Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
2008 Profiles

Don Hullman – Dodge City Beef


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Andrew Miller and Bret Mangan

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
    
Sirens scream in the distance as the ambulance dashes to a stop between the two battered vehicles.  A drunk driver has taken the life of two young passengers.  It’s a scene all too familiar to police, fire, and emergency personnel, but in this case, it is not real.  This is a simulation of a drunk driving accident scene.  But it wasn’t created by some Hollywood film company or an agency in Washington, it was initiated by two high school seniors in rural Kansas.  Buckle your seat belt, it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
    
Meet Andrew Miller and Bret Mangan, spring 2008 graduates of Greeley County High School in Tribune, Kansas.  They are the creators of this remarkable project.
    
Andrew and Bret are both interested in health care careers.  They were in a school-sponsored workstudy program at Greeley County Health Services and went through training as emergency medical technicians or EMTs.  A speaker from the Finney County EMS was giving a talk at their school.  It inspired these two young men to come up with the idea of a video simulation of a drunk driving crash.
    
They ran the concept by their school principal, Mr. Bockwinkel, who vetoed it for being too graphic.  But after they refined the idea into a more specific plan, he encouraged them to go forward.  After months of work and high cooperation from many local entities, the plan went into action.
    
Bret says, “We’ve had tremendous support here.”  The police department donated two impounded vehicles which were battered to simulate the accident.  A field at the high school was painted with lines and used as the accident scene.  The school donated five video cameras to do the filming.  Andrew and Bret used the school’s computers and video editing software to produce the final product.
    
On October 24, 2007, the filming took place.  The entire student body was brought to the bleachers at the football stadium where vehicles blocked the mock accident scene from view.  A narrator said, “Close your eyes and imagine it is a typical school day.  You are at the convenience store getting a snack when you hear a large crash outside.”
    
As the narrator spoke, the vehicles which blocked the view were moved.  Then the narrator told the students to open their eyes, and what they saw was two battered vehicles and five bloody crash victims.
    
Andrew and Bret had arranged all this with the emergency response units in advance, and it worked like clockwork.  A call was made to the Sheriff’s department which paged all the relevant departments.  Police, firefighters and EMTs hurried to the scene and tended to the victims.  The audio and video were captured electronically and packaged into a compelling fifteen minute video production on DVD.
    
This show is not for the squeamish.  Student volunteers used moulage to simulate the blood.
    
And what was the student’s reaction?  Bret says, “Have you ever tried to keep a bunch of teenagers quiet for 45 minutes?  We had them in complete silence.”  Andrew says, “We never thought it would turn out as well as it did.”
    
What about the cost of this high quality production?  Bret says, “We didn’t spend a dime.  Everything we used was loaned or donated.”  That’s a sign of total community support, which one can find in a rural community like Tribune, population 814 people.  Now, that’s rural.
    
This production is so outstanding that it has been presented to the Kansas Board of EMS and the Governor’s Advisory Council on Trauma.  Andrew and Bret are headed to college, but they would like to find funds to contract with a professional company for commercial production and distribution.  Andrew says, “When people tell you how this video touched them emotionally, it’s powerful.”

The ambulance drives to the hospital as technicians clean up the crash scene.  It’s the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, but this mock accident has been captured on film and is serving as a compelling reminder not to drink and drive.  We salute Andrew Miller and Bret Mangan for making a difference with their creative initiative.  Their video can help others to drive safely and arrive alive.
    
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Andy Schuler Jr.


This is Kansas Profile.  I’m Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
 Better livestock:  A worthy goal for farmers and ranchers.  Today we’ll meet a livestock operation which has not only worked to improve its own livestock, for decades it supported an educational event called Better Livestock Day.  In fact, it first hosted the event in 1926.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
 Meet Andy Schuler Jr. of the Fairview Angus Farm.  His family has been promoting better livestock for generations.
 The Schuler family has deep roots in Kansas.  Andy’s grandfather migrated to the U.S. in 1870.  In 1873 he and his wife had a son they named Andrew Schuler.  They homesteaded near Chapman in 1875.  But when young Andy was only seven years old, his father perished in a flash flood.
 Andy started farming at age 14 and worked for a neighbor to make ends meet.  While doing chores for the neighbor he noticed that the Black Angus cattle grew better than the other cattle he was feeding, so he and his mother decided to raise Angus.
 Andy Sr. worked through the years to get his finances in order.  In 1898 he started Fairview Angus Farm on the land homesteaded by his parents,  raising Angus, registering them, improving them, and selling breeding stock.  
 Schuler Angus came to be highly regarded.  His cattle topped the market in Kansas City for 5 consecutive years.  In 1926, he showed both the champion bull and the champion female at the Kansas State Fair.  Wow!
 In 1924, Andy Sr. and his wife had a son named Andy Jr.   As a boy, he did everything with his dad, including going to Feeder’s Day at K-State when he was just seven years old.  Andy Jr. remembers seeing pictures hanging in Weber Hall honoring pioneer cattle breeders.  Andy Sr. was selected to join that Wall of Fame in 1957.  
Andy Jr. took the herd on the show circuit with great success.  For five straight years, he had the grand champion heifer at the Kansas State Fair.   A great granddaughter of one of his 4-H heifers later became an International Grand  Champion.
Because so many school groups wanted to practice judging, cattle breeders in the area created an annual exhibition and judging contest to promote high quality livestock.  Called Better Livestock Day, it started in 1926 and continued for 60 years.  It was held at various farms, including Fairview Angus Farm, and in later years at local fairgrounds.  By the mid-1950’s, the event attracted some 2000 people annually.  More than 100,000 people attended the event over the years.  
Andy Sr. passed away in 1963, but the Schulers continued to expand the business.   They’ve shipped cattle from Virginia to Oregon and internationally, all from their rural location near Chapman, population 1233 people.  Now, that’s rural.
At age 34, Andy Jr. became President of the Kansas Angus Association.  In 1959, he was elected to the Board of Directors for the American Angus Association.  The Schulers were recognized as Master Farmer and Master Farm Homemaker, Century Farm, Centennial Angus Farm and more.
The eight Schuler children are all life-time members of the American Angus Association and all graduated from K-State.  They say their family bleeds purple.Andy’s wife passed away in 1993, but he still operates the farm and business at age 84.   His clients return regularly for a new herd bull or a 4-H calf.  The Schulers have been selling to some families for four generations.  Fairview Angus Farm is thought to be the oldest continuously family-owned registered Angus herd in Kansas and one of the oldest in the nation.
 Remember those pictures Andy saw hanging in Weber Hall as a boy?  Now he has joined them on the Wall of Fame.  In 2007 he was selected the Block and Bridle Outstanding Stockman.  He and his father are one of only two father-son pairs to share this honor.
Better Livestock.  Not only has this been a goal of the Schuler family, it was the name of the event the Schulers helped conduct for generations.  We commend Andy Schuler Jr. and his family for making a difference with their lifelong commitment to the improvement of the beef industry.  Their work has helped make livestock better.
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.




Barbara Lilyhorn - Fairfield Area Partners

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Grab your Kansas map.  Let’s go to Fairfield today.  Okay, but when you open the map, you can’t seem to find a Fairfield.  There’s a Fairview and a Fairway, but no Fairfield.  That’s because Fairfield isn’t a town, it’s more of a concept.  Fairfield is the name of a region and a school district in western Reno County – and more than that, it’s home to a group of people who are working together to make their communities better.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Barbara Lilyhorn, Director of K-State Research and Extension - Reno County.  Barbara explains that Fairfield area residents were concerned about their gradual but certain population loss which many rural areas face.
   
At a Community Development Academy in 2007, Ron Hirst of the Reno County Quest Center for Entrepreneurs heard people from Cowley County describe their regional ABCDE Coalition.  He wondered if such a concept could be applied in western Reno County.  Ron approached the Kansas PRIDE Program and K-State Research and Extension - Reno County, and both programs wanted to help.
   
Encouraged by their support, Hirst began visiting city council meetings to introduce the concept of developing a Fairfield Area Partnership.  Each community could bring their expertise and knowledge and improve the entire area through pooled resources.
   
In November 2007, a community forum was held at Fairfield High School. More than 80 citizens attended from all over the district.  At the beginning, participants were divided into their respective communities.  Then each community was placed in charge of one item essential to dinner, such as bowls, spoons, soup, beverage, crackers, glasses, and coffee or tea.  Each community could then decide to share, barter, or sell their item.  Creative collaboration resulted and, importantly, everybody got fed. That’s a powerful demonstration of the benefits of collaboration right there.
   
Participants heard several speakers and then took a community survey.  In February a subsequent meeting featured the survey results, which identified several assets in these communities.  Friendly, caring people, strong core values, small schools with good education system in place, good accessibility to other markets and the desire to improve topped the result list.
   
Then Ron Hirst and Barbara Lilyhorn facilitated a process of voting where participants could identify their top priorities.  Another meeting brought resources to address those top issues, and participants agreed to join the PRIDE Program as a single entity: Fairfield Area Partners.  This is unusual because the PRIDE Program typically works with individual towns, but in this case, it made sense for these communities to come together as a region.
   
Fairfield Area Partners represents a rural region of the state.  Its territory includes six incorporated towns: The cities of Arlington, population 452; Turon, population 432;  Sylvia, population 295;  Abbyville, population 127; Plevna, population 98; and  Langdon, population 71.  Now, that’s rural.
   
It’s logical for such rural communities to work together on key issues.  They have both shared issues and individual strengths.  Abbyville hosts an annual PRCA rodeo.  Sylvia is nationally known for its waterfowl and good hunting.  Turon has monthly community dinners with entertainment.  Arlington conducts a yearly garage sale and city-wide cleanup.  Langdon is near the senior high and middle school. Plevna has a historic bank that is used as City Hall.
   
Together, they can promote each other’s assets while working on shared needs.  Barbara Lilyhorn successfully applied for a min-grant from the Huck Boyd Institute’s Rural Engagement and Action Leadership Project to support this effort.  The REAL Project was funded by K-State’s Center for Engagement and Community Development.
   
Now these communities are working on recruitment of young families, promoting the special events and attractions in the various communities, seeking funding, and working to upgrade Internet access for the area.

So fold up your Kansas map, it’s time to leave Fairfield.  No, it’s not a dot on the map, but it is a region where people are collaborating for the benefit of all their communities.  We commend Ron Hirst, Barbara Lilyhorn, and all those involved with Fairfield Area Partners for making a difference with their collaborative efforts.  By taking such a fair view of their shared opportunities, I think they’ll go a fair way.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 


  Becky Sullivan and Morgan Parker

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
    
What are the odds?  What are the chances that, out of 500,000 FFA members nationally, a student from Kansas would be elected one of the six national FFA officers?  Mathematically, it’s a small probability.  Since no state can have more than one candidate, the odds must be even smaller that in a single year, two of the six national FFA officers would come from the same university.  In fact, we believe it has never happened before – until October 27, 2007.  On that day the new national FFA officers were elected and not one but two came from Kansas State University.  It’s another in our series on national ag leaders from the state of Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
    
Meet Becky Sullivan and Morgan Parker, students in the College of Agriculture at K-State.  Becky and Morgan were elected national FFA officers in October 2007.  Special thanks to K-State Agriculturist magazine writer Allison Crook, whose article about Morgan and Becky  provided a source for this profile.
    
Becky and Morgan took two different paths to become national FFA officers.  Becky grew up in eastern Kansas.  She is a member of the Spring Hill FFA Chapter.  Her family’s mailing address is Paola but they actually live near the rural community of Hillsdale, Kansas, with an estimated population of about 200 people.  Now, that’s rural.
    
Becky was active in FFA contests and activities.  Her supervised agricultural experience program consisted of small animal production, specifically rabbits.  Becky raised rabbits and showed them all over the country.  In October 2007, she was elected National FFA Secretary.
    
Morgan Parker’s supervised agricultural experience program was more grounded in larger-scale production agriculture, as his family operates a farm supply business in eastern Colorado.  However, when he came to high school in Limon, Colorado, there was no ag education program in which to take classes.  So Morgan worked with his local principal, surveyed student interests and helped create a new ag program and FFA chapter in his school.  That’s kind of like building your own racetrack and then winning the race.
    
Morgan served as a state FFA officer in Colorado and chose to attend K-State for college.  In October 2007, he was elected National FFA Vice-President for the Central Region.
    
In the coming year, both K-Staters will travel thousands of miles to visit FFA chapters, attend conferences and workshops, and go overseas.
    
To prepare for the rigorous interview process to become a national FFA officer, both Becky and Morgan asked other K-State students to serve as coaches.  Their friends and coaches put them through several rounds of practice interviews, workshops, and presentations.
    
Both officers credit their family, friends, teachers, and coaches with helping them achieve their goal.  Morgan says, “I have a huge cheering section.”  Becky says, “I have so many supporters.  I am so lucky.”  They also credit their active involvement with K-State’s College of Agriculture.  Becky says, “I think if I hadn’t come to K-State, I wouldn’t be as involved.”
    
And they helped each other.  Becky says, “It almost felt like we were K-State teammates.  Now we are FFA teammates.”
    
K-State President Jon Wefald says, “Only six young men or women are elected as National FFA Officers each year, so for a university to produce one national officer in a year is a tremendous achievement.  Yet in 2007, the K-State College of Agriculture produced two of the six national officers.  This is like hitting two home runs in your first two major league at-bats.  Having two national FFA officers from the same university in a single year is unprecedented, and it reflects the legacy of excellent leadership from Kansas State University and its College of Agriculture.”

What are the odds?  Unlikely as it seems, two of this year’s six national FFA officers come from K-State.  We commend Becky Sullivan and Morgan Parker for leadership that is making a difference in the lives of students all across the nation.
    
And there’s more.  Up next is the conclusion of our series on national ag leaders from Kansas.  To find that person, I had to go no further than my own kitchen table.  We’ll learn about that next week.
    
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Brooke Blanck - IQ Academy

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“So what did you do in school today?” “Oh, I took a field trip to China.” If that doesn’t sound like a typical afterschool conversation, then be prepared for the world of online learning. Today we’ll learn about an innovative educational system through which students from across Kansas are linked with excellent teachers and an award-winning curriculum using cutting edge technology. It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Brooke Blanck, the director of IQ Academy Kansas. IQ Academy Kansas is a project of the Manhattan-Ogden school district.
   
Online education in Manhattan began six years ago by providing local students access to courses from home computers.  At first the program was focused on at-risk students, but as more students wanted to take online classes from various locations, the program expanded outside of Manhattan. Today it is known as IQ Academy Kansas.  It’s expanded its curriculum to meet the needs of a diverse student population. Students can take classes from anywhere they can access the Internet.
   
IQ Academy Kansas is an accredited online school for grades 7 through 12, offered tuition-free to Kansas residents. Classes are taught virtually, meaning that students receive a laptop computer which they use to access their classes via the Internet. Content is online.  Additional instruction and clarification are delivered through a weekly real-time online session.
   
This offers remarkable opportunities. For example, the online teacher in world history might have his or her students take a virtual field trip to China. Or students from diverse communities across the state might be assigned by email into teams to do a group
class project.
   
Class discussions happen through email, online discussion boards, and Elluminate, a real-time interactive virtual classroom.  Homework and exams are submitted electronically. Tech support is available 24-7. State assessment tests and state aid are the same as with students in brick-and-mortar schools.
   
The program offers an IQ Commons, where students can virtually meet and greet each other in a monitored, secure environment. Some students even organized an online faith-based fellowship group.  A virtual teachers’ lounge (I am not making this up) allows teachers to compare notes and share ideas. I can’t wait for the virtual football team.
   
Online learning has many benefits. Brooke says, “We can help students in rural areas get advanced classes that are not offered by their local schools. We have athletes or students who travel with their families who can take their laptops along and keep up with their classes. We
have home-schooled students and kids who need to be home for health reasons and those who have been bullied in the school building.”
   
Interestingly, students develop relationships based on their online comments, rather than appearances. Brooke says, “Our students are learning how to develop social relationships with one another without making superficial judgments.”
   
Beyond that, students are achieving academically. Students can take core classes plus such specialties as calculus, business law, world history, fine arts, computer programming, American literature and composition, and even foreign languages as diverse as Latin and
Mandarin Chinese. Wow.
   
When Brooke became director of the program in 2006, fewer than 40 students were enrolled. In the 2007-2008 school year, more than 150 students were enrolled from border to border in Kansas. IQ Academy students are found in Kansas City and Wichita, plus rural places such as Argonia, population 524; and Plevna, population 98 people. Now, that’s rural.
   
Teachers also like the flexibility of the online environment. All IQ teachers are licensed in Kansas, but they are based nationwide.  Brooke says, “We want to partner with school districts across the state to make sure students’ needs are met.” She says, “We can provide a variety of educational opportunities to students all across the state.”  More information is available at
www.iqacademykansas.org.

“So what did you do in school today?” “Oh, I took a field trip to China.” Only in virtual learning could students experience such opportunities in this way - and be home in time for lunch. We commend Brooke Blanck and all those involved with IQ Academy Kansas for making
a difference by using technology to extend educational opportunities to all students. Such efforts can help all of our students make the grade.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Chris Wilson - American Agri-Women

    This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.The kids gather around the young woman in the classroom.  But this woman isn’t their classroom teacher and today’s lesson isn’t about math or reading.  Instead, this woman is a member of American Agri-Women and she’s helping these kids learn about agriculture.  Today, in the conclusion of our series on national ag leaders from Kansas, we’ll learn about American Agri-Women and the Kansas woman who is slated to become President of this organization.  For me, it’s a story which is close to home – and I mean that literally.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.

Meet Chris Wilson.  Chris is slated to become the national President of American Agri-Women – called AAW for short – in 2009.  But for me, Chris already has a title that’s much more important:  Mom.  She happens to be my wife and the mother of our children.

Chris grew up on a farm in Illinois.  After college, she went to work as assistant to John Block, then Director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.  While there she encountered a group called Illinois Women for Agriculture.  Chris was impressed with the many projects which this group was working on to promote agriculture.  She learned that Illinois Women for Agriculture was affiliated with a similar organization at the national level called American Agri-Women.

In 1981, her boss was appointed to be the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.  Chris moved to Washington, became director of public liaison at USDA and worked directly with AAW.  Again, she was very impressed with AAW, and became active in the organization after we moved to Kansas.
Chris got her law degree at Washburn University and now represents several agricultural organizations, plus the Kansas Building Industry Association.

As of the end of 2009, Chris will begin a two year term as National President of American Agri-Women.  Chris says, “AAW is the national organization of farm, ranch, and agribusiness women.  Today, AAW has 54 state and commodity affiliate organizations plus individual members throughout the country, representing some 50,000 women involved in agriculture.”  These groups range from Oregon Women in Timber to Georgia Cotton Wives.

Many farm organizations are dominated by men, but the women have a special niche in consumer education.  Chris says, “Many of our members are ag producers, but we are also consumers, mothers, and grandmothers.  We can relate to consumers on issues of food safety, nutrition, and marketing.”

One of AAW’s greatest achievements was the creation of Ag in the Classroom, which is a national program helping teachers educate schoolchildren about agriculture.  AAW is actively involved in advocacy for agriculture on legislative and regulatory issues.  Each year AAW conducts an annual mid-year fly-in of members to Washington DC as well as an annual issues forum. The organization is now working on a food branding program called American Grown Goodness.  AAW also includes younger women, such as several collegiate chapters of agri-women and the Sigma Alpha sorority.

Chris will be the third Kansan to be President of AAW, along with Jeanne Mertz of rural Manhattan and Jean Pettibone of Kanorado.  Coincidentally, we now live on a farm just seven miles from the Mertz farm.  These farms are situated outside Manhattan near the rural community of Zeandale, population 21 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Chris says, “AAW facilitates networking among women involved in agriculture and provides excellent leadership development activities.”  For more information, go to www.americanagriwomen.org.

The day’s lesson is coming to an end, as the kids say goodbye to the woman who  has been teaching them about agriculture.  For example, she’s helped them understand that milk comes from a cow, not just from the store.  This woman is a member of American Agri-Women, which is doing such an excellent job to educate and connect producers and consumers.  We commend Chris Wilson and all the members of AAW for making a difference with their education and outreach.

And please forgive me for bragging on my wife.  The idea for this series began before Chris got elected to be national AAW president.  But nonetheless, we in Chris’ family are very proud of her achievements.  Just like a garden, we think the best ag leadership is home grown.
   
    For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

David Liefer - Synthetic Resources

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The sun shines upon the hayfield as the farmer bales the hay.  But suddenly the process comes to a stop as the farmer runs out of one essential element: The baling twine.  Twine is vital for baling hay, and it has also become a source of business for a remarkable rural company.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet David Liefer, owner of Synthetic Resources Inc. in Peabody, Kansas.  The first product sold by Synthetic Resources was baling twine.
   
The company began in1992, when David was farming and baling hay near Walton, Kansas.  A baler twine manufacturing company in Alabama contacted him to see if he wanted to buy twine.  David was interested, but when he learned they were selling the twine by the semiload, David figured he would pass.
   
But when he mentioned this to his father Allen, his dad said, “Well, maybe we could buy that whole load and then sell what we don’t need.”  So that’s what they did.  Allen went out to sell baling twine across Kansas, but he didn’t have much luck.
   
Finally, Allen said, “I’ll try it one more time and if it doesn’t work, we’ll give it up.”  So he made one more sales trip across Kansas.  Near Liberal he saw a farmer baling hay out in a field.  He stopped, got a ball of twine, and walked out in the field to show the farmer.  The farmer said, “If you’re willing to walk halfway across this field to show me this twine, I’ll buy some from you.”  The first sale was made and the company was launched.  David says, “That man is still a customer of ours today.”
   
Business grew over time.  Product offerings expanded to include netwrap, tarps, silage film, and other ag-related products.  In 1995, the company diversified to offer synthetic fiber used as an alternative to welded wire when laying concrete.  David says, “When we were going out to deliver baling twine, we were driving right by these ready mix plants out in the country.  They found they could use our synthetic fiber and it turned out to be a great fit.”
   
David and his wife bought the company from his father in 2000. Since all of the company’s products are synthetically manufactured from polypropylene, they named the business Synthetic Resources Inc.
   
As the business grew, David needed suppliers from overseas, although he uses netwrap from a new plant in Kansas.
   
The company’s primary trade area is the central plains, from Texas to the Dakotas and from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains.  Yet David also has customers as far away as Oregon and North Carolina.  Synthetic Resources Inc. sells its products both through a dealer network and through direct delivery to farm customers.
   
In 2000, the company had about $700,000 in sales.  Today, sales amount to six million dollars.  Wow.
   
David says, “The keys for us have been in building relationships, in superior product knowledge, and in going the extra mile for customer service.”  He says, “I farmed and put up hay for 20 years, so I know firsthand what my customers are going through.  If somebody is having a problem, we probably know the baler model or know what some other customer has done to fix the problem.”
   
That’s a benefit in coming from rural roots.  The company’s office is located in Peabody, population 1,379.  But as mentioned, David used to farm by the nearby town of Walton, population 287.  Now, that’s rural.
   
That rural background has proven invaluable in serving this company’s rural customers.  For more information, go to www.syntheticresources.com.

The sun is setting over the hayfield as the farmer finishes baling the last of the hay.  It’s a task which couldn’t be completed without good baling twine.  We salute David Liefer, Allen Liefer, and all the people of Synthetic Resources Inc. whose entrepreneurship and hard work are making a difference for their customers and their community.  Their twine not only helps keep the bales of hay together, it can help keep the rural economy together as well.
   
And there’s more.  Remember that new plant located in Kansas?  We’ll learn about that next week.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


  Derek Heinen - Axtell Lumber

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 wanted to have an extra storage shed or small barn in your backyard?  Have you ever wished that such a structure could magically appear right at your own place?   Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand that can make such a structure appear overnight.  However, there is a company based in rural Kansas which has a specialty of building such structures and delivering them direct to the customer’s doorstep. It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Derek Heinen, co-owner of Axtell Lumber in Axtell, Kansas.  Derek grew up and went to school here.  He studied drafting at the vocational-technical school at Atchison and worked for engineering firms in the Lawrence and Topeka area.
     
In Axtell, Derek’s sister Donna had gone to work for the local lumberyard back in 1976.  In 1998, the business was bought by Derek Heinen and his sister and brother-in-law, Donna and Tom Rottinghaus.
   
Today, Axtell Lumber is a full-service lumberyard, providing the building materials, supplies and services typically offered by a local lumberyard in a rural setting.
   
Derek Heinen says, “Axtell does well for a smaller community.  There is lots of new construction going on around here, and we have plenty of do-it-yourselfers.”
   
But Axtell Lumber has another specialty which is unusual and possibly unique in this area: Building and delivering portable animal shelters.  These are buildings of wood and tin which can serve as storage structures or housing for livestock or other animals.
   
This is no “flash in the pan” idea but has been a long term project of the business.  Derek says, “My sister says they’ve been building these buildings since before she started working here.  It’s a way to utilize our guys during the slow times.”
   
So when not engaged in other work at the lumberyard, a couple of men will custom build these structures.  Then the building will be hauled to the customer’s location and unloaded at the site which the customer chooses.
   
Derek says, “It’s like instant shelter.”  This would be a real service for someone who needs a small structure for pets and livestock but wouldn’t have time or equipment to build or haul it.  Axtell Lumber needs two to three weeks lead time or more to construct and deliver the buildings.
   
The buildings themselves are up to 10 feet wide and up to 24 feet long for hauling.  They can be open front sheds or partially enclosed, and some even have a sliding door.
   
Derek Heinen says, “Most contractors don’t want to do the smaller jobs like this.  And for somebody who doesn’t do this type of work every day, it would take them twice as long to build one so you’ve got a lot of labor in it.  For us, this is a good niche market.”
   
These sheds have been used to shelter dogs, cattle, horses, hogs, llamas, ostriches, and more.  Derek Heinen says, “Ten years ago, probably 75 percent of these would have been used for calves.  Today, probably 75 percent of them are used for horses.”
   
Axtell Lumber will haul and deliver these sheds within 150 miles of Axtell.  One shed has gone as far away as Yates Center.  People from Oklahoma have even come up and picked up some of their sheds.
   
In 2002, Derek and Tom opened a second store in Marysville called Hometown Lumber and Hardware.  They are also working on a housing development there.  Meanwhile, at Axtell, some 130 buildings a year are produced and delivered.  This means that all over northeast Kansas, one can find these animal shelters which came from the rural community of Axtell, population 439 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
How exciting that this rural business would find a niche in meeting this need.

Have you ever wanted to have an extra storage shed or small barn in your backyard?  Have you ever wished that such a structure could be delivered right to your doorstep?  Now you’ve found a company which can do so.  We salute Derek Heinen and Donna and Tom Rottinghaus for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and hard work.  They don’t just deliver the goods, they deliver the sheds.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Discover Phillips County

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 think you would discover if you explored northwest Kansas?   Today we’ll meet a group of people who are involved in discovery.  They’re not exploring a landscape, they’re helping others discover the benefits of their county in rural northwest Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
These volunteer citizens are steering committee members for a project known as Discover Phillips County.
   
It all began in fall 2005.  The Board of Directors of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development was discussing the future of rural Kansas.  Dr. Fred Cholick, the new Dean of Agriculture and Director of K-State Research and Extension, described his vision of leadership and entrepreneurship as key elements of community development.
   
Cy Moyer, a Board member for the Huck Boyd Institute, also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation in Logan, Kansas.  At his initiation, the Hansen Foundation awarded a grant to the Huck Boyd Institute to develop a new model for community development in Phillips County based on these principles.
   
So we formed a facilitation team consisting of Dan Kahl, co-director of the Kansas PRIDE community betterment program; Dr. Vincent Amanor-Boadu, professor of agribusiness in agricultural economics and executive director of Innovative Solutions; and private consultant Ron Alexander.
   
The project included two components: Outreach to entrepreneurs and a county-wide community engagement process.  With the direction of local citizens, the project was called Discover Phillips County.
   
This new model included outreach to every community in the county, involvement of youth and adults, a positive asset-based approach, and the community capitals model.  We encouraged participants to think county-wide.
   
So what did I discover when I took this on?  Phillips is a rural county, with towns ranging in size from the county seat of Phillipsburg, population 2,602, to the town of Speed, population 43 people.  Now, that’s rural.  Phillips County faces many of the challenges experienced by rural counties in the High Plains, but it also has numerous assets.  The greatest asset, in my opinion, is the wonderful people there.  The county is blessed with leaders like Cy Moyer and Doyle Rahjes, who serve in the best tradition of Huck Boyd himself.
   
The private sector in Phillips County was already moving forward.  Brooke Corporation, headquartered in Phillipsburg, is experiencing significant growth.  Prairie Horizon Agri-Energy built a 40 million gallon ethanol plant in the county.
    
Many families have stepped forward to create family foundations that have been key benefactors for the county and region.  These include the Hansen, Huck Boyd, Morgan, Cole , Pakkebier, and Armstrong foundations.
     
Task forces had been formed to work on housing and downtown revitalization in Phillipsburg.  Voters approved a sales tax measure to support economic development, and the Entrepreneurial Center had been created to help start-up businesses.
   
So we launched our county-wide community engagement project, and hundreds of citizens came to meetings at the Huck Boyd Community Center and provided great input on their hopes and goals for the future.  A core group of volunteers stepped forward to serve on the steering committee for Discover Phillips County.  They developed a vision statement and identified strategic focus areas plus action steps to be implemented.
   
One goal was a county-wide cleanup implemented in spring 2007.  This collected 88 loads of tires and 272 loads of household solid waste, amounting to more than 1,253 tons cleaned up in the county.  Another project was to place beautiful Discover Phillips County signs which now stand along each highway entrance to the county, plus colorful banners along the streets in partnership with local businesses.  The new model is successfully developed, and the steering committee continues to work for betterment countywide.

So what would you find if you discovered Phillips County?  You’d find recreational and educational amenities all over, plus natural amenities like Kirwin Lake, historic amenities like Fort Bissell, and cultural amenities like the Hansen Museum.  Most of all, you would find caring people committed to their families, schools, and communities.  We salute the Discover Phillips County steering committee and all those who are making a difference with their voluntary service.  I was glad to rediscover that spirit of community in Phillips County.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Don Landoll

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The year is 1960.  A young man is building a project in the shop for his high school vocational agriculture class.  The project he has chosen is a trailer, and after hours of work, he has welded the frame, mounted the tires and painted the wood.  The trailer turns out so well that it wins an award from the Lincoln Welding Company in Ohio.  Who would have guessed that his experience which was rooted in building a trailer would lead to not only a career, but a major company?  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Don Landoll, founder and CEO of the Landoll Corporation in Marysville, Kansas.  Don remembers his roots, for he was the young man who received that award from Lincoln Welding for building his first trailer in the vo-ag shop back in 1960.  Welding is a very useful skill to have in a rural community.  Don grew up near the rural community of Hanover, population 632 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
After graduating from high school, Don wanted to join the Air Force.  But he failed his physical, so he came back home and went to work for a local farm equipment dealership.  In 1963, he and a partner bought a welding shop in the nearby town of Marysville and put his skills to work.  Along with their hired man, it was a three-man shop.  When his partner went to work for the railroad in 1967, Don became the sole owner.
   
Don continued to weld, but he knew the greatest opportunity for success would be in manufacturing products of his own.  His first product was a slip-in stock rack for pickup trucks, and then he expanded into trailers and farm tillage equipment.  Don diversified and grew the business over time.
   
Today, the Landoll Corporation in Marysville, Kansas is an incredible success story.  The company which began as a three-man shop currently employs 640 people.  The company has grown by a hundred employees from a year ago, and Don says, “We’d take more if we could get them.”  As an illustration of how important such a business is to the rural communities around it, it should be noted that the company employs people from 43 zip codes.
   
What is especially impressive is the world class level of manufacturing one finds at the Landoll Corporation today.  The company uses state of the art 3-D modeling through Pro E CAD  engineering software.  The company’s equipment includes laser and waterjet metal cutters which can cut steel, aluminum, stainless steel and even rubber with precision.
   
The sprawling 500,000 square foot production facility houses a host of Computer Numerical Controlled machines, modern powder coating booths, and much more.  In addition to 100 conventional welders, there are seven robot welders with robotic arms up to 10 feet long.
   
Landoll Corporation products include trailers, agricultural equipment, forklifts, earthmovers for Icon Industries, and government contract vehicles.  Through it all is an emphasis on quality.
   
The result is that Landoll Corporation in Marysville, Kansas has become a global supplier.  Landoll customers can be found in such places as the U.K., Russia, China, Japan, Guam, Australia, India, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Brazil, Uruguay, Egypt, and more.  Wow.
   
It is so exciting to see a rural company start from virtually nothing and rise to global success.

It’s time to leave 1960, where Don Landoll’s first trailer which was built as a vo-ag shop project received an award from Lincoln Welding.  We salute Don Landoll and all the people of the Landoll Corporation for making a difference with entrepreneurship and hard work.
   
They remember the roots from which they came, as we can see in modern times.  In August 2008, a special guest from Ohio came to visit the Landoll Corporation in Marysville.  It was the president and CEO of Lincoln Welding Company, the very same business which had given Don an award for building his very first trailer.  And as Don and the Lincoln CEO went to tour the modern Landoll production facility, how fitting it was that they walked right by that first award-winning trailer from 48 years ago.  Those deep roots help provide longstanding strength.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

Eric Niemann -Soybean Board

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 halfway around the globe to Malaysia, to the International Oilseed Producers Dialogue.  Leading producers of soybeans, palm oil, rapeseed and other commodities are in attendance, including a soybean farmer from northeast Kansas.  How did this Kansas farmer get to Malaysia?  He is here in his capacity as Chairman of the United Soybean Board in the U.S.  It’s another in our series on national agricultural leaders from rural Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Eric Niemann, Chairman of the United Soybean Board.  Unlike the other organizations in our series on national ag leaders, the United Soybean Board is not an association.  Instead, it is a nationwide board of people with the responsibility to allocate dollars from the national soybean checkoff.  Eric Niemann is the elected chair of that board.
   
Eric comes from a farm near the rural community of Nortonville, Kansas, population 613 people. Now, that’s rural.  Eric grew up in Topeka because his father served in the legislature, but they came back to the farm at Nortonville in 1968.
   
Currently, Eric and his wife Lois farm 1,200 acres.  He also cleans and sells certified wheat.  In 1998, Eric was appointed to the United Soybean Board by then Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman.  He was reappointed by subsequent secretaries on a bipartisan basis to serve the maximum time allowed by law.  In December 2006, he began a one year term as Chairman of the national board.
   
Eric says, “It’s been very rewarding.  What I’ve taken away most is an appreciation for the dedication of all the people involved.”
   
Eric is proud of agriculture, and especially the soybean industry.  He says, “We have the safest, most affordable, abundant food source in the world.  In the next 20 years, food demand will double, through increased population and a better economy.  That’s why we’re working on biotech improvement of our soybean crops, both for improved production as well as for health benefits for the public.”
   
For example, he foresees that the next 5 to10 years will bring biotech crops with many new traits, such as beneficial omega III oils, low saturated fat, eliminated trans fat, and drought and rust tolerance.  Eric says, “It’s a great time to be involved.”  The soybean board has upgraded its technology and done a great deal of strategic planning.
   
Eric is pleased with the progress of the soybean industry.  He says, “We launched an animal agriculture initiative to help poultry, swine, and dairy producers with their environmental issues.  Those species consume almost all the soybean meal and their environmental issues are very important.”
   
The soybean board has also invested in biofuels research.  Eric says, “We’ve worked on soy biodiesel fuel which helps lubricity and burns cleaner in the engine.”  Of course, unlike crude oil, soy comes from a renewable source.
   
Then there are other uses for soy products, such as soy ink and backing for carpet.  Soy oil can replace petroleum-based products in polyurethane.  For example, the 2008 Ford Mustang features a seat cover made of soy polyurethane, and Eric would like to see more of that.
   
He noted that a neighbor’s electric pole and transformer were toppled by the ice storm of December 2007, and when the transformer fell, it broke open and all the oil spilled out.  The soybean board is currently working with Cargill to develop a soy oil to go in such transformers.  This oil would be fire resistant and without environmental problems.
   
Eric says, “The soybean industry is working well, partly as a result of the checkoff.  Producers need to continue to invest in research, market development, and promotion.”  Eric has seen the benefit of such market promotion world wide, as he has worked with soybean customers from Spain to China.

It’s time to leave this meeting of the International Oilseed Producers Dialogue in Malaysia, where a Kansas farmer represents U.S. soybean producers.  We commend Eric Niemann for making a difference through his role as Chairman of the United Soybean Board.  He’s helping soybeans to succeed.
   
And there’s more.  We’ll learn about another national ag leader from rural Kansas on our next program.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ernie Rodina

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 Ocala, Florida and turn on the radio.  As we tune in to stations across the radio dial, we come across a program where someone is talking about training, feeding, riding, and caring for horses.  It’s the Better Horses Radio program.  The host is a man from halfway across the continent in rural Kansas.  Thanks to K-State Research and Extension - Franklin County for this story idea. It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ernie Rodina, District Sales Manager for Purina Feeds and host of the Better Horses Radio program.
   
This all started when Ernie was growing up in the Kansas City suburbs, when he joined 4-H and found that he enjoyed horses.  He got a pony named Red which he rode all the time.  As he grew, he continued to ride that pony.  He remembers saying to his sister, “Do I look too big on this pony?”
   
While he may have outgrown the pony, he never outgrew his love for the equine industry.  He enjoyed horses and the western and rural lifestyle.  He knew he wanted to work with farmers, ranchers, and horsemen.
   
After graduating from Ottawa University, he worked for Farmland Industries and then had the opportunity to join a management trainee program for Purina Mills.  He trained in the rural community of Humboldt, Kansas, population 1,964 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Ernie moved on up into a management position with Purina where he has been ever since.  He serves a territory with more than 30 feed dealers in Kansas and Missouri, including greater Kansas City.  His territory goes roughly from St. Joe to Marshall, Missouri; over to Emporia and up to Wamego, Kansas.  Ernie and his family live near Ottawa.
   
Ernie says with a smile that his responsibility with the company is to focus on animals with names.  In other words, his emphasis is on horses and pets, not the mass numbers of livestock in a feedlot.  The key driving element of the business is equine.
   
Ernie says, “When I got started, my goal was that when people heard the word “horse” they thought of Purina Mills and Ernie Rodina.”  He says, “My job is to sell feed, but if we can help people raise their equine experience to a new level, we win.”
   
So Ernie set out to help horse owners.  He started saving people’s names from customer meetings so he could send them helpful equine information.  Nine years ago, he started sending that information in a tri-fold brochure.  Now that has evolved into a 50-page newspaper which goes to 25,000 people.  Wow.
   
Ernie began calling this the Better Horses Network.  Meanwhile, Purina was sponsoring a weekly radio program called the Horseman’s Radio Weekly.  When the host of that program retired, Ernie decided he would try producing his own radio show.
   
Ernie says, “It only took me doing it one time to realize, I needed a partner.”  So Ernie brought in Dawn Dawson, an accomplished rider from Alma to join him on the show.  Ernie says, “I brought her on as a guest and never let her go.”
   
Each week Ernie and Dawn interview various guests and tell about current events and tips for improving the horse owners’ equine experience.  The program, called Better Horses Radio, has expanded to be carried on stations in Kansas and Missouri, plus as far away as Lexington, Kentucky and Ocala, Florida.
   
Meanwhile, Ernie is involved in special events and horse organizations across the Midwest.  His goal has been realized.  In 2006, the Kansas Horse Council named Ernie its Equine Ambassador of the Year.
   
But some things don’t change.  While out riding recently, he went by his sister and said with a smile, “Do I look too big on this horse?”  That’s the type of humor which has made him a successful businessman and fun radio personality.   

It’s time to leave Ocala, Florida, where we found the Better Horses Radio program coming all the way from Kansas.  We commend Ernie Rodina, Dawn Dawson, and all those involved with the Better Horses Network for making a difference by helping horse owners raise their equine experience.  Together, they create strong forces for better horses.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Gene West 1

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“The only thing worse than having your entire town destroyed would be to have half your town destroyed.”  That statement may sound crazy and is not meant to be taken literally, but it was used to make a point to the citizens of Greensburg: The devastating tornado which virtually obliterated the town also created some opportunities.  Now these resilient Kansans are seizing those opportunities.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Gene West, Chair of the Board of County Commissioners in Kiowa County, of which Greensburg is the county seat.
   
Gene is a fourth generation Kiowa County farmer.  After K-State and the service, he returned to the family farm.  In 2006 he became a county commissioner.
   
On May 4, 2007, Gene and his wife Jan had the grandkids at their farm home four and a half miles south of Greensburg.  As the storm neared, they moved to the basement while monitoring weather conditions.  The Wests lost two barns and incurred hail damage in the storm, but their house remained mostly intact.
   
When they heard on the scanner that Greensburg had been hit, Gene and his son jumped in a truck and drove toward town where they could see the huge funnel cloud.  They got out and walked into town.  The conditions were surreal.
   
There was no light - the power was gone - but by lightning flashes, they could see tremendous destruction.  They checked on family members and helped people out of basements.  Debris was everywhere and the landmarks were gone.  Gene says, “We got lost trying to get to the hospital.”  Gene worked all night long.
   
But Gene had noticed something: By the time he got to town, there were solid streams of headlights on the highway coming in to town from both the east and the west.  Gene says, “The emergency crews had already been on their way.  By the next day, massive amounts of help were coming in.”  Help came from all over, including nearby rural communities such as Haviland and Mullinville, population 267 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Of course, much help was needed.  This was a mile wide, F-5 intensity tornado which made a direct hit on the heart of Greensburg.
   
Devastation was amazing.  A Pontiac Bonneville in the police impoundment lot was blown against the wall of the county courthouse and up over the roof, gouging a hole and causing rainwater to pour into the building.
   
One guy was filling up his spray rig at the co-op when the tornado hit.  He rode it out and ended up upside down inside the vehicle in the middle of the furniture store, and survived to tell about it.
   
It has been said that emergency responders were told to bring 200 body bags for the casualties.  Thanks to early warnings and alert citizens – and the grace of God -- the number of fatalities was held down to eleven.
   
A massive cleanup followed.  Some 2,500 truckloads a day of debris were being carried to a new burn pit and landfill area.  Gene and other local leaders set up shop in tents and trailers.  Support came from a huge array of state, federal, private, educational, and non-profit sources.
   
Jan West says, “One of the best things was the community conversations led by the FEMA post-disaster planning people and Terry Woodbury, sponsored by the state of Kansas.”  Jan says, “They didn’t tell us what to do, but they showed us how to do it.”
   
One comment in that conversation was the statement that the only thing worse than having the town totally destroyed would be to have half the town destroyed.  In other words, the only positive factor about such a disaster is the opportunity to start with a clean slate.  One idea was to rebuild in a “green,” environmentally friendly way, as the county has set out to do.
   
Gene West says, “The tornado was a bad thing, but we want to make good things come out of it.  We don’t want to just rebuild, we want to make it better.”

And there’s more.  Greensburg needed to rebuild not just community, but communication.  Next week we’ll learn about a project to do just that.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Gene West 2

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Community and communication sound like similar words.  Today, we will learn about a community initiative which is taking communication to a whole new level.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Last week, we learned about Kiowa County Commission Chair Gene West and the rebuilding of his county seat of Greensburg.  After the devastating tornado hit, there was no public place to eat in Greensburg, so a couple of ladies temporarily set up warming pans under a carport and began serving food to the public.  Locals dubbed this the Carport Cafe.
   
One day Gene grabbed lunch at the Carport Café.  To make conversation, he asked the stranger sitting next to him what he was working on in town.  The stranger explained that he was with K-State and that he wanted to explore how to use technology to enhance communication in the region.  The stranger wondered whom he should contact.  Gene said, “You need to talk to me.”
   
It was a fortuitous encounter.  Gene talked about the need to get news out to citizens in between the weekly editions of the newspaper.  The stranger, Dr. Bert Biles from K-State, pointed out that modern telecommunications technology could help fill that gap.  Bert was in Greensburg thanks to the K-State Center for Engagement and Community Development, which mobilized the university’s response to the disaster.
   
Bert and Gene’s conversation was the beginning of what would come to be called the Kiowa County Commons.  In working with Gloria Freeland of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media in K-State’s school of journalism, an idea emerged which would bring together several information sources and use modern technology to communicate with the public.
   
The centerpiece of this idea is something called the Kiowa County Commons.  The Kiowa County Commons would be a modern environmentally friendly building with state-of-the-art telecommunications equipment.  Housed in the building would be the Kiowa County office of K-State Research and Extension along with the county museum, county library, and a media center.  The media center would include a radio and sound studio, a TV studio, and a Web
portal that will use the WiMAX system installed on a local tower or the grain elevator to access Internet.  Airspan and Stutler Technologies donated WiMAX equipment.
   
The Chair of the media center’s board of directors is Jan West, the wife of county commission chair Gene West.  Jan says, “We need a community calendar with realtime news.  With this facility, we could film a home basketball game and post it on the Internet so that grandparents can see the game from a thousand miles away.”
   
Broadband Internet service through WiMAX would be provided by Haviland Telephone Company which is based in the nearby rural town of Haviland, population 590 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
The building is projected to be constructed on Greensburg’s Main Street next to the city hall that is being rebuilt.  Currently architectural designs are being drawn up in preparation for the fundraising that will be necessary to build the building.  The Commons building is projected to be certified as LEED Platinum for sustainability, with wind turbines, solar panels, recycled water, and a green roof.
   
Along with all this modern stuff, the architect included a classic element which connects to the town’s history: A reconstructed version of the soda fountain from the downtown drug store which was destroyed in the tornado.
   
Jan West says, “I view the commons as an opportunity to preserve our culture and move it into the future for learning and growing.”
   
Meanwhile, Greensburg is coming back.  Groundbreaking ceremonies are being held for the new school and hospital.  Some 42 businesses have reopened or are in the process of rebuilding, and more than 400 homes have been permitted or are under construction.

Community and communication: They come from the very same root.  This exciting new facility will enable modern communications to support a renewed Greensburg community.  We commend Jan West, Bert Biles, and all those involved for making a difference with their vision for the future.
   
And there’s more.  Help has come to Greensburg from not just Manhattan, Kansas, but Manhattan, New York as well.  We’ll learn about that next week.

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

 

Gene West 3

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Barn-raising.  It’s a symbol of a bygone day, when pioneer neighbors would come together to build some homesteader’s barn.  But in September 2008, a modern day barnraising was held in rural Kansas with neighbors from across the nation.  It’s another step in the rebuilding of Greensburg, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
In the last two weeks, we’ve learned about Gene and Jan West and their roles in helping their hometown of Greensburg rebuild from the tornado.  Today is the conclusion of our series on Greensburg.  The story includes an unusual camera crew and an unlikely set of builders.
   
Gene West explains that the 2007 Kiowa County Fair had to be held in tents because the fairgrounds was destroyed by the tornado.  This came to the attention of an organization called the New York Says Thank You Foundation.
   
Jeff Parness was a firefighter in New York during 9-11.  He saw the devastation caused by the terrorists, but he also saw the phenomenal response of giving from across the nation.
   
Two years later, Jeff’s five-year-old son heard about people in southern California who lost their homes to wildfires.  The little boy suggested giving some of his toys to the kids who had lost theirs.  Jeff saw this as a way to give back to those who had supported them during 9-11.  He drove a truck of toys across country with a banner on the side saying “New York Says Thank You.”
   
The response was so gratifying that a foundation was established with that name.  Every year, on the weekend before the anniversary of 9-11, representatives of the foundation go to provide assistance to some community across America which has suffered some kind of devastation.  Then representatives of the community which is helped travel to a similar community to give back the following year.
   
In 2008, the New York Says Thank You Foundation decided to support the community of Greensburg.  The identified need was a new 4-H building, and on September 4 through 7, 2008, some 500 volunteers from New York, Texas, and elsewhere joined local people to begin the reconstruction of the 4-H building.
   
In keeping with the Greensburg spirit, the idea wasn’t just to put it back, but to build it better.  The volunteers helped construct a 14,000 square foot pavilion to house livestock and exhibits.  Many donors and building companies helped.  The volunteers included numerous New York firefighters who survived 9-11.
   
A major rainstorm moved through that weekend, but muddy conditions did not dampen the spirit of the participants.  Their work was also documented on film.
   
Last week we learned about the proposed Kiowa County Media Center.  As an example of what such a facility could do, K-State faculty Bert Biles and Ron Frank proposed to do a workshop on video documentaries for the students during the barn-raising weekend.  They brought camera equipment to Greensburg and taught the students how to use it.
   
Then during the barn-raising, those students went to the site and did interviews plus filmed video footage to document the event.  Gene West says, “Those kids were out there with cameras at seven in the morning interviewing people.  Then at the end, the kids themselves were interviewed about their experience, and they had impressive insights.”
   
The framework of the building was up by Saturday night, and Sunday morning a worship service was held for the community.  Who would have thought there would be builders from New York and Texas, being filmed by high school kids with TV cameras?  It was a great day for the rural community of Greensburg, population 800 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Barn-raising.  It’s not just a symbol of a bygone day, it became a part of the rebuilding of Greensburg.  Volunteers came from New York City and coast to coast to be a part of this effort.  4-H members and families will benefit from this wonderful new facility.  We commend Jeff Parness and the New York Says Thank You Foundation along with Gene and Jan West and all the volunteers of Kiowa County for making a difference with their service.  They’re not just raising a barn, they’re raising a community.

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

 

Greg Shelor-Sorghum Producers

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
National President.  It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?  Yes, it is big responsibility to serve as a leader for a national organization, and it is an honor when someone from your state takes on that responsibility for the entire country.  Today, we’ll meet a man who recently concluded a year of service to his national organization.  He’s based in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Greg Shelor from Minneola, Kansas.  Greg recently completed a term as President of the National Sorghum Producers.   National Sorghum Producers is the nationwide association of growers of grain sorghum across the country.
   
Greg grew up on a farm in southwest Kansas.  Today, he and his family farm some 1,700 acres, of which 250 is irrigated.  The farm is near Minneola, a town of 721 people south of Dodge City.  That’s rural - but check this out.  The farm is located west of the unincorporated settlement of Bloom, Kansas, with a population of 15 or 20 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Of course, a great strength of rural Kansas is agriculture.  Greg is a lifelong farmer in the region.  He grows grain sorghum in rotation with wheat and summer fallow.  He says, “It’s a drought-tolerant crop that fits in very well out here.”   In fact, Kansas is the largest producer of grain sorghum in the entire nation.  In 2006, Kansas produced 145 million bushels of sorghum for grain, valued at more than 487 million dollars.  Wow.
   
Greg says, “Grain sorghum has predominantly been a livestock feed, but now it is growing into the ethanol market.  Sorghum is usually about 80 to 82 percent the price of corn, but now it’s running about the same.  Getting these ethanol plants in here has helped.  Sorghum will yield about the same amount of gallons per bushel as corn, and the feed quality of the distillers grain is excellent.”
   
Greg says that the industry is expanding into other new uses also.  He says, “Some sorghum is going into wall board and pet food, and now producers are raising food grade sorghum for flour.”  This has health benefits for people who are allergic to wheat gluten.  Sorghum gluten can be used as a substitute so these people will not have an allergic reaction.
   
Greg is quite an ambassador for sorghum producers.  In the 1980s, Greg was appointed to the state board which oversaw the sorghum checkoff and became active in the sorghum producers organization after that.  In February 2005, he became President of the National Sorghum Producers.  His national one-year term has ended, but his service continues at the state level.  He also serves as President of the Kansas Grain Sorghum Producers Association.
   
Greg and his wife have three sons: Matthew, who is a research assistant in the K-State animal sciences department; Justin, who is in Minneola; and Derrick, who recently graduated from K-State.
   
Greg sees the importance of producers investing in research to benefit the industry.  He says, “We’re working on a national checkoff for grain sorghum which could generate funds for additional research into better varieties and appropriate herbicides.”
   
It was a very interesting time to be president of the national organization, with planning for the new farm bill getting underway during his year.  There were other ag and policy issues which his organization was involved, so he found himself testifying before the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Subcommittee on General Farm Commodities and Risk Management.
   
Greg says, “We’re lucky to have excellent representatives from Kansas in Congress.”

National President.  It does have a nice ring to it.  Yes, it is an honor when someone from your state serves in national office.  But it is not just the honor of serving at a national level, it is also a commitment, a sacrifice, and a responsibility.  We commend Greg Shelor for making a difference with his service as President of the National Sorghum Producers.
   
And there’s more.  Kansas happens to be home to several individuals who, like Greg, are serving in a national leadership capacity with their agricultural organization.  In coming weeks, we’ll learn about more national agricultural leaders from rural Kansas.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Philip Orr - UPU Industries

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Guess who’s coming to dinner.  That was the name of a movie years ago.  It might also be a description of how one modern international business relationship came into being.  That relationship has lead to a remarkable growing business based on a product called net wrap.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Last week we learned about David Liefer and his company which sells synthetic fibers for use in ag and construction applications.  A key supplier of those products is located in Junction City, Kansas and is named UPU Industries.
   
Meet Philip Orr, managing director of UPU Industries.  He explains that UPU Industries is the latest part of a family business.
   
Philip is an Irishman.  Years ago, his father Steve started working in the Belfast Rope Works making rope and twine products at age 14.  Steve worked his way up through the company to become managing director.  In 1976, he started his own company to represent European mills trading in twine and related products.  Philip joined the company and became managing director in 1996.  By that time the company had opened its own plant to manufacture such products in northern Ireland.
   
In 1996, Philip’s company had a booth at an exposition called the Royal Smithfield Show in London.  A company representative from Spain stopped by their booth and asked if he could join Philip’s party for dinner - and then another did the same – and by the way, he said, was it okay if he brought a couple of customers from America?  Philip politely consented.
   
It was a case of “Guess who’s coming to dinner.”  The two American customers were David Liefer and his father who happened to be visiting the exposition from the U.S.  At dinner, the Liefers talked about their baling twine business back in Kansas.
   
This fortuitous connection was the beginning of a business relationship.  Philip’s manufacturing company, now known as UPU Industries, became a supplier for the Liefer’s business.  UPU Industries had become a maker of net wrap.
   
Net wrap is like a super-industrial strength version of Saran Wrap.  It is a woven, high density polyethlene plastic which is wrapped around large round hay bales to preserve their quality and protect them from water damage.
   
Net wrap provides significant fuel and labor benefits for hay producers.  It is an estimated ten times faster than using baler twine, sheds moisture, and enables bales to be transported with minimum leaf loss.
   
UPU Industries became the first European company to build a net wrap production plant in the U.S.  After looking at states and communities all over the midwest, Philip and his company decided to build the plant in Junction City, Kansas.
   
Philip says, “I appreciated the get up and go approach of the people in Junction City.”  After the decision was made, he called David Liefer and said, “David, guess what - we’re going to be neighbors.”
   
The plant represents a 15 million dollar investment and was built in only six months.  UPU Industries is already preparing for another phase of expansion.  The plant does the extrusion of the plastics and the automated knitting of the net wrap.  It is used for hay, as pallet wrap for fruit shipments, and car wrap for transporting autos.  For haying, the product’s brand name is Farmer’s Full Coverage Netwrap.
   
Today, UPU Industries is the largest netwrap producer in the United States.  The company provides employment for 60 people in Junction City and the region around it, including those who come from such rural towns as Chapman, Herington, White City, Riley, and Milford - population 483 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
How exciting to find an international business relationship which has created this growing enterprise.

Guess who’s coming to dinner.  In this case, it was a couple of Kansans who came to dinner, and that would lead to a business connection around the industry of net wrap.  Then this northern Ireland company would go on to build a multimillion dollar facility to produce its products in Kansas. We commend Philip Orr and the people of UPU Industries for making a difference with their transatlantic business relationship.  For this remarkable story, that’s a wrap.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.
   

Homer Krehbiel - Specialty Meats

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
What’s on the shopping list today?  Meat.  Let’s see.  Beef, pork, lamb, turkey, chicken.  Okay, I can find those.  But there’s more.  Let’s try elk, goose, buffalo, duck, emu, ostrich - how about water buffalo?  Alright, I give up.  Where would I find a place where all those different meats are processed under USDA inspection?  The answer is, we think there is only one place: It’s found in rural Kansas.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Homer Krehbiel of McPherson, Kansas.  Homer is the entrepreneur who created this meat processing enterprise, but it has not been easy.
   
Our story begins on the Krehbiel family dairy farm.  In 1951, Homer started milking cows with his folks on the farm north of McPherson, which at that time had a population of 8,689 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
After graduating from McPherson College and teaching two years, Homer went into farming full time.  Then disaster struck.
   
One day in 1978, Homer was mixing some feed when his hand got caught in a roller mill, stuck where no one would find him.  He thought he might bleed to death and tried to cut off his hand to free himself.  But being a man of deep faith, he finally bowed his head and gave himself up to the Lord.  At that moment, he says, his hand came free.  Homer got to a phone and called the ambulance himself.
   
Homer’s life was saved but his hand was not.  Doctors removed what was left of his hand.  Homer continued farming for some years, but he had always had a dream of having a little country store there on the farm.  So he converted a garage, bought some old freezers, and started selling beef also. That was the beginning.
   
Today, the Krehbiel family has two businesses employing nearly 50 people: Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats, which is a processing and shipping facility on the family farm, and Krehbiel’s Meat Market and Deli, which is a retail outlet in McPherson just off I-35.  At the retail market, a person can dine in or pick up a wide variety of food products.  You’ll also find Krehbiel’s meats at such places as the state fair and Kansas Sampler Festival.
   
Or you can go to the online store, which is www.healthymeats.net, and find a wide variety of delicious meat products plus gift certificates, sauces and seasonings, pies, pet treats, and more.  Their meat is source verified, identity preserved, USDA inspected, and tenderness guaranteed, with no added hormones or artificial ingredients.
   
But you might also encounter Krehbiel-processed meats elsewhere without even knowing it.  Homer says, “Our niche is private label processing for other people.”  In other words, Krehbiels will process meat for individuals or companies for their use or sale under their own label.
   
Homer says, “We have about 60 different private label companies that we work with.  We have some big companies, but we also do the small farmer with a few head and the hunter who needs a deer processed.”  He says, “There isn’t anything we won’t tackle.”  So when a Japanese customer wants Kobe beef or ostrich growers want their meat processed or someone needs a water buffalo done, they can come to Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats.
   
Some Kansas companies ship products coast to coast.  Krehbiels ships coast to coast every week.  Wow.
   
Homer sees growing interest in the slow food movement.  He says, “Wine connoisseurs like to know where the grapes come from.  I think that’s where we’re going with our food supply in general, because people want to know where their food was produced.”  Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats helps those local producers by processing their products.  Homer says, “I’ve found that the more you help other people, the more you get back.”

So what’s on the shopping list today?  If it’s elk, goose, buffalo, duck, emu, and more, there’s only one place that is processing such a wide variety of meat products.  We salute Homer Krehbiel and all the people of Krehbiel’s Specialty Meats and Krehbiel’s Meat Market and Deli for making a difference with their innovation, entrepreneurship, and service.  It’s an example where hard work and an entrepreneurial spirit can meet.

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

Ian Campbell

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
What’s your specialty?  There is a lot to be said for specialization.  Even football teams use it. Players compete for certain positions, of course, and those doing punting and kicking are specifically called specialists.  But in life, specialization should not come at the expense of gaining a broad diversity of experience.  Small town schools, for example, may not be able to provide every specialty, but they are often excellent at providing their students a variety of experiences.  Today we’ll celebrate rural education by meeting an athlete who experienced the benefits of small town life and is now making his mark in Big 12 football.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ian Campbell, the pride of Cimarron, Kansas.  Ian played football for the Bluejays of Cimarron High School.  Cimarron is a wonderful small town, located between Dodge City and Garden City.  Ian Campbell’s father is the long-time district attorney there, and his mother works as a paralegal in his father’s office.  Ian also has five brothers and sisters.
   
Ian says, “I had a blast growing up.  It’s like the total community raises all the kids, because everybody knows everybody and everybody works together.  It was a great experience for me.”
   
Ian says, “Growing up in a small town teaches kids responsibility and accountability and hard work.  These are lessons directly related to life.”  In the summers, Ian worked on ranches and for his brother’s construction company.
   
But as noted earlier, students in small towns have to do a lot of things to keep up all the school activities.  For example, Ian set the all-time career tackle record for Cimarron, but he also lettered three years in basketball.
   
Sports and school spirit are especially important in those rural communities.  Ian says, “The towns really get behind the teams.  It gives folks lots to talk about down at the coffee shop.”
   
After Ian graduated from high school, he wanted to continue playing.  He talked to various collegiate football programs including the local community college, but felt he could play at the Division 1 level.  He finally decided to come to K-State as a walk-on.  After redshirting in 2004, he played as a defensive end in the 2005 season.  Then, as he says modestly, “Things clicked in 2006.”
   
In fact, things clicked so well that he became consensus first team All-Big 12 in 2006 and was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year by the Houston Chronicle.  He followed that up with another All-Big 12 year in 2007.
   
Now he is back for his senior season, and he says the sky’s the limit for this team.  But whatever happens, he will remember his rural roots.  After all, Cimarron is a community of 1,939 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
There is a long tradition of Kansas small towns producing big time athletes.  Nolan Cromwell and John Riggins are two examples of small town Kansas football players who would go on to make their mark on the national sports stage.
   
K-State Head Coach Ron Prince recognizes the value of the small town upbringing.  Coach Prince says, “Growing up in a certain size community, each young man or woman feels a need to contribute to their school or their hometown.  They’re not just specializing in a single sport, they may be in some sort of sport year-round.  Plus they’re involved in 4-H and FFA, and chorale and helping out with harvest.  Our small town students and players sometimes come with more breadth and depth of experiences.”
   
As a new school year and a new football season begin, let’s celebrate our rural schools and our small town athletes.  Let’s support our local teams and also support the variety of experiences in our schools which help our students to learn life’s lessons.

What’s your specialty?  While specialization can have many advantages, there are also benefits which derive from the wide variety of experiences which students like Ian Campbell found in a rural Kansas school.  We salute Ian Campbell and all rural athletes and students for making a difference by participating in a variety of experiences in their schools.  I think such variety helps make rural education extra special.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jan Lyons - NCBA

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“Excuse me, the New York Times is on the phone for you, and CNN left word that their camera crew will be here tomorrow.”  Wow, that doesn’t sound like a typical day on a Kansas ranch, but it is a sample of what life was like for one beef industry leader when a crisis hit her industry.  Yes, I said her industry, because this national beef industry leader is a woman.  It’s another in our series on national ag leaders from Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Jan Lyons of rural Manhattan, Kansas.  In 2004, Jan served as President of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association.  Here is her story.
   
Jan is originally from an Angus farm in Ohio. Growing up, she joined 4-H and got an Angus steer as her livestock project. That humble beginning was the start of a lifelong interest in the cattle industry.
   
Her husband Frank is also from Ohio and was a medical doctor in the military. In 1974, he was transferred to Irwin Army Hospital at Fort Riley.
   
Jan says, "We came to Manhattan and loved it." After Frank completed his military service, he went into private practice in Manhattan. Meanwhile, Jan's love for the country led her to look for a place to live outside of town. They found a ranch on the McDowell Creek Road near Manhattan and started to put together a cattle herd.
   
Today the nationally-known Lyons Angus herd consists of some 300 cows, including the ones managed by the Lyons’ daughter and son-in-law in Wabaunsee County.  Daughter Amy and her husband Karl Langvardt live on a ranch near the rural town of Alta Vista, population 434.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Daughter Debbie is also in the cattle business.  She and her husband Duane Blythe raise Angus cattle as well.  Both daughters graduated from K-State in agriculture, and both were state 4-H winners in beef.  Sounds like it ran in the family.
   
Jan enjoys the cattle business and built up the herd through the years.  She says, "We are a purebred operation, selling bulls and replacement heifers as seedstock to the commercial cattle industry." The family conducts a bull sale annually on the first Monday in March.  For more information, go to www.lyonsranch.com.
   
Because Frank was busy with his medical practice, Jan was the one who got involved with beef industry organizations.  She was the first woman to serve as president of the Kansas Angus Association. In 1994, during the Kansas Livestock Association’s centennial year, she became the first woman to serve as President of that organization. She served on the Kansas Beef Council in the 1980s and 1990s, including a stint as chairman, and on the Cattleman’s Beef Board where she chaired the group that oversees the national beef checkoff.  Most recently, Jan was selected as 2008 Stockman of the Year by the K-State Animal Sciences Department.
   
In January 2003, Jan was elected President-Elect of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association - one of only two women to have ever held that post.  As she was preparing to take office at the organization’s next national convention, a major news story broke on December 23, 2003.  For the first time ever, a cow had been found in the U.S. with BSE - Bovine spongiform encephalopothy.
   
The press had a field day.  Jan says with a smile, “I got activated a little bit early when all that hit.”
   
The BSE issue would become a dominant issue of her year as president.  Jan says, “We as an industry were able to come out very quickly with facts and targeted messages to allay the fears of the consumer.  BSE had already been found in other countries, so we were prepared.  When the story hit, we had scientific facts to prove and show the safety of our product to the consumer.”
   
Whether it was the New York Times or CNN, when the BSE crisis hit a few years ago, the national media ended up calling the Lyons Ranch near Manhattan, Kansas.  We commend Jan Lyons for stepping up into this role and giving leadership to the beef industry nationally.
   
And there’s more.  Next week we’ll learn about how the national agricultural leadership from Kansas reaches all the way to include our youth.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.


Jeff Sheets - Telephony Museum

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“Hello.”  That familiar greeting is used by most of us every time we answer the telephone.  Did you ever wonder who was the first to answer the telephone with the word “hello”?  The answer to that question and many other points of telephone trivia can be found at a Kansas museum which celebrates the ubiquitous telephone.  It reminds us how the daily life of society has been transformed through the years by the power of telecommunications.  This is today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Jeff Sheets, director of the Dickinson County Heritage Center in Abilene.  The Heritage Center serves as a museum and research center for the Dickinson County Historical Society.  It also houses the Museum of Independent Telephony, which tells the remarkable history of the telephone.
   
It all began with Alexander Graham Bell who was doing research on teaching deaf people.  He found that sound could be transmitted through electricity.  One day in 1876, Bell was working in his laboratory when he spilled acid on his trousers.  He called out to his associate in the next room, “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you.”  Watson heard the first words ever spoken over the telephone.
   
Soon companies were developed to bring this remarkable new communications service to the public.  Bell had his own company, but nearly 6,000 non-Bell independent companies developed as well.
   
One of these was founded in Abilene in 1898 by a young man named C.L. Brown.  He built and operated a telephone exchange called Brown Telephone Company.  His enterprise would later be called United Telephone Company as he expanded into other businesses and communities.
   
Through the decades, this business grew into the international company known as United Telecommunications, one of the nation’s largest corporations.  The company’s local telephone unit became known as Sprint and is now Embarq.  Meanwhile, a network of locally based, privately owned independent telephone companies still exist across rural Kansas.
   
The Museum of Independent Telephony was established in Abilene in 1973 to celebrate this rich history of telephones and independent business.  The first phones were wood boxes with bells on the front, a receiver, transmitter, and a crank on the side.  They were connected from house to house or business to business by wires on buildings and later on poles.  Operators in a central office would sit at a switchboard and push plugs into a jack to connect a call.
   
All this seems unbelievably primitive to the cell phone/Ipod/online/text message generation of today, but the museum captures this telephonic history with more than a dozen interactive sites for visitors. Various models of old and interesting telephones are on display.  For example, there’s the Aqua phone, Hush-a-phone, and mother-in-law phone.
   
One of my favorites is the 1970s vintage Snoopy phone, in which Charlie Brown’s dog and his friend Woodstock are holding the receiver.  Many other phones and related equipment show how the systems have changed with time.  There are also stories about the linemen who installed the poles and the operators who were so essential and resourceful in those early years.
   
Then of course, there are the stories of the infamous party lines which some of us remember.  Those had different rings for different families, but they also made it possible to eavesdrop on the neighbors.
   
This fascinating history is captured and preserved by the Museum of Independent Telephony.  Some 20,000 visitors a year come to Abilene to visit.  Jeff Sheets is working with the independent phone companies to help sustain the museum.  It has been supported by phone companies in such rural places as Wamego, population 4,220, and Little River, population 528 people.  Now, that’s rural.  For more information, go to www.mitmuseum.com.

So who was the first person who used the word “hello” to answer the telephone?  The answer is Thomas Edison, who is credited with first using the term on the telephone in 1916.  It’s a part of the fascinating history of the telephone, as described by the Museum of Independent Telephony in Abilene.  We commend Jeff Sheets and all those involved with the museum for making a difference by celebrating this heritage.  Now it’s time for me to hang up and say, “Goodbye.”
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Jess Cupp

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 huntin.’  Here’s a checklist of the things we need.  A good huntin’ dog: Check.  Some pheasants to shoot at: Check.  A good place to get a hearty lunch or dinner: Check and check.  Today we’ll meet a young man who is involved with not one, not two, but all three of these elements of hunting enterprises.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Jess Cupp, a young man in rural Kansas who is involved with all these aspects of hunting.  Jess’ parents are Jay and Debbie Cupp.  Jay has worked in the mining industry all over the western U.S.  Jess grew up in Colorado and Wyoming where he did a lot of hunting.  He and his dad would visit family in Iowa and go bird hunting.
   
After graduation, Jess entered the business world in Texas.  Here he met and married his wife Denee, who is originally from southern California.  In 2001, his folks Jay and Debbie bought a place near Ness City, Kansas where they began raising pheasants as game birds for sale to hunting preserves.  Using their initials, they named their enterprise J & D Game Birds.  Jess came home to help whenever he could.
   
Jess says, “When I got out here, I realized I really enjoyed being in the country.  We felt this would be the best place to raise our kids, so a year ago we moved here.”  He and Denee now have two children, ages 4 and 7.  Before making this move, the smallest city where Denee had lived was Fort Worth, Texas, so it was a significant change.
   
Jess also produces purebred German Shorthair pointers which he starts as hunting dogs.  Since he and Denee have the same initials as his parents, they call this business J & D Game Dogs.  Many dogs are sold locally, but he has also shipped dogs as far away as Florida and Massachusetts.  Wow.
   
In 2007, Jess and Denee had the opportunity to buy a small restaurant in Ness City.  They purchased the restaurant on the day after Christmas, remodeled it, and reopened it on Valentine’s Day 2008.  The place is named Good Eats – not exactly an imaginative name for a restaurant.
   
Jess says, “We just want people to enjoy our good food.”  I thought the food was terrific.  Jess also operates a catering business, which served nearly 600 people at the Ness County Fair last year.
   
So now he is involved with several dimensions of the hunting industry.  He helps his parents who raise nearly 20,000 pheasants every year, sells quality hunting dogs, and operates the Good Eats restaurant in Ness City.
   
Their restaurant’s building, by the way, is located next door to a skyscraper.  No, not one of those skyscrapers like in downtown Fort Worth, it is next to a historic stone building known as the Skyscraper of the Plains.
   
The Skyscraper of the Plains is a beautiful four story bank building that was constructed in the 1890s.  Originally the Ness County Bank, it was a finalist for the eight wonders of Kansas architecture, due to its classic construction and ornate stone work.  The building is an absolute work of art.
   
Today, the Skyscraper of the Plains houses a business known as the Prairie Mercantile and is used for special events and meetings.  Jess says, “It is really handy for our catering business, because the building is right next door.”  All this is a great fit with this rural region.
   
Jess says, “I was raised in the country, and when my folks came here, I fell in love with it.”  Their restaurant is in the town of Ness City, population 1,485 people, but they actually live out in the country near the town of Bazine, population 298.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Let’s go huntin.’  Thanks to Jess and Denee and Jay and Debbie Cupp, we can find good huntin’ dogs, birds to shoot, and a good place to get a hearty meal.  We commend them for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and initiative.  But in a larger sense, Jess and Denee were hunting for something else: A great place to raise their children.  On that score, rural Kansas is right on target.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.
               


John Haas - Canola

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The aroma of the food smells delicious at this exclusive restaurant in New Orleans.  The chef leaves the kitchen to greet a group of her customers who have assembled from around the nation.  The chef proudly proclaims that she uses their product exclusively in her cooking.  And what is that product?  It is canola oil, from the canola crop grown by these farmers from across the country.  Among these farmers is the President of the national association which promotes canola, and that farmer comes from rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet John Haas, immediate past president of the U.S. Canola Association.  His story is yet another in our series on national organizations whose presidents have come from rural Kansas.
   
John farms near Larned where his family has farmed for three generations.  He came back to the farm after graduating from K-State.  H e and his wife have built their farming operation up to 5,000 acres.  John, a former 4-Her, got involved with his local Extension council and then the state council.  He went on to become the founding chairman of the National extension council and also served on the prestigious national Committee on Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching.
   
One day John heard a congressional briefing by a K-State researcher who was developing new varieties of a crop called canola.  As the researcher described the many benefits of this new crop, John became so intrigued that he asked where he could get some of that seed.  The assistant to the Dean of Agriculture went to the seed house and got three bags of canola seed for John to try, and that was the beginning.
   
John became involved with the U.S. Canola Association.  The USCA was formed in 1989 to increase U.S. canola production to meet the growing public demand for healthy products.  In the years since, U.S. canola production has gone from virtually zero to 1.2 million acres.
   
Kansas farmer and banker Alan States was a key leader in the canola industry.  When Alan’s time on the USCA Board ended, he was succeeded by John Haas.  John would go on to be the national president of the organization in 2005-07.
   
So what exactly is canola?  John says with a smile, “Half the people think I say granola, but I tell them that’s the stuff you have for breakfast.”  Canola is an oilseed crop, known for its brilliant golden flowers when in bloom.  The seeds from that crop can be harvested and then crushed to produce canola oil for use in food or fuel.
   
Canola oil has the healthiest fat profile of any oil in the marketplace.  In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration states that eating canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease.  Canola oil has no cholesterol or trans fact.  It is great for cooking, having a high smoke point, neutral taste and light texture.  John says it is also the best feedstock for biodiesel, with a natural oil yield more than double that of soybeans.
   
John considers canola an excellent crop for rural Kansas.  He can use his existing drill and combine to plant and harvest the crop.  Roundup ready canola works especially well in rotation with wheat to help fight weeds and increase yields.  John delivers his canola to elevators in rural places like Nickerson or Iuka, population 184.  Now, that’s rural.
   
A unique feature of the U.S. Canola Association is that the board was designed with representation not just from growers, but also from agribusiness and the food industry.  John says, “We work together very cooperatively.”  He says in reflection, “I’ve been very blessed in my family and in my opportunity to be involved.”

It’s time to leave this restaurant where the aroma is wonderful, with food cooked in canola oil.  We commend John Haas for making a difference with his service to the national organization which promotes this healthy crop.  As he says, canola is good for every body.
   
And there’s more.  We’ll learn about another national ag leader from rural Kansas on our next program.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

John Hachmeister - Garden of Eden

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
Have you been looking for the Garden of Eden? Perhaps most of us are, in one symbolic way or another. Well, I found the Garden of Eden. And sure enough, it's just east of Paradise....That's Paradise, Kansas, population 66 people.
Today, we'll take you to the Garden of Eden. But you won't need any celestial permission for this one. This Garden of Eden is a remarkable collection of grass-roots art located in Lucas, Kansas.
Today, this Garden of Eden is managed by a corporation. President of the Corporation is John Hachmeister. John himself is an accomplished artist. He grew up near Natoma in north central Kansas. Natoma has 392 people. Now, that's rural. John has degrees in painting and sculpture from KU, K-State, and Fort Hays. Today, he lives near Oskaloosa in eastern Kansas and teaches at Johnson County Community College in addition to practicing his artistic talents. He is a leader in the effort to preserve and promote grass-roots art.
Grassroots art is defined to be art created by untrained individuals who make primitive works of artistic ingenuity and cultural significance. One of these is the Garden of Eden in Lucas. Lucas is in Russell County in north central Kansas, just 16 miles north of Interstate 70. It was there in Lucas that an eccentric businessman named S. P. Dinsmoor made his home.
Mr. Dinsmoor was a Civil War veteran, farmer, and Populist politician. In 1907, he began building the Garden of Eden and cabin home. The house is normal enough, except that each window, door, and room is a different size. Nothing matches. But that looks almost normal compared to what is outside the house.
Mr. Dinsmoor wanted to make a statement, so he designed a set of interconnected concrete sculptures depicting biblical and political commentary. The viewer can find concrete figures of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the devil and an angel. There's also a depiction of the populist view of the crucifixion of labor. And it goes on and on. Words really don't do justice to this remarkable sight. You have to see it to believe it.
These unusual sculptures entirely surround the house. In fact, it took Mr. Dinsmoor 22 years to build these sculptures. He used 113 tons of cement. He also built a 40-foot tall limestone log mausoleum where he is laid to rest in his handmade, glass-topped concrete coffin. It's one of the most unusual man-made creations I've seen in my travels through rural Kansas. After Mr. Dinsmoor died, rooms in the house were used for decades as apartments. But then it was to open as a tourist attraction.
One of those who stepped in to preserve and promote it was John Hachmeister. He and others formed a company and sold non-paying stock to buy the building and grounds. Today, the site is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. It attracts more than 10,000 visitors annually. John Hachmeister is also a member of the Kansas Grassroots Art Association. This organization is dedicated to the preservation of grass-roots art creations across the states. One of the groups this organization works with is the Lucas Arts and Humanities Council. Since 1990, these groups have raised $120,000 for their projects. The goal of the Lucas group is to convert two downtown buildings in Lucas into a National Center for Grassroots Art.
Meanwhile, why does John himself choose to live on an old farm in a rural setting? He says, "As an artist, I need to be in a reflective environment. Here I can get away and find inspiration for my work. It's my own little Garden of Eden." Yes, you've found the Garden of Eden, alright. The one in Lucas is a remarkable sight to see. But in another sense, perhaps the blessings of a Garden of Eden are all around us in the rural nature of our state, where talented people like John Hachmeister are making a difference.

 

John Thaemert - Wheat Growers

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Kansas - the Wheat State.  Our state has long been known as a leader in the wheat industry, but given that fact, why is it that Kansas has not had a national president of the wheat growers organization in about a quarter of a century?  That situation was remedied recently when a young man from rural Kansas became the President of the National Association of Wheat Growers.  It’s another in our series on national ag leaders from Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet John Thaemert from Sylvan Grove, Kansas.  In March 2007, John became President of the National Association of Wheat Growers, the first Kansan to do so in more than 20 years.
   
John grew up on a small farm near Sylvan Grove.  You might say he went to college on the seven year plan.  He was expanding the farming operation, so he attended Fort Hays State in the spring semester only and spent the summer and fall doing the farming.  He studied finance and went to work for Citizens State Bank and Trust in Ellsworth while continuing to farm.
   
Two things happened next.  One was that a neighbor of John’s, Merrill Neilsen, became active with the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.  In fact, Merrill was the state president.  The second was that John joined a brand new program called Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership, or KARL.  The goal of KARL is to encourage more leadership in the ag industry and rural communities.  John Thaemert was in the very first class of KARL participants.
   
John says, “KARL helped me to realize that if we in agriculture don’t stand up and speak for ourselves, somebody else will have a say and it might not be good.”  Through his neighbor Merrill, John got involved in the wheat growers organization.
   
He became active at the state level and then at the national level as well, serving on various committees and boards.  The time came to consider national office.  John says, “I’d asked other people to consider it and they turned me down, so I decided I’d give it a try myself.”  He was elected in 2007.
   
His responsibilities take him from coast to coast and as far away as Australia.  Because of the farm bill debates and other national policy issues, he travels to Washington DC approximately once a month.  That’s pretty exciting, coming from the rural community of Sylvan Grove, Kansas, population 319 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
In fact, back in 2001 he was in DC on business while serving as President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers.  He and other wheat producers were in one senator’s office when their meeting was interrupted.  The day, by the way, was 9-11.
   
The report came that terrorists had hit the World Trade Center and that the Senate office buildings had to be evacuated immediately.  Next thing he knew, John and his colleagues were on the street.  They managed to get to the airport and found that all planes were grounded.  So they rented one of the last vans available and proceeded to drive home, all the way to Kansas.
   
Most of his wheat grower activities have not been quite so dramatic.  It has been exciting to be the national president in the year that the new farm bill is being debated.  The wheat growers are working to maintain the basic structure of farm programs.  Among growers, John is working to change producers’ mindsets from entitlement to entrepreneurship.  John is proud that USDA and the National Association of Wheat Growers are working together on biotech issues.  He is excited about such possibilities as cellulosic energy from agricultural crops and the promise which this can have for the future.

Kansas - the Wheat State.  Now our state can also claim to be the home of the President of the National Association of Wheat Growers.  We commend John Thaemert for making a difference with his service, helping to improve the state of wheat.
   
And there’s more.  Yet another commodity is represented by a Kansan at the helm of its national organization, so we’ll meet another national ag leader from rural Kansas next week.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Josh and Gwen Hoy

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Deep roots.  The deep roots of the bluestem grass are what sustains the tallgrass prairie in times of drought and fire.  Deep roots would also describe a young Kansas couple who are sharing their tradition of cowboy food and culture in the heart of the Kansas Flint Hills.  They offer an outstanding guest ranch and food catering service in the best tradition of the west.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Josh and Gwen Hoy of the Flying W Ranch in Chase County, Kansas.  Like the tallgrass itself, they have deep roots in the prairie.  The Hoys are fifth generation ranchers in the Kansas Flint Hills.  Josh’s parents are Jim and Cathy Hoy of Emporia.
   
Josh Hoy grew up cowboying in these hills and traveled and worked with cattle all over.  He says he worked horseback in 14 states.  In winters, Josh would often go to California and work in his cousin’s feed business.  When his cousin, Warren Kruse, decided it was time to sell his feed business, the two went together to buy a large ranch in the Flint Hills of Kansas.
   
In honor of Warren, they used his first initial and named it the Flying W Ranch.  But on July 17, 2004, disaster struck.  Warren Kruse was killed in a tragic accident.
   
By that time, Josh and Gwen had moved to the ranch, and they had to carry on.  They had opened their working cattle operation as a guest ranch and tourism attraction for visitors.  Now the Flying W Ranch offers experiences that are tailored to the interests of each individual.
   
The ranch offers horseback riding, cowboy lessons, fishing, hiking, hunting, a modern bunkhouse for lodging, and chuckwagon cooking.  Oh yes, that chuckwagon cooking.
   
Josh really enjoys doing this type of food preparation and cooking.  They converted an old building near the house into a commercial kitchen.  Now the Hoys can do catering for hundreds as well as cook at the ranch.
   
A sample menu would include beef brisket, camp beans, potatoes and cobbler.  At special events, Josh will prepare the food over an open fire next to a genuine 1880s chuckwagon.  He can also design special menus.  For the 2007 Symphony in the Flint Hills, he served a delicious gourmet course to some 700 people.
   
It is fitting that the Hoys cater chuckwagon food.  Josh is a descendant of the legendary trail drive pioneer Charlie Goodnight, who is credited as being the inventor of the chuckwagon.
   
But who comes to the ranch?  Lots of people.  Josh and Gwen say their business has doubled in recent years.  Visitors come from Kansas City and the eastern Kansas region, but also as far away as Oregon, Virginia, Switzerland and Australia.  Wow.
   
Visitors are attracted by the opportunity to experience the cowboy culture and the vastness of the rural prairie.  The Flying W is a 10,000 acre ranch.  There are many miles of river, creek, hills, prairie and woodland to hike, ride, fish, and explore.  The headquarters is the Hoy home, an 1890s homestead with a historic three-story barn nestled in the Cottonwood River Valley.  The ranch is located east of Cedar Point, population 53 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Josh says, “People can experience ranch life as it is or as it was.”  In other words, they can stay in a comfortable bunkhouse with modern amenities or camp out on the prairie with a chuckwagon.  Guests can ride a working ranch horse or go in a horsedrawn wagon pulled by a team.  For more information, go to www.flying-w-ranch.net.
   
Josh says, “The part we love best is sharing the love of the Flint Hills.”  In the old barn, he points to a small saddle with pride and says, “Our daughter Josie will be the sixth generation of Hoys to ride that pony saddle.”
   
Deep roots.  They not only sustain the tallgrass prairie, they provide a base for families like Josh and Gwen Hoy to offer genuine cowboy experiences in the Kansas Flint Hills.  We commend the Hoys for making a difference by honoring and extending this culture and cuisine.  From these deep roots come the energy to grow and flourish.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Judy Billings - Freedoms Frontier

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
It is the predawn hours of August 21, 1863.  Into the streets of Lawrence rides William Quantrill with some murderous raiders from Missouri.  They proceed to ransack and burn the town.  It’s part of what the national press called Bleeding Kansas, where the dispute over the future of slavery was played out in violent form.  Today we’ll learn about an initiative to preserve and share the history of this turbulent era.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Judy Billings, director of the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Lawrence.  She is giving leadership to what has become known as the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
   
“This all began with 15 people sitting around a table in 1999,” Judy says.  “We were discussing the upcoming sesquicentennial of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the opening up of Indian territory, which ultimately brought Kansas into the Union as a free state.  We knew that we had a unique story in Kansas which lead up to the Civil War.”  Judy and other tourism professionals recognized a need to preserve and promote the heritage of this period.
   
It goes back to the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, which allowed settlers in those states to determine if the states would allow slavery or not.  Both pro- and anti-slavery forces resorted to violence.  A pro-slavery raid on Lawrence on 1856 resulted in a tremendous loss of property.  Two free-soil newspaper presses and a hotel serving the New England Emigrant Aid Company were destroyed.  Three days later, John Brown's execution of five unarmed pro-slavery settlers escalated the violence from looting and destruction to outright murder.
   
These events marked the onset of years of violent guerilla warfare along the Kansas-Missouri border.  They generated national headlines about "Bleeding Kansas," focusing national attention on this heated border dispute, ultimately leading to the Civil War.
   
Judy Billings says, “Bleeding Kansas and the border war is our unique story.  The balance of power for our country was in question.  We were at the epicenter of these struggles for freedom.”
   
The National Park Service agreed.  In January 2000, a summit meeting was held with people interested in the history of Bleeding Kansas.  The conclusion was that this region needed a designation as a national heritage area.  That sounded good to Judy, until someone told her the process of getting such a congressional designation usually takes 10 years.  She didn’t want to wait that long.
   
But a committed group of volunteers went to work.  After a great deal of research and work with the political process, Congress passed such a designation in 2006 -- in only six years.  The region became designated the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area.
   
Judy says, “Our national heritage area includes 41 counties, 29 in eastern Kansas and 12 in western Missouri.  At 23,000 square miles, it is the second largest national heritage area in the nation.   We don’t have a common physical infrastructure, but we do have compelling stories.”
   
Ultimately, the story is the struggle for freedom.  It includes sites such as Quantrill’s raid in Lawrence, up to more modern times such as the Brown v. Board of Education site in Topeka.  It also includes rural places such as the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church in Wabaunsee, where the entire township has a population of 455 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Judy Billings says, “We have an estimated 200 visitor sites relating to this theme within our national heritage area.  But our kids know the Border War only as a nickname for basketball or football games.  We are one generation away from losing this history.”
   
She says, “We have 100 to 150 people coming to our meetings now, working on a management plan for our heritage area.  These people are very committed to telling our unique story.”  For more information, go to www.freedomsfrontier.org.

Fast forward to 2008.  Instead of William Quantrill, modern day citizens are riding into Lawrence – not to ransack and burn, but to shop and learn.  We commend Judy Billings and all those involved with the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area for making a difference by preserving and promoting this history.  This initiative will honor those who helped bring freedom to the frontier.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Julie and Val Klenda - Cackleberry Farm

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Blueberries.  Blackberries.  Strawberries.  You know about all of these, but what about a cackleberry?  Here’s a clue: It doesn’t grow on trees, but it might be found in a nest.  Yes, a cackleberry is another name for an egg. Today we’ll meet a farm family with an enterprise based on cackleberries – as in laid by chickens.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Julie and Val Klenda.  Julie and Val farm near the central Kansas town of Lincolnville.  They are natives of the area, having grown up on farms nearby.  Val was already farming by the time they were married.  Julie and Val went on to have six children.  Val now works for a neighboring feedlot in addition to his farming operation, and Julie works for Cooperative Grain and Supply at Hillsboro.
   
When they were first on the farm, Julie had a few chickens on the place just to have eggs for their own use.  Her mom had raised chickens for years and sold the eggs to supplement their grocery money.
   
One year Julie’s dad suggested that she might try raising chickens, just as his wife had done. So they got a license from the Kansas Department of Agriculture, moved a 20 by 40 foot chicken house over to Val and Julie’s place, and started in the business.
   
Julie bought 500 chicks, raised them for eggs, and started selling them to neighbors and local grocery stores.  One day she picked up a used egg carton which had the word “cackleberry’ on it to describe the eggs.  She thought that was a catchy way to describe eggs so she adopted the name.  Using the initials from Julie and Val, her business is now known as J and V Cackleberry Farm.
   
Having raised chickens in my life, I think cackleberry is a fitting name.  If you think about how the shape of an egg resembles a berry and if you’ve ever heard a hen cackle after laying an egg or being disturbed, it seems very appropriate.
   
Today, the J and V Cackleberry Farm produces more than 27,000 dozen eggs in a single year.  The market for their eggs is primarily regional.  Julie sells to grocery stores, restaurants, convenience stores, schools, and individual customers in the region.
   
Val and Julie raise their own corn, milo and alfalfa and mix the feed themselves. The eggs are hand-gathered, cleaned, and packed into cartons.  The chickens are not caged layers.  The hens have wooden box nests with straw.  They are turned out during the day and come in to roost at night.
   
Julie says of her business, “It’s fun, and it’s something I can do at home on my own time.”  To gather, sort, clean, candle and package that many eggs does require a lot of work.  At the time of her peak production, Julie was getting 1,200 eggs every day.  Wow.
   
Julie says, “One of the good things about being on the farm is that there’s always something to do, either work or fun – but it’s usually work!”  She says, “My kids’ teachers always say that my kids are good workers.”
   
The result of her work is locally grown, high quality products.  Julie says, “One day I was in the store in Herington and I noticed a customer looking around.  I said, “Can I help you?”“ Without knowing who Julie was, the lady said, “I’m looking for some of those cackleberry eggs.  I sure don’t want the warehouse kind.”
   
That’s a sign of the high quality and customer loyalty which has developed for J and V Cackleberry Farm.  It’s also a hallmark of life in rural Kansas, as found on Julie and Val’s farm near the rural town of Lincolnville, population 226 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Blueberries.  Blackberries.  Strawberries.  Yes, you know all of those, and now you know about the cackleberry.  We commend Julie and Val Klenda and their family for making a difference by building this home-grown enterprise on the farm.  Thanks to the Klendas, we know that the cackleberry is an egg, not a fruit – but it is good to see that the fruits of their labors have come home to roost.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Julie Perkins

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Remember the flavor of an old time ice cream soda?  Not many do.  The soda fountain has gone the way of the buggywhip and the gas lantern.  Yet a few soda fountains can still be found in rural America.  Today we’ll meet a young entrepreneur who is expanding her rural hometown business while preserving the old soda fountain.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Julie and Patrick Perkins.  Julie and Patrick came from the rural southeastern Kansas town of Howard, in the southern Flint Hills of Elk County.  While in high school, Julie worked at the local pharmacy and gift shop.  The store was called Batson’s Drug, named for the owner, John Batson, and it included an oldtime soda fountain.
   
One wouldn’t call Julie a soda jerk, but that was the term for those who worked at the old soda fountains.  They would put flavored syrup into a specially designed tall glass and then add soda water and one or two scoops of ice cream.  The worker jerked the handle of the fountain to add the soda water, and that’s how the term soda jerk came into being.  Julie Perkins worked with the soda fountain but also helped John Batson with the gift shop and pharmacy.
   
She liked the pharmaceutical work and chose to go to pharmacy school at KU.  Patrick went to K-State and then transferred to technical college at Beloit.  He is trained as an industrial electrician.  The two were married after graduating from college.
   
As Julie was preparing to finish school, she got a call from her old employer, John Batson.  He asked her if she was interested in coming back to her hometown and taking over his store, but she told him no.  Instead she entered the corporate world and went to work as a pharmacist for K-Mart.
   
But after two and a half years, Julie was getting frustrated with the corporate life.  When John Batson contacted her again, she and Patrick came to a different conclusion.  In January 1995, they bought the store and moved back to Howard.
   
Julie says with a smile, “When we graduated we said we were never coming back, and now, here we are.”  Not only did they come back, they expanded the business and become part of the community.  They started a family and Julie joined Rotary.
   
Then the community of Howard suffered a blow.  In fall 2005, the local grocery store closed its doors. It was the week before Thanksgiving.  Ouch, talk about bad timing.
   
Julie recognized the importance of a grocery store to the community, so she and Patrick decided to expand their building to offer groceries at Batson’s.  At first, they drove to Wichita to  pick up supplies for the little old ladies in Howard who couldn’t get out of town.  Eventually, they lined up grocery suppliers and got their building remodeled.  Today, the business is known as Batson’s Drug and Family Market.
   
It is located in downtown Howard, population 790 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Julie says, “I think you have to diversify.  I ask, what am I having to go out of town for?  If I need to go after those things, then other people probably need to as well.  We want to offer all the services locally that we can.”
   
Now they have purchased the vacant barber shop next door and will eventually expand into there.  Meanwhile, the soda fountain has been a constant feature through the years.  An ice cream cone costs only 40 cents. They handmake banana splits, chocolate sodas, sundaes, floats, and cherry limeades.

Remember the flavor of an old time ice cream soda?  Not a lot of people do, but here in Howard is a young couple which is preserving and building on that heritage.  We commend Julie and Patrick Perkins for making a difference by expanding their services in response to community needs.  At a time when we hear about brain drain and rural outmigration of youth, this is as refreshing as a cold limeade on a hot summer day.  Their return to small town Kansas gives the picture of rural life a whole new flavor.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.
   

  Kansas Leadership Forum

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
    
Who is getting on the bus?  It sounds like the school bus or a crosstown bus ride, but I'm actually talking about a principle of leadership.  In his book Good to Great, author Jim Collins writes that one of the keys to creating great businesses or organizations is for the leaders to get the "right people on the bus," figuratively speaking.  In other words, leaders need to have people with the right mix of skills, abilities, and shared vision within their organization.  Today we'll learn about a statewide leadership organization that is putting this principle to work -- complete with the idea of a bus ride.  It's today's Kansas Profile.
    
Meet the officers of the Kansas Leadership Forum, or KLF as it is called for short.  The Kansas Leadership Forum is the statewide association of leadership development professionals and volunteers in communities and colleges across Kansas.  These include local leadership program directors, board members, committee members and volunteers; faculty of collegiate leadership programs; youth leadership educators; extension agents; leadership program alumni; and more.
    
KLF is also a member of the Community Leadership Association, which is the international organization for community leadership development.  In a sense, KLF is the state organization and CLA the national one.
    
CLA holds an excellent annual conference in the spring.  The conference has recently been held in such places as Grand Rapids, Michigan; Atlanta, Georgia; and Bridgeport, Connecticut.  KLF has sent members to the CLA conference each year.
    
But last year, there came news which got the KLF officers excited:  It was announced that the 2008 CLA conference would be in Denver. KLF leaders recognized that this was the closest that the CLA conference had been to Kansas in years so they brainstormed about how to take advantage of this opportunity.
    
One of the brainstorms was quite simple:  Bus trip.  KLF considered chartering a bus to gather and transport members across Kansas and cover their transportation expenses to attend the CLA conference.  Given the current price of gas, this was a significant benefit to members, but also would be a significant cost to the organization.
    
Meanwhile, the new Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita had been in contact with KLF as well.  The Leadership Center was created by the Kansas Health Foundation with a mission to enhance civic leadership in our state.  The new center, led by President and CEO Ed O'Malley, contacted KLF with a willingness to be of help.
    
So the Kansas Leadership Center agreed to sponsor the bus for KLF members to go to Denver.  Over time, however, it became clear that the most useful assistance was not actually a bus, but scholarships for KLF members to attend.  So instead, the Kansas Leadership Center provided funding for 10 KLF members to be able to go to the CLA conference.
    
These KLF members come from all across the state, both rural and urban communities.  Their hometowns include Wichita and Topeka, plus communities like Newton and Arkansas City, population 11,720.  Now, that's rural.
    
Thus, KLF members from across Kansas will have this opportunity to participate in the CLA conference in Denver, thanks to the Kansas Leadership Center.  More Kansans will be attending CLA than have participated in years.  So while this process didn't end up as a literal bus ride, it has produced a special opportunity for leadership development for Kansans.
    
And then came one more special announcement:  The main speaker at the CLA annual conference would be none other than Jim Collins, author of the book Good to Great.  Collins wrote of getting the right people on the bus, and in this case, KLF is getting the right people there.
So who is getting on the bus?  No, it's not literally a bus ride, in this case it's a delegation of Kansans who will have an opportunity to access world-class leadership development at CLA in Denver, thanks to the Kansas Leadership Center and the KLF.  We commend Ed O'Malley and
the Kansas Leadership Center and the officers of the Kansas Leadership Forum for making a difference by creating this wonderful opportunity.  For this bus trip, the final destination is better leadership for our state and communities.
    
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Kansas Collaborative

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Dollars and cents.  As taxpayers, we are sensitive to how our tax dollars and cents are used by government.  And sometimes we are frustrated: Is it ever possible for governments to work together to save dollars and cents?  Today we’ll learn about an initiative where state, county and city governments are indeed working together.  The savings of dollars and cents is adding up to millions.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Kathleen Harnish-Doucet and her business partner Joel Wright.  They are principals of a company in Olathe, Kansas called Team Tech Inc., which is facilitating this innovative project known as the Kansas Collaborative.
   
Our story begins when Kathleen and Joel were facilitating Governor Sebelius’ Budget Efficiency Savings Teams during her first years in office.  Kathleen and Joel went to the Governor and said, “If we are truly going to achieve seamless delivery of government services, we need to go all the way to the local level to where those services are delivered.  Do you want us to reach out to local governments or do you want us to stop with state agencies?”  The Governor encouraged them to reach out to local governments.
   
Meanwhile, Randall Allen, the executive director of the Kansas Association of Counties, had written to the Secretary of SRS asking how county governments could be as strategic in working with health and human services as with roads and bridges, for example.  The Secretary referred him to Kathleen and Joel, and great minds began to work together.  A statewide summit on health and human services was held in fall 2003.
   
When counties were asked about a key bottom line issue in the health and human services area, the topic which was identified was health care costs for inmate populations.  Medication costs for inmates were highly variable and rising.  So a joint state and county task force - called a breakthrough team - was formed to research the topic and provide information on medication pricing and alternative types of purchasing.  When that information was implemented by state and local government, it saved an estimated seven million dollars.  Wow.
   
Those type of results can get people’s attention, and they want more of them.  In fall 2005, a new initiative called the Kansas Collaborative was formally launched.  It is a joint effort between the State of Kansas, the Kansas Association of Counties, and the League of Kansas Municipalities to foster collaboration and improve government efficiency.  The initiative is facilitated by Team Tech Inc.
   
The idea of government collaboration to save money would seem to be simple, but it requires intentional effort to implement.  The Kansas Collaborative formed breakthrough teams on topics such as transportation and geographic information systems.
   
For example, the teams found that annually the Kansas Department of Transportation announced the location of its planned overlay projects after local government road and bridge budgets had been finalized.  By coordinating the timing of those projects and announcing them earlier, local governments could adjust their local projects to make these work together more efficiently.
   
In Hamilton County, the road superintendent used this information to save the county $250,000 on a road paving project near the rural community of Coolidge, population 86 people.  Now, that’s rural.  Saving a quarter-million dollars in a rural county makes a real impact.
   
Don Moler of the League of Kansas Municipalities says, “The idea is to find solutions to common problems by working together, and saving some money in the process.”  Randall Allen of the Kansas Association of Counties says, “Kansans don’t care who delivers the government service, but they want it delivered efficiently and well.  The Kansas Collaborative is tackling budget-busting problems by working across jurisdictions to find solutions.”
   
Kathleen Harnish-Doucet says, “We estimate the total savings resulting from this project for state and local governments are now up to more than 20 million dollars.”  For more information, go to www.thekansascollaborative.com.

Dollars and cents.  It is possible for governments to work together to save dollars and cents. We commend all those involved with the Kansas Collaborative for making a difference by working together more efficiently to save the taxpayer money.  Positive results come from collaboratively saving dollars and using common sense.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ken Klemm - Buffalo Guys

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight?” said the old song.  Today, instead of buffalo gals, we’re going to learn about buffalo guys.  In fact, the name of their business is literally The Buffalo Guys.  These guys are producing buffalo meat for customers all across the nation, while being based in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ken Klemm, co-founder of the business known as The Buffalo Guys.  Ken was managing ranches in Colorado when he started working with buffalo.  In 1999, he and his wife Laurie and family bought a place called the Homestead Ranch in Sherman County, Kansas and started raising buffalo of their own.  But two things promptly happened: A drought hit, and the buffalo market broke.  Ouch.
   
So Ken started seeking alternative ways to market his buffalo by reaching directly to customers.  First it was in selling locally to farmers’ markets.  Then he tried selling buffalo meat to four and five star restaurants.  Then he set up a website and started shipping buffalo products directly to people’s homes.
   
Today the biggest part of the business is supplying buffalo products to grocery and health food stores.  Ken’s partner is Peter Thieriot, who had buffalo ranches in Wyoming but has since bought neighboring ranches to Ken’s place in Kansas.  Together, they are The Buffalo Guys.
   
The Buffalo Guys offers USDA-inspected All Natural Buffalo Hot Dogs, Buffalo Sausages, tasty Buffalo Jerky, Buffalo Steaks, Buffalo Burgers and Buffalo Roasts.  These are truly all natural products.  They come from range-raised buffalo without antibiotics.  The Buffalo Guys do not feed animal byproducts or use growth hormones or artificial preservatives.
   
The first product that The Buffalo Guys developed had a catchy name: Buffaloaf.  It sounded to me like a lazy bison, but it was actually a flavored meat loaf.  Although the product did not catch on and was discontinued, Ken says that they still get calls for it two years later.  Meanwhile, demand for their main buffalo products continues strong.
   
Buffalo meat is lean, and as a result it scores favorably lower on cholesterol, fat and saturated fat when compared to beef, pork, skinless breast of chicken and even most fish.  The health appeal of the product and the environmentally friendly production methods have contributed to the demand for buffalo meat.
   
In addition, The Buffalo Guys offer ribs, tenderloin, and many packages of cuts.  Then there are all the additional items, such as dog bones, recipes, seasonings, and even official t-shirts, gloves and aprons.
   
Today, The Buffalo Guys are shipping their products coast to coast, mostly to health food stores and upscale mom-and-pop natural food stores.  In Ken’s office is a map of the U.S. with pins showing the locations of stores to which they deliver across the country.  There are some 1,200 pins all across the country, with an additional 20 or 30 being added each month.  Wow.
   
About half the buffalo is produced on Ken and Peter’s ranches, and the other half is produced by growers who raise them to The Buffalo Guys’ specifications.
   
Ken says, “The business really started in my basement out at the ranch, but when I needed to hire somebody to help me, I figured that they didn’t want to go out to my basement.”  That’s when Ken moved the office to Goodland.
   
Ken also offers buffalo hunts on his ranch in rural Sherman County where a person can participate in an escorted hunt for trophy bulls, prime cows, or more.  The ranch is 18 miles north of the town of Goodland, population 4,775 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Ken and Peter are branching out to offer breeding stock and grass-fed buffalo meat to customers as well.  More information can be found at www.thebuffaloguys.com, www.thehomesteadranch.com, and www.beavercreekbuffalo.com.

“Buffalo gals, won’t you come out tonight?” went the old refrain.  But these aren’t buffalo gals, they are The Buffalo Guys.  We commend Ken and Laurie Klemm, Peter Thieriot, and all those involved with the buffalo guys for making a difference through entrepreneurship and creative thinking.  Through their hard work, these buffalo guys are coming out to customers all across the nation.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ken McCauley - Corn Growers

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The President is giving his State of the Union speech.  He speaks about the importance of ethanol and his vision for renewable fuels.  One of the people listening in the Old Executive Office Building near the White House helped shape those words, and he has helped shape our nation’s policy on ethanol, energy, and farm policy.  He’s the President of the National Corn Growers Association and he comes from rural Kansas.  It’s another in our series on national ag leaders from Kansas, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ken McCauley.  Ken is a corn farmer in northeast Kansas and the 2006-2007 National Corn Growers President.
   
Ken farms in the very northeast corner of Kansas, near the town of White Cloud along the Missouri River.  He grew up near the Doniphan County town of Leona, population 88 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
After attending K-State, Ken came back to farm with his dad and brothers.  Ken’s family has deep roots in this part of rural Kansas. Today, he lives in a remodeled version of the house which his great-grandfather built.  In fact, his mother was born in the room which is now Ken’s office.
   
Ken and his wife Mary and their son Brad now farm around 4,000 acres of which three-fourths is corn.  Ken first got involved in corn policy through the Kansas corn checkoff for research and promotion and, in 1996, got more involved at the national level.  Another Kansan, Roger Pine from Lawrence, was President of the National Corn Growers Association in 1998. Ken says, “I really respected the way he did things.”
   
So Ken got involved in NCGA and got elected to the board.  Board members serve on various committees dealing with key topics.  Ken says, “I served as a committee vice-chair and was going for chair, but instead I got switched to a different committee.  At the time, I thought that was a bad thing, but it ended up being very helpful.  I was vice-chair of three different committees.”
   
On October 1, 2006, Ken became President of the National Corn Growers Association and then Chairman of the organization.
   
It was an exciting time to be in the national leadership of NCGA, with farm and energy bills pending in Washington.  At one point, Ken was in the nation’s capital right before the President’s State of the Union address and he had the opportunity to sit in on a preview of the speech.  Ken listened to the text of the speech on renewable fuels and gave the speechwriter some input on the importance of giving a commitment to ethanol which would build credibility among corn farmers.  The speechwriter listened and adjusted the speech.  On the following day, Ken heard the President voice his commitment to ethanol.
   
The growth of ethanol production has been a significant factor in boosting corn prices.  It’s worked so well in fact, that some consumer groups have voiced concern about a food versus fuel conflict.
   
Ken says, “It’s not food versus fuel, it’s food and fuel.  Corn has doubled in price but that only added 2 percent to the price of food.  And corn acreage has gone from 74 million acres to 93 million acres.”
   
Ken also points out the importance of renewable fuels for the nation’s economy and the environment.  Ken says, “When you pump a barrel of crude oil, it’s gone.  But when you use ethanol, you know it comes from a domestic, renewable source.”  He also foresees more products being made from corn-based, earth-friendly bioplastics in the future, further reducing our dependence on foreign oil.
       
The President’s State of the Union address has come to an end, and Ken McCauley joins those applauding his commitment to ethanol and renewable fuels generally.  As National Corn Growers Association President, Ken has made a difference by representing this industry so effectively.  Ken says, “I’ve been lucky, because so many other people have worked so hard to get us to this point.”  I’m glad to see him as a leader among all the states in the union.
   
And there’s more.  We’ll meet another national ag leader from rural Kansas next week.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ken and Sue Schwindt

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The home church.  That’s a phrase we use when describing the church where we belong, where we have our membership, where we come home to.  But today we’ll meet a couple who not only worshipped in a particular church, that church is now their home - literally.  They have purchased a former church, converted it to their residence, and are now opening their home to overnight guests.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ken and Sue Schwindt of Wichita County in far western Kansas.  Ken has deep family roots here.  His great-grandfather Nicholas Schwindt immigrated from Russia and homesteaded here in 1902.  In 1903, Nicholas and his bride donated 80 acres for a church and school.  The original Pleasant Valley Church building was constructed here in 1929.  It was truly a country church, being located about 20 minutes from the county seat of Leoti.  In 1963, a new sanctuary was built on to the old church.
   
The first couple to be married in the new sanctuary were none other than Ken and Sue Schwindt.  Ken says, “There were about 120 people attending the church when Sue and I were married.”
   
But country churches and other rural institutions have found it difficult to sustain themselves in changing times.  By 1998, there were only five members left in the Pleasant Valley Church.  The church closed its doors and merged with the First United Methodist Church of Leoti.
   
In 2000, the church and grounds were put up for silent auction.  The successful bidder was the very same Ken Schwindt.  Ken and Sue set out to convert the church building into not only their home, but to a bed and breakfast as well.
   
Ken farms with a neighbor and runs his own trenching and backhoe business, while Sue works at a local bank.  They remodeled the church building to become a B and B and are continuing to refine it.
   
I think the design is ingenious.  The former sanctuary is now a great room which can serve as a big meeting room, recreational area, and/or large breakfast area for guests.  The kitchen has been remodeled and the former fellowship hall makes a spacious living room.  The Sunday school classrooms are now sleeping rooms.  Come to think of it, for some of us that may not be as much of a change as I thought it was...
   
The church pews are gone, although one can still find Methodist hymnals among the many books and keepsakes in the home.
   
In keeping with history, the name of the place is Pleasant Valley Bed and Breakfast.  It’s a wonderful rural getaway for people who want to get out into the country.  Pleasant Valley’s mailing address is Marienthal, which is a nearby unincorporated town with a population of maybe 60 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
The building has been furnished with wonderful antiques and family heirlooms.  For example, a dining table was bought by Ken’s grandfather in 1912.  Many other family items have been refinished and reupholstered by Ken and Sue.
   
The Schwindt family cemetery is located just north of the former church building.  Ken says with a smile, “They are our closest neighbors, and I give them anything they ask for.”

The bed and breakfast opened in 2005.  It offers three private guest rooms and shared baths, all decorated in victorian, lodge, or country antique.  A common living room doubles as an additional sleeping area with two pull out couches.  The B and B hosts local events and area visitors, and has hosted guests from as far away as Oregon.
   
Ken says, “I tell visitors that this is my home, but it’s yours when you’re away from home.”  For reservations or additional information, call 620-375-2874.

The home church.  That’s the church where we belong, to which we go home.  In this case, we found a family whose home and church are the same.  Their home really was a church, and vice versa.  We commend Ken and Sue Schwindt for making a difference by valuing their family history and sharing their home with others.  We might say that their home can provide other people with a quiet place to find sanctuary.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Kevin Hood

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Let’s talk about Paints.  No, not the kind used by artists to create pictures, I’m talking about Paint Horses - those beautiful horses with the flashy skin colors.  Today we’ll meet a nationally acclaimed Paint Horse trainer, breeder and showman.  He’s based in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Kevin Hood, owner of Kevin Hood Show Horses.  Kevin grew up liking horses.  His father was in the Army so they literally moved all over the world, but his grandfather lived in Sherman, Texas where Kevin went for the summers.  When Kevin was tiny, his grandfather took him to horse sales. Kevin started buying and selling horses like his grandpa.
   
As Kevin’s father’s military career was winding down, the family thought about a place to retire.  With Texas becoming urbanized, they looked for a more rural location and chose Fort Riley, Kansas.  The family moved here in 1975 and fell in love with it.  They bought a farm near the rural community of Westmoreland, population 628.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Kevin says, “We came here and loved it.”  He’d grown up around horses, but now he came to learn that there is an art and science to horse training.  He embarked on a training and showing career which would take him to various horse ranches around the country.  As he had success, people encouraged him to work with those flashy Paint Horses.
   
When Kevin and his wife Kathy wanted to start a family, they came back to Kansas.  Kevin says, “I’ve lived all over, but I’m here because this is where I want to be.”
   
Today, Kevin Hood specializes in training, showing, breeding, shipping semen, and selling horses - especially Paints.  Kevin says, “I grew up around ranchers and stockmen, so I can pick a colt and know what he’s going to be in a couple of years.”  That ability to develop horses has proven to be a significant asset.
   
He recalls another lesson from his early days.  Kevin says, “We were sitting with an old rancher at a café in Texas when his grown son came in and told about buying a neighbor lady’s cattle.  The old rancher asked what he gave for `em.  His son told him the price, which was below market value but was exactly the price that this lady asked.  The old man got real upset.  He said, “Now, you know better than that.  You know the real value of those cattle.  You get up right now and go pay her what those cattle were worth.”  And he did.”  Kevin says, “I saw the importance of doing the right thing and treating people fair.”
   
Kevin has put his values to work while using modern technology.  Kevin says, “When we moved here we had a two-party line.  An independent phone company came in and upgraded our telephone and Internet.  Thanks to my daughters, I can sit here in small town USA and do business all over the country.”  Their website is www.kevinhoodshowhorses.com.
   
Today, Kevin attracts customers from all over the country and even overseas, as far away as Australia, Italy, and Sweden.  His success in the showring is amazing, having shown some 33 reserve or world champion horses.  Wow.
   
He says, “I’m especially proud that they’ve come in different areas.  They’re not all in halter or western pleasure classes, for example.”  That’s like Michael Phelps winning Olympic gold medals in track and basketball, in addition to swimming.
   
But Kevin and Kathy have values that are more important than the showring.  Kevin says, “It’s really about helping the people behind the horses.  And it’s great to see my daughters learn and grow in self-confidence.”  Daughter Kally was on K-State’s world champion horse judging team.  Daughter Katelyn takes online high school classes while on the horse show circuit.  Kevin says, “Working with them is a gift and a blessing.”

We’ve been talking about Paints - not those used by artists, but those beautiful Paint Horses.  We commend Kevin and Kathy and Kally and Katelyn Hood for making a difference by using their love of horses to build an internationally known business.  For family values in rural Kansas, it paints a pretty picture.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Larry Grimsley - GS Inc.

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
3,2,1, ignition - we have liftoff!  The ground shakes as the rocket thunders from the Kennedy Space Center launchpad, carrying the space shuttle skyward on its way to another successful mission.  Those rocket boosters must be very strong and powerful.  They were heat treated using a system designed and built by a company in rural Kansas.  It sounds like science fiction, but it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Larry Grimsley, owner of GS Incorporated.  GS Inc. is the company which produces high-powered heating elements which helped prepare the space shuttle booster rockets and more.
   
Our story begins where Larry Grimsley grew up, three miles east of Americus in Lyon County, north of Emporia.  He worked as a machinist while going to school at Emporia State and then took a job with a manufacturing company in charge of their heating element work.  He enjoyed the work, but after his division of the company was sold and resold, he decided to go out on his own.
   
In 1989, Larry and his parents Jack and Joyce started GS Incorporated to work in industrial heating products.  But it takes a lot of courage to be an entrepreneur.
   
Larry says, “Frankly, I was scared to death.  I thought maybe I’d sell two elements a year to go in somebody’s toaster.”
   
But he rented a building back in his hometown of Americus and went to work.  The business grew.  In 1991, they built a new building in Americus.
   
This company’s specialty is building products for the high end of the heat processing industry.  By high end, I mean the type of equipment which can heat a product up to 1,000 to 2,300 degrees fahrenheit.  Wow.  That’s a long way beyond toasters.
   
GS Incorporated designs and builds the heating elements, insulation, and support structure for these products.  It is a true specialty.  There is no other company like this in Kansas and only a handful in the entire nation.
   
Larry says, “Most products go through some sort of heat processing.”  His company’s products are used in manufacturing, petrochemical, and automotive applications.
   
He says, “We tend to respond to the current happenings in the marketplace.  Fifteen years ago, we were working on heat treating the space shuttle booster rockets.  Then the automakers switched from steel to magnesium castings to get better gas mileage so we made elements for furnaces for that.  Now the processing of titanium is big and that has to be heated to 2,000 degrees.  Right now we’re making systems that harden the gears on wind turbines.”
   
The applications of his products are closer than you might think – perhaps in your good china cabinet or under the hood of your car.  Larry says, “Our products go into the electric kilns which are used to fire Lennox china.  And most all the engine valves on Ford and General Motors vehicles go through carburizing furnaces using our products.”
   
Larry Grimsley says, “Since we’ve started, we’ve probably shipped products to most every state, especially the northwestern U.S. and the east coast.”  Sales are up tenfold from two years ago.  They’re even shipping products as far away as Argentina and Korea.
   
Yet this remains a family business in a rural setting.  Larry’s father runs the shop and Larry’s mom worked in the office until she retired, only to be replaced by Larry’s wife Wanda.  Other family members have been known to step in when there’s a big project to be finished.
   
That’s what life is like in a rural town like Americus, Kansas, population 931 people.  Now, that’s rural.  Americus is located on a county road – not even on a state highway, but GS Inc. has been able to have global success in this rural setting.

The space shuttle is approaching re-entry.  Now we know that it’s mission was successfully completed thanks to a rural Kansas company.  We commend Larry and Wanda Grimsley, Jack and Joyce Grimsley, and the people of GS Inc. for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and innovation.  I’m glad to see that this company has been able to take off and bring the benefits back to earth.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Maria Baumgardner - Elmdale

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Help yourself.  That’s a courteous way of saying go ahead and do what you need to do.  Imagine a store where you could not only help yourself to the items for sale on the shelves, but you could help yourself by going to the cash register and making your own change on the honor system.  I didn’t think such places still existed anywhere, but I found one in rural Kansas.  It’s a store operated by a lady with a long service of history to her customers, and it’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Maria Baumgardner, owner of the Baumgardner Grocery Store in Elmdale, Kansas.  Ms. Baumgardner is originally from the nearby town of Clements.  In 1938, she married Glenn Baumgardner who from an early age was nicknamed Bummie.  Maria came to be known as Ms. Bummie.
   
Maria’s brother was in the bank at Elmdale.  He was looking for someone to run the hardware store in that community, so Bummie and Maria came to Elmdale to do so and then stayed.
   
After serving in the Army in World War II, Bummie wanted to start a locker plant in Elmdale.  He built a building in 1947 and opened the locker plant to butcher beef and venison.
   
Ms. Bummie says, “That was back in the days before people had deep freezes.  We had to get our meat fresh and we got it at the locker plant.”  The Baumgardners also had groceries on hand.  They had a son named Boyce and now have eight great-grandsons.
   
Bummie had a long career with the locker plant.  It was located in the back of the building, while the front part was the grocery store.  Elmdale was an active community in the early years, with a bank, school, hardware store, and more.  But over time, all those businesses closed.  Bummie fell into poor health and passed away in 1997.  The locker plant closed but Ms. Bummie continues to operate the grocery store.  Her house is literally across the street from the store.
   
Like the true lady which she is, Ms. Bummie doesn’t divulge her age.  However, she does indicate that her vision is not as good as it once was.  But with help from some friends, she faithfully continues to operate the store.
   
Baumgardners Grocery Store appears to be the only business left in Elmdale, other than the antique store and flea market out on the highway.  Elmdale is in a truly rural setting, nestled in the Flint Hills of Chase County along Highway 50.  It has a population of 45 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
How does a grocery store operate in such a rural place?  Ms. Bummie continues to work at it with help from some other people.  Her son Boyce lives in Emporia and brings supplies.  Various suppliers furnish meat, sandwiches, snack  foods and soda pop.  But it is really the people who make this place go.
   
Ms. Bummie still faithfully comes to the store at 5:45 every weekday morning.  Yes, I said 5:45 a.m.  She opens up the store for the regular coffee drinkers who come in every morning from the countryside.  Her friend the lady postmaster also comes in early to add the tickets and pay the bills.  Her regular customers make their own change at the cash register on the honor system.  The locals also know that the store is closed each Wednesday afternoon, while Boyce takes his mother to the beauty shop.  In the sense of a rural community pulling together, it is rural Kansas at its best.

Help yourself.  That’s a courteous way of saying go ahead and do what you need to do.  In this case, the regular customers help themselves by using the cash register and making their own change on the honor system.  But in a larger sense, that phrase and this store are symbols of life in rural Kansas, where self-help and helping one’s neighbor are a way of life.  We salute Maria Baumgardner and her customers in Elmdale for making a difference by keeping this store going.  Longstanding relationships like these in Elmdale make it possible for customers and rural communities to help themselves
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Matt Skillen

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Travel through rural America along country roads, and you will occasionally spot an old, dilapidated building near the road.  The roof and walls are in poor repair, the windows are broken out, and the yard is overcome with weeds.  This long-neglected rustic structure was the one-room school, once at the forefront of public education in Kansas.  K-State doctoral student Matthew Skillen brings to us the story of one of the last remaining one-room school teachers.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Laurence Pacey of Miltonvale, Kansas.  Mr. Pacey has a rich history from the one-room school era of Kansas public education.
   
Laurence Pacey’s father was a farmer and a teacher.  The senior Mr. Pacey had never attended high school, but was able to pass the state test to become a teacher.  Laurence Pacey says, “Everything I learned about teaching I learned from my dad.”
   
He learned his lessons well, but his career did not get off to an easy start.  After taking normal classes to become a teacher and passing the state tests, he applied to eight or ten schools to be a teacher – and never got a nibble.  Perhaps it was reverse gender bias.  School boards kept asking if he could play the piano, which he could not.
   
Then he came across a school which apparently had some rough kids.  One little girl had her arm broken on the playground, for example, so the school board members thought a male teacher might help bring order.  They told Mr. Pacey that if he would lower his wage from $55 a month to $50 a month, they would hire him.  Talk about teachers bring underpaid.
   
Anyway, he took the job and began a 25 year career of teaching in rural one-room schools.  Mr. Pacey says he had three jobs during his adult life: “I was of course a school teacher, I had the farm, and I was a father to thirteen children.”  Wow.  That’s one way to generate increased enrollment.
   
Mr. Pacey taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, plus science, health, and social studies.  But Mr. Pacey says, “I took every opportunity to teach real life lessons.”  Those lessons had a lasting impact.
   
For example, one time he bussed the kids to a nearby railroad bridge when the county was doing bridge repair  and had them watch the foreman operate a pile driver.  Then he had the kids send the foreman a thank you note.  Nearly thirty six years later, the foreman passed away.  Among the things he had saved, his wife and daughter found the letters which those kids had written more than three decades before.
   
Another time a tornado destroyed a nearby home and Mr. Pacey had the students prepare and deliver a meal to the family. Everyday he would play baseball in the school yard during recess with the students.
   
His classroom methods were what today’s education faculty might call student-centered and adaptive.  Mr. Pacey says, “You’ve got to start where the students are ready and you’ve got to be flexible.”
   
In 1963, the Kansas Legislature enacted the unification law which required many small schools to close and consolidate with neighboring schools.  Interestingly, Mr. Pacey continued to teach in a one-room school for eight years after the law was passed before his local school was consolidated.  Mr. Pacey is now 86 years old and retired.  He lives on the family farm near the rural community of Miltonvale, population 504 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Mr. Pacey says, “In the twenty-five years that I taught, I had the best darn kids.  We learned a lot together and I hope, in the end, that I was able to make a lasting impression on them just as they have on me.”

Travel through rural America and you might see the remnant of a one-room school along the way.  But you will also see a rural society which has become strong, based on a deep belief in education and support of local schools.  We commend Laurence Pacey for making a difference in the lives of students for 25 years and for reminding us how important teachers are, in schools large or small.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Mike Haddock

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The National Book Festival is going on in Washington DC.  Authors from across the nation are having their books featured in the Pavilion of the States.  Some 85,000 people are in attendance.  The book featured by the sunflower state is a book on Kansas wildflowers and grasses, and it’s written by an author from the rural Kansas. It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Mike Haddock, author of the book Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas - A Field Guide.  Mike grew up at Beloit.  His father Dean is a former ag teacher and one of the first bank agricultural representatives in the state of Kansas.  The Haddocks had a 2,200 acre farm near the rural community of Minneapolis, Kansas, population 2,061 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Mike says, “As a kid, I went with my dad to check cattle in the pastures.  He would point out plants as we went and talk about how to identify them and what they were for.”  When Mike’s father had him chew on the root of an echinacea plant, it numbed his mouth like a trip to the dentist.  Dean explained how the Indians used this root to treat toothaches, and it had an impact on Mike.  That interest in plants would come to the surface years later.
   
Meanwhile, Mike studied in Austria and Germany as a foreign exchange student and came back to K-State.  After graduation he managed the family farm for seven years before returning to graduate school to study library science.  He became agriculture librarian at Texas A&M and then joined the KSU faculty as ag librarian in 1989.  Currently he is Chair of the Sciences Department for K-State Libraries.
   
As a Kansas ag librarian in the mid-1990s, Mike started cataloguing and describing uses for native Kansas plants.  He decided to create a web site covering wildflower and grass species found in Kansas.  Mike started taking pictures at the Konza Prairie Biological Research Station near Manhattan and then the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Chase County.  Before long he had covered the whole state and had sample photos of hundreds of species on the website.
   
One day in 2002, Mike was attending a pasture management tour with Dr. Walter Fick, a range management professor at KSU.   Walt told Mike that the website was great and he used it all the time, but he couldn’t lug his computer out into the field to access it.  Walt said, “Have you ever thought about doing a book?”
   
That was the beginning.  Mike developed a proposal for a book with photos and descriptions of Kansas plants, and that proposal was eventually accepted by the University Press of Kansas.  An interesting point came about when the publisher asked for “slides and negatives” of the pictures.  Mike had to email back that he had no slides and negatives – the photos were all digital.
   
This was new ground for the book publisher so they had some concerns.  In the end, the book was gorgeous.  It was the first book produced by the University Press of Kansas using digital four-color art, and clearly paved the way for others.
   
In 2005, the book Wildflowers and Grasses of Kansas - A Field Guide was published.  The 375-page book features descriptions of Kansas plants and 325 color photos.
   
The publisher estimated that the first printing would last nine years, but in only three years they are already talking about reprinting.  This work was named a Kansas Notable Book in 2006.  It is available from local bookstores as well as Barnes and Noble and Amazon.com.
   
Meanwhile, Mike has continued to refine and expand the website.  That site, which began with 40 species of flowers in the first year, now includes 552 species and nearly 2,700 photos.  Wow.  The web address is www.kswildflower.org.
   
Mike says, “I’ve developed a deep love for the varied landscapes of our state.”

It’s time to leave the National Book Festival in Washington DC, where this book on wildflowers and grasses has been featured.  We salute Mike Haddock for making a difference with this tremendous, pioneering reference work.  His book can help anyone in rural Kansas stop and appreciate the flowers along the way.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Munson Angus Beef

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
“From pasture to plate, from feedyard to fork.”  Those phrases remind us that food goes through several steps from its origin to the consumer.  Today we’ll meet an innovative family which is helping bring the consumer closer to the producer by directly marketing home-grown beef.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet David Munson, son of Charles and Deanna Munson of rural Junction City.  David and his wife Laura are leading this innovative marketing effort.
   
The Munson family has deep roots in Kansas agriculture. David is the fifth generation of his family to be farming in Geary County.  His great-great-grandfather came from Sweden to Kansas in 1869.  He was a stonemason who helped build the statehouse and other historic buildings.
   
The family also had a wonderful tradition of wedding gifts.  Upon their marriage, the man would get 160 acres and a team of horses and the woman would get a feather bed and a sewing machine.  It’s not exactly romantic, but certainly a good way for a young family to get started in those days.
   
In the 1870s, the Munsons bought their first land in Geary County.  Over time they expanded the farming operation.  In the 1920s, David’s grandfather bought their first Angus cattle from Andy Schuler, one of the pioneer Angus breeders.  Charles would go on to expand the operation to include some 200 cows and 2,000 acres of pasture, plus 3,000 acres of crop ground.  About a hundred Angus steers are produced and sold annually.  Angus cattle are famed for their high quality beef.
    The farming and cattle operation is in a rural location west of Junction City.  Smoky Hill township has a population of 4,666 people.  Now, that’s rural.
    By the way, the Munsons organized a special gift for Charles, who reminisced one time that the family had their last team of horses when he was seven.  Charles said, “I’d like to see a team like that again.” For Charles’ 60th birthday, his family gave him a beautiful matched team of Percheron draft horses.  Now their Black Horse Hitch pulls carriages at parades and special events, and is available for occasions such as weddings and proms.
    Through the years, Munson beef was sold at the legendary Kansas City Stock Yards and more recently to the packing plant at Emporia. Local people wanted Munson beef also.  For several years, beef from the Munson herd was featured at the Junction City Country Club.  Others became interested, and the Munsons started selling some from home as a hobby.  People would come out to the farm on Mondays to pick up some cuts of beef.
    David graduated from K-State and returned to join the family operation. When the packing plant at Emporia closed, the Munsons seized the opportunity to expand their direct marketing of beef.  They opened a retail market in Junction City and began a website, www.munsonangusbeef.com.  They also have a large billboard overlooking Interstate 70.
    David says, “Over 95 percent of Munson Beef grades as choice or prime and a large percentage of Munson Beef has earned the elite Certified Angus Beef label.”
    He says, “We hand select our finest ranch raised, pure bred Black Angus steers from our own Geary County cow/calf herd, which are "corn fed" on our own grain until their processing date at the Clay Center Locker Plant.  Our beef is then carefully "slow natural aged" for a full two weeks, cut, and trimmed to create gourmet meat products with a robust flavor.”
    The Munsons offer premium steaks and specialty cuts, plus ground beef, roasts, classic steaks, gift packs, sampler packages, quarters, and sides.  David says, “Our beef is home-raised and antibiotic and hormone free.”  He says, “Our ending goal is that all one hundred steers on feed would be marketed through our retail store or a restaurant.”

    “From pasture to plate, from feedyard to fork.”  We salute the Munson family for making a difference by bridging the gap from producer to consumer and marketing their beef directly to the customer.  It helps to close the distance “from steer to steak.”
    And there’s more.  Remember Andy Schuler, the pioneer Angus breeder?  We’ll learn about him next week.
    For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ned Valentine

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
When someone says their family has been in their business since the early `80s, that doesn’t seem particularly unusual.  But when he clarifies that he was referring to the early 1880s, that gets my attention.  Today we’ll meet a journalist whose family has been publishing newspapers in the very same Kansas community since the early 1880s.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ned Valentine, publisher of the Clay Center Dispatch.  He explains that the Dispatch was founded in 1871 as a weekly newspaper.  In 1916, it became a daily as it is today.  In the early 1880s, the paper was purchased by Del Valentine, who was Ned’s great-uncle.
   
Del’s father was one of the first attorneys in Kansas and was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court.  Del then moved to Topeka to serve as his law clerk.  The Valentines sold the Dispatch and bought another local paper called the Times, which they published after that.  Del’s brother - Ned Valentine’s grandfather - published the paper.  In the 1940s, the Valentines bought back the Dispatch and have published it ever since.
   
The buyer of the paper in the interim was A. L. Runyan.  His son was none other than Damon Runyan, who was born in Manhattan, Kansas and became a famous New York writer and newspaperman himself.
   
Meanwhile, the Valentines published the Dispatch in Clay Center.  After college at KU, Ned Valentine joined the paper in 1969.  The years since brought remarkable changes.
   
Ned says, “I’ve seen more change in newspaper production during my time here at the paper than did my father and grandfather together.”  When Ned began, they were using a flatbed duplex press with lead type.  He says, “It wasn’t much different from the way they were printing newspapers back in the 1880s.”

Now Ned has overseen three major overhauls in newspaper production.  First was the conversion to offset press, and then came the impact of computers.
   
Ned says, “The computer has had an application on absolutely everything we do.  The bookkeeping was the last to change.”   

Nowadays, computer software is used to layout and design the pages.  The Dispatch also created a website, www.claycenter.com.  This website gets 80,000 page views a month and some 800 visitors a day.
   
What is the role of a community journalist in these changing times?  Ned says, “Our job is to reflect the community on one hand and to support anything in the community that is progressive.”
   
Twenty years ago, Ned started an editorial page in the Dispatch.  He points to university research which states that those communities with an editorial page in their paper had more change and more activity than did those communities without it.  He says, “Interestingly, it didn’t make a difference whether the editor was for or against things, but if there was an editorial page, it generated more activity in the community.”
   
In Clay Center, the Dispatch has advocated for effective economic development, preservation of historic buildings, and much more.  But how does a newspaper survive in a small town?  Ned says, “We concentrate on as much local stuff as we can.  We look for the things that people can’t get from the national media.”

I noticed lots of news and ads from Clay Center, plus nearby rural communities such as Riley, Wakefield, and even Green, population 145 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Ned says, “The more local we are, it makes us work harder, but we’re better for it.”
   
Gloria Freeland, director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media in K-State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, says, “I think it's really great that Ned is the third generation Valentine to publish the Clay Center Dispatch and help his community.  He also represents the third generation of Valentines to have served as Kansas Press Association president.”

So when someone tells me that their family has been in the business since the early '80s — the early 1880s — then I take notice. The Valentine family has been in the newspaper business longer than many families in Kansas and more than most in the nation.  We commend Ned Valentine for making a difference by using community journalism to sustain the newspaper business for well over a century.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Nelson’s Landing

    This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
    Sports fans can be fanatics.  They’ll follow their teams and even seek out sports bars with their memorabilia lining the walls.   Today we’ll visit a sports bar and grill with such memorabilia, but we notice two differences from the sports bars in major NFL cities: First of all, this sports bar is not exactly in a major city – in fact, just the opposite – and secondly, in this grill you just might be served by one of the athletes or their family members themselves.  Special thanks to the K-State Collegian and writer Joel Aschbrenner whose article told this remarkable story.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
    Meet Alan and Kim Nelson of Nelson’s Landing in Leonardville, Kansas.  Alan and Kim are parents of Green Bay Packer football player Jordy Nelson and current K-State basketball player Kelsey Nelson.
   
    Alan said they had considered opening a restaurant for several years because Leonardville and neighboring towns lack places to eat. They also wanted to create a restaurant that was smoke-free and family friendly. Nelson’s Landing is completely smoke-free with the exception of an outdoor patio.   
   
    The Nelsons purchased the buildings for their restaurant in January 2007. They remodeled the buildings and opened Nelson’s Landing on December 1, 2007.
   
    The Nelsons are farmers by trade. Alan farms until dark and comes in for dinner every night, while Kim works at the restaurant everyday.
   
    Nelson’s Landing had no grand opening. The Nelsons simply made a pot roast for some friends and family one night and just like that the Landing was open. The buzz around the community was already starting, though.  Before they even opened, the Nelsons were taking reservations.  Since then, business has been booming.
   
    Kim said they regularly pack in 100 to 150 people on Friday or Saturday night when the Landing features live music.  She says, “I didn’t think we pull so many people from outside the community.  We get people from Clay Center, Manhattan, clear up to Waterville and Marysville.”
   
    Of course, one reason that the restaurant is popular is the Nelson athletes themselves.  All three of the Nelson’s children have worked at the restaurant at times since it opened, and in the process have attracted new business to the restaurant.

It’s common to see K-State fans to come in trying to catch a glimpse of Jordy or Kelsey, Alan said.   “You’ll see someone come in and they’ll see someone that they think is him and they’ll ask ‘are you Jordy’ or ‘are you Kelsey’,” he said. “Any blonde-haired waitress they think is Kelsey.”  Kelsey does indeed wait tables from time to time at the Landing, and Jordy helped at the restaurant before being drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round of the NFL Draft.

If the fame of her children has drawn people into the restaurant, then the food has convinced them to stay, according to Kim.

“The nice thing about it is, all those people who came in at first looking for one of the kids, they’ve been back, which is a credit to our cooks,” she said. “They’ve been putting out good food.”  The Landing’s menu features burgers, steaks, and brisket, and even offers fried chicken gizzards and livers.

Alan says the hand battered chicken fried steak is very popular, as well as the homemade pies which Kim’s mother makes.  The hamburger meat comes from his own beef.

“People ask, ‘What is that?  I’ve never had a hamburger like that’,” he said. “Well, that’s what hamburger tastes like if you have a hamburger from a family farm.” All this has lead the town of Leonardville to name Alan and Kim Nelson as its Citizens of the Year.

It’s nice to find this success in a rural town like Leonardville, population 375 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Sports fans can be fanatics.  They make sports bars popular in major cities, and now we can find a homegrown version of one right here in rural Kansas.  We commend Alan and Kim Nelson and their family for making a difference by creating a restaurant in a community which had none.  And by the way - would you mind autographing my menu?

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

 

Our Town - Lucas

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The Lucas Triangle.  It sounds rather forbidding, like the Bermuda Triangle, but this is a region of a different sort.  The Lucas Triangle consists of three remarkable attractions within a single community in rural northcentral Kansas.  This threesome features an incredible array of what is called grassroots art.  Special thanks to Kansas magazine and writer Sally Snell whose article told this remarkable story.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Rosslyn Schultz, director of the Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, Kansas.  The Arts Center is sponsored by the Kansas Grassroots Art Association, which was organized more than 30 years ago to encourage appreciation of self-taught artists.  The Arts Center is one of the three components of what has been termed the Lucas Triangle.
   
But the element of the Lucas Triangle which was created first goes back more than a century ago.  It is something which could win an Olympic medal for eccentricity, called the Garden of Eden.
   
People have been looking for the Garden of Eden for a long time.  Appropriately enough, this Garden of Eden is located east of Paradise – that’s Paradise, Kansas, on Highway K-18.... Nineteen miles east of Paradise, we find the community of Lucas where S.P. Dinsmoor’s Garden of Eden is located.
   
Dinsmoor was a Civil War veteran, farmer, and Populist politician.  He was also what was called at the time a “Freethinker,” which was a type of philosophy that encouraged rational over emotional thought.  All that supposed freethinking caused Dinsmoor to build his Lucas home from limestone logs and to surround the house with concrete structures providing commentary on the religious and political controversies of the time.
   
The structures are labeled with a sign calling it the Garden of Eden.  Here the viewer can find concrete figures of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, and the devil and an angel. There's also a depiction of the populist view of the crucifixion of labor and much more.
   
These unusual sculptures entirely surround the house. In fact, it took Mr. Dinsmoor 22 years to build these sculptures. He used 113 tons of cement. He also built a 40-foot tall limestone log mausoleum where he is laid to rest and still visible in his handmade, glass-topped concrete coffin.  So much for rational thought...
   
About a half block northwest of Dinsmoor’s home is the second component of the Lucas Triangle, the Deeble House and Rock Garden.  Here we find the home of Florence Deeble.  For more than 50 years, she created “postcard”-type scenes of famous U.S. landmarks in her yard using concrete and stones, and those works of art are available for viewing today.  For example, the visitor can see a mini interpretation of Mount Rushmore.
   
Dinsmoor’s and Deeble’s work are just two examples of grassroots art, which is the focus of the Grassroots Art Center.  The art center itself is the third and final leg of this tripartite collection of eclectic artwork.  It is located on the main street of Lucas with an open-air gallery in its backyard.
   
Rosslyn Schultz explains that grass-roots art is often made using recycled materials.  She says, “The artists are always self-taught, and they’re having a heck of a lot of fun.”  The Art Center includes local and state artists’ work, such as concrete creatures by Ed Root and a pull-tab motorcycle by Herman Divers.
   
All these attractions and more have caused more than 10,000 visitors a year to come to the rural community of Lucas, population 427 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
More stories and pictures of Lucas can be found on the pages of Kansas Magazine, the beautiful quarterly which showcases our state.  For more information or to subscribe, go to www.kansasmag.com .For information on travel and tourism in our state, go to www.travelks.com .

The Lucas Triangle.  No, it’s not something scary like the Bermuda Triangle, it’s a remarkable set of three attractions which celebrate grassroots art in our state.  We commend Rosslyn Schultz and all those involved with the Grassroots Arts Center and these other attractions in Lucas for making a difference by building and celebrating works of unusual art from the grassroots.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Our Town - Oakley - Part 2

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The huge buffalo runs with mighty strides across the prairie, as the buffalo hunter and his horse draw near in hot pursuit.  It’s a scene from the old west, but it is also a scene you can see in modern times, immortalized in giant bronze in western Kansas.  We’re going to visit the community which built this bronze sculpture and which serves as the birthplace of the legend surrounding Buffalo Bill.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Lewis Evins of Oakley, a board member of the Wild West Historical Foundation.  This foundation was founded to create and promote the opportunity to discover a wild west experience.  It turns out a genuine wild west experience happened right here, west of Oakley.   
The story goes back to 1860s, when the Union Pacific Railroad was building the railroad westward. William F. Cody became a buffalo hunter to supply meat for the railroad crews. His contract called for him to provide 12 buffalo a day.  Cody was paid $500 per month for his services, which was highly lucrative at a time when railroad workers’ wages were about $30 per month.
   
Bill Cody’s friends began calling him “Buffalo Bill.”  But then they encountered another man who was also sometimes known as Buffalo Bill.  He was Bill Comstock, a contract buffalo hunter who was supplying meat for the soldiers at nearby Fort Wallace.
   
Here were two men with the same nickname.  So to decide who got to keep the name Buffalo Bill, they held a buffalo hunting contest in the territory west of Oakley complete with a $500 wager.  The man who could shoot the most buffalo in a day would win.
   
The day of the contest arrived, and Bill Cody and Bill Comstock rode out to pursue the buffalo.  At the end of the day, or when the proverbial smoke had cleared,  Bill Cody had gotten 69 buffalo and Bill Comstock had gotten only 46, so Bill Cody earned the title of Buffalo Bill.
   
Buffalo Bill Cody went on to become the most famous person of his time.  He created Wild West shows which would travel the world.

Lewis Evins heard the story of this famous buffalo hunt as a kid growing up in northwest Kansas.  When he moved to Oakley to become President of Farmers State Bank, he learned the hunt took place just ten miles west of Oakley.  Remembering a statue which he had seen at a Buffalo Bill museum in Wyoming, Lewis thought, “This is something that could put Oakley on the map.”
   
And so the Wild West Historical Foundation was created.  A lot of private fundraising was conducted.  The foundation commissioned Kansas sculptor and painter Charlie Norton and his wife Pat to create a tribute to this event.  They live near the rural town of Leoti, Kansas, population 1,601 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
On May 22, 2004, Charlie and Pat’s magnificent statue was dedicated on the west side of Oakley.  The sculpture depicts Buffalo Bill Cody astride his favorite buffalo running horse Brigham in pursuit of a giant bull buffalo.  Cody is aiming his favorite Springfield rifle, nicknamed Lucretia Borgia.
   
This statue is awesome.  It is a twice–life sized bronze sculpture standing 16 feet tall and weighing 9,000 pounds.  It is so big that the head of this horse would just barely fit in the back of a pickup.  The sculpture is so remarkable that it is already attracting an estimated 20,000 people per year.  The Buffalo Bill cabin stands nearby. Lewis Evins says. “One day I looked in the log book where visitors register and on a single page, I saw names from six different foreign countries.”  Wow.
   
For more information, go to www.buffalobilloakley.org.

    The huge buffalo runs across the prairie, but Buffalo Bill and his horse are drawing near to make the shot.  It’s a classic scene of the west, captured in bronze near the city of Oakley.  We commend Lewis Evins and all the people of the Wild West Historical Foundation and the Oakley area for making a difference by capturing this history and honoring the true American icon Buffalo Bill.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Our Town - Oakley - Part 1

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

The aroma of cooking popcorn wafts through the theater, as movie-goers settle in to enjoy the show.  Going to the movies is a time-honored tradition for kids in rural America.  But in this community, the kids don’t just go to the movies, they help show the movies.  Today we’ll learn about the resourceful community of Oakley which is utilizing its youth to maintain this opportunity for entertainment.  Special thanks to Kansas magazine and writer Sally Snell whose article told this remarkable story.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet the people of Oakley, Kansas.  One is Jim Keenan, the business teacher at Oakley High School.  He teaches an entrepreneurship class which is getting first-hand business experience, thanks to this historic theater.
   
The Palace Theatre has been described as a “graceful, old repository of Hollywood films.”  It is located in the downtown part of the rural town of Oakley, population 1,984 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
The theater’s big screen, which first flickered to life in 1949, welcomed moviegoers to this northwestern Kansas town for more than 50 years. Then, the Palace was shuttered in 2001, suffering the fate of many small-town theaters.
   
But five years ago, Oakley citizens stepped in.  They purchased the theater and handed the keys to business teacher Jim Keenan’s entrepreneurship class at Oakley High School.
   
“The kids do 99 percent of the management work,” Jim says. Professional staff book the movies and operate the projectors, but students take charge of the payroll, royalty payments, lining up sponsors, working with concessions vendors and creating ads. “Whatever it takes,” Jim adds.
   
This is an ingenious idea.  Students and other citizens get to go to the movies, and the youth get first-hand business experience in the process.
   
Janet Bean is another key person in the community.  She says, “They only show G and PG-13 films, which makes it family friendly.”  Janet is director of the Fick Fossil and History Museum, which is another treasure in Oakley.
   
This free museum features fossils and historical artifacts, most donated by local citizens.  The core of the collection is Vi Fick’s folk art. She and her husband, Earnest, owned a ranch south of town near the landmark Monument Rocks. They gathered thousands of fossils from chalk beds once at the bottom of an inland sea that lapped at western Kansas 80 million years ago.
   
Janet says, “Someone suggested that Vi make artwork out of them. So she did.”  Vi created a replica of the Kansas state seal using oyster shells, fish bones, snails and papier-mâché. “These are reptile teeth,” Janet says, pointing to the eagle talons clutching an olive branch and a bundle of arrows on a reproduction of the U.S. seal.
   
The museum also exhibits fossilized remains of ancient sea creatures—all collected nearby. One remarkable example is the skull of the oldest documented mosasaur, a huge marine reptile.  Antiques and artifacts salvaged from old-time railroad depots, barbershops, a creamery and general store round out the collection.
       
The town of Oakley was founded in 1886.  I might have guessed it was named for the famed female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, but not so. The town is actually named after Eliza Oakley Gardner Hoag, mother of community founder D.D. Hoag.   But Annie Oakley did travel with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and Buffalo Bill played his own part in the town’s history.
   
More pictures and stories about Oakley can be found on the pages of Kansas Magazine, the beautiful quarterly which showcases our state.  For more information or to subscribe, go to www.kansmag.com.  For information on travel and tourism in our state, go to www.travelks.com.

The final credits flow across the screen as the movie comes to an end.  It’s another night at Oakley’s student-operated Palace Theatre. We commend Jim Keenan and the students of Oakley, plus Janet Bean and the Fick Fossil Museum for making a difference in their community.  Here in Oakley, the youth don’t just go to the theater, they help make the theater go.
    
And there’s more.  Remember Buffalo Bill?  His legend came to life near Oakley.  We’ll learn about that on our next program.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Rich Wartell

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
As a tornado roars overhead, a family huddles around the radio in their basement.  From their place of shelter, they can’t hear or see what is happening with the storm.  At that moment their only source of information – their only connection to the outside world – is one thing: The radio station.  Today we’ll meet radio stations that provided outstanding coverage during weather disasters.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Rich Wartell, President of Manhattan Broadcasting Company in Manhattan, Kansas.  Manhattan Broadcasting began with the AM station KMAN in 1950.  Three FM stations followed:  K-Rock in 1970, B104.7 in 1994, and Z96.3 in 2002.  Each station has its niche but they all come together when severe weather hits.
   
Rich says, “Kansas has severe weather at different times but this past year has been unprecedented for the Manhattan community.  We’ve never had an outbreak of severe weather like this.”

First was the December 2007 ice storm of which paralyzed Manhattan.  Next was the June hailstorm, followed shortly by the tornado which made a direct hit on Chapman and Manhattan.
   
Aaron Leiker is program director for KMAN. Last December when the National Weather Service predicted the ice storm, he and other staff brought mattresses to the station.  Aaron says, “We brought in food and slept in the studio.”
   
Thank goodness.  They were ready when a severe coating of ice hit and knocked out power to some 20,000 customers in the region.  Manhattan Broadcasting began a quad-cast where the same information is simultaneously broadcast on all four stations.  They reported on developments and conveyed official emergency information.
   
Rich says, “What started out as an inconvenience became a life-threatening condition for elderly people in their homes without power.”
   
The stations provided information about safety, generators, and food, plus reports from utility companies about where and when repairs were progressing.  Rich says, “For lots of people without power, those updates gave them hope.”
   
The stations themselves had to activate backup generators to keep their own transmitters going.  Two transmitters are near Manhattan.  The other two are near the rural community of Flush, with a population of perhaps 10 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
In the following June, a hailstorm hit Manhattan.  And the next big blow - no pun intended - was the tornado on June 11.  When Aaron Leiker left a meeting that night, his car radio happened to be tuned to a Salina station.  When he heard them describing the tornado, he realized it was headed toward Manhattan.  He changed clothes quickly and headed to the studio.
   
At 9:30 p.m. the stations went to a quad-cast, broadcast the warnings, and reported on the storm’s path through Manhattan.  The tornado slammed the west side of town and then moved northeast, across campus and directly toward the radio station.  Aaron says, “We sent all the station employees to a concrete fortified room.  I was in studio.  When the tornado passed, I could feel the vacuum in my headsets.”  Fortunately the funnel cloud was airborne at that point.

What followed was marathon coverage of the storm’s aftermath.  Aaron Leiker, for example, was awake for 39 hours straight.
   
Clearly the early warnings made a difference.  Rich Wartell says, “Kudos to the National Weather Service and Riley County Emergency Preparedness.  And I was so proud of our staff.  I know lives were saved that night.”
   
This good work gained recognition.  In October, the Kansas Association of Broadcasters presented the Manhattan stations three first place awards relating to severe weather coverage.
   
Gloria Freeland, director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media in K-State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communications, says, “Rich Wartell is truly a part of the Manhattan community. KMAN, especially, is always there in good times and bad, getting us the news we need to know and helping the community thrive.”

As a tornado roars overhead, a family huddles in the basement clinging to the lifeline of information provided by the radio station.  We commend Rich Wartell, Aaron Leiker and all the people of Manhattan Broadcasting for making a difference by providing in-depth coverage in times of crisis.  These broadcasts provide lifesaving information and services and help the listeners survive until the time that conditions are all clear.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Rick Heiniger - FEMA

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Food and fiber.  That’s what we get from agriculture.  But today there is another element added to the list: Fuel.  Agriculture provides us food, fiber, and fuel for our daily lives.  Yet none of these could be produced as quickly and efficiently as they are today without Farm equipment.  This is another in our series on national farm organization leaders from rural Kansas.  Unlike others in our series, the man we will feature today is not the president of a group of farmers, but rather the president of an association of those who produce the equipment for those farmers.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Rick Heiniger.  Rick is the immediate past president of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association.  The Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association is the national organization of manufacturers, suppliers, and wholesalers of specialized farm equipment.  Rick says, “Other than local dealers, we represent the specialized farm equipment manufacturing industry from beginning to end.”
   
Rick has deep roots in rural Kansas and the farm equipment industry.  He came from Brown County, graduated from K-State with a degree in Agricultural Mechanization and then sold farm spray equipment.  In 1979, he founded his own company to sell and distribute supplies for fertilizing and spraying.  At that time, he operated out of a farmhouse five miles south of the rural community of Fairview, Kansas, population 269 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Over time, Rick’s company expanded and built a headquarters and manufacturing plant in Hiawatha.  Today, his company RHS produces and markets Bestway sprayers.  Rick remains CEO of this company, but he selected Pat Meenen to serve as President of Bestway Inc.
   
In the late 1990s, Rick branched out his business even further.  He went into designing and marketing equipment which would use Global Positioning Satellites - known as GPS - technology for guidance of farm equipment.  Today his company is part of one of the world’s leaders in such technology.
   
Meanwhile, Rick had gotten involved in the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association, which is the national trade association of specialized farm equipment makers like himself.  The association includes 650 members from coast to coast throughout North America.  These are companies which are wholesalers, component suppliers, or manufacturers of specialized farm equipment.
   
Many of these companies are relatively small compared to the mega-corporations.  Because their specializations are so focused, these companies have found they can work together for mutual benefit.  In other words, these smaller companies can band together to build distribution networks or find supply channels in ways they could not do by themselves.
   
Rick Heiniger says, “Our goal is to provide a networking role so that independent manufacturers can come together in a collaborating environment to help meet their needs.  We help our members create a chain of separate businesses to make it work for all of them.”  For example, Rick had customers that were wanting his equipment to have an advanced painting process which Rick did not have available to him.  Rick was at a Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association meeting with Don Landoll from the Landoll Corporation in Marysville.  Rick found that Don’s company does use that paint process, and they worked out an arrangement so Rick would have access to it.  It was a win-win situation, thanks to the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association.
   
Don Landoll, in fact, was President of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association in 1990-91.  In November 2006, Rick Heiniger was elected to the same position.  When asked the highlight of his year, Rick said it was to see an agricultural renaissance.  Rick says, “The agriculture industry is changing from being a source of food and fiber to food, fiber and fuel, which affects equipment needs for crop production.  Innovation is starting to engage, and farm equipment needs to do more.”

Food and fiber.  That’s what we get from agriculture, but now fuel is added to that list, and the farm equipment industry is working hard to keep the pace.  We commend Rick Heiniger for making a difference by giving leadership to this industry.  Their work helps consumers to enjoy the benefits of abundant fuel, fiber and food.
   
And there’s more.  We’ll learn about that world-leading GPS company on our next program.

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

 

Rick Heiniger - Hemisphere

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 around the globe to the Indian Ocean, where a marine survey vessel is engaged in precision exploration.  This vessel is using advanced technology to pinpoint its precise location.  And would you believe that the Global Positioning Satellite system used by this vessel was produced by a company with ties to rural Kansas?  This is today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Rick Heiniger.  Last week we learned that Rick is the immediate past President of the Farm Equipment Manufacturers Association.  Among the members of that organization are the companies which he has helped create and build, namely RHS, Bestway, and Hemisphere GPS.
   
His first company is the business known as RHS which has become Bestway.  It designs, produces and markets Bestway agricultural sprayers.  Rick selected Pat Meenen to serve as President of Bestway.
   
In 1997, Rick expanded his business into GPS technology, designing equipment called the Outback Guidance System that uses GPS to steer and control farm machinery.  In 2005, he sold his GPS division to CSI Wireless, which created a new company known as Hemisphere GPS.  Rick was asked to serve as President of the newly created company.  Today, Rick Heiniger is Vice Chair of the Board of Hemisphere GPS, which is a world leader in the use of Global Positioning Satellite technology.
   
Hemisphere GPS has several divisions of which the largest is agriculture, a part of the ground products division.  This division is headquartered in Rick’s old hometown of Hiawatha, Kansas, population 3,410 people.   Now, that’s rural.
   
Today, Hemisphere GPS employs 260 people of which 50 are in Hiawatha.  Rick Heiniger says, “We focus on using GPS technology for precision machine automation.”
   
So what exactly is this GPS technology?  Global Positioning Satellites are constantly orbiting the earth, transmitting coded information through ultra-high frequencies down to earth.  Using data from these satellites, a person using a special receiver can pinpoint his or her exact location on the earth’s surface.
   
Rick Heiniger’s company was a pioneer in using such technology to guide tractor operators in planting or fertilizing operations.  Now Hemisphere GPS is using this technology all around the world.
   
Hemisphere GPS has three divisions: Ground Products Division, Air Products Division, and Precision Products Division.  Ground Products includes the agriculture products and is based in Hiawatha.  The air products division includes GPS systems used in aerial spraying, forestry, and firefighting.  Precision products are dominated by the marine group, meaning boats which use the GPS technology.
   
Rick says, “We get involved when there is a need for precise knowledge and control of the vessel’s location.  If your ship needs to go from New York to London or Amsterdam and the accuracy of your route to get there doesn’t matter, then you don’t really need GPS.  But if you are dredging a canal, for example, and you need a heading that is accurate within six inches, then our system can do the job.”  Wow.
   
For example, the Volvo company sponsors a world-wide ocean race, which is described as the world’s premier offshore yachting event.  Of the seven ships which competed in the most recent event, the winner and three of the others used Hemisphere’s GPS technology to guide them.  This reflects the fact that Hemisphere GPS is a world leader in this technology.
   
While this niche market is impressive, the bread and butter of the applications is in agriculture, where Hemisphere also dominates and the Outback Guidance systems are the aftermarket component.  Rick says, “There are increasing demands for more precision in seeding crops, for example.  Producers need to maximize production and equipment needs to do more with extreme accuracy.”
   
For more information, go to www.hemispheregps.com.

It’s time to leave the Indian Ocean, where a marine survey vessel is using GPS technology connected to a company in rural Kansas.  We salute Rick Heiniger, Pat Meenen of Bestway, and all the fine people of Hemisphere GPS for making a difference with their innovative application of technology – and bringing it all down to earth.
   
And there’s more.  As we go back to our series on national ag leaders, we’ll learn that a recent President of the National Cattleman’s Beef Association comes from Kansas – and this cattleman is a woman.  We’ll learn about that next week.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Robin Dunn - Dunn’s Landing

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
It is late November.  The Governor’s Christmas tree is being delivered to Cedar Crest.  But carrying that tree down the drive to the Governor’s mansion isn’t a truck, it’s a wagon hitched up to two beautiful, matched draft horses.  Driving that team is a woman farmer and entrepreneur from rural Kansas.  This is a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Robin Dunn, owner and operator of Dunn’s Landing and Hitch for Hire.  Dunn’s Landing is the four generation family farm where Robin grew up.  After moving to California, Robin came back to Kansas in 1993 to assume the reins – so to speak – of her parents’ farming operation.
   
As a kid, Robin rode saddlehorses.  As an adult, she was fascinated by the big draft horses – those strong horses that are hitched to wagons or equipment to pull heavy loads.  Robin bought a team of Belgian horses and became a breeder for a time.
   
In 2001, she began hiring out her team of horses to hitch up and pull wagons or carriages for special events like weddings or festivals.  The business is called Hitch for Hire. It uses some special vehicles.  One is a stagecoach built by hand from Cliff Hartman in Missouri and the other is a beautiful white carriage called a vis-a-vis limousine.
   
This gorgeous white carriage is perfect for weddings.  It has a removable canopy and can seat two couples facing each other with another seat for two in the back, plus the driver’s seat up front.  Robin and friends decorate the carriage to make it even more beautiful.
   
Robin has taken her teams and carriages all over eastern Kansas for weddings, proms, parties, and family gatherings.  Sometimes a carriage ride from the church is a surprise wedding gift to the bride.  Robin says, “It is so fun to see the bride’s expressions when they come out of the church and see the carriage for the first time.”  For many, it is like a fairytale dream come true.
   
Of course, sometimes the bride and groom are nervous – and it turns out the carriage driver can be too.  Robin says, “The first time I did a carriage ride for a wedding I was really nervous.  I had the horses all harnessed and ready to go, but when I started the horses and pulled the lines, the lines came loose in my hands.  I was so nervous I had forgotten to attach the lines!”
   
Fortunately, her horses were trained to stop on voice command even without the lines, so they were attached in no time and everything proceeded well.  Robin says, “Every time now, I check to make sure the lines are connected before I take off.”  And there is one other feature: On the back of the carriage is a sign saying, Just Hitched.
   
In 2003, Robin converted the century old dairy barn into a special event facility which can host weddings and receptions.  Robin is President of Franklin County Farm Bureau and hosts lots of farm tours for youth.  She is assisted by family and friends such as Kirsten Henzlik and Samantha Dunn.  The farm is in a beautiful rural setting near the town of Wellsville, population 1,607 people.  Now, that’s rural.  For more information, go to www.dunnslanding.com.
   
Once Robin had a new team of draft horses who didn’t even want to be touched, so she was training them.  They went to provide rides at a nursing home but an older lady in a wheelchair couldn’t get in the carriage.  The lady said, “That’s okay, I just want to pet them.”  Robin was worried what the horse would do as the lady approached him.  The lady said to the horse, “Just give me a kiss right here.”  To Robin’s surprise, the horse reached over and gently put his nose to the lady’s cheek.  Maybe those horses know more than we think.

The Governor’s Christmas Tree has been delivered to Cedar Crest – not by truck, but by horse-drawn wagon.  We commend Robin Dunn for making a difference by preserving and sharing this ancient tradition.  I hope her business continues to grow without a hitch.
   
Wishing you blessed holidays, for the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Ron Suppes - US Wheat

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Meeting the customer.  That’s an important part of any business.  But if you are a farmer in the middle of Kansas whose wheat is being exported wheat to Amsterdam, for example, how in the world can you meet your customer?  The answer is that you band together with fellow wheat farmers and create an organization with resources to reach those customers and develop markets world-wide.  That’s exactly what wheat farmers have done in creating U.S. Wheat Associates.  This year’s Chairman of the Board of this national organization is another in our series of national ag leaders from rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Ron Suppes from Dighton, Kansas.  Ron is Chairman of the Board of U.S. Wheat Associates.
   
Ron Suppes is a native of Scott City.  He is both a wheat farmer and an educator, having grown up on a farm and worked as a rural school administrator.  Ron went to Fort Hays State and got a masters in secondary school administration.  He taught at Pratt and became a high school principal at the rural community of Fowler, population 571 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
He went on to be principal at Scott City for eight years before going into farming full-time with his wife Shirley near Dighton.  He says, “We farm as a team.  Shirley’s my right hand man - or maybe I’m hers.”
   
Over time, Ron became active in the wheat organizations.  He serves on the Kansas Wheat Commission and is a graduate of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program.  He became appointed to the Board of U.S. Wheat Associates.
   
U.S. Wheat Associates is the national market development organization for the U.S. wheat industry.  In contrast to the National Association of Wheat Growers, which is a membership and policy organization, U.S. Wheat Associates collects checkoff dollars from wheat sales and allocates those funds to build markets for U.S. wheat worldwide.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture matches those funds three-fold.
   
Ron Suppes says, “Our main purpose is to sell the fifty percent of our wheat crop that we don’t consume domestically.  We have 80 people working for us in eighteen offices, sixteen of which are outside this country around the world.”
   
He says, “My main purpose is to represent the wheat farmers in this effort.  It’s farmer-owned and doing a darn good job.  And it’s very efficient.  For every bushel we sell overseas, it costs the U.S. farmer a fourth of a penny.”  That’s a real bargain, considering that a bushel of wheat is now valued at nine dollars or so.
   
In July 2007, Ron became Chairman of the Board of U.S. Wheat Associates.  This means he does considerable travel in support of the organization’s market development mission.
   
At one  meeting in the middle east, Ron met the head grain buyer from Iraq who told him chilling stories.  The grain buyer said that he usually traveled with two cars and four bodyguards.  Ron was encouraging him to buy wheat more consistently.  The buyer said, “If I ever run out of wheat, I won’t just lose my job, I’ll lose my life.”
   
Most of Ron’s encounters are not so dramatic.  U.S. Wheat Associates does lots of educational programs to show foreign millers and grain buyers how to use U.S. wheat.  Many of those programs are through at K-State’s International Grains Program.  U.S. Wheat Associates sends trade teams throughout the world to build markets, plus holding regional sessions around the globe.  Ron’s job is a form of personal diplomacy in support of wheat.  He’s even hosted a South African trade team on his Lane County farm.
   
Ron foresees changes in agriculture, with more diversified and identity-preserved production and new uses such as cellulosic ethanol.  Of course, building relationships with buyers will always be important.
   
Meeting the customer.  It’s vital to any business, and it’s part of what U.S. Wheat Associates does to build markets for U.S. wheat farmers.  We commend Ron and Shirley Suppes for giving leadership to this organization and helping to see that our foreign customers’ needs are being met.
   
And there’s more.  Kansas’ national ag leadership reaches beyond the farm gate.  We’ll learn about that on our next program.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Theresa Coble - Chicken House

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
You’ve caught the airplane flight, so sit back and enjoy the ride.  Pick up the inflight magazine and leaf through it - you might find something interesting.  In fact, here’s an article which lists the top five chicken restaurants.  Would you believe that one of those is a family owned restaurant in the Flint Hills of rural Kansas?  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Theresa Coble.  Theresa and her late husband Leonard were owners of the Chicken House in Olpe, Kansas, recognized as one of the top chicken restaurants in the country.
   
Theresa was born and raised here at Olpe.  Her husband Leonard worked in restaurants since he was age 14.  He was working at a restaurant in Emporia, but when it closed in 1958, he bought the Chicken House in nearby Olpe.  Olpe is located just 11 miles south of Emporia.
   
This restaurant actually began in 1934 when it opened as a seven seat diner called Cooper’s Café.  Hanna Taylor bought it in 1946, expanded it, and renamed it the Chicken House before selling it to the Cobles.  Theresa Coble says, “We loved it here, and just kept adding on.”
   
 In fact, as the fame of the restaurant spread, the building was expanded four times.  The Cobles had just completed a major renovation in 1974 when a freak lightning storm struck.  It moved through and killed livestock, hit a nearby bank, and burned the Chicken House to the ground.
   
The Cobles had to start all over.  But they had the vision to build more flexibility in the new facility.  Now it can accommodate larger crowds and offer more flexibility for functions such as wedding rehearsal dinners, buffets, and banquets.  They also enlarged the kitchen to allow for an expanding catering business.
   
Through it all they maintained a commitment to quality and customer service.  In 1994, their oldest son Larry became an owner in the business with his wife Charlotte.  Leonard passed away in 2005 but Theresa continues to be involved in the restaurant.  In fact, she has been known to help wash dishes when employees can’t make it in.
   
The Chicken House of Olpe has become famous for home style chicken, fried to order.  The chicken is lightly breaded and delicious.  But the restaurant also serves steaks and other alternatives.  Customers have come from coast to coast.
   
Theresa says, “We do the little things that very few people are willing to do anymore.”  For example, she says there are no instant potatoes in the house.  Their potatoes are peeled.  Then there are homemade pies, dinner rolls, and onion rings.
   
Theresa says, “We cut onions on Mondays, and on Tuesdays Charlotte and I come in and start breading them at 6 a.m.  We also serve USDA Choice steaks and use Idaho Russet potatoes exclusively as long as they are available.”  The restaurant is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays.
   
This hard work and commitment to excellence has paid off.  Chicken House has been named favorite chicken restaurant in the Best of the Flint Hills survey of area diners and is listed in the national dining guide “Where the Locals Eat.”  As mentioned earlier, American Airlines American Way magazine named the Chicken House one of the top five chicken restaurants.  In 2000, USA Today called the Chicken House one of the top 50 best restaurants in the country.  Wow.
   
Not bad for a family-owned restaurant located in Olpe, Kansas, population 502 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Today the restaurant has a seating capacity of 320, which they will fill on Friday and Saturday nights.  In May, the restaurant celebrated 50 years of the Cobles’ ownership.  Theresa says they served 1,500 meals during a three-day period.
   
It is great to see a family-owned restaurant achieve national fame in small town Kansas.

You’ve caught the flight, and now you’ve learned in the in-flight magazine that one of the best chicken restaurants in the country is right here in Olpe, Kansas.  We commend Theresa and Leonard and Larry and Charlotte Coble for making a difference with a half-century of service.  Through all these years, I didn’t even think chickens would fly.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

Tony Poore - Cougar Custom Boats

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The sun glistens upon Lake Havesu in Arizona as a boat comes flashing by.  The boat is beautiful and fast, going a hundred miles an hour.  Where do you suppose that boat was built?  Would you believe, in Hill City, Kansas?  One can’t get much further from a coast than Hill City, but this is the true story of a boat company which built a home there.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Tony Poore of Hill City, Kansas.  Tony is co-owner of Cougar Custom Boats with Berney Shumate.  Tony is also the economic development manager for Rural Telephone Service Company of Lenora.  He works in the Hill City office.
   
Tony explains that two guys in Canada started Cougar Custom Boats back in 1972.  Their specialty was high speed, high performance – i.e., fun - boats.  They built one of the first modified tunnel boats and broke all kinds of speed records.  By thirty years later, the two men were in their mid-60s and the time had come to sell their company.
   
Tony came across this company while doing economic development research for Rural Telephone.  He saw an opportunity for northwest Kansas so he lined up two investors, including a former boat manufacturing sales representative named Berney Shumate.  They identified a building in Hill City which could house the company and organized a proposal to purchase Cougar Boats.
   
After months of work, suddenly one of the key investors backed out to do another project. Tony turned to Berney and said, “Do you think you and I could do this?”  So they stepped in together, found a commercial bank to help them and bought Cougar Boats in 2004, relocating it to Hill City.
   
As a lifelong boating enthusiast, Tony had a special interest in this type of company.  He says with a smile, “I thought I knew a lot about boats.  I learned an awful lot more after we bought this company.”
   
Cougar Custom Boats continues to specialize in customized, high performance boats.  Tony says, “Our customers are the kind of people who can get a boat with all the bling.”  In other words, they are built for high performance plus are decorated with all the bells and whistles one could want.  Their boats are custom designed and built to the customer’s specifications.  The customer selects his or her own color scheme, trim, and graphic design.
   
For example, a man from Colorado saw one of their boats at the Denver Boat Show.  The man was named Burns, so true to his name, he ordered a twenty-two foot boat in canary yellow with a bright orange and red flame design, all done in gel-coat.
   
Not only do these boats look good, they move fast.  While a typical pleasure boat might go 40 miles an hour, some of these Cougar Boats can do a hundred miles an hour or more.
   
Hill City might seem to be an unlikely place to look for such boats, but Tony says their location in Kansas is an asset.  The central location makes it convenient for shipping and the work ethic is excellent.  The company’s website, www.cougarboats.com, has made it possible to reach customers all over.
   
Tony says, “I knew that we could build `em here, create jobs in Hill City and ship these boats as conveniently to the east coast as the west coast.”  In the last four years, the company has sent boats from Hill City to some 14 states, from Florida to California.  Wow.
   
So Tony is proud of their rural location.  Hill City is a town of 1,543 people.  But Tony is originally from a farm near the town of Alton, population 114.  Now, that’s rural.
   
How exciting to see a boating company find a successful home in the heartland.

The sun is setting across Lake Havesu in Arizona, and the beautiful Cougar Boat is coming in to the dock.  We commend Tony Poore, Berney Shumate, and all the people of Cougar Custom Boats for making a difference with their entrepreneurship, initiative, and hard work.  With such guiding principles, this company can remain anchored in midwestern values while riding a wave of success.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

GCIA

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
What happened at your local grocery store when the ice storm hit?  Many stores struggled to provide needed supplies when an ice storm hit Kansas in December 2007.  Today we’ll learn about a rural Kansas store which found a way to serve its community members despite the storm – in part because the store is owned by the community itself.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Von Tuttle, Cheri Remington, Marvin Beesley, Kassie Remington, Don Zerr, and Megan Tuttle, members of the Board of Directors of the Gove Community Improvement Association.
   
Gove is a rural place.  It has the distinction of being the smallest county seat in the state with a population of 103 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
It’s a challenge to sustain services in a town that size.  The local grocery store in Gove closed in the early 1980s.  In 1986, a group of concerned citizens came together to reopen and operate a store.  They formed the Gove Community Improvement Association or GCIA  and founded the GCIA Grocery.
   
By the early 1990s, the local café had closed as well.  In 1995, the GCIA built a new building with volunteer labor, local donations, and a ten year no interest loan from the local rural electric cooperative which has been repaid.  This building houses the GCIA Grocery as well as a community-owned eating place called the County Seat Café.
   
For $25, a person can join GCIA which entitles them to charge their groceries at the store.  I don’t mean with a credit card, I mean that the store will keep a charge account for them which they pay at the end of the month.
   
The building is clean and well-maintained.  But what is really unusual is that it is community-owned and directed by volunteers.  There is a hired manager, but a board of volunteers gives direction and also provides legwork to operate it.
   
In 2006, GCIA purchased a local grocery distribution business.  The wholesaler delivers groceries to GCIA which are then redistributed to other local stores.  This helps all the stores meet the minimum purchase requirement from the supplier, as well as sharing needed produce or meat products.  Board members and other volunteers step in to help sort the shipments each week.
   
The GCIA Board has seen first-hand the importance of having a store nearby for the elderly or young families.  Cheri Remington saw this benefit while caring for her husband’s grandmother.  Or when there’s a sick baby in town, someone is willing to open the store to get the medicine they need.
   
A dramatic example happened in the ice storm of December 2007.  The power in Gove was out for five days, but the GCIA Grocery opened to serve the community.  The store had no power and no lights, but they found a way to make it work.
   
Marvin Beesley says, “We had flashlights and people went through the aisles.  We didn’t have a cash register but we wrote down who owed what, and when it was all over, they came in and paid their bills.  It’s another convenience of having a local store.”
   
They used a portable generator to keep the refrigerator and freezer going at the café, but there was too much in the store to save it all.  So they took a bunch of food to the gas grill in the café, cooked it up and fed a bunch of people, including the linemen who were working on the down electrical lines.  The café itself was unlocked, because the generator cord went through the café door so it had to remain open.  People took food to shut-ins and neighbors helped neighbors.
   
Marvin Beesley says, “It wasn’t a good time, but it was a lot of community togetherness.”

So what happened at your local grocery store when the ice storm hit?  In the case of Gove, the people of the community and the community store came together and helped each other through tough times.  We commend all those who are part of the Gove Community Improvement Association for making a difference by sustaining that local service.  That spirit of cooperation helps rural communities to cope with whatever might be in store.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Wendell Turner

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
The sun glistens on the water as a soft breeze wafts across the branches of the palm tree, while in the background, Black Angus cattle graze upon a Flint Hills pasture.  Wait a minute, what are palm trees and cowpastures doing in the same sentence?  The answer is, they are brought together through an incredible enterprise based in rural Kansas.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Wendell Turner, creator and owner of this remarkable business.  Wendell grew up in the rural Flint Hills of Kansas, near the town of Rose Hill, population 3,525 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Wendell says that his mother was creative and his father was a wheelwright.  Those skills would come together in Wendell years later.  First, however, Wendell served in the military and was stationed in Florida.  He went to a beach party and met the wonderful woman who became his wife.  They eventually moved to Kansas where they settled outside Andover and started raising cattle and kids.
   
After Wendell and his wife Helen had been married thirty years, it came time for their wedding anniversary.  Wendell says, “That’s when every married guy racks his brain for a gift and goes out to buy something we don’t know anything about.”
   
But Wendell came up with a special and unusual idea for a gift: He thought about what his wife liked back in Florida and decided “I’ll build her a palm tree” as a fun reminder of home.  So he set out to build a lifesize model of a palm tree from scrap metal.
   
Wendell went to work in his shop.  He cut the metal and started to weld.
   
After six months of construction, Wendell had built a life-size replica of a palm tree.  Unfortunately, it was too big to come out of his shop in one piece.  But eventually he got it out and put it up in front of their house.  Wendell says, “I wasn’t sure what she would say and I thought the neighbors would complain.  But she loved it, and so did the neighbors.”
   
In fact, she encouraged him to build another one and take it to the home show in Wichita.  There he got all kinds of compliments about his palm trees, and he made his first sale.
   
That was the beginning of a business called Designer Palms, Inc.  Wendell and his sons are now custom building these palm trees and selling them across the country.
   
The first palm trees were built as gifts or sculptures, but he wanted to make them more functional to expand the market.  Now they can include lighting, with light bulbs inside metal coconuts hanging on the tree, or with built-in streetlights for use in new real estate developments.
   
The palms are built of treated metals, stainless steel and copper.  They can go inside or outside and can be bolted to a wood deck, concrete pad, or standalone in a planter or bar table.  The metal is aged for 6 to 8 weeks to create just the right patina - I am not making this up.
   
The fronds may be made from galvanized metal while the stems are made of carbon steel, so as it rusts, it creates a more interesting look.  Each palm is signed, dated, and numbered.  The trees have withstood ice storms and high winds.
   
These palm trees add a distinctive and eye-catching element to anyone’s home or business.  They have been sold from New York to California, and Florida to Washington state.  They have even been featured on ABC TV’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”  Wow.  Meanwhile, every palm tree is custom built on Wendell Turner’s ranch outside of Andover, the Palm Tree Capitol of the Midwest.
   
Wendell says, “Our goal is to see how much fun we can have and how much we can grow this small business.”  For more information, go to www.designerpalms.com.

A soft breeze wafts across the palm tree as cows graze in the background.  It’s an unusual combination, brought about by the creative work of Wendell Turner and his sons.  We appreciate them making a difference by using this imaginative approach.  It may be the closest Kansans get to beachfront property.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

 

Women’s Basketball

This is Kansas Profile.  I'm Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
   
Student-athlete.  That’s a term which college administrators like to use, but for the typical fan - like me - the “student” part gets forgotten while we cheer on the “athlete.”  Today we’ll meet a group of young student-athletes from rural Kansas who have accomplished remarkable results in both academics and athletics.  It’s today’s Kansas Profile.
   
Meet Shalee Lehning, guard on the K-State women’s basketball team.  She exemplifies the type of achievement I’m talking about, both on and off the court. Shalee earned a first-team position: That’s First Team All-Big 12, and First Team Academic All-Big 12.
   
Consider the past two basketball seasons.  In 2006-2007, the Wildcats struggled to a last-place finish and the first part of the next season wasn’t much better.  By late December 2007, the Wildcat women’s record was five and five.
   
Shalee says, “Before we went home for Christmas, Coach Patterson called us together and said we still had a chance at the NCAA tournament.  We would have to scratch and claw, but if we worked hard, we could do it.”  She says, “When we came back, we were a different team.  We put it together and showed we were a team with heart, that would never back down.”
   
That team proceeded to win ten straight and fight hard through the season’s end.  On March 5, 2008, the Wildcat women completed a sweep of the Kansas Jayhawks and claimed the Big 12 Championship.  It was the first team in the history of the Big 12 or any BCS conference to go from worst to first in a single year.
   
K-State women’s coach Deb Patterson says, “I think the accomplishments of this team have been underappreciated.  This team was the first in K-State history to go 7 and 1 on the road, to sweep the south division schools on the road, and to reach the highest number of road victories in K-State history.”  Not only did they make the NCAA tournament and advance to the second round, they set a national record for the most consecutive free throws made in a NCAA game, making a perfect 21 of 21 from the stripe.
   
Coach Patterson then brings up their academic achievements, without any prompting from me.  In the fall, the Wildcats led the conference in selections to the Academic All-Big 12 Team.  Every single woman on the roster was selected to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll for their academic achievements – the only school in the conference to place its entire roster on the honor roll.  Wow.  That probably doesn’t make the headlines on the sports page, but it reflects a high commitment to excellence which they will carry with them throughout their lives.
   
Another striking factor about the K-State roster is homegrown talent.  Of the eight returning letterwinners on the roster, six are from Kansas - from both rural and urban settings.  They come from places like Lenexa, Sublette, McPherson, Andover, and Riley, population 848 people.  Now, that’s rural.
   
Coach Patterson says, “The instate Kansas players bring a solid foundation of a selfless approach and a great work ethic which they can build on to achieve great things.”  She says, “These young women exemplify the spirit, heart, and soul of Kansas people who go out and work hard every day.”
   
Shalee Lehning says, “Community is the epitome of small town Kansas.  People are so supportive.  If your mom’s in the hospital, people are bringing food over left and right.”  She says, “I learned a lot of valuable lessons growing up in a small town, and it’s helped us connect with our amazing fans.”
   
Coach Patterson says, “The philosophy of our program is to demand excellence, academically, personally, and athletically, and these girls have met that standard.”

Student-athlete.  It’s a phrase which is used loosely in big time college athletics, but today we’ve met some young women who exemplify the term.  They’ve achieved great things, not just with the nets but with the notes, not just with the ball but with the books.  We commend Shalee Lehning and others from the women’s team for making a difference by inspiring us with their accomplishments, both on the court and in the classroom.
   
For the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.