and motivated men and women qualified to assume present and future leadership roles in Osage County.

Each year, a class of Osage County citizens has been selected to go through the program. They participate in seven sessions on such topics as leadership styles and skills, group process and dynamics, city and county government, state government, education, and community and economic development.

There are many such leadership programs across Kansas, but this one is especially interesting in the way that its class makeup is balanced between youth and adults.  Each year they strive to have 20 people in the class, of which half are adults and half are students.

Fran says, “We have five school districts in Osage County and we get two teenage students from each school and that makes up our ten.”  Those ten students join ten adults to make up the class.

This adds a whole new dimension to the leadership class.  Not only are they all learning leadership skills, there is an interaction between the generations which has been very positive.

Fran says that during the final evaluation, participants consistently praise the opportunity to have youth and adults together.  Fran says, “The youth will say they are really impressed with the adults in the class and the adults will say they are really impressed with the youth in the class.”

One class graduate told me, “We might have had a small amount of trepidation (when the kids came) because it was like, ‘Oh, are we going to sit here looking like the old fuddyduddies?’  But on the contrary they were very receptive to adult comments.”  Another adult graduate said, “They were just very well-mannered, knowledgeable young men and women and they were awesome to deal with.”

Another strength of the program is that it is county-wide, which brings together people all across the county.  That includes such rural towns as Quenemo, population 469, and Melvern, population 433 people.  Now, that’s rural.

The sessions include lots of interaction, plus an economic development tour of the county and a trip to the State Legislature.  Fran says, “We’ve had excellent speakers in Topeka, such as Sam Brownback, the First Lady, and Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh who comes from Osage County originally.”

One of the memorable speakers was Dr. Daryl Buchholz from K-State Research and Extension.  He spoke about the Dog Poop Initiative.  Believe it or not, that is an actual children’s book which contains a leadership lesson about the importance of cleaning up one’s environment.  I’m sure you get the idea.

Leadership Osage County has done very well.  Graduates of the leadership class include a couple of county commissioners, a city clerk, and many more.  One said, “We’ve learned everybody’s opinion matters.”  As for the students, one adult class participant said, “No matter what the kids do, whatever career they choose, wherever they go, this is a very important thing they take with them.“

Fran has found the balance of youth and adult participants to be very rewarding.  She says, “That interaction is the joyous part.”

Balance.  It’s important in your diet and in your leadership training.  We salute Fran Richmond, Rod Schaub, and all those involved with Leadership Osage County for making a difference with their equally-balanced, intergenerational leadership development.  Just like riding a bicycle, maintaining that balance can enable a person to go far.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Haviland - part 1

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Sometimes churches are called a House of God.  Today, we’ll learn about a church which might also be called a House of Sod.  I don’t mean to be sacreligious, for this story is about a wonderful community with strong faith that is honoring and revitalizing its history.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Sheryl White, Executive Director of The Haviland Heritage Foundation.  Haviland is in south central Kansas, due west of Pratt and Wichita.

Sheryl White came to Haviland to teach at Barclay College, a small Bible college founded by the Quakers in 1917.  Sheryl has a heart for rural communities.  She serves as Director of Lay Ministry at the First United Methodist Church at Pratt and previously served in Copeland, Kansas, population 339 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Haviland was founded in 1884.  Quakers moved here from Indiana and Methodist circuit riders came through as well.  Even today, the Quakers and the Methodists are still working side by side.

Haviland is named for Laura Haviland, a Michigan woman who was involved with the underground railroad that transported slaves north to Canada during the Civil War.  Appropriately enough, she was both a Quaker and a Methodist.  She grew up a Quaker but later joined an anti-slavery Methodist church.  Legend has it that Laura Haviland came from Michigan to visit her namesake community around 1885.

In Haviland as well as other pioneer settlements, history tells us that pioneers built houses out of sod because they didn’t have other building materials.  I guess its logical that they would build a sod church as well.  Haviland’s first public building was a community church built of sod.  That building is gone, but black-and-white photos of it remain.  It is referred to as the Old Sod Church.

Sheryl White learned this history after coming to Haviland.  She was finishing her doctorate at Houston Graduate School of Theology and needed to do a doctoral project.  She brainstormed with Dolores Williams, the Haviland librarian, and came up with the idea of a foundation which would honor and preserve the history of the community.

They gathered some longtime Haviland residents, Lucymae Meieris and Shirley Dowell, plus city council members Rodney Hannan and Shari McAfee to start the process.  When I say longtime residents, I mean it.  Lucymae and Shirley have lived in Haviland for 168 years between them.

This group got together and formed The Haviland Heritage Foundation, which now numbers more than 200 members from as far away as Florida and California.

The purpose of The Haviland Heritage Foundation is to “preserve the history and heritage of Haviland, Kansas and to share this legacy in tangible ways that will convey its distinct values and contribute to its corporate future.”  One specific project is to restore the Old Sod Church and display historic artifacts.  Among other things, the foundation is selling a beautiful Haviland afghan.

The Haviland Heritage Foundation conducts two events.  One is the Haviland Heritage Holiday Happening, consisting of a Christmas celebration downtown.  This includes special holiday music, crafts, vendors selling handmade goods, a live nativity, and pictures with Santa.  This event in December 2004 attracted some 350 people.

The second event is the annual Picnic in the Park held in June.  That includes a parade, speakers, music, fireworks display and more.  In 2005, this included a special recognition for couples in the community who have been married for 50 years or more.  There were 32 of those golden anniversary couples.  That’s impressive, but the main guests of honor, Elrie and Myrtle Kinser, have been married for 71 years.  Wow.

Sheryl White says, “This community has been down-scaled.  We need to support this community so we don’t lose something so precious.”

It’s time to leave Haviland, a community whose history includes a church which was not just a House of God but also a House of Sod.  We salute Sheryl White and all those dedicated volunteers on the executive board of The Haviland Heritage Foundation who are making a difference with their commitment to this historic community.

And there’s more.  We’ll learn about something else that came to Haviland from the heavens on our next program.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Haviland - part 2

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Look, up in the sky.  It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  No, it’s....a meteorite.  With apologies to Superman, there are a number of genuine meteorites from outer space which have landed in our state.  Recently, a meteorite hunter found the largest pallasite meteorite ever found in North America, and it was located in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

This is the second and final edition of our two part series on the community of Haviland, located in Kiowa County in south central Kansas.

Experts say that one or two thousand years ago a truck-sized piece of asteroid called the Brenham meteorite exploded over the Kansas prairie, scattering more than three tons of fragments.  Most of the remaining fragments are no bigger than a grapefruit.  The impact area is called the Brenham meteorite field.
 
For decades, meteorite hunters have searched for these fragments of space rocks.  Sometime during the 1920s or 1930s, one such hunter was examining a Kansas field with a low place which was thought to be a buffalo wallow.  He found that it was actually an impact crater from a piece of meteorite.

In 1949, a collector named H.O. Stockwell discovered a 1,000 pound meteorite in the Brenham field.  That one is on display at the Big Well in Greensburg, Kansas.

In fall 2005, Steve Arnold was also exploring the Brenham field.  Steve is a native Kansan and modern-day meteorite hunter, now living in Arkansas.  He uses metal detectors because of the heavy iron in those meteorites.

Steve was exploring the farm of Allen Binford south of Haviland – the very same field where Stockwell found the 1,000 pound meteorite more than a half century ago.  Steve scanned the field and found a likely spot.  He brought in a backhoe to excavate the site and then also used hand tools to be very careful as they dug.  They dug down and found – an old iron wagon wheel.  What a disappointment.

But Steve Arnold didn’t give up.  On October 16, two weeks later, after a metal detector search, he brought the backhoe in again.  And this time, he hit paydirt, so to speak.  Careful digging revealed a large meteorite.  Steve dug around the edge and attached lifting straps to it, but it was too heavy.  Dan Woods, the operator, repositioned the backhoe and lifted again with better results.  After 2,000 years of being trapped in the soil, the rock was once again airborne.

And there it was: The meteorite weighed 1,430 pounds, making it the largest pallasite meteorite ever found in North America and the largest oriented meteorite in the world.  Wow.

A pallasite is a rare form of heavy metallic meteorite.  Pallasites are composed of 50 percent of a nickel and iron alloy and 50 percent of Olivine crystals.

So what is an oriented meteorite?  I thought it was a meteorite that was not lost.  But the experts say an oriented meteorite is one that did not tumble as it entered the atmosphere.  Most meteorites tumble through the earth’s atmosphere and have their rough edges rounded off in the process.  This meteorite did not tumble which left it rounded on one side and jagged on the other.

Oriented meteorites are said to be the rarest and most coveted type of meteorites.  In fact, this one may be worth more than a million dollars.

This find has been featured on the NBC "Today" show, Discovery Channel, Weather Channel, ABC, CBS, MSNBC.com, and more than100 newspapers around the world. Stories about the find have appeared as far away as England, Germany, India, and Australia, telling about this historic meteorite found near Haviland, Kansas, population 590 people.  Now, that’s rural.

How exciting that this historic happening would take place in rural Kansas.

Look, up in the sky.  It’s a bird.  It’s a plane.  No, it’s....a meteorite, maybe a couple thousand years ago.  We salute Steve Arnold, Allen Binford, and all those who are involved with this historic find, and we commend the people of Haviland for making a difference with their efforts to revitalize their community.  Those efforts are not just super, they are out of this world.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

 Jacque Pregont - Amelia Earhart Festival

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Dreams can take flight in Kansas.  For proof of that statement, look no further than Atchison, Kansas, birthplace of the pioneering aviator Amelia Earhart.  She dreamed of flying and going beyond the limits which society placed on women. Amelia Earhart became one of the world’s most celebrated aviators and a symbol of female achievement worldwide.  Her birthplace of Atchison is celebrating her pioneering legacy.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Jacque Pregont, coordinator of the Amelia Earhart Festival in Atchison.  Jacque explains that Amelia Earhart was born there in 1897.  Amelia spent many of her childhood years at her grandparent’s beautiful home overlooking the Missouri River.

One interesting story from her childhood was the time she and friends built a homemade roller coaster in the backyard.  The track consisted of a series of boards greased with lard, suspended from the top of a toolshed.  Amelia made the trial run on this roller coaster in a wooden crate.  Predictably, the crate crashed partway down.  Amelia came up with a torn dress and split lip but a big smile, proclaiming, “Oh!  It’s just like flying!”

That excitement of flying would stay with her for life.  While serving as a nurse and social worker, she pursued aviation as a hobby.  Then she took her first flying lesson in 1921 and bought her first plane six months later.

Amelia went on to make history: She was first President of the Ninety-Nines, a women’s aviation organization; the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic; first woman to fly solo coast-to-coast; and the first person to fly solo from Hawaii to the mainland.  Through her husband, a publisher, she published several books and articles.  She designed fashion clothing and had her own luggage line.  She received many honors, including the Distinguished Flying Cross from Congress, before disappearing on an ill-fated attempt to fly around the globe.

Atchison is quite proud of Amelia.  The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum is in her grandparents’ home.  During the 1990s, community leaders in Atchison had a dream of their own: To put on a yearlong series of events  in honor of Amelia’s 100th birthday, culminating with a four day festival in Atchison.  These events were so successful that they decided to conduct a festival each year.

On July 14 and 15, 2006, the tenth annual Amelia Earhart Festival will be held in Atchison, with a range of events for kids and families.  Friday afternoon the library will feature an Amelia reenactor named Ann Birney.  An outdoor country music concert is Friday night.  Saturday includes a fun run, book program, art exhibit, crafts fair, carnival, live entertainment, kids activities, free birthday cake, and an “All About Amelia” Trolley Tour.  An independent filmmaker has produced a new Amelia Earhart docudrama which will make its debut during the 2006 festival.

From the very first year, this event has included a special honor called the Amelia Earhart Pioneering Achievement Award.  Thanks to the Cloud L. Cray Foundation, a $10,000 women’s scholarship is presented to the educational institution of the honoree’s choice.  Past honorees include Nancy Kassebaum Baker, Linda Daschle, and Mae Jameson, the first African American astronaut.  This year’s winner, Colonel Cathy Clothier, is a former Kansan and Air Force commander, now assigned to the Pentagon.

Saturday night features an aerobatics show with three stunt-flyers and even a wingwalker.  The evening concludes with fireworks over the river, computerized and orchestrated with music.  All told, some 50,000 people are expected to attend these events.  Not bad for a rural town of 10,140 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Jacque Pregont credits an army of committed volunteers who make this happen.  Karen Seaberg is the event chair.  She works with some 350 volunteers who are involved in 30 committees.  For more information, go to www.atchisonkansas.net.

Dreams can take flight in Kansas.  Whether it was Amelia Earhart’s dream of flying or Atchison’s dream of honoring this aviation pioneer, these dreams have come true.  We commend Jacque Pregont, Karen Seaberg, and all those involved who are making a difference while honoring Amelia Earhart’s legacy.  It helps remind all of us to dream big and to soar.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jan Huck - PlainJans

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go to an island off the coast of Maine.  A worker is tending cattle there, and he’s wearing a soft cloth knit pair of gloves.  You could find the same type of gloves on people in Alaska, Hawaii, and almost every state in between – and they all came from rural western Kansas.  The source of these gloves is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Jan Huck from Scott City, Kansas.  Jan grew up on a feedyard near Lyons, Kansas and went to Southwestern College where she met her husband.  After teaching and coaching several years, she and her husband moved back to his hometown of Scott City where she opened a sporting goods store.

One day a local cattle feedyard made a special order of 200 screen printed jackets, and Jan realized she could specialize in those types of products for the cattle industry.  She started producing decorated goods such as caps, jackets, cloth bags, and other items featuring the names and custom-designed logos of various feedyards, dairies, and related businesses.  Such products are also called “branded apparel.”

These products had a lot of appeal to her customers in the cattle business, so she started promoting them at industry trade shows and the business grew.  During one of those trade shows, she was approached by a Texas insectary about offering another service to those feedyards: Biological fly control.  Flies are a huge problem around feedyards, so these folks thought that would be a service that Jan could offer to her customers.  Jan turned them down at first, but eventually agreed to give it a look.

In 1987, she began offering an integrated pest management fly control program to feedyards in Kansas, and it went very well.  But of course, flies are not the only pests which can be a problem.  In later years, she added similar pest control programs for rats, weeds, and birds.

The company is known as PlainJans, and it offers both decorated goods and full service pest control programs.  The common thread, so to speak, between them is the customer.  Jan says, “We know the cattle business, and we get things done right.”  The company slogan is, Kaps, Koats, and Killin’ things - all spelled with a K.  As you can tell, Jan is creative and has a healthy sense of humor.

So what is the result?  Today, PlainJans is the largest commercial livestock pest control company in the nation, and it’s located in Scott City, Kansas, population 3,765 people.  Now, that’s rural.  PlainJans has seven pest control trucks averaging 40,000 miles per year serving customers across the central and southern plains.  Wow.

And what about those cotton knit gloves?  A few years ago, Jan started offering these custom printed gloves in addition to her other apparel products.  These are sometimes called chore gloves or roper gloves, because calf ropers really like them.  The gloves are warm, lightweight, and inexpensive.  PlainJans imprints logos and addresses on the back of the gloves as promotional items.  These have proven extraordinarily popular.

Jan says, “We have branded goods customers in almost every state, coast to coast.”  The company website is www.plainjans.com.  The PlainJans staff travels to trade shows all over the country.  PlainJans offers something special at its booths at those trade shows, because Jan is a strong supporter of the American Cancer Society.

Jan says, “Cancer has affected many of the people who work here, and this is something we feel passionate about.”  PlainJans will offer printed gloves, embroidered caps, and bags to people at the trade shows in exchange for a small donation to the American Cancer Society.  In the past three years, the cancer society has received $25,000 in donations from PlainJans.

It’s time to take our leave from this island off the coast of Maine, where a worker is wearing knit gloves from rural Kansas.  This island happens to be owned by the Rockefeller family, who orders these gloves all the way from Scott City, Kansas.  We salute Jan Huck and all those associated with PlainJans, Inc. for making a difference with entrepreneurship and creativity.  They offer caps, coats, critter control – and even caring about cancer.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jennifer Marek - Music Studio

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Hands can make wonderful music.  Whether playing a piano, strumming a guitar, or drawing a bow across violin strings, hands that are skillful can create beautiful music.  Today we’ll learn about a rural Kansas entrepreneur whose musical skill was found by accident – due to the small size of her hands.  Now the woman with those hands is not only providing wonderful music for listeners, she is extending a helping hand to help others expand their musical skills.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Jennifer Marek, the music shop owner with these musical hands.  Jennifer grew up in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, where it was mandatory in her school to take orchestra in the fourth grade.  But what was each child going to play?  The teachers decided that Jennifer’s hands were too small to play the bigger instruments, so they assigned her to the violin.  Jennifer says, “I’m not sure I knew what a violin was.”

But when she tried it, she was hooked.  She found she loved it.  By grade 5, she got her own violin and started taking private lessons.  She continued her musical interest in college at Oklahoma State, and learned to play the guitar, banjo, mandolin, dulcimer, and piano.  She now plays everything from bluegrass to gospel to rock to classical.

After college, she took an internship at a living history center in Maine.  There she met another one of the interns: A young man from rural Kansas.  You can guess the rest.  Jennifer married Norbert Marek and they moved to Kansas when their internships were done.  Norbert, a K-State grad, went on to law school at Washburn.  Next he took a position with a law firm in Manhattan, Kansas.

Jennifer and Norbert then moved to the community of Westmoreland near where Norbert grew up.  Norbert commutes to the law firm each day.  Jennifer pursued her musical interest by offering music lessons in their home.  As the number of music lessons grew, she sought to open a music studio of her own.

The Mareks bought an 1880s vintage building in downtown Westmoreland for her original shop.  Now they have built a modern building in its place.

The business is called the Music Studio, and it includes two studios for lessons and practice plus a wealth of music supplies and related items.  There are musical instruments such as guitars, banjos, basses, mandolins, dulcimers, ukuleles, autoharps, violins, cellos, jaw harps, harmonicas, keyboards, and more.  Jennifer says, “We have everything for any budget, from the beginner entry level on up.”

There is an extensive selection of accessories to go with every instrument, including song books, plus all types of music-related items such as pictures, figurines, jewelry, stationery, CDs, tapes, antiques, windchimes, books, games, toys, t-shirts, and so on.

Bruce Marvin comes from Manhattan to assist with lessons.  Jennifer says that the teaching staff offers lessons for all ages on almost any string instrument.  They are now teaching music to people from age four up to grandparents.

The shop is definitely family-friendly.  There is a toy room and waiting room where siblings can play and parents can wait while lessons are being given.

Jennifer loves music, and she loves to play it and teach it.  She performs in various venues, from churches and weddings to jam sessions and community festivals.  While violin is her main instrument, she also plays the mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer, and playing those instruments is almost a lost art.

Jennifer says, “Playing a stringed instrument can be a lifetime skill.”  She also believes that her shop is filling a valuable niche.  She says, “There are people who would not be involved in music if it wasn’t for this place.”  For more information, call 785-457-3904.

Hands can make wonderful music.  Whether on the piano, violin, guitar or another instrument, skilled hands can create beautiful music.  Jennifer Marek was directed to the violin because of her small hands, but she has grown into a wonderful teacher and musician.  We commend Jennifer Marek for making a difference with her creative talent and desire to teach.  It helps assure that the appreciation of music in rural Kansas is in good hands.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jill Zimmerman – Kansas FFA Foundation

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Forever blue.” That’s an interesting phrase. It might be the name of a rock band or your wife’s favorite paint color – or maybe what the hallway looked like after your grandkids got hold of the permanent markers. But instead, Forever Blue is the name of an initiative from the National FFA Organization to connect people with ties to those blue-jacketed FFA members. At the state level, the Kansas FFA Foundation is another effort to build support for FFA and agricultural
education. We’ll learn about the rural leaders of the Kansas FFA Foundation on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Jill Zimmerman, executive director of the Kansas FFA Foundation.  Jill believes strongly in the value of FFA because of her first-hand experience. She grew up on a farm near South Haven, Kansas and was active in 4-H and FFA.

Jill says, “Mr. Ryan was my ag teacher and FFA advisor. He encouraged me to go to the next level and was always there for me.  Mr. Ryan was a mentor for me right at the time I needed that.” Jill had a tremendous experience in FFA, winning many contests and awards.

Jill went on Hutchinson Community College and K-State before becoming the agricultural extension agent in Anderson County. She later worked for the Kansas Corn Commission and then for East Kansas Agri-Energy, a new ethanol plant near Garnett. Jill was instrumental in raising the more than 24 million dollars necessary to build that plant.

So Jill has excellent experience, but as she says, “This position is more than fundraising, it’s development. Jill says, “We want to develop relationships with people and demonstrate the great  value of FFA.”

She says, “Agricultural education has done a great job of adjusting to today’s agriculture, but we need to enhance the programs that we have.”  She points out, “FFA is growing. Despite the rural depopulation, FFA is seeing increased enrollment.” Ag education programs can be found in both rural and urban settings.

Recently ag education programs have been restarted in Oxford and Udall, and a successful FFA chapter is now operating in one of Kansas’ larger cities, Olathe.

So what is the role of the Kansas FFA Foundation?  The foundation seeks to develop and sustain collaborative relationships resulting in financial support and service opportunities for FFA and ag ed programs. Such connections can help enable the Kansas Agriculture Education and FFA programs to empower future leaders.

Jarrod Westfahl, a Manhattan attorney and former FFA member, is chair of the Kansas FFA Foundation Board of Trustees. Jarrod says, “Through the guidance of the trustees, the commitment of our partners, and the enthusiasm of the many supporters of FFA and agricultural education in our state, we will succeed in developing a new generation of young people who possess leadership ability, career skills, and a desire to positively impact their communities.”

Meanwhile, the National FFA Organization has launched its initiative called “Forever Blue.” This web-based initiative provides a website to link former FFA members and supporters. Forever Blue is a term reflecting the powerful common bond that exists between those bluejacket-clad FFA members and supporters through the years.

As mentioned, the ranks of those former members include Jarrod Westfahl, who was a member of the Haven FFA chapter, and Jill Zimmerman who is originally from the rural community of South Haven, population 388 people. Now, that’s rural.

How wonderful to find former members with rural roots giving leadership to this support organization for FFA.  Jill says, “I had a really good FFA experience, and now it’s time to give back.”  For more information, go to www.ksffa.org.

“Forever Blue.”  No, it’s not a rock band or a tattoo.  It’s an initiative to reconnect former FFA members and supporters.  Jill Zimmerman, Jarrod Westfahl and others involved with the Kansas FFA Foundation are also trying to reconnect FFA backers in a way that makes a difference and enhances support for the organization. So I’ll dig in my closet and find my old FFA jacket.  It brings back memories of great learning experiences and reminds me that I too am forever blue.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jim Borgeson - Toby

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s meet someone who has made it possible for more than sixty thousand dollars to be donated to needy people.  But this isn’t your typical generous businessman.  It’s a horse of a different color – and I mean that literally.  Today we’ll learn about a beautifully colored horse in rural Kansas which has generated lots of dollars to help people.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Jim and Sharon Borgeson of Baldwin City.  Jim is a chiropractor with offices in Overland Park and Baldwin City, population 3,503 people.  Now, that’s rural.  One day, Jim and Sharon went to a paint horse sale to look around.  As novice horse buyers, they knew they should get an older, wellbroke, gentle gelding.  During the sale, Sharon came up to Jim and said, “I found the horse I want.”

It was an 18 month old, unbroke, stud horse.  Jim said, “Sharon, that’s not at all what we were after.”  But she said, “Look at his eyes, he’s so gentle and so smart.”  Most husbands can guess how that discussion ended up: Of course, they bought the horse.

Since Jim hadn’t planned on buying that night, he had to drive 30 miles to get the trailer.  When he came back, it was dark and they were alone.  Jim wondered, “How in the world am I going to get this unbroke horse into the trailer by myself?”  But he put the halter on the horse and loaded him with no problem.  It demonstrated the gentle disposition which would become a hallmark of this horse.

Right after the sale, one man had said, “Congratulations on buying the toby.”  Jim hadn’t realized that toby was short for Tobiano, which is the name for a type of horse with certain markings.  Jim liked the nickname Toby and it stuck.

When they got Toby home, they called for the veterinarian to get Toby gelded.  But the vet said, “I can’t find a single flaw on this horse.  Let’s wait on getting him gelded.“ Thank goodness that surgery has never happened.

Toby grew into a beautiful stallion.  He was trained as a reining horse, won 12 shows in a row and was awarded the Register of Merit in open reining before retiring to become a stud horse.  Jim calls him the people’s horse because of his personality.

One day Jim was talking to a retired minister and missionary friend.  Jim said, “You have done so many wonderful things to impact people.  I would like to do just one significant thing.”  The minister replied, “Well, you have a horse, don’t’ you?” - but he wouldn’t say any more.

Jim puzzled about what he might mean.  Then he and Sharon decided to do a special project.  They took a thousand dollars of Toby’s breeding fees and went to Wal-Mart to buy 10 one-hundred dollar gift cards.  The cards were placed in an envelope with a picture of Toby and a note explaining there are no strings attached to the gift. The envelopes were then passed out by Jim’s church friends to people with financial need or who needed encouragement.

The response was great.  They went to Wal-Mart and did it again.  The store manager got interested, and now Wal-Mart is donating funds as well.  To date, more than $63,000 has been donated through Toby.

The minister said, “You should write a book to generate some more funds for charity.”  Jim wrote up a three page book outline and shared it with his church one day, saying, “Here’s the outline.  Now we need someone who will write it for free.”  Everybody laughed at the thought.  Two days later, a former patient came into Jim’s office, heard the story, and because she felt called by God, volunteered to write the book for free.  Wow.

As of March 2006, the new book “Spirit Keeper” is being released to the public.  For more information, go to www.peopleshorse.com.

It’s time to say goodbye to this beautiful horse of a different color.  We commend Jim and Sharon Borgeson and their friends for making a difference by using Toby to help needy people.  It proves a horse can be a wonderful resource.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jim Spigarelli MRI Sceptor Industries

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go to New Orleans to the Superdome, which has been severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  A team of workers is preparing to go into the building, but first the air is being tested to see if it is safe for them to go in.  The device which is testing the air is being produced by one of the fastest growing companies in America, in partnership with one of the nation’s leading private research institutions, led by a man with rural Kansas roots.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Dr. Jim Spigarelli, President and CEO of the Midwest Research Institute, also known as MRI.  Jim grew up in southeast Kansas, served in the Army, and studied chemistry at Pittsburg State and Kansas State before joining MRI.

MRI had been founded in Kansas City back in 1944 to do independent scientific research.  Today it has grown to include some 1,800 scientists in various locations around the country, with headquarters in Kansas City.  MRI includes the National Renewable Energy Lab and does research, technology development, and technical services for government agencies and companies in a variety of disciplines.

Dr. Spigarelli was a scientist at MRI back in the `70s when he and others were researching a device to do high volume air sampling to defend against biological weapons.  From his Army service, he knew that the military was looking for practical ways to do this type of air testing, and Dr. Spigarelli and his colleagues were able to develop such a device.

Over time, MRI found several applications for this technology.  This ranged from using it to find explosive vapors in mines to detecting molds and allergens with children’s hospitals.

In the late 1990s, biological warfare again came to the forefront of people’s concerns.  MRI scientists refined the technology further.  By this time, Dr. Spigarelli had risen through the ranks of MRI, where he became President and CEO in 1999.

In 2001, a new company was created to commercialize this technology in partnership with MRI.  The company was called Sceptor Industries Inc.  MRI is a minority shareholder of Sceptor and serves as the company’s research and development arm.

The company was progressing in its infant stages when suddenly, as Dr. Spigarelli says, “Along came September 11 and the world changed.”
    
    The terrorist attacks on New York and subsequent anthrax attacks through the mail gave new urgency to the demand for the types of products produced by Sceptor.  Sceptor Industries focuses on chemical and biological defense technologies.  Sceptor’s best known product line is the SpinCon® line of aerosol collectors, which can extract biological and chemical contaminants from the air and concentrate them into a small, liquid volume that is easy to analyze. SpinCons can be used to collect a wide range of pathogens, from viruses and bacteria such as anthrax to toxic molds and more.

When anthrax specimens were sent through the mail, it vividly demonstrated the need for such technology.  The U.S. government and others stepped up to utilize this equipment.

So what has been the result?  Phenomenal growth.  In 2002, the company had one million dollars in revenue.  By 2005, the company had eighteen million in revenue.

The U. S. Postal Service is now installing SpinCon aerosol collection devices on every sorting machine in every sorting center nationwide.  Spincon units have been used at World Series events, Super Bowls, the NCAA Final Four, NATO conferences, and Presidential Inaugurations.  Wow.
    
Dr. Jim Spigarelli speaks with pride of the outstanding research done at MRI and the contributions being made by Sceptor Industries to make America a safer place.  I’m proud that this outstanding scientist and leader has his origins in rural Kansas.  Jim grew up at the southeast Kansas town of Frontenac, population 2,996 people.  Now, that’s rural.

It’s time to say goodbye to the Superdome, which is just the most recent location where Sceptor Industries products and MRI technology are working to keep Americans safe.  We commend Dr. Jim Spigarelli and the people of MRI and Sceptor for making a difference with their leadership in technology.  Thanks to them, we can all breathe a little easier.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jim Aller - Wolf River Outfitters

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s tune in to a hunting show on the Outdoors Channel.  Here’s the largest video photographed bow-killed buck deer in the history of the Buckmasters and Jackie Bushman TV shows.  Who guided the hunters to this buck?  Wolf River Outfitters, based right here in rural Kansas.  It’s a hunting edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Jim Aller, founder of Wolf River Outfitters at Hiawatha, Kansas.  Wolf River Outfitters outfits and guides hunters for deer and turkey.

Jim grew up on a farm near Hiawatha, where he enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping.  As the farm economy declined, he diversified into diesel mechanics and auto sales.  He now specializes in outfitting and pyrotechnics, meaning that he sets off lots of fireworks.

Jim’s family raises crops in northeast Kansas.  Of course, the deer love to get into those crops.  Jim says, “People were always asking if I could help them get a deer.”

He realized this was a business opportunity.  In December 1994, he started Wolf River Outfitters, which offers fully guided deer and turkey hunting, including lodging, food, and transportation.  Hunting is done on owned and leased land in Kansas and Nebraska.

Jim says, “In 1994, four friends and I were the guides.  We did it for fun.  It’s better than being stuck inside an office.”

Today, Wolf River Outfitters has 15,000 acres of prime deer hunting land in Nebraska and 15,000 acres of trophy deer hunting in Kansas.  Jim says, “Our hunting ground has excellent Whitetail Deer and Mule Deer hunting. We also have some great terrain for Eastern, Rio, and Merriam Turkey hunting.  We offer archery, muzzleloader and rifle hunts.   We encourage women and youth to join our hunts.”

So what about the hunters?  They come to Kansas from all over the country, from Vegas to Alabama to New Jersey – even England.  Wow.

Jim says, “When those east coast people get here, they can’t believe how nice the people are and how sparse the population is.  It’s a great vacation for them.”

It’s a great enterprise for rural Kansas too, because it utilizes our natural resources and wide open spaces.  Jim has reached out to other rural communities in the region for meals and housing for his customers.  Besides a converted dairy barn which serves as a hunter’s bunkhouse near Hiawatha, he uses motels,  buildings or campsites in other towns such as Holton and Wamego, and even places like Onaga, population 697, and Havensville, population 145 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Jim now has 12 guides, four cooks, and one office person as part of the business.  It remains very family-oriented.  Jim’s mom is 79 and she helps cook for the hunters.  Jim still helps his mother and brother with the farm, where his son and daughter are fourth generation of the family.  His son PJ helps guide. His daughter Brenna recently enrolled at K-State in the Air Force ROTC  program. She received the Commander's Scholarship, an honor bestowed on only 145 people in the world each year.

Jim goes to sports shows all over the country to promote the business.  Most of his bookings are repeat business or word of mouth.

Jim says, “We guide the most deer hunters of any operation in the state.”  He says, “We want people to have the best possible experience.”

And when the Buckmasters TV show featured the largest video photographed bow-killed buck deer of the show’s history, it was led by Wolf River Outfitters in Hiawatha, Kansas.

Jim is a community leader as well as an industry leader.  He founded the Kansas Outfitters Association in 1995 and is a Kansas Hunter Education instructor.  He is active in the Lions Club and the local Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation.

More information can be found at www.wolfriveroutfitters.com.

It’s time to turn off the Outdoor Channel, where we found a show featuring a trophy-winning buck from a hunt led by Wolf River Outfitters.  We salute Jim Aller and all those involved with Wolf River Outfitters for making a difference with entrepreneurship and outdoor recreation.  When it comes to building our economy, this type of enterprise can help keep rural Kansas in the hunt.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Joe Hartman - Cimarron National Grassland

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Where the deer and the antelope play.”  That’s not just an excerpt of the Kansas state song, it’s an accurate description of a national grassland which is found within our borders.  Such opportunities are among the many important and beneficial elements which this resource provides to our state.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Joe Hartman, the district ranger who is responsible for the Cimarron National Grassland.  This national grassland includes more than 100,000 acres of land in the rural southwest corner of Kansas.  It takes its name from the Cimarron River which passes through the region.

The history of the Cimarron National Grassland goes back to the dust bowl days.  During the drought of the 1930s, terrible dust storms raged through the central plains.  For example, oldtimers told about a storm that hit the Elkhart area.  After the storm passed, two boys were playing outside on a mound near a post by a skating rink.  The boys noticed a rope tied to the top of the post, and upon pulling it, found that a horse was on the other end where it had been buried by the dust storm.  Wow.

In response to these terrible conditions, Congress enacted several measures, including promotion of soil and water conservation and the purchase of the hardest-hit lands. In 1938 when the government purchased 107,000 acres here, it was said that only 6,000 acres had any vegetation on it.  The U. S. Department of Agriculture became administrator of those lands.  Since 1954, the Cimarron National Grassland has been administered by USDA’s Forest Service, and the grasslands have flourished.

Today the Cimarron National Grassland consists of 108,175 acres in Morton and Stevens Counties.  It is the largest parcel of publicly owned land in Kansas and is administered for multiple uses.

For example, up to 100 ranchers and farmers graze livestock on the grassland under a permit to the Morton County Grazing Association.  Grazing is managed so as to be productive and maintain vegetation.  Some 5,000 head of livestock are grazed there each year.

Another use is mineral production.  There are approximately 450 oil and gas facilities on the Cimarron plus 500 miles of pipeline.  The oil and gas produces up to five million dollars in revenue, of which 25 percent comes back to the county for schools or roads.

Another use is recreation, which includes hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, horseback riding, photography, and bird watching.  There’s a campground, ten fishing ponds, and three picnic areas.  Joe says, “There are beautiful wildflowers which bloom after a rain.”

Wildlife is yet another use.  Some 362 species of birds can be found at the Grassland, such as quail, wild turkey, dove, and lesser prairie chicken, along with pronghorn antelope, elk, mule and whitetail deer.  Joe says, “Bird watchers are here almost year round.  People come from all over to what’s called the booming grounds, to see the prairie chickens do their mating ritual.”  Visitors have come from Virginia to California, Germany, France, and Australia.

Rare bird sightings are posted on the Kansas Birding Hotline, which generates much interest.  In spring 2006, a pair of rare Vermillion flycatchers were spotted at the Cimarron – only the second time in history they had been seen in the region.  Joe says, “It set off a firestorm of interest.  Avid birdwatchers left their jobs and drove here to see the birds.”

This is a boon to Hugoton and Elkhart plus the rural towns in the region, such as Rolla, population 467, and Richfield, population 47 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Joe says, “Anyone can love the mountains – you can see them from a long ways away.  But it takes soul to love the prairie.  You’ve got to stop to fully appreciate it.”

This is where the deer and the antelope play.  Yes, those species and many more can be found at the Cimarron National Grassland, along with the many other ways the grassland is being utilized.  We commend Joe Hartman and others who are making a difference by managing this natural resource wisely and wonderfully.  We are thankful they have chosen to make this their Home on the Range.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

John Baetz - Pregame magazine

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

It’s a Friday night in rural Kansas.  The bright lights are on at the high school football field.  There’s a feeling of anticipation as the crowd gathers and the teams warm up.  It’s that special time called Pregame.  Today, we’ll meet a pair of rural entrepreneurs who are building on their passion for high school football and are producing a new magazine for Kansas prep football fans.  It too is called Pregame, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet John Baetz, editor and co-publisher of Pregame magazine.  John’s partner in this project is Tim McGonagle, who, as we heard on an earlier program, is the creator of the website www.kansasprepfootball.com.

John went to school at Smith Center which has long been a football powerhouse.  When John was only seven years old, his older brother Curtis taught him a defensive swim move in their front yard.  John says, “Three months later, I saw him hoist a state championship trophy over his head.”

That had a huge impact on young John.  He says, “That’s where my love of football comes from.”

John also played for Smith Center.  He earned a scholarship to Garden City Community College.  John remembers a practice where he was clobbered by a running back who would go on to play for Clemson.  John says, “I was lying there, looking up at the stars and the little birds spinning around in the sky and I thought to myself, ‘It’s time to hit the books.’”

John got a degree in English from Fort Hays State and worked in advertising.  Then when the newspaper in Lincoln, Kansas needed an editor, he joined the paper and put his English degree to work in journalism.

John married a Lincoln girl, Bree McReynolds, and then had an opportunity to buy the paper.  Now John and Bree publish both the Lincoln Sentinel and the Chapman News-Times.

John appreciates these rural towns, having grown up on a farm near Lebanon, population 296 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Last fall John’s father was hurt in an accident and was hospitalized in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Fortunately his father made a full recovery.  John spent a lot of time with his father in the hospital.  As they watched a Nebraska football game on television, John’s father recalled a quote he attributed to legendary sportscaster Keith Jackson, that went something like, “Make your hobby your job, marry the woman you love, and you’ll always have happiness.”

That got John to thinking.  Could he make his hobby his job?  He says, “I enjoy newspapering, but I’m passionate about the sport of football – especially high school football in Kansas.”  John began thinking about what he might do with football, including launching a website.  Then he encountered the high school football website created by Tim McGonagle, www.kansasprepfootball.com.  John and Tim exchanged emails, and one day Tim added a note. He said, “I’m interested in doing a preseason magazine.  Do you know anything about printing?”

Wow, printing was exactly what John was doing.  The two got together to build on their shared passion for Kansas high school football.

The result is Pregame, a new 80 page magazine featuring 116 teams, 22 pages of color, and schedules for all 345 school districts in Kansas that field a football team.  The paper covers the alphabet from Abilene to Wilson.  Pregame is a free publication, distributed through its advertisers.  John credits his wife Bree for doing much of the ad design and layout.  More information can be found online through www.kansasprepfootball.com.

In the future, they hope to offer scholarships and possibly a coaching clinic.  John is an assistant football coach at Russell High himself.  How exciting to find these rural entrepreneurs partnering in support of Kansas prep football.

It’s a Friday night in rural Kansas.  Down at the local football field, the teams are warming up and the fans are gathering.  It’s that special time called Pregame.  How fitting that this new preseason publication would bear the same name.  We salute John Baetz, Bree McReynolds-Baetz, and Tim McGonagle for making a difference by providing comprehensive coverage for high school football in Kansas communities.  And now: It’s time for kickoff.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

John Brooks - Pearl Harbor

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy...”  With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt told Congress about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on that day, which brought about the entry of the U.S. into World War II.  Today, we’ll meet a veteran of that war who honors other veterans by hand-building intricate models of the ships from that era.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet John Brooks.  He is retired and lives in the Manhattan area with his wife Wilma.  John has rural roots, having grown up near the town of Green, Kansas, population 145 people.  Now, that’s rural.

John was visiting his sister in the Ashland Bottoms community near Manhattan one Sunday when she came out of the house and told everyone that the Japanese had attacked the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor.  It was December 7, 1941.

Shortly after that, John joined the Navy.  He was trained as a diesel mechanic, machinist, deep sea diver and demolition specialist and assigned to the U.S.S. Henrico.  His service took him all over Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Pacific theater.

One day while in the Pacific, a Japanese suicide bomber with two 500 pound bombs attacked the Henrico.  One bomb blew up the bridge, and the other went down through seven walls of the ship, came within three feet of John in the boiler room, and passed out the far side.  It came out 16 inches above the water line, so the boat did not sink and John was able to evacuate safely.

Then came D-Day.  John was on an underwater demolition team which went up to Normandy Beach just prior to the invasion.  John says, “There were 96 guys that went in there, and as best we can figure, only 16 made it out.”  John survived, although he lost 80 percent of his hearing on that day.  All told, he participated in seven or eight different landings or invasions during the war.

After the war, John returned to Kansas and farmed near Manhattan.  In 1964, he put his mechanical skills to work with the purchase of K-Hill Engine Service, which he and his family have run ever since.  Now John is retired and son Dan runs K-Hill Engine Service.

John was always skilled with his hands.  He did woodworking as a hobby, making cabinets and furniture.  But in the late 1980s, he decided to give another type of project a try.  He built a small model of an invasion boat as he remembered it from World War II.

John says, “I could write a book about my experiences with the war and people might not believe it, but I enjoy working on these model boats.”  He built a model of the U.S.S. Arizona as it was the day before it was hit in Pearl Harbor, and another model showing the damage.

Now he has built some 30 boats through the years, all done painstakingly by hand.  He doesn’t sell these boats, but he has given some away to special friends and displayed them on occasion.  One model is on display at the Forbes Air Base museum in Topeka.

John says, “It takes patience and time to do this, maybe 100 to 150 hours.  If it isn’t right, I redo it till it is right.”  He’s done aircraft carriers, PT boats, landing craft and more.

John says, “I just remember so well what they looked like.”  He sees his skill as a way of honoring our veterans.

“December 7, 1941, a date which will live in infamy...”   The year 2006 marks the 65th anniversary of Pearl Harbor, so it is fitting to remember our veterans at this time.  We commend John Brooks for using his skills to create these beautiful models of these ships from our nation’s history.  My father also enlisted in the Navy after Pearl Harbor, so it is an honor for me to remember all those who made a difference with their patriotic service.  December 7, 1941 is a date which will live in infamy, but it will also live in honored memory of those who served.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

John Samples - KanBuild

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

What does Kansas do well?  Many things, but here’s one: Kansans can build.  Our state has lots of people who work hard at building things.  Today, we’ll meet a company which builds homes and other facilities.  The company’s very name says it all: KanBuild.  This company has a remarkable history of building and rebuilding itself, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet John Samples of Osage City, Kansas.  John told us the remarkable story of the company KanBuild Inc.

KanBuild Inc. is a producer of modular, factory built structures for homes and office buildings.  The company’s history really begins with a couple of major developers in Kansas City.  Apparently some of the key principals in those development companies were talking about the possibility of a manufactured housing business in eastern Kansas.  They decided to start it up and they located the plant in Osage City.

The first employee of the company was none other than John Samples.  He was with the company from the very beginning.  The business was launched, but then ran into the tough times of the 1980s.  In November 1988, the Kansas City businessmen announced that the plant was going to close.

But the entrepreneurs and citizens of Osage City didn’t want to lose this business.  John Samples worked with local investors to purchase the company, and on February 12, 1989, a new company was formed.  Its name was KanBuild.  That’s K-A-N-build.

KanBuild was a locally-owned homegrown business in a rural setting.  The company’s specialty was producing custom made, modular homes.  It began with 25 employees.  These employees worked hard, and under the leadership of John Samples and the other owners, the company progressed dramatically.

In 1994, KanBuild was selected as Entrepreneur of the Year for a turnaround company in the states of Kansas and Missouri.  The company continued to grow.  By 2001, the company had two plants in Colorado plus the plant in Osage City, annual sales of 30 million dollars, more than 275 employees, and was the largest producer of modular homes in the state.  Wow.

In fact, the business was so successful that it attracted outside investor interest.  The company sold in 2001 to an out-of-state business.  But this ownership did not work out for the company either.  In August 2005, the out-of-state owners announced the closure of the Osage City facility.

Again the local citizens rallied.  John Samples and other investors stepped up to the plate, and as of January 1, 2006, KanBuild Inc. was reborn.

Once again, it is a locally owned company built on rural people.  Quintin Robert, the manager, is a native of Osage City.  John Samples is originally from Matfield Green, population 60 people.  Now, that’s rural.

John Samples is proud and supportive of his employees.  He says, “They have a high level of skill.  Many have worked for me for 20 years.  We’re going to do an employee stock ownership program in a couple of years so that they own the company.”

John says, “I believe we make the best house on the market.  We specialize in doing custom stuff.  If we can ship it down the road, we’ll build it to suit the customer.”

Sixty percent of their business is residential, but the company produces a remarkable array of buildings for other uses.  KanBuild Inc. makes commercial buildings and multifamily dwellings, relocatable classrooms and permanent school buildings.  They’ve built banks and medical facilities, optical and dental clinics, and even four story apartment buildings.

KanBuild structures are found throughout the central U.S., border to border from the Dakotas to Texas.  The company even has a contract with the U.S. Post Office to build postal buildings for small communities across the country.  Post office buildings made by KanBuild can be found from Washington state to Tennessee, and all the buildings were built in Osage City, Kansas.  Wow.

What does Kansas do well?  Kansans can build.  We salute John Samples, Quintin Robert, and all the people of the KanBuild Inc. company for making a difference with their hard work and entrepreneurship.  When it comes to creating a positive future, I believe it is something that committed Kansans can build.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Kathy Swezey - SEK Regional Leadership Academy

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Something larger than ourselves.”  What does that phrase mean to you?  No, not something physically bigger than you are.  I’m talking about the concept of seeing the bigger picture or being a part of something greater than the individual.  It is important for people and communities to be able to perceive the larger context and to understand how they can be part of something larger than themselves.

For example:  Visionary leaders in southeast Kansas demonstrated their ability to see the bigger picture when they organized Southeast Kansas Inc. as a regional organization in the southeastern corner of our state. They did it again when they organized the Southeast Kansas Prosperity Foundation.  And now they’re doing it yet again, with the creation of a Regional Leadership Academy.  The focus of that program isn’t on just one community or one county – it is for the entire region of southeast Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Kathy Swezey, Executive Director of Southeast Kansas Inc.  Kathy explains that Southeast Kansas or SEK, Inc. is a regional alliance of business leaders from a diverse economy in the region. The organization represents manufacturing, retail, and service businesses along with county and city governments from 13 counties in Southeast Kansas.

SEK Inc. works on several fronts.  As a legislative voice in Topeka, it represents the region on common legislative issues.  It also works on transportation, workforce development, economic development, and tourism at the regional level.  SEK Inc. has a manufacturers forum which provides a focus on the region’s large and diverse manufacturing base.

When SEK staff were traveling around the region asking citizens to identify important needs, one key issue continued to come up: Leadership.  Many people identified the need for more community leaders.

But what can be done about it?  Many areas are not served by existing leadership development  programs.  Some communities or counties have locally-based leadership programs for their citizens, but those, of course, are focused on each particular town or community.  A regional leadership program would help those participants and others to see the bigger picture.

So Southeast Kansas Inc. and the Southeast Kansas Prosperity Foundation, with the support of the Kansas Health Foundation, are partnering in the creation of a new leadership program at the regional level.

In fall 2006, a new Regional Leadership Academy is being offered for the 13 counties of southeast Kansas.  Unlike some leadership programs which primarily consist of networking, tours, and local information, this program will feature skill-building and development for community leaders.

The sessions will be held in five different towns so people will be exposed to different parts of their region.  Host communities are Iola, Independence, Pittsburg, Fort Scott, and Burlington.  An additional graduation celebration will be held later.  Topics include learning leadership styles, concepts of leadership, coalition building and collaboration, facilitation skills, values and ethical decision making, and class projects.

Regional collaboration is very important in our rural areas.  Without it, we may not have enough critical mass to work effectively.  Kathy recognizes this fact as she works from her home office in the town of Cherokee, population 715 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Kathy says, “We believe this leadership academy would be beneficial to anyone.  Our intent is to enhance and build on the existing leadership programs and take those to the next level.”

For more information or to apply for the program, go to www.sekinc.org.

“Something larger than ourselves.”  No, not something physically bigger.  I’m talking about an understanding of how we fit into a bigger picture or a greater purpose.  It’s an important part of leadership, and now an opportunity exists for people in southeast Kansas to be a part of a program which can help build that larger understanding.  

We commend Kathy Swezey and all those involved with Southeast Kansas Inc., the Southeast Kansas Prosperity Foundation, and the Regional Leadership Academy for making a difference by building leadership at the regional level.  As quoted by Bruce Adams in the Southeast Kansas Inc. annual report, “We cannot have healthy communities when everyone is preoccupied with narrow self interest.  We must recognize we are part of something larger than ourselves.”

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Larry Newingham and Jeff Leazer - Bennington Fiberglass

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Have you ever seen a boat run into a tree?  No, not on a lake, on an interstate highway.  Wow, that sounds like a boat hauler’s worst nightmare.  Sure enough, in this case a man was hauling a boat to a lake in Kansas.  He was on the interstate when the boat came loose from the trailer, slipped off and slid on past the shoulder where it hit a tree at full speed.  Fortunately, no one was hurt.  I’ll bet it made an interesting accident report!  But the front end of the boat was crushed, so what could the boat owner do?  He took the boat to a craftsman at a company named Bennington Fiberglass, and the craftsman made the boat look like new.  This is just one example of the quality work done by this remarkable rural business.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Larry Newingham and Jeff Leazer, co-owners of Bennington Fiberglass.  This company began as a boat repair shop in Salina.  In 1985, the owner relocated the company to its current location out in the country between Salina and Bennington and renamed it Bennington Fiberglass.

In 1986, Larry Newingham joined the company.  Six years later, Jeff Leazer joined the business.  Years later when the original owner retired, he sold the business to these two long-time employees, Larry and Jeff.

Bennington Fiberglass specializes in boat repair and restoring, porcelain, acrylic and fiberglass repair, and custom tooling and manufacturing.  Through the years, the company has produced components for everything from trams that went to an amusement park in Ohio to a medical workout seat for handicapped people in hospitals to a physical testing device for industrial and sports clients.

Today, Jeff specializes in repair of home items such as shower stalls and Larry specializes in boat repair.  They also repair old cast iron bathtubs, for example.  While the plant is located in a rural setting, their work may take them far afield.  Jeff has fixed showers from Ulysses to Kansas City and up into Nebraska.  He represents several manufacturing companies for repairs.

Bennington Fiberglass is also a warranty repair shop for several boat manufacturers, such as Champion, Nitro, Skeeter, Triton, Tahoe, and Glastron.  Larry has had the opportunity to fix hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of boats through the years.  In fact, he even built his own sixteen foot bass boat from scratch.

That inside knowledge of boats has come in handy.  Larry says, “I know the points of stress on a boat.”  As a result, he knows how to build them right, and he is very conscientious about it.  Larry says, “I don’t know who’s going to be on that boat, whether it’s mom or dad, kids, or grandma.  It’s got to be safe and done right.”

Jeff and Larry insist on high standards in their shop.  Larry says, “I have three policies: Number one, we never cut corners.  Number two, if you can see where the repair was made, it ain’t a good repair.  And number three, anything less than perfect is not good enough.”

There was even a case where a man drove a boat from Florida to Kansas to get it repaired after the boat had been damaged by a hurricane.  Larry says, “You went by a lot of fiberglass shops traveling all the way to Kansas.  Why would you come here?”  The man replied, “I heard you were the best.”

So he made the trip from Florida all the way up to Bennington, Kansas, population 627 people.  Now, that’s rural.  How exciting to find this business with high standards located in rural America.

Have you ever seen a boat run into a tree, out on an interstate highway?  When this actually happened a few years ago, the owner got the boat fully rebuilt by taking it to Bennington Fiberglass.  We commend Larry Newingham and Jeff Leazer for making a difference with their commitment to quality repair work.  And before you haul that boat again, make sure you have it locked onto the trailer.  I’d hate to see a boat all by itself passing me on the highway.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.
   

Lorenzo’s Bar-BQ

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Hi honey, I’m bringing some friends home for dinner.  How many?  Oh, about 5,000 people.  Hmm, that sounds like grounds to dump your husband right there.  Imagine feeding more than 5,000 people.  Today we’ll learn about a barbecue specialist who has fed 5,000 people, and he’s still serving people across Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Lorenzo Hurde Senior, the owner of Lorenzo’s Bar-BQ and Catering in Larned.

Lorenzo grew up in rural, far western Kansas - the Mountain Time Zone, in fact.  He graduated at Tribune and then moved to Sharon Springs.  Sharon Springs is a town of 811 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Lorenzo went on to work for the state of Kansas for some 28 years, but it was not always easy.  Especially in those early days, Lorenzo faced a great deal of discrimination as an African-American applying for those jobs.  After he did catch on, he became a physical plant worker in Larned, went to college at night, and rose to supervisor.  He later became the assistant chief engineer at the Parsons State Hospital.

But what Lorenzo did for a hobby was to cook – specifically, to barbecue.  His family comes from Tennessee originally, and when he would go down to visit he would drop in on barbecue places and pick up some ideas.  He brought those back to Kansas and worked at improving his barbecuing skills.

He got so good at it that soon he was barbecuing for church and other local events.  Demand increased, but he was still doing it on evenings and weekends.  In 1964, he began his own business.  Eventually he retired from the state to concentrate on barbecue.  He says he never stops trying to get better at what he does.

For example, Lorenzo was using storebought barbecue sauce in his early days but he was not really satisfied with it.  One day in the early 1970s, he invited a bunch of friends over for a party.  Lorenzo was cooking the meat but he found late in the evening that he had no sauce.  So he had to improvise.  He grabbed some ketchup, vinegar and spices and mixed up some sauce on the spot.  His guests raved about it.  They said, “This is the best we’ve ever had.”  Lorenzo tasted it and said, “This may be just what I was looking for.”  So he saved the recipe and it became his personal, original formula for barbecue sauce.

Today, Lorenzo’s Bar-BQ and Catering serves products at grocery stores across Kansas and caters special events.  At company picnics in southwest Kansas, he has served some 5,500 people at one event, as mentioned at the beginning.  He has portable hickory smokers which he can transport to the site.

Currently, Lorenzo is working with 30 stores across Kansas, from Wamego to Hugoton.  He will set up his cooker and work with the store’s deli or serve as the store’s deli while he is there.  He offers a menu of barbecue and related products which is one of the largest menus provided by a mobile unit.

The menu includes beef, pork, and hot link sandwiches, bulk meats, chicken, turkey, ham, country style ribs, and sides such as potato salad, cole slaw, and baked beans.  Family packs are also available.  Stores love it when he arrives, because the aroma of that hickory smoke will draw in customers.

What are his keys to success?  Lorenzo says, “You’ve got to be people-oriented and have a sense of pride in what you’re doing.  If it’s not right, we’re not gonna serve it.  And you have to like to cook, to have the patience to take the time it needs.”  He says, “We mix our own spices.  We make our own sauce.  We make our own cole slaw. We make our own baked beans.  And we never stop learning.”

Hi honey.  Don’t worry, we’ll have Lorenzo Hurde cater our 5,000 friends with his original recipe barbecue.  That will get me back in her good graces.

It’s great to find this African-American who is using his culinary skills in small-town Kansas.  We salute Lorenzo Hurde for making a difference in a barbecue business with rural roots.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Lori Bair - Senegence

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Remember Hot Lips Houlihan, the character on the old tv show MASH?  What type of lipstick do you suppose is utilized on that famous set of lips today?  Would you believe – a special type of lipstick developed and marketed by women from the rural heartland and all over the country?  We’ll learn about this remarkable line of women’s cosmetics on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Lori Bair, the young woman from rural Kansas who told me about these remarkable products.  She filled me in about this wonderful type of lipstick and its related line of makeup.

Now let me confess that women’s lipstick is not exactly my specialty.  As my wife and teenage daughter would tell you, I am clueless on cosmetics.  I thought foundation was something under your house, and blush was what you did when you were embarrassed.

But Lori explained that this company offers a special line of lipstick and other cosmetics with special properties.  This lipstick is said to be kissproof, waterproof, smearproof, and smudgeproof.

The company is called Senegence.  Lori explained that it was founded by a lady who was originally from rural Oklahoma.  She was living in California as a single mom and selling cosmetics for another company.  She wanted to go out on her own and was looking for better makeup.

This lady talked to a product developer in California who gave her some sample products, including a special type of long-lasting skin treatment.  The lady experimented with this treatment, added color, gloss, and moisturizer, and began marketing it as a long-lasting lipstick.  Now her company, Senegence, is a major business with independent distributors across the U.S. and beyond.

One of those distributors is Lori Bair.  Lori grew up on a farm near St. John, Kansas, population 1,301 people.  Now, that’s rural.  After graduating from K-State, Lori worked in education and real estate.  Her hobbies include roping, riding, barrel racing, and hauling her 9 year old son and 5 year old daughter to junior rodeos all over Kansas.  Lori lives near Hutchinson with her husband and family.

Lori was at a women’s show in Wichita a few years ago and saw a long line of women around a particular booth.  She went over to see what the excitement was about, and found it was this special type of lipstick called Senegence.  Lori tried it and liked it.  In fact, she says the average lipstick would last one month, but this Senegence lipstick lasted six months.  Lori liked it so well that she became a Senegence distributor, one of the first in Kansas.

Senegence offers other types of cosmetics as well.  During the 1980s, a researcher was studying in the south Pacific islands when he came upon an odd phenomenon: Plants flourishing at the base of one island’s active volcano, which would intermittently spew lava, acid, and poisonous gas.  Typically, nothing can grow in volcanic ash, but these plants had developed characteristics which let them flourish in that poisonous environment.  This researcher took plant samples back to his laboratory in the states and researched their properties with a team of chemists.  The result was a special type of women’s cosmetics which help protect the skin from pollutants in the atmosphere.

Today, Senegence offers an extensive line of cosmetics, including its Seneceuticals 24 hour anti-aging skin care products and long-lasting color technology.  LipSense lipstick is now offered in more than 60 colors - from Pink Shimmer to Summer Sunset – and there are hair care products as well.  There is even a sports lip balm for men.

This long-lasting lipstick is used by actresses and television anchorwomen.  The actress who played Hot Lips Houlihan on MASH is marketing the product to other actresses in California.  The company’s skin care products are even marketed by some dermatologists.

It’s time to say goodbye to Hot Lips Houlihan, who today is using this remarkable long-lasting lipstick.  We commend Lori Bair for making a difference by marketing this product and helping other women do so as well.  It’s tempting to say that rural Kansas needs more than cosmetic solutions, but this story is just too good to make-up.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Marci Penner - Kansas Guidebook


This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go on a treasure hunt for some hidden treasures.  I’m not talking about lost diamonds or gold, I’m talking about something even more valuable:  The little known people and places of rural Kansas.  The good news is, we now have a guidebook which can help us find those hidden treasures, right here in our backyard.  These little known places can be a source of fun, food, shopping, learning, and wonderful experiences.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Marci Penner, founder of the Kansas Sampler Festival, the Kansas Sampler Foundation, and the Kansas Explorers Club.  She is also the author of this new book, titled The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

Marci has a great love for rural Kansas.  Several years ago, she and her father, who is also a great photographer, coauthored some tour guide books about Kansas.  Marci really wanted to do an update.

But Marci never does anything halfway when it comes to rural Kansas.  She had a grand idea: What if she could visit every one of the 627 incorporated towns in Kansas?  That is quite a goal, but Marci committed to do it.

The result came three and a half years and 40,124 miles later.  The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers is based on her journeys to every town in the state, plus to dozens of unincorporated towns and a handful of ghost towns.  Some 500 towns are represented in the book among some 3,597 entries.  Wow.

To make her experience more authentic, but unfortunately more of a challenge for Marci, she did not set up appointments so that chambers of commerce could roll out the red carpet for her.  Instead, she made unscheduled stops all over the state.  The result was an unvarnished look at features, people, and attractions.

This book is a fabulous resource.  Marci says, “This guidebook was meant to be much shorter, but the more I traveled, the more I found.”

Every entry in the book falls into one of eight cultural elements: Architecture, art, commerce, cuisine, customs, geography, history, and people.  It is also organized by region, so the traveler can target his or her interests geographically in northeast or south central Kansas, for example.  There are descriptions, contact information, hours, and even extra inside tips for making a visit more special or rewarding.

These entries cover the gamut of rural Kansas, from Abbyville, population 127, to Zenda, population 121.  Now, that’s rural.

In between is a wealth of information about attractions, eating places, historic sites, and much more, in towns large and small.  The spiral-bound book is dotted with more than 400 full-color photos of signs, sights, and scenic vistas.

Keep in mind that this is not just a listing of all the places to eat in a given town.  Franchise fast food joints are not included.  Only some locally owned cafes and restaurants will make this list, and there are 672 of them.

Somehow, after all this food sampling, Marci remains her slender self.  She also remains passionate about rural Kansas.  In fact, she is co-chairing the Governor’s Rural Life Task Force.

The guidebook is available at many retail outlets and can be purchased on-line.  The web address is www.kansasguidebook.com.  This website includes background information as well as a list of retail outlets where the book can be purchased, plus a link to order it directly.

Marci says, “The guidebook is a project of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. It was written to help further the mission of the foundation which is to preserve and sustain rural culture.”  Her hope is that this book can bolster the small towns and businesses in Kansas.  Marci says, "If thousands of our own people are traveling and appreciating Kansas, it can really make a difference in keeping them alive."

Yes, we can go on a treasure hunt to find these hidden treasures right here in Kansas.  Thanks to Marci Penner, we have a guidebook which is a traveler’s indispensable companion.  We salute Marci and the Kansas Sampler Foundation for making a difference by highlighting these hidden treasures of our state.  Today’s radio program is ending, but the treasure hunt is just beginning.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.



Marie Boyd - In Memoriam


This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

She never sought the limelight, but she always rose to the occasion.  That’s one way of describing the rich life and many contributions of Marie Boyd, who passed away on October 9 in Phillipsburg at age 97.  Our memorial tribute to this amazing lady is today’s Kansas Profile.

Marie Boyd might be called the “First Lady” of Rural Kansas, with all due respect to past occupants of Cedar Crest. For the past half-century, she and her husband Huck strongly supported the State of Kansas and rural America.

Through her long married life with Huck, she was always supportive of his work as Publisher of the weekly Phillips County Review and as Republican National Committeeman.  Huck was constantly working for policies to benefit rural Kansas. After he passed away in 1987, the Huck Boyd Foundation was established in his honor and strives to honor his legacy of service.  The Foundation is based in their hometown of Phillipsburg, population 2,602 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Today, the Huck Boyd Foundation supports three primary projects: 1) the McDill "Huck" Boyd Community Center, a beautiful 21,000 square-foot facility with a 500-seat auditorium, state-of-the-art teleconference facility; and model railroad museum in Phillipsburg; 2) the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media in the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications at Kansas State University; and 3) the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at K-State.

Marie was instrumental in putting together the plans for each of these.  After the Foundation was first organized, leaders of the Foundation Board wanted to reach out to maximize the benefit to rural Kansas.  Thanks to Marie and other outstanding Board members of the Huck Boyd Foundation, a new partnership was forged to establish the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development under the visionary leadership of K-State President Jon Wefald, Senator Sam Brownback, and others.

I remember working with Marie on various plans in those early days.  As always, she didn’t seek the limelight but she always rose to the occasion.

When the Huck Boyd Institute was announced, she was there.  When the Institute’s first Rural Policy Agenda was created through a visioning session in Phillipsburg, she was there.  When the groundbreaking of the Huck Boyd Community Center and later its dedication was held, she was there.  And in spring 2006, when the Discover Phillips County project was launched at a community meeting, she was there – at age 97!  Wow.

Another special memory was when Gloria Freeland, Director of the journalism school’s Huck Boyd Center, initiated the Huck Boyd Lecture series in Community Media.  The very first lecture in this prestigious series was to be given by Senator Bob Dole.  Gloria asked Marie Boyd to introduce the Senator at the lecture.  Marie was reluctant at first, protesting that Huck had always been the public speaker, not her.  But Huck was gone and Marie was a longtime friend of Senator Dole’s while also being very supportive of the Center’s work, so she again rose to the occasion.

The day of the lecture came.  Marie, a spry 90-years-old at the time, introduced the Senator to a near-capacity crowd in McCain Auditorium with grace and aplomb.  And the Senator’s loudest applause of the day came when he paid tribute back to Marie.

Marie Boyd was a true lady.  In her gentle and consistent way, she helped assure that we all remained true to Huck’s legacy.  She also endured heartache, especially when her daughter Marcia died suddenly from acute leukemia and then her son-in-law perished in a tragic farm accident.  Through it all, I found Marie to be steady and stalwart.  She met every challenge with grit and grace.

Now her heritage continues on.  In 2005, Huck and Marie’s granddaughter Anne Brockhoff was elected as Chair of the Huck Boyd Institute Board of Directors, so the legacy of leadership and service continues.

On October 26, 2006, Marie would have celebrated her 98th birthday.  Alas, that milestone was not to be.  But we can celebrate 97 years of a life well lived, in service to her family and to rural America.  Thanks, Marie, for all these years of making a difference.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.   
 


Mark Henkel - Sons of the Konza Prairie

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Sons of the Pioneers.”  That’s the name of one of those classic cowboy singing groups of yesteryear.  Today, we’ll meet a new group with a similar name but rural Kansas roots.  They are a father-son singing duo, whose performances and values are true to the cowboy music classics.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Mark Henkel.  Mark and his wife Becky live outside of Junction City on Clarks Creek Road.  Their son Jacob joins Mark to make up this singing team.

Mark grew up in Arizona where he was influenced by the music of Rex Allen as well as the local ranchers.  After serving in the Army, Mark and Becky settled near Junction City where they live today.  Mark graduated from Manhattan Christian College and now works construction and serves as minister of music and missions at a church in Ogden.

Mark has always enjoyed music.  His own talents surfaced early, as he started singing in church as a youth and continues to perform to this day.  But in February 2004, a new dimension was added to this music: Mark’s son Jacob, then 14 years old, came up and said he’d like to sing with him.

Mark was playing regularly at a jam session near Herington at the time, so he invited Jacob to join him.  Their joint performance was a hit.  The audience loved it, and this new singing group was born.

Mark and Jacob love the cowboy way of life and they celebrate it in song.  They sing the cowboy classics as well as original compositions and gospel music too.  But they wondered what they should call this new father-son duo?

Mark says, “I was influenced by the music that the Sons of the Pioneers sang, and we liked that name.  But we live by the Konza Prairie.  We’re Kansans, this is our home.”  So for the name of their new group, they chose the Sons of the Konza Prairie.

True to their rural heritage, their first official performance was at an ice cream social near Alta Vista, population 434 people.  Now, that’s rural.

The Sons of the Konza Prairie have produced three CDs in only two years.  In both 2004 and 2005, they won First Place Vocal Group at the Clifton-Vining Music Festival.  They’ve performed from Arizona to Nebraska and all over northeast Kansas.  They especially enjoy events such as the Cedar, Kansas Memorial Day festival organized by Lowell Lydic.

Their CDs include such cowboy favorites as Tumbling Tumbleweeds, Cool Water, and The Streets of Laredo, plus some original Kansas songs.  Their gospel CD has wonderful western-style Christian music.

Mark says of he and Jacob, “We have a passion for music.  For us, this is our father-son time.  We thank God for giving us something we can share and enjoy together.”

For more information, go to www.sonsofthekonzaprairie.com.  Here’s an excerpt of one of their original songs, titled Who Blessed the Plains:
    These plains of Kansas, I can see
    Are God’s gift to me.
    It’s only for a while I ride
    Upon its hills and rivers wide.
    I wonder can I ever know
    The one who chose to bless it so.

    When evening comes and sun is set,
    Crickets sing the frogs to rest.
    The river seems to stop its flow
    To watch the moon aglow.
    I tune my heart to God above
    And thank the one who in his love
    Gave the cattle hills to roam
    And blessed these Kansas plains.

    “Sons of the Pioneers.”  That was one of those singing groups of yesteryear.  This new group honors that legacy but adds a Kansas flavor by calling itself the Sons of the Konza Prairie.  We salute Mark and Jacob Henkel, the Sons of the Konza Prairie, for making a difference by sharing their classic cowboy music with others.  By bringing together classic western music and Kansas heritage, they might be considered modern pioneers of their own.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Mark Roehrman - Great American Cattle Drive

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

The calls came to Kansas from Germany, China, Japan, Namibia, and all over the country.  What do you suppose they were calling about?  Would you believe, a cattle drive?  This isn’t a cattle drive from a hundred years ago, it’s a modern event that’s drawing international attention.  It will include longhorns, horses, campfires and cowboy singing.  It’s the Great American Cattle Drive, and the proceeds go to benefit the National Drovers Hall of Fame.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Say “howdy” to Mark Roehrman, President of the National Drovers Hall of Fame Board of Directors, sponsor of the cattle drive.  Mark is owner of several downtown businesses and buildings in Ellsworth, Kansas, where the proposed National Drovers Hall of Fame would be located.  Mark has rural roots, having grown up in the nearby town of Kanopolis, population 541 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Mark explains that a “drover” was America’s first real cowboy.  It was the name given to those cowboys that drove the cattle from Texas to Kansas in those historic cattle drives of yesteryear.  Their destinations were places like Abilene, Caldwell, Newton, Wichita, Dodge City, and Ellsworth.

Ellsworth appreciates that western history.  A store named the Drovers Mercantile in downtown Ellsworth is an example.

Three years ago a visionary group of citizens got together to honor that history in another special way: By organizing a National Drovers Hall of Fame and planning to locate it in a historic building in downtown Ellsworth.

The building has been called the architectural gem of Ellsworth’s historic downtown.  It was built by a man named Edward Wellington, who graduated from Harvard and came west to Kansas.  He founded a sheep ranch near Ellsworth and then came into town where he and a partner built a beautiful building to house his insurance, abstracting, and real estate business.  That building is still called the Insurance Building, although it has housed various enterprises since then and has stood vacant for some 20 years.

Board members of the  National Drovers Hall of Fame point out that this historic building would be a wonderful site for the hall of fame and museum.  In the three years since the board has been organized, they have achieved non-profit status from the IRS, worked with a structural engineer to stabilize the building and patch the roof, and gotten the building listed on the state and national register of historic places.

Remodeling the building and constructing the hall of fame and museum will require some major fundraising.  So the board is sponsoring this special event to honor this western history and serve as a fundraiser: A modern-day version of the Great American Cattle Drive.

At the end of September 2006, a three-day event is planned to relive the days of the drovers driving Texas longhorns up the Chisholm Trail to the Ellsworth rail head.  A herd of 64 longhorns will come from Oklahoma for the event.  Riders pay a fee to participate and drive the cattle cross country.  They can provide their own horse or lease one.

Each night there will be a chuckwagon supper and singing around the campfire, featuring the wonderful cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey.  In Ellsworth, Johnny Western will be featured at a cowboy concert on Friday night and Michael Martin Murphey will do the End of the Trail concert on Saturday night.  Proceeds go to benefit the National Drovers Hall of Fame and the preservation and use of the historic Insurance Building to be its site.

For more information, go to www.nationaldrovers.com.
    
The calls have come to Kansas from coast to coast, and as far away as Germany, China, Japan, and Namibia.  It demonstrates the fascination which people around the globe have with the American west.  This is part of the Kansas legacy, which too many Kansans take for granted.  So we commend Mark Roehrman and all those involved with the National Drovers Hall of Fame and the Great American Cattle Drive for making a difference with their creativity and appreciation of history.  I’m thankful they are demonstrating a great deal of drive.

And there’s more – about 800 miles more – on our next program.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Michelle Cummings - Training Wheels

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Today let’s meet a big wheel.  No, she’s not some self-important person.  She’s the founder of a company which helps keep the proverbial wheels turning in a positive way for kids, companies, and communities.  She gives her rural roots in Kansas much credit for her success.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Michelle Cummings, founder of a company called Training Wheels Inc.  But it’s not bicycle accessories which she produces, it’s really experiential education.  Here’s the story.

Michelle grew up on a farm near Norton, Kansas, population 2,943 people.  Now, that’s rural.  She was active in 4-H, which helped her learn to communicate effectively.  Michelle says, “When I was 10 years old, I had to get up in front of a crowd at the county fair.  I attribute much of my success in public speaking to 4-H.”

Michelle studied psychology at K-State and went to work at a wilderness camp and therapy center in Texas.  Michelle says, “We were living in tents with emotionally disturbed kids, using camping to teach life skills.  It was like the Peace Corps - incredibly hard but you’re glad you did it.”

She says, “I saw amazing things with these kids.  They could compare their journey in life with their experiences at the camp.  I fell in love with the concept of helping people learn from their experiences and transform lives.”

Michelle went on to get a masters at Mankato State in experiential education.  Then organizations in Texas and later, in Colorado asked her to design team-building, experiential ed programs for them.  She says, “The day I moved to Colorado was the day I met my future husband.”  They settled in the Denver area and Michelle thought about what type of business she could create.  She said, “Well, I ‘ve built programs for two companies, maybe I could build my own.”

In July 1999, she created a company called Training Wheels which offers professional training and which provides experiential education supplies.  She called it Training Wheels for two reasons:  One is that she uses portable wheeled duffle bags to carry her supplies when she goes out to do her trainings.  The other is symbolic: Michelle says, “You use training wheels when learning how to ride a bike – but then you take them off.  I train groups and organizations about various things, but then they need to do it on their own.”

Her training has been very well received.  Michelle does corporate retreats, meetings and school inservice programs.  She’s done sessions from Seattle, Washington to Orlando, Florida and is going to Hawaii, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.  Wow.

One key to her success is that the training is experiential and interactive.  Participants are doing things and learning lessons in the process.  Michelle would use collections of various kinds of items to teach these lessons.  She says, “People would ask me, `How do I get all those neat things that you use to teach with?’  And I would say, `Well, you go to these four stores...’  But people wanted them all together, and I realized that I could package them.”

Today the Training Wheels product line includes 275 different items, from books to tool kits to novelty items such as the world’s largest underpants.  Imagine using that in a training session!

Michelle has authored two books, including A Teachable Moment with 130 educational activities and Bouldering Games for Kids which has 38 activities.  All this material is available through her website, www.training-wheels.com.  That’s www.training-dash-wheels.com.

Michelle says, “If it hadn’t been for the Internet, I don’t think I would have been as successful.”  Her products have gone from coast to coast and an estimated 47 countries worldwide.  Not bad for a 4-H farm kid from rural Kansas.

It’s time to say goodbye to this big wheel.  No, she doesn’t consider herself big and important, but she does have a passion for helping people learn from their experiences.  This type of experiential teaching can make a difference in people’s lives and organizations, so we commend Michelle Cummings and Training Wheels Inc.  After all, a big wheel is just a little wheel that keeps on turning.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Paul Merklein - Stuttgart tree

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“Let’s decorate the Christmas tree.”  That’s a holiday tradition for many families, but today we’ll learn about a Kansas community church which has adopted that tradition and taken it up to a whole new level – in fact, about 51 feet up.  In this case, the celebration and lighting will cap a year-long celebration of this church’s 125 years.  Stay tuned for a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Paul Merklein, a farmer near Stuttgart, Kansas and an active member of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church there.  That church is celebrating 125 years of service in 2006.  The church has engaged in several activities to celebrate this milestone, but the year will be capped off by another long-standing tradition: Decorating and lighting a beautiful, living tree next to the church building.

As I mentioned, this church is located in Stuttgart, which is spelled like Stuttgart in Germany but pronounced Stu-gurt here in Kansas.  Homesteaders first arrived here in the 1870s.  The Emmanuel Lutheran Church was founded in 1881, and the town of Stuttgart itself was founded seven years later.

The church’s first building was constructed in 1885.  It was a 40 by 22 foot building which included the pastor’s residence.  The second church building, which still stands, was completed in 1893, and it has a beautiful interior.  The building has been expanded and remodeled through the years.

In approximately 1955, some Colorado blue spruce trees were planted near the church and parsonage.  About 15 years later, four couples from the church decided to decorate those trees for Christmas.  At that time, this tree was only about 15 feet tall.

But as that tree has grown, so has the tradition.  When the tree became too tall to reach with a ladder, the local farmers brought in a tractor with a farmhand loader which someone stood on with a long pole to hang the lights.  I’m glad OSHA didn’t hear about that one.

Now the men use a lift, called a cherry picker, donated by a professional tree service called Solida and Sons.  The grandparents of the Solidas live in Stuttgart and attend the church, proving that it is nice to have connections in high places.

The Solidas donate their time and equipment to hang the lights with that cherry picker.  Other men from the church check the lights and prepare the strands for hanging, which takes about three hours of work.  And listen to this: They will put about 1,500 lights and 15 strands on this tree!  Wow.

A lighted star is placed at the top of the tree first, and then two fifty foot strands of big c-9 lights are tied together, placed on the tree hanging from the very top, and controlled by timers.  The original white star is placed on the church bell tower and plyboard cutouts of a nativity scene are arranged nearby.

Today, the tree measures 51 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 68 inches and a crown spread of 32 feet and is still growing!  On December 3, 2006, the annual Christmas tree lighting will be held with a special men’s choir concert in honor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church’s 125 years.  The audience will be invited to join in singing carols and participate in the lighting of the tree, followed by refreshments and fellowship.

How exciting that the tallest living lighted Christmas tree in the state is found in Stuttgart, Kansas, population 45 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Paul Merklein says, “Everyone is invited to come and participate.”

“Let’s decorate the Christmas tree.”  That’s a statement heard in many homes at this time of year, but in this case, it has become a community effort and a focus of this church’s 125th year anniversary.  We commend Paul Merklein and all those of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Stuttgart for making a difference with their celebration of the season.

We join with people of all faiths in honoring the values of sharing and family and community.  May this tree be a living and beautiful symbol that our holiday wishes for the year ahead will grow and thrive as well.

Wishing you a blessed holiday, for the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Phillip Headrick - ABCD&E

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Do you know your ABCs?  Of course you do.  But do you know about ABCD&E?  That collection of letters is the name of an innovative regional initiative in southcentral Kansas where rural communities are partnering together with excellent results.  I’ll explain on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Phillip Headrick from Atlanta.  No, not Atlanta, Georgia – Atlanta, Kansas.  Phillip is owner of Dutch Creek Fence company, which does custom fence building for homes and agricultural customers.  Phillip is also vice-president of this regional initiative known as ABCD&E.

Phillip explains that this initiative is based in Cowley County, south of Wichita.  Ninety-five percent of Cowley County’s 35,000 population is concentrated on the west side of the county, in the towns of Winfield and Arkansas City.

Eastern Cowley County only has about 3000 people in it. But when an outside developer wanted to take land for a development and man-made lake near the town of Dexer in eastern Cowley County, local people were very concerned about water and erosion problems and the possibility of government seizing the land through eminent domain.

The people in Dexter mobilized to fight this taking of land.  They reached out to their neighboring communities in this effort.  But they realized it wasn’t just a matter of trying to resist a particular project, they wanted to come together to build a better future for their entire region.

Through the efforts of Shannon Thom Martin, a professional grant writer in the area, they organized an alliance.  This alliance would ultimately be one of three selected from 76 applicants to be a pilot project for the Governor’s Rural Life Task Force.  An impressive marketing plan has been developed for the alliance.  The goal of the alliance is to explore the unique resources of this region and to develop them from within.  The name of this alliance is ABCD&E.

These letters come from the names of the towns involved in the project.  In this case, the A stands for the town of Atlanta; B stands for the town of Burden, C stands for Cambridge; D stands for Dexter; and the E stands for Eastern Cowley County.  Isn’t it cool that the initials of all these town names line up in alphabetical order?  I’m glad they didn’t have a local town named Zero or something.

More important than the names, the people of these communities are working together in common cause.  They’ve established a board and officers for ABCD&E.  The alliance has identified five goals: To improve community image and pride, support new and existing business development including agritourism, enhance communication between communities and residents, encourage youth involvement to enhance youth retention, and grow community leaders.

ABCD&E is working on various efforts to achieve these goals.  The alliance has held town hall meetings, been involved with Vision 20/20 community focus groups, produced a weekly email newsletter called Monday Messenger; and set up a website: www.cowleynet.com.  The group meets regularly, including project focus sessions.

And what has the group accomplished?  The group says that coming together in a common voice is one of their fundamental achievements.  Now ABCD&E has helped facilitate the creation of five new businesses and led to 18 demolitions of dilapidated structures to improve the appearance and safety of the communities.

Another name for the ABCD&E alliance is Better Together, which is an excellent way of describing the benefits of small rural communities working together.  They can reach a higher level of achievement by pooling their strengths and resources.  That’s important for rural communities such as these.

After all, Burden is a town of 564 people, Dexter has 364 people, Atlanta has 255 people, and Cambridge has 103 people.  Now, that’s rural.

How exciting to see these rural communities working together to build a better future from within.

Do you know your ABCs?  Of course you do, and now you know about ABCD&E as well.  We salute Phillip Headrick, Shannon Thom Martin, and all those involved with the ABCD&E alliance for making a difference with their regional thinking and organization.  These efforts can help rural Kansas do a better job of going from A to Z.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Randy Cabral - Kansas Braille Transcription Institute

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go to the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, California.  Here we find a math textbook which has been transcribed into Braille for use by the blind or visually-impaired.  And where do you suppose the Braille transcription was done?  Would you believe, out in the middle of Kansas?  Today we’ll learn about an innovative Kansas-based organization which is a national leader in providing and teaching Braille transcription services.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Randy Cabral, founder and Executive Director of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute in Wichita, Kansas.  Randy’s interest in blindness comes personally.  His father was blind for 10 years from a debilitating eye disease before passing away in 1998.  Randy says, “He was an avid reader.  We went to the library and got started with the talking book program and then learned about Braille.”  Randy went on to become a nationally certified Braille transcriptionist himself and started doing Braille from home.

Randy was discussing this with a vocational rehabilitation counselor in Wichita. The counselor asked, “Could you train other people to do this?”  He helped Randy consider how to offer these services to the public.

While studying at Friends University, Randy did a research project which demonstrated a need for services for the blind in higher education.  With help from some friends in his church, he developed a plan, set up a board of directors, and purchased and equipped a building to provide Braille transcription and training.

In fall 2000, the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute or KBTI was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization.  The organization transcribes and produces documents, trains people to do Braille transcription, and also repairs manual BrailleWriter writing devices.

Randy says, “We want to make Braille far more accessible to people who need it.  Documents in Braille can help visually impaired people get back to work while saving the state money.  Our goal is to help people be more independent while contributing to society.”  Thanks to KBTI, Kansas students can receive needed textbooks quicker and more affordably.

KBTI transcribers have produced a myriad of documents, ranging from letters and restaurant menus to textbooks and course material in multiple languages.  Ironically, 85 percent of KBTI’s contracts come from outside Kansas.

KBTI’s training covers all aspects of the Braille transcription process, from manual entry and scanning to formatting, editing, embossing, binding, and shipping.  It also covers adaptive computer technologies, including speech synthesizers and magnification software, plus service and repair of the BrailleWriter equipment.  Training is offered both onsite and online.

In fact, KBTI has become the largest single school in the United States for Braille Transcription following the Library of Congress guidelines.  And now, the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute has what is believed to be the only fully functional web-based Braille training program in the world.  Trainees can do Braille lessons, link to the instructional manual, have lessons graded instantly, and email reports to KBTI.

KBTI transcriptionists can produce documents in Braille in some 113 languages.  They have already transcribed documents into Braille from Korean, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, German, French, Swahili, and Latin.  Wow.

KBTI is also reaching out to rural Kansas.  Tiffany Sowa, a city council member in Coldwater, is a medical transcriber who learned about KBTI and wondered about having its training offered in a rural setting.  With help from Comanche County Economic Development Director Linda Hart, a site has been identified where KBTI is offering Braille training in the community of Coldwater, population 789 people.  Now, that’s rural.

How exciting that this type of vital service to benefit the visually impaired can be found in our state.  For more information, go to www.kbti.org.

It’s time to say goodbye to the Braille Institute in Los Angeles, where we found a book transcribed in the heart of Kansas.  We commend Randy Cabral and all the staff of the Kansas Braille Transcription Institute, plus Tiffany Sowa and Linda Hart for bringing this service to rural Kansas.  In the lives of those 750,000 Kansans with some sort of visual impairment, these services can truly make a difference.  Such innovation and caring is a welcome sight to see.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Renee Miller - Horse Soccer

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go watch a soccer game.  Look at the players run!  There’s a kick, a block, another kick, and a score!  That soccer player is as big as a horse.  The reason is, it is a horse.  Welcome to the wacky, wonderful world of Horse Soccer.  Yes, I said Horse soccer.  Imagine a field full of horses and riders kicking a giant ball toward a goal.  It’s great recreation and exercise plus an excellent training aid, and it’s also turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity for its founder – who created this new sport right here in Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Renee Miller, the horse trainer who invented this game.  Renee always loved horses, growing up in Pennsylvania where her father was a horseman.  Renee met and married a radio personality named Randy Miller.  They moved around the country following his career but she always maintained her interest in horses.

In 1993, the Millers moved to the Kansas City area.  Renee remembers this clearly because she was nine months pregnant when they made the move – Not a good idea.  A few years after their second daughter was born, Renee began training horses professionally.  She worked at various stables in the Kansas City area.

Then came the fateful day in 2004 when this all began.  Renee was working with some flighty young horses and was looking for something to calm them down or to desensitize them from spooking.  She found a large rubber ball which had belonged to her kids when they were little, and she thought she could use it to help desensitize the horses to something unusual.

So she took it out to the training arena and found the horses enjoyed kicking it around with their front legs.  She tried it with even more horses.  All of them enjoyed it.  The riders of those horses enjoyed it too, so they set up teams for a soccer-style match with horses and riders.

The result is Horse Soccer.  The game has proved so popular that Renee’s husband said, “You should market this thing.”

In May 2006, a new website was launched: www.horsesoccer.com.  On that site, you will find background information about Horse Soccer, a fun and entertaining free video of a Horse Soccer game, an opportunity to order a Horse Soccer kit with a ball and instructional video, plus Horse Soccer t-shirts and more.

Horse Soccer can be played either inside or outside.  It is recommended that riders wear helmets and move the ball at no faster than a trot, although they can canter to catch up to the action.  The goal can be anything, such as barrels, cones, or just some marks on the wall.  The main rule is that the horse, not the rider, has to advance the ball.  Horses move the ball with their front legs, chest, or head and nose.  Renee says she can teach the game to any horse in 15 minutes.

Renee’s original goal was to desensitize spooky horses, and this has proven to be the case.  Nervous horses and riders become so intent on the ball that they stop worrying about the ride.  Several riders have told Renee it was the most fun they have ever had on a horse.

This idea is so unique it has attracted international attention.  Renee has had calls from coast to coast, from Ireland to Australia, and even from Jay Leno and the David Letterman show.  Wow.

Horse soccer games are played at various locations, including Renee Miller’s rural barn at Spring Hill, Kansas, population 3,063 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Horse Soccer leagues have even been organized, featuring teams with names such as the Chuck Norris Roundhouse Kickers, Villa Ventura Ball Busters, Norbern CowBalls, and Ottawa OddBalls.  Those teams deserve some points just for creativity.

For more information, ride over to www.horsesoccer.com.

It’s time to leave this soccer game.  But these players aren’t wearing jerseys, they’re wearing saddles and bridles.  We commend Renee and Randy Miller for making a difference with this creative and entrepreneurial approach to training and exercising horses.  From viewing a Horse Soccer game, it is obvious that these horses and riders are having a ball.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Rick Singmaster - telescopes    

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Aim for the stars.  Have you ever heard that motivational message?  Today, we’ll learn about a Kansas entrepreneur who is building premier telescopes that can literally be aimed at the stars.  He has built a life-long interest in astronomy into a remarkable business.  Stay tuned for an intergalactic edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Rick Singmaster, founder of Starmaster Portable Telescopes.  He describes himself as the company’s “owner, president, shop foreman, and head of custodial services.”

As mentioned, Rick has long been interested in astronomy.  He grew up on a dairy farm near Fort Scott, Kansas, and would often be out in the early morning bringing cows in to milk.  When outside at those hours, he would gaze up at the stars.

His father encouraged his interest as well.  Rick says, “Sometimes Dad would get us up in the night to see the northern lights.”

Rick was intrigued by this interest, but it remained a hobby while he went into a career in civil engineering and surveying.  He was working on bridge construction and inspection for an engineering firm in southeast Kansas while star-gazing on his own time.

Rick wanted a high quality telescope but those turned out to be very expensive.  So he said to himself, “Well, if I can build a bridge, maybe I can build a telescope.”

So he did some research, gathered parts, and set out to make a telescope of his own.  Rick says, “I built one, tore it apart, built it again, and about the third time I got it right.”  He says, “Lo and behold, I discovered that I could see other galaxies.”

To find other people who shared his interest, he joined the Astronomical Society of Kansas City.  When other members saw his portable telescope, they asked if he could build one for them.

That was the beginning.  In 1995, Rick went full-time into his telescope building business, assisted by his wife Carol.  He designs and manufactures telescopes with high quality and easy portability.  Today, Starmaster Portable Telescopes is a leading builder of these types of telescopes in the nation.

Starmaster was the first company to offer a dobsonian mount telescope with a self-contained, computer-controlled go-to system to the public.  A person can use the telescopes to point at two stars, enter the star information from a catalog into the computer, and the telescope will automatically track the star’s movements.

These are telescopes for the serious amateur astronomer.  Rick says, “We insist on the highest quality components, electronics, and cabinetry, and I test every one myself.”  He has a passion for astronomy and a passion for quality - but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Rick says, “We’re just old farm boys that work hard.”

Business comes from word of mouth.  Rick says, “ We believe if we provide high quality and take care of our customers, they will repeat or refer.”

What are the results?  Rick says, “We have telescopes in every state in the union.”  He has sent telescopes as far away as Australia, Bolivia, Germany, Japan, and Norway.  Wow.

And every one of these is produced by hand in the shop at Rick’s home near Arcadia, Kansas, population 386 people.  Now, that’s rural.

How amazing to find this internationally known company located in such a rural setting.  Their website is www.starmastertelescopes.com.

What are the secrets of his success?  Rick says, “Service, service, and service.  And our products are 100 percent made in America.  We could get cheaper mirrors from China, but we build only top-of-the-line stuff.”

He says, “It is fun to see people’s reactions when they can see the separation of colors of the rings of Saturn or the cloud bands on Jupiter or the nebula of stars being born.  It’s rewarding to see the joy that people find in seeing thousands of other galaxies.”

Aim for the stars.  It’s a great message, and today we’ve learned about an entrepreneur who did just that - and built an amazing business for high quality telescopes.  We commend Rick and Carol Singmaster and the folks of Starmaster Portable Telescopes for making a difference with their passion and ingenuity.  They’ve certainly earned our gold star.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Rob and Beverly Phillips - Santa Fe Trail Horse Race meeting in Dodge City

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

What do you do with a thousand horses in your front yard?  That sounds like one of my second grader’s riddles, but it turns out to be a question with genuine meaning.  It’s one way of thinking about the logistical challenges of an exciting equestrian event to be held in rural Kansas and beyond in 2007.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Rob and Beverly Phillips from near Lawrence, Kansas.  Rob is coordinator of the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race and Endurance Ride.  As described previously, this event is an 800 mile endurance ride along the approximate route of the old Santa Fe Trail.

Rob says, “One of the main objectives of the race is to educate the public not only on the national historic Santa Fe Trail, but also to introduce the sport of endurance riding to thousands.”

The ride will start in Santa Fe, New Mexico on September 3 and end in Independence, Missouri on September 15, 2007.  Horses and riders will be traveling Tour de France style, in that they will ride a 50 mile route each day and then be transported to the next leg.

Overnight stops will be at temporary race villages containing comprehensive services. Those will be located in rural places such as Burlingame, Council Grove, Lyons, Larned, Dodge City, and Elkhart, population 2,156 people.  Now, that’s rural.

The ride is open to all breeds of horses.  Teams of riders who meet the qualifications are encouraged to enter.

Rob Phillips says, “It is our desire to produce a world class endurance event of riding 800 miles celebrating the Sante Fe Trail.”  The ride has been sanctioned by the American Endurance Ride Conference, the official sanctioning body for equestrian endurance riding in the U.S. and Canada.

Partners and sponsors of the event include RFD TV, The U.S. Postal Service, the New Mexico Sports Authority, the Bureau of Land Management Mustang and Burro Adoption Program, and the Kansas Lottery.  The Imus Ranch, a working cattle ranch for kids with cancer, has been designated as the race charity.  The Postal Service will even sponsor a special Pony Express ride.

It sounds like a great event.  But it means that a throng of horses will be coming through Kansas, with all the riders and trailers and feed and spectators and media and everything else which accompanies them.  They will need housing, food, water, and lots of services.  So back to our original question: What do you do when a thousand horses show up at your doorstep?

Rob Phillips wants to answer that question in the best possible way.  He is partnering with communities along and  near the trail route so as to create opportunities and ideal experiences for everyone involved.  On January 3 and 4, 2007, the Great Santa Fe Trail Horse Race is holding a meeting in Dodge City to explain this project and see how people can get involved and benefit from it.

The meeting title is – what else – What Do You Do with 1000 Horses in Your Front Yard?  Speakers include Rob Phillips; John Conoboy of the National Park Service; Dennis Latta of the New Mexico Sports Authority; Janet Starnes-Burch of the U.S. Postal Service; Mike Hansen, executive vice president of RFD-TV; and more.  I’m involved with the program as well.

Topics to be discussed include becoming a race village host city, conducting other possible Santa Fe Trail events, television coverage of the event, the economic impact, and how can communities along the trail maximize their participation in this event?   For more information, contact Rob Phillips at 785-218-3265.
    
So what do you do with a thousand horses in your front yard?  Well, you feed `em and water `em and put `em up for the night.  Then you invite their riders in for supper and entertain `em.  In a larger sense, that is what will be happening with the horses, riders, spectators and more who will be part of this event.  We commend Rob and Beverly Phillips and all those involved with this project for making a difference with their creativity and vision.  Now excuse me – I think I hear a horse at my front door.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Shari Woelk - Barrel Springs Hunt Club

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Now there’s a switch.  Today, we’ll learn about a facility which has truly made a switch.  In fact, it is a former railroad switching station which has been transformed to become a dining, lodging, and hunting center in rural western Kansas.  Thanks to the vision and hard work of these creative entrepreneurs, it has made the switch successfully.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Shari and David Woelk, co-owners of the Barrel Springs Hunt Club in Horace, Kansas.  Shari was born and raised in Tribune, Kansas where she met her husband.  They farm and ranch near Tribune.

A few years ago, Shari’s brother came back to Tribune after being away for some 12 years.  He started a pheasant raising business and told Shari that there were opportunities for related businesses such as pheasant hunting.  Shari began thinking about a pheasant hunting lodge and found a facility for it in the nearby town of Horace.

Horace had long been the site of a railroad switching station.  The switching stations, sometimes called dormitories, were built to provide lodging and meal service for railroad workers because the trains were required to switch crews at a certain distance.

But when Class 1 rail service was discontinued on the line through Horace, it was a blow to the community.  The dormitory closed and sat abandoned for a couple of years.

Shari and David saw an opportunity to make this their pheasant hunting lodge and bought the old switching station in May 1999.  They did a lot of remodeling work.

But what should they name this pheasant hunting lodge?  They wanted a name that started with the letter A, B, or C because that would make it show up high on an alphabetical list such as a telephone book or Internet search.  AA hunt club didn’t sound right.  They thought of naming it for the local stream, White Woman Creek, but that sounded racist and was at the wrong end of the alphabet anyway.

Then they thought of a nearby place called Barrel Springs.  It was so named because a century ago, wagon trains would fill their water barrels there while preparing for the trek to the Rocky Mountains.  So Barrel Springs Hunt Club became the name of their new facility.

Today, Barrel Springs Hunt Club is a premier hunt club.  It has a family-style dining area,  24 bedrooms each with a private bath, and access to more than 6,000 acres of prime pheasant habitat. The Barrel Springs hunt package includes lodging, three country meals each day, field transportation, dogs, guides, a guaranteed six-bird minimum with no maximum, and game cleaning and packaging.  Hunters need to bring their own shotgun and outdoor clothing, but ammunition and other hunting supplies are available.

Besides hunters, many folks come to Barrel Springs Hunt Club for meals, lodging, or meeting space.  This is a very family oriented business.  For example, Shari says, “My mother makes the fruit pies and I make the cream pies.  When we have larger groups, our son helps guide and our daughter-in-law helps with the meal.”

Shari says, “We want to provide quality service.”  For the hunters, they strive to make every hunt be like the opening day of hunting at Grandma’s house.  Shari says, “We want the birds to fly hard, the dogs to work right, the food to be great, and for it to be a warm and welcoming atmosphere.”

Those goals have paid off.  Barrel Springs Hunt Club has been host to guests from such places as Florida, Texas, Indiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and South Carolina.  Wow.  People enjoy the food, atmosphere, and opportunity for outdoor recreation in this historic rural setting.  Horace is a town of approximately 200 people.  Now, that’s rural.

For more information, go to www.barrelspringshunt.com.

Now there’s a switch.  A former railroad switching station in rural western Kansas has made the switch to become a hunting and dining lodge.  We commend Shari and David Woelk of the Barrel Springs Hunt Club for making a difference with their initiative and investment.  Thanks to their efforts, people from Pennsylvania to New Mexico are visiting rural Kansas, and that’s a switch for the better.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Sue Maes - Great Plains IDEA

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Great ideas can go far.  Today we’ll learn about something that is not just a great idea, it is a Great Plains IDEA that is going far - and I mean that literally in several ways.  Great Plains IDEA is a name of an innovative higher education program using distance learning technology and cooperation among universities.  It is based on the idea that universities can work together to bring higher education opportunities to people in rural Kansas and across America.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Sue Maes of the Regents Educational Communications Center at K-State.  Sue tells how this great idea came about.

It started when several midwestern land grant universities were seeking to help their extension agents continue their education.  If the family and consumer sciences agent in Sheridan County wanted to get a master’s degree, for example, it was difficult to do so while continuing to live in Hoxie.        

The dean of human resources and family sciences at the University of Nebraska recognized this need and wanted to design a human ecology masters program to be offered by distance education in that state.  The dean invited neighboring states to a meeting to see if those states had other classes to offer as well.

Sue says, “That meeting stoked both the cooperative and the competitive tendencies of the participants.”  None of those institutions wanted to be left behind in distance education, so they started to share ideas.

This led to an alliance of deans of colleges of human ecology at universities in the central plains with an interest in distance education.  The organization is called Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, which as an acronym, spells I-D-E-A.

In the beginning, the alliance simply shared information and did training about the use of distance technology.  Then one faculty member proposed a new idea: What if he and his colleagues from another university would team up to offer an inter-institutional master’s program?  In other words, an academic program from more than one university?

Sue says, “I was sitting there saying, `You can’t do this.’”  For example, only a limited number of hours can be transferred from one institution to the next.

A task force was formed to work on the proposed multi-university master’s program. But just as Sue feared, that task force soon found itself bogged down in the red tape and conflicting policies of the various institutions.  A breakthrough happened when the top officials from key sectors of the universities were brought together.  These were the college graduate deans, chief financial officers, continuing ed administrators, and registrars.  Eventually they agreed on common pricing and a revenue sharing plan for these classes.  Sue helped them arrive at other common policies, and this unlikely idea was launched.

Today, the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance offers fully online graduate programs with some 130 classes.  The alliance includes state universities in10 states.  These go from North Dakota to Texas, plus Colorado, Montana, Iowa, and Michigan.  Master’s degrees are offered in Family Financial Planning, Gerontology, Youth Development, Community Development, and Merchandising.

This has enabled students from rural Kansas to gain advanced degrees online.  Students have participated from communities such as Marysville, Hoxie, Norton, Smith Center, La Cygne, Chapman, and Olsburg, population 189 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Sue Maes says, “This enables us to deliver degree programs to people in their communities, rather than uprooting them and their families.”

K-State has learned so much valuable experience from this process that the university created an Institute for Academic Alliances, co-directed by Dr. Sue Maes and Dr. Virginia Moxley.  That alliance offered its services to other universities and is now working in 37 different states coast to coast to help academic institutions work together.

Great ideas can go far.  In this case, a Great Plains IDEA is helping students across the country access higher education.  We commend Sue Maes and her colleagues for making a difference by implementing this idea for the benefit of rural learners.  As a result, classes via distance education from several universities can be brought to the learner rather than vice versa – and the students don’t have to travel far.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Symphony in the Flint Hills

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Violins.  Cellos.  Trumpets.  Drums.  Piccolos.  Clarinets.  Gama grass.  Um, what was that last one?  That sounded like a list of musical instruments, until I got to gama grass.  But imagine a concert featuring an entire symphony with all these instruments, set outside in the hills of the tallgrass prairie.  It seems like an unlikely notion, but such a concert will soon be playing to a sold-out crowd in the hills of rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Kathy Miller, board chair of an organization called Symphony in the Flint Hills Inc.

Kathy explains that the story begins with Jane Koger, a rancher east of Matfield Green.  When Jane was turning 40 a few years back, she and some friends wanted to put together an unconventional type of birthday party.  They came up with a crazy idea: What about a symphony orchestra performance in the middle of the Flint Hills?  Jane assembled an all-woman orchestra from St. Louis, Denver and Kansas City, and invited folks in the region to come hear them perform in a natural amphitheater at her Homestead Ranch.  Some 3,000 people attended.

Maybe the idea wasn’t so crazy after all.  People started asking, will there be another one of those?

Now there is.  Kathy Miller and other volunteer leaders from the heart of the Flint Hills got together to build on that event and to blend the arts with Flint Hills tourism. Symphony in the Flint Hills was incorporated as a Kansas not-for-profit organization in November 2004.    Kathy says, “Our idea was to stimulate economic development and to provide opportunities for people to experience terrific art and the wonderful Flint Hills landscape.”

On June 10, 2006, the organization will conduct its inaugural concert.  The 85 piece Kansas City Symphony, its 100 voice choir, and the Grammy-award winning Paul Winter Consort will perform in a beautiful, natural, rural setting at the Tallgrass Prairie Natural Preserve near Strong City.

A skeptic might ask, who would pay to sit out in a pasture and listen to a concert?  The answer is, thousands of people.  The concert was sold out more than two months in advance.  Some 5,000 tickets have been sold.  The Governor of Kansas will give greetings at the event.  Ticket buyers come from as far away as Alaska, Florida, California and Virginia.  Wow.

All these people will be convening in rural Chase County, population 3,033 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Participants will hear an original composition called “Grasslands: Prairie Voices” composed by Kansas native Eugene Friesen, a nationally-renowned cellist with the Paul Winter Consort.  Other events at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve include a prairie art auction at noon, followed by educational activities at the concert site.  There will be nature walks and a so-called petting zoo.  The zoo consists not of animals, but the musical instruments themselves.

The site of the concert is approximately a mile west over the ridge from the old stone barn at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve.  Concert goers can walk there over a wildflower trail or ride a flatbed shuttle with straw bale seating.  They can bring lawn chairs or blankets or rent a chair when they get there.

Kathy says, “The Kansas City Symphony has been great to work with. This has been a cooperative effort with the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy as well.  This is a wonderful way to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Tallgrass Prairie Natural Preserve.”

As mentioned, the 2006 event is already sold out.  It is absolutely full, so please don’t call for tickets.  But there are already plans for the 2007 event, which will be in Wabaunsee County.  For more information, go to www.symphonyintheflinthills.org.  That’s  www.symphonyintheflinthills.org.

Violins, cellos, trombones, clarinets, and even Gama grass.  They will all come together for the first annual Symphony in the Flint Hills.  We commend Event Coordinator Emily Hunter, Kathy Miller and the Board of Directors of Symphony in the Flint Hills for making a difference with their creative initiative.  It demonstrates that when rural people are willing to dream big and work hard, they can make beautiful music together.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Teresa Slough - Equestrian

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Today we’ll go to the National Championships.  The competition is heated, as teams compete to become number one.  Let’s meet two of the key players.  One is a college senior, a young woman just over five feet tall.  The other one weighs in at one thousand, two hundred pounds.  Wow, that one is as big as a horse - and the reason is, it is a horse.  This is a national competition for collegiate equestrian teams.  Some of the best of these riders come from rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Teresa Slough, coach of K-State’s Equestrian team.  Equestrian is a horsemanship competition where the performance of the rider is evaluated.  Essentially, it is horseback riding as a highly trained science.

K-State adopted Equestrian as in intercollegiate sport in 2000, when the athletic department wanted and needed to provide more opportunities for women.  Several women’s sports were considered but Equestrian was chosen – which seems like a great fit for the state of Kansas.  The person who was hired as K-State’s first equestrian coach was Teresa Slough.

Teresa’s interest in horses came early in life.  She grew up on a ranch in Cheyenne County.  Teresa says with a smile, “When I was the ripe age of four, my mom gave me the choice of dance lessons or a horse...”  The horse won out, and sparked a lifelong interest and commitment to the equine industry.  Teresa was active and successful in showing horses as a 4-Her.

When Teresa came to K-State, she helped out with an intercollegiate horse show team that had been organized as a club sport.  A year later, she became the first official coach when equestrian was adopted by the athletic department.  She went to Colorado State to work on her Ph.D. and then rejoined K-State as head equestrian coach in 2004.

Teresa explains that there are two types of equestrian competition: Western and English, sometimes called hunt seat.  Western competition involves use of cowboy-type saddles and rider attire, while English uses those flat, lightweight saddles and high boots, breeches, jacket, and jumping helmet for the rider.

In the western competition, the rider competes in horsemanship or reining, which involves riding a horse in a particular pattern with various stops and turns.  In English, the rider is judged in equitation, sometimes over fences where the horse jumps over barricades of various heights.  But in both cases, here’s the catch: The rider doesn’t get to ride her own horse.

When these teams go to a competition, they draw from among a set of unfamiliar horses which they are then supposed to ride.  Unlike a horse show or sale where the horse is evaluated, at these competitions what is evaluated is the rider.

Teresa says, “All the judging is based on the rider’s ability to communicate and control the horse.”  Those who are most effective at riding and controlling an unfamiliar horse are those who rank most highly.

This has created the opportunity for lots of young women - even beginners - to learn, upgrade, and showcase their equine skills.  Nationwide, more than 300 colleges have equestrian clubs.  Twentyfour have equestrian as a varsity sport.  The Big 12 has more of those than any other major conference.

Some 70 women are part of the K-State team.  They come from both urban and rural backgrounds and 32 different majors.  Two-thirds are from Kansas, but 12 other states are also represented, from Maryland to Alaska, plus Australia.  Wow!  The Kansas girls come from places like Viola, population 212, and Netawaka, population 168.  Now, that’s rural.

These girls have had tremendous success, winning their region consistently and ranking in the top seven nationally as a team and scoring national championships individually.  Now Teresa is involved with fundraising for a new K-State EquiCenter, which would be a wonderful academic facility and arena for equine education.

It’s time to leave the National Championships, where women and horses are involved in intense competition.  We commend Teresa Slough and all the women involved with the sport of equestrian for making a difference with their commitment to being the best.  We wish them all a great ride.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Tiffany Sowa - Transcriptionist

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

The neurologist in Denver is examining a patient with a brain disorder.  She examines him very carefully and dictates her findings into a digital recorder.  The report of her findings will go in a medical record, but that recording will not be transcribed in Denver.  Instead, thanks to the miracle of modern telecommunications, it is done in rural Kansas.  This is an example of what is possible in rural America, using the tools of modern technology.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Tiffany Sowa of Coldwater, Kansas.  Tiffany grew up at Coldwater, which is in Comanche County.  Comanche County is a rural county on the southern border of the state.  Coldwater is about 125 miles west of Wichita and about 75 miles southeast of Dodge City.

Tiffany went to college at Lindsborg and then moved to Denver, where she lived for 12 years.  Her husband is a carpenter.

Tiffany was working for a corporation in Denver when their children were born, but she wasn’t happy with the day care situations she found.  So she started looking for a kind of work which she could do from her home.  She found a woman who did medical transcriptionist work from home, where she would transcribe the recorded audio reports of various doctors.

This work intrigued Tiffany, both in terms of the flexibility of the hours and the nature of the work.  Tiffany’s family happens to be quite involved with the medical profession.  For example, her grandfather was a hospital administrator, her father is a hospital lab technician, her brother is an EMS captain, and her mother has been receptionist at the local medical clinic for 27 years.  Yes, that’s a lot of family experience in the medical profession.
        
So Tiffany learned how to do medical transcription and found she was quite good at it.  As their children grew, she and her husband decided to make the move back to her home in Coldwater, where she now serves on the city council.  Tiffany says with pride that their son and daughter will be the sixth generation of her family to live in Comanche County.

For me, the exciting part is that Tiffany is continuing and expanding her medical transcription business in rural Kansas.  She works independently with her original client in Denver and does transcription for a service in Missouri as well.

The beauty of this job is that the files are transmitted electronically, so it doesn’t matter if the transcriptionist is two doors down the hall or halfway across the country.  And Tiffany likes it because she can work from home, on her own schedule more or less, and her earnings are dependent on how much she wants to work.  That flexibility while maintaining a source of income is very important to young families.  Tiffany says with a laugh, “I don’t think I’m employable in an office any more.”

As mentioned, the information is transmitted electronically.  The doctors report their patient information by speaking into a digital recorder.  Those files are emailed to Tiffany, who has a wireless Internet connection, digital voice playing software, and a wave pedal which connects to her computer and controls the speed of the playback.  She transcribes the reports and emails them back to the physician’s office for filing and retrieval.

I asked Tiffany about the advantages and disadvantages of doing this from a small town, and she said, “I think it’s an advantage to do this in a small town like Coldwater, where the people enjoy a good quality of life.”

How exciting that these vital medical files from doctors’ offices in Denver and Kansas City are developed by way of rural Kansas, in the town of Coldwater, population 789 people.  Now, that’s rural.  Tiffany is also helping share this concept with others. In fall 2006, she will be teaching an on-line class on medical transcription through Cowley College.

It’s time to leave our Denver neurologist, whose medical reports are going to Coldwater, Kansas for transcription.  We commend Tiffany Sowa for making a difference with her entrepreneurial approach to technology and her commitment to family.  Altogether, it makes for a healthy prescription for rural Kansas.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Tim Dugan - Ground Source Inc.

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

What crop do you get from your ground?  Wheat?  Corn?  What about energy?   Now it is possible to harvest the energy from around your home.  I’m not just referring to producing ethanol from corn, I’m talking about using the ground itself as a source of energy to heat or cool a house.  Such heating and cooling systems are called geothermal and are growing in popularity.  We’ll learn about a Kansas company which is a leader in installing geothermal energy systems on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Tim Dugan, owner of Ground Source Inc. in Holton, Kansas.  Ground Source Inc. is the innovative company which has become a leading installer of geothermal systems.  The company’s first geothermal system was in rural Kansas.

Tim Dugan’s father Bill was the founder of this company.  Bill is an electrician.  He began a wiring and plumbing business called Bill’s Electric.  Tim assisted his father and eventually moved into the business himself.

Through the years the Dugans sold lots of traditional heat pumps for houses, but they became intrigued by the new type of heat pumps called geothermal.  Essentially, geothermal systems use pipes buried in the ground to transfer the energy to heat or cool a house.  These are sometimes called ground source systems, because the ground itself is the source of the energy.

In the summer, for example, heat from a house is transferred to a special water mix in a pipe which goes underground outside the house, and the water is then cooled by the earth’s temperature as it circulates.  In the winter, the process is reversed.  Fluid in these underground pipes is heated by the earth’s temperature, which is transferred to the geothermal unit which then heats the house.  The system uses a closed loop, so the water is constantly reused and does not enter the environment.

The Dugans recognized that geothermal systems have many benefits.  The higher upfront costs of installation are usually offset with lower electric bills within three to five years.  Many homeowners realize savings of up to 60 percent on their heating and cooling bill.  The systems are quiet, environmentally friendly, and don’t utilize scarce fossil fuels.

In 1991, the Dugans tried to sell geothermal systems, but people were unwilling to give up conventional furnaces and air conditioners.  Tim Dugan says, “We tried for a year to sell a geothermal system.”

Then they encountered a dairy farmer named Dale Bodenhausen.  Dale had learned about geothermal systems while serving on a rural electric cooperative board of directors and was interested in trying one.  They got together, and the Dugan’s first geothermal system was installed in a rural setting on the Bodenhausen farm near Muscotah, Kansas.

Muscotah is a town of 222 people.  Now, that’s rural.

The system worked so well and saved so much in energy bills that the Dugans were encouraged to do more.  As the business grew, the company was eventually renamed Ground Source Inc.

Today, about 90 percent of the company’s work is in heating and air conditioning, with about 70 percent of that being geothermal.  Ground Source Inc. has installed some 350 geothermal systems in northeast Kansas, from Marysville to Baldwin and from Chapman to White Cloud.  Much of their business is in and around Manhattan, Topeka, and Lawrence, where they are members of the home builders associations.

Geothermal continues to grow.  Nationally, about half a million geothermal systems have been installed since 1980.  The potential for energy savings remains great.  Current geothermal units are estimated to save more than 14 million barrels of crude oil a year.  If one in 12 California homes installed a geothermal system, the energy saved would equal the output of nine new power plants.  Wow.

So what crop do you get from your ground?  How about energy?  Now you can harvest not just wheat or corn, but the natural energy to heat or cool a home.  We commend Bill and Tim Dugan and the people of Ground Source Inc. for making a difference with their innovation and benefit to the environment.  They are entrepreneurs from the ground up, and they are helping bring energy solutions down to earth.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Tim Iwig Dairy

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Care for a glass of milk?  Today we’ll meet a man who believes that milk tastes better when it comes in glass.  He’s proving that belief by bringing bottled milk to consumers in northeast Kansas.  In doing so, he’s not only expanding markets for the milk he produces in a rural setting, he’s getting back to his family’s roots from a half-century ago.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Tim and Laurel Iwig, owners of Iwig Family Dairy near Tecumseh, Kansas, a town of perhaps 250 people.  Now, that’s rural.  But this area is growing because it is close to Topeka.  That growing population represents a market opportunity for someone with the vision to see it, and Tim has seen it.

Our story begins with Tim’s ancestors.  William and Mary Iwig moved to the current farm location where they began farming in 1910.  They also raised seven children.

By the 1930s, the Iwigs were milking cows and bottling it for delivery.  Interestingly, the family owned the rights to the name Sunkist at the time.  Sounds like orange drink today, but in those days that was the trade name for the Iwig family milk which they delivered to local hospitals and homes.  The milk bottling business continued until 1951.

Of those seven Iwig children, the youngest was named Warren.  He and his wife Nora still live on the family farm.  Their son Tim is now the third generation in the business.

After attending K-State, Tim came back to the farm and started a dairy herd of his own in 1983.  As Tim worked to add value to his milk production, he decided to try bottling and marketing the milk in the classic glass bottles.  He did research, gathered equipment, and worked on retail outlets.  Plans were progressing and he thought he had a major grocery chain lined up to sell his milk.

Then a few weeks before they were to start, the chain representative called to say they were turning them down.  Wow.  Tim says, “We were one month from starting and had no place to go with this milk.”

So he called around to the independent groceries in the small towns around Topeka, and fortunately most of those agreed to try the milk.  Then at the last minute, the chain came in and decided to carry his milk too.

In October 2005, the Iwig Family Dairy began processing and bottling milk.  Tim and Laurel’s son and daughters are the fourth generation in the business.  Many youth from their church help out as well.

Today the Iwig bottled milk is available direct from the farm or in Price Chopper, Food 4 Less, and independent groceries around Topeka.

The milk is produced, processed, and bottled right there on the Iwig farm near Tecumseh, so it arrives three to five days fresher than other milk in Topeka stores. Tim calls it Milk as it was Meant to Be - Pure, Natural, Fresh, and Delicious.  It is free of injectable hormones and antibiotics.  The milk comes in returnable glass bottles.

So why glass?  Tim says that milk stays colder and retains its natural flavor better in glass, rather than picking up the taste of the plastic containers.  Also, glass is returnable and does not fill up landfills while depleting natural resources as does plastic.  The Iwigs use a vat pasteurizer which also helps the flavor.

And what is the result?  Consumers like this premium product.  Tim tells of one store manager who called him while Tim was milking.  The manager said, “How much milk did we order last week?”  Tim said, “I don’t know, I’m out in the barn.” The manager said, “Well, whatever it was last week, double it.”

Extension agent Dean Davis says, “Tim is a hard worker and he has found his niche.  And they are a wonderful family.”

Care for a glass of milk?  Today we’ve met a family which can provide that milk in genuine glass.  We salute Tim and Laurel Iwig and all the family for making a difference with their hard work, entrepreneurship, and commitment to quality.  This family will provide milk in glass with a lot of care.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Tim McGonagle - kansasprepfootball.com

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

“What’s the score?”  That’s an important question to football teams and their fans all across rural America, as communities gather under Friday night lights to see their local boys compete.  The high school football team is a rallying point for schools and communities.  Today we’ll meet a Kansan who is passionate about high school football, and who has found a high-tech way to share that passion with others.  Put on your pads, it’s a high school football edition of Kansas Profile.

Huddle up with Tim McGonagle, founder and operator of a website about high school football. Here is his story.

Tim grew up at Scott City, Kansas.  He enjoyed high school sports, especially football, where he became an all-league wide receiver.  Tim got a degree from K-State in horticulture and eventually returned to the family greenhouse business which he runs today.  He’s a strong supporter of his hometown football team.

Years ago, he was doing a gardening show on the local radio station for his greenhouse business when that station hired a new young man from out of town to do the sports broadcasts.  Since the sportscaster was new, the station manager asked Tim to drive this young man to the ballgames and be the color guy.  Tim did so and found he really enjoyed it.  Tim is still broadcasting Scott City sports, and that was 18 years ago.

Tim continues to do both play by play and color for both football and basketball in Scott City.  He became fascinated by Kansas football at the prep school level.

Tim is a committed family man also.  His wife, a nurse, grew up in Texas, and they have three daughters.

When their oldest daughter was going into the seventh grade in 1999, they decided it was time to buy a home computer for her get homework assignments.  As Tim was trying out the computer and surfing for information, he found there wasn’t much online about his favorite subject: Kansas high school football.

Tim says, “We have relatives in Texas, and they have all kinds of information about their high school football teams, big websites and everything.”  He wished they had something like that in Kansas, so he finally set out to create it himself.

He bought a domain name and hired a young woman to design a website about Kansas high school football.  In January 2003, the website went online.  It is www.kansasprepfootball.com.

For his website, Tim would gather scores each weekend.  He listed schedules and rankings and added photos when he could get them.  The website continues to grow.

When he and his wife travel, they often stop by the football stadiums in the towns they visit.  Tim says, “My wife likes to take pictures and I like to visit football fields.”  Now the website has several of those photos, showing mascots and stadiums from Kansas towns large and small.  It even includes rural places such as Claflin, population 691, and Bison, population 229 people.  Now, that’s rural.

The website has become a central place for information for Kansas high school football coaches, fans and the media.  Some of those fans are far away.  His website features testimonials from people all over Kansas and as far away as Texas, Florida, and even China.  Wow.

Tim says, “When we started, I would be ecstatic if I got 10 hits a day.  But during the last football season, I was getting a thousand hits a day, and during the playoffs I got 1,500 hits a day.”  Tim says, “I appreciate my local team, because the kid who’s playing is the same kid who carries out my groceries and who mows my lawn, and whose dad I played with. Nothing brings a small community together like high school football.”

So what’s the score?  We can now find those Kansas high school football scores by going to www.kansasprepfootball.com.  We congratulate Tim McGonagle for making a difference by initiating this website and supporting high school football in Kansas.  It can help rural Kansas to score big.

And there’s more.  This website has spawned a magazine, and we’ll hear about that on our next program.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Warren Redden TRG

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Let’s go to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.  Some new security features are being added to the housing facilities where U.S. Marines are staying there.  The windows are being equipped with some new security bars that include a quick release device for emergency exits.  And where do you suppose this innovative device came from?  Would you believe, a converted farm building in the middle of Kansas?  That building is the source of a remarkable array of equipment, plus something else you might find there: In addition to the computer-controlled engineering equipment, you just might hear some saxophone music.  I’ll explain on today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Warren and Vivian Redden.  Warren is the founder of a company called TRG, which has created these new security bars and many other products.  Here is the story.

For some 30 years, Warren and his brothers farmed with their father southeast of Salina.  The family worked hard and used their skills to build their own buildings and design their own farm equipment when necessary.

But during the hard times of the 1980s, the family sought other income.  Warren went to work for an electronics firm in Salina and later joined Exide as a project engineer.  He designed and built various machines and equipment for the company.  He found he had a gift.

When the manager at Exide changed jobs, he told Warren, “I really like what you do.  Would you consider going out on your own and building machines for me in my new job?”

In 1992, Warren did just that.  He created his own company which they called The Redden Group.  Vivian points out that they used the family name because they wanted it to be a family business, which it certainly is.  Vivian and Warren work in the business, along with their son Carl, a K-State-Salina graduate.  The Redden Group was shortened to TRG, as the company is known today.

They converted a shop building on the farmstead to be the company headquarters.  As the business expanded, they converted a nearby former chickenhouse as well.

TRG is a remarkable firm.  The company designs, engineers, and produces various types of mechanical and electrical devices for a variety of uses and does high quality metal working and fabricating.  Building on Warren’s experience in the auto battery plant, one of his first projects was to build a piece of equipment for motorcycle battery production.  This was not a simple project.  It includes 56 microprocessors reporting back to a programmable logic controller.

A current project is a range fire terminator, which is a truck-mounted, remote controlled water nozzle which can direct a stream of water in a nearly 360 degree range at various angles with programmable settings.  It’s controlled by a joystick mounted in the truck cab.  This was designed at the request of rural fire departments.

There is another device which measures auto frames and yet another which is a physical testing device for industrial and sports clients.

Some projects have gone far overseas, such as the fast exit security bars which I mentioned at the beginning.  Warren says, “The principle purpose is to save lives and provide protection.”  These have been endorsed by the U.S. State Department and have gone as far away as Brazil and Uzbekistan.  In one case, TRG built a line of equipment for a company in Jakarta, Indonesia.  Not bad for a rural company located on the farmstead near Gypsum, Kansas, population 409 people.  Now, that’s rural.

As mentioned before, the Reddens are also a musical family with a lifelong interest in the saxophone.  Warren and his brothers are excellent musicians themselves and have been known to practice in the shop.  They are planning a special concert in Salina on April 23 featuring a saxophone choir.  For more information on the concert or the company, contact them at 785-536-4348.

It’s time to leave Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where fast exit security bars are being installed all the way from rural Kansas.  We commend Warren and Vivian Redden, Carl and all the family for making a difference with their talents in engineering and business.  Their success in rural Kansas is music to my ears.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Wava and Kim Kramer - Longford Water

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Cool, clear water.  That sounds like an old western song, but it is also a resource in rural Kansas.  Today we’ll learn about an innovative rural community which is building on its water resource, and the benefits are flowing to our state.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Wava and Kim Kramer of Longford Water Company LLC in Longford, Kansas, population 92 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Towns that small often don’t have a lot to work with in economic development, so what asset could a town like Longford have to build on?  In this case, the answer was right under their nose – or perhaps under their feet:  It was their underground water.

Longford has long been noted for good tasting, high quality water.  Years ago, communities used to compete at the Kansas State Fair on water quality, and water from Longford was a frequent winner.  In fact, an old highway sign near Longford advised, “For Good Health and Longevity Drink Longford Water, Kansas Purest.”

Groundwater from Longford is sweet, clean and soft because it is naturally filtered by a distinctive group of underground rocks known as the Kiowa Formation.  For example, many towns’ water would have an estimated hardness rating of 200 or 300.  Longford’s water is rated 43.  The water comes from the Kiowa and Dakota aquifers.

Wava and Kim Kramer ran the Coachlight Restaurant in Longford for 18 years.  Kim says, “A man from Wichita came into the restaurant and said, `You ought to start bottling and selling this water.’”

A group of local and regional leaders got together to research the possibility.  They created Longford Water Company LLC and devised a business plan for acquiring the water locally and bottling and selling it.  Wava and Kim Kramer are now managing the business.

In May 2005, the Longford Water Company had its grand opening.  Because the water comes from both the Kiowa and Dakota aquifers, the company’s brand name for the water is a combination: Kiowata.

Kiowata comes in 16 ounce bottles, 20 ounce bottles, or one gallon jugs.  The containers are delivered to local stores or are available at the plant, or can be shipped to individual customers.  Individuals are buying Kiowata from as far away as Yoder and Hays.  In fact, a lady in Dallas, Texas has discovered this water and is buying it a partial pallet at a time.  Wow.

When emergency supplies were being shipped to the gulf coast after Hurricane Katrina, a supply of Kiowata water bottles were delivered as well.  Now Longford is getting calls from the east coast, from relief workers who came from there and who enjoyed Kiowata while working at the gulf.

Longford Water Company also will private label bottles of water.  In other words, Wava Kramer will design, produce, and apply a customized label on these bottles of high quality water.  Then the owner of the private label can sell the water or use it as a business giveaway.

This has proven to be a fast growing enterprise.  Among the many businesses which have chosen to put their labels on bottles of this water are banks, grain elevators, rural electric cooperatives, auction companies, seed companies and more.  Private labels have also been produced for non-profit groups such as churches, schools, and even wedding parties.  Bottles have been sold as club fundraisers and handed out to rural fire departments and at marathons.

More information is available at www.longfordwater.com.  Wava Kramer says, “Longford water has been long known as nature’s finest gift to Kansas.  Another gift is that the process of creating Longford Water Company has brought our community together. Our town is small in size but big in spirit.”

Cool, clear water.  It’s something we probably take for granted, but these entrepreneurs in rural Kansas recognized that it could be an asset on which to build.  So we commend Wava and Kim Kramer and all those involved with Longford Water Company LLC for making a difference with their creativity and entrepreneurship.  It is an ingenious way to promote a very rural community and to utilize an, um, untapped resource.  Now rural Kansas can drink in the benefits.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Marlies Gipson, JoAnn Hamlin, Shalee Lehning

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.

Teamwork.  It’s one of the fundamental lessons of sports.  Team members learn to work together and help each other.  But sometimes we forget about the teamwork that exists between a team itself and the community that supports it.  Today we’ll meet three young women athletes who represent the best of teamwork and community.  Stay tuned for a small-town women’s basketball edition of Kansas Profile.

Kansas has a tradition of outstanding young women basketball players from the small towns that dot this state.  Jackie Stiles, Nicole Ohlde, Kendra Wecker, and Laurie Koehn are some who come to mind.

Today, let’s meet a new crop of up-and-coming young women athletes who are already making their mark on the big time college scene.  These three true freshmen are starting for the K-State women’s basketball team, and they hail from rural Kansas.  I asked them about the significance of sports in the small towns of our state.

Marlies Gipson comes from McPherson, Kansas.  Her mother works at a school there and her father is an electrician.  Marlies says, “McPherson is a basketball town.  There is awesome support, and the people are always there to support you.”

JoAnn Hamlin is another freshman who is starting at center for the Wildcats.  She graduated from Winfield High School, but she grew up on a ranch north of there.  In fact, she had to drive 30 minutes to get to Winfield.  Her home place is closer to Douglass, population 1,801 people.

JoAnn says, “I’m a big country girl.  My dad owns a ranch and we worked on the ranch during the summers before I started playing so much basketball.”  Maybe that’s the reason that rural Kansas produces so many good basketball players: It’s easier to play basketball than to work on the farm.  Or at least it’s more visible, if not more profitable.

The third Kansas freshman is Shalee Lehning, a point guard from Sublette in southwest Kansas.  Her mom teaches computing and her dad is a superintendent with a natural gas company there.  Sublette is a town of 1,583 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Shalee says, “I love the small town atmosphere.  There were 36 kids in my graduating class.  Sports is a way of life out there, and everybody’s knowledgeable.  The whole community gets involved.”

When the Sublette girl’s basketball team was competing in the state championship game, some eight or nine hundred fans made the 278 mile trip to support them.  That’s literally more than half the town.  Shalee says, “During those games, they would shut down the stores back home.”

These Kansas girls have found a kinship.  They played together on the Kansas Belles, an AAU team for girls 19 and younger, and then came to K-State where their small-town values are still important to them.

JoAnn Hamlin says, “Manhattan is a college town but not too big.  It still has a community feel to it.”  Marlies Gipson says, “This feels like a home away from home. The community support is awesome, it was a major factor in wanting to come here.”  That support is demonstrated by the fact that K-State’s women’s basketball was in the top 8 nationally in fan attendance.

When asked about becoming the next generation of Kansas sports heroes, succeeding Ohlde, Wecker, and Koehn, the girls are humble yet confident.  Marlies Gipson says, “I looked up to them a lot.  We’re not going to replace them, but we’ll make our own way.” Shalee Lehning says, “There’ll never be another Ohlde, Wecker or Koehn, but we want to build our own identity.”

And when asked about the highlights of their young collegiate careers, they don’t cite their record-setting individual performances, but rather they speak of the team’s key wins.

Teamwork.  It’s a fundamental lesson of sports.  These team members have learned the value of helping each other.  They also understand the special teamwork which can exist between a team and its community.  We salute Marlies Gipson, JoAnn Hamlin, Shalee Lehning, and other smalltown athletes for making a difference with the outstanding way in which they represent their schools and communities.  It’s good to see them on the same team.

For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.