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Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

2011 Profiles

Abby Amick - Native Stone Scenic Byway

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

Native stone. That's a term for the natural layer of rock which underlies part of eastern Kansas and creates the remarkable natural topography known as the Flint Hills. In the northern Flint Hills, the state of Kansas has designated a highway route where rich history, natural rock outcroppings, and beautiful stone buildings can all be found. It is known as the Native Stone Scenic Byway. Now there is a new way to access audio descriptions of these attractions. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Abby Amick is director of Wabaunsee County Economic Development and coordinator of a grant from the Kansas Humanities Council to develop these audio scripts.

"We wanted to feature the wonderful culture, history, and attractions which are found along the Native Stone Scenic Byway," Abby said. The byway itself was designated by the state of Kansas in 2004. It is a 48-mile route through Shawnee and Wabaunsee Counties on parts of highways K-4 and K-99 between Topeka and Alma. Specifically, it is located between the junction of highway K-4 and Glick Road, 3 miles south of Interstate 70, on the east and the junction of Highway K-99 and Interstate 70 on the west.

The Native Stone Scenic Byway committee applied for a grant to create audio files describing the various features located along the byway. Those audio files would be made available online as well as on a CD to be distributed free to visitors and residents.

The Kansas Humanities Council awarded the grant in 2010. Local volunteers wrote about their communities and historic attractions along the byway. K-State Research and Extension Communications did the audio and artwork production of the CD. I was honored to be the narrator for this project. I learned a lot about the history, scenery, and attractions of this area.

"This project will honor, promote, and preserve the wonderful historic elements of native stone in the heart of the northern Flint Hills region," Abby Amick said. "We encourage visitors to explore and learn about both the natural wonder of rock formations and the amazing craftwork of masons who built communities with native stone."

For example: Near the eastern end of the byway is the community of Dover, home of the 1878 Sage Inn and Stagecoach Station. Near the western end of the byway is the community of Alma, known as the City of Native Stone because much of the business district consists of native stone structures built in the 1800s. On the route between those two towns is historic Eskridge, along with miles of winding creeks, undisturbed grazing land, seasonal wildflowers, farms, ranches, and native stone fences which "frame the portrait" of life in this area.

Specifically, the topics and locations included are Dover, Mission Creek, Wabaunsee County, Echo Cliff, Edmund G. Ross homesite, Keene, Keene missile site, Eskridge, Security State Bank, Lake Wabaunsee, Flint Hills cowboy culture (written by Dr. Jim Hoy), Pottawatomie Native American Indian culture (written and narrated by Jon Boursaw, a member of the Citizen Pottawatomie Nation), From Cream to Butter – the Role of Pioneer Women, Alma and Skyline Mill Creek Scenic Drive, Wabaunsee County Museum and Court House, native stone fences, Underground Railroad, Mount Mitchell, and the Beecher Bible and Rifle Church.

In June, the first CD was presented to Governor Sam Brownback in his office in Topeka. The CDs are available while supplies last at various business locations along the byway, or from the Wabaunsee County Economic Development office in Alma. The audio files will also be available at www.wabaunsee.com. We'll learn more about the individual features along the byway in coming weeks.

Native stone. That's the rock which underlies the Flint Hills and is found in a natural state as well as in the homes, buildings, and barns created by craftsmen in this region. Now the history, culture, and attractions of this region are described in audio files available online and on CD for those who wish to explore the Native Stone Scenic Byway. We commend Abby Amick and all those involved with this project for making a difference by preserving and promoting this heritage. As my teenager might say: "Rock on."

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

Alex Potuzak - Basketball

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

The basketball player drives in for a layup and scores as the crowd goes wild. That might sound like the description of a winning basket in a championship game, but the outcome of this particular game was decided much earlier. So why is there such a strong response from the fans? Perhaps it is their appreciation for the role players on their team, or for a Kansas kid who is working hard. Maybe it is a product of the fact that the home team is winning big. But this player from rural Kansas has found a special place in the hearts of his team's fans. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Alex Potuzak is a freshman on the K-State basketball team and a product of the high school basketball team at Clifton-Clyde.

Two things struck me about Alex: One, he comes from a truly rural area of Kansas, and two, he is tall. Alex stands 6 feet, nine inches tall and weighs 190 pounds -- if that much.

Alex' dad is quite tall also. Alex had a growth spurt early. When he was in the sixth grade, he stood 5'10''. By the 8th grade he stood 6'3'', and by his freshman year in high school he was 6'6''. Now he stands more than 6'9'' in his stocking feet and plays in size 17 basketball shoes.

So Alex got into basketball. He joined the varsity during his high school freshman season and started the next three years. In his senior year, he led his team to the substate championship game.

In his career, he scored the third-most points in his school's history and set school records for most blocked shots in a game and field goal percentage. He was also a track athlete, winning first place in the 1,600 meter run at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships.

Yet relatively few successful high school athletes have the chance to play at the collegiate level. Alex had been talking to Cloud County Community College about playing basketball near his home, but he finally decided he wanted to study at K-State whether or not his basketball career continued. Then the community college coach contacted the basketball staff at K-State and they arranged a tryout. In the fall of 2010, Alex Potuzak joined the team as a walk-on.

Walk-on players don't receive the free-ride scholarships, playing time, and adulation from the fans as do the starters. But the scholarship was not an issue, because Alex had earned academic scholarships in the classroom. In fact, he had a perfect 4.0 grade point average in high school and was a class officer and valedictorian of his class of 31 students. Now he is majoring in civil engineering at K-State and got another 4.0 in his first semester of college. Wow.

Meanwhile, he is working out, practicing with the team, and playing in spot duty. In the process, he has become a fan favorite. The students will call his name late in games and cheer his every rebound and shot attempt.

How did this happen? "I think it goes back to Midnight Madness," Alex said. "The announcer couldn't get my name quite right and then my teammates got me into it and let me make a couple of dunks. Now some people say I'm a fan favorite, and it's a wonderful feeling." He said, "I'm going to do everything I can to help my team prepare, in games or in practice."

His layup against Alcorn State brought the crowd to its feet with applause. Not bad for a kid from rural Kansas. After all, Alex went to high school at Clifton-Clyde, and he went to grade school at Agenda, Kansas, population 73 people. Now, that's rural.

"I would not trade my small-town upbringing for anything," said Alex.

The crowd goes wild as the player drives in for a layup in the game's final seconds. No, it's not the last-minute winning shot, it's the work of a Kansas kid who is helping his team succeed. We commend Alex Potuzak and all small-town athletes for making a difference by enhancing their teams – and their communities.

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

Beth Hecht – Geospatial Literacy

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

Using their global positioning system equipment, the team members move along the Kansas River, digitally mapping the erosion along the bank.

Does this sound like an engineering project? Maybe a group of high-tech consultants? It is, but there's something different about this group of technicians: They average fourteen years old. This is part of a special project to involve 4-Hers in serving their communities while learning about geospatial technology. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Beth Hecht is K-State Research and Extension associate specialist in geospatial literacy with the Department of 4-H Youth Development. From a rural area, she is giving leadership to this unique initiative.

Beth had been a 4-H agent for 17 years. A Penn State grad, she met her future husband while visiting Kansas City. She relocated to Kansas and became the Leavenworth County 4-H youth development agent. Beth and her husband settled near the unincorporated community of Jarbalo with a population of maybe 100 people. Now, that's rural.

In 2006, Beth went to the National 4-H Agents Association conference in Wisconsin. She signed up for a pre-conference session and booked flights, only to find that the session for which she had signed up was cancelled. Instead, she went to a different session on an unfamiliar topic: Global Positioning System and Geographic Information Systems, or GPS and GIS for short.

She had heard of GPS and GIS from some 4-Hers but didn't know what they really meant. During the national preconference, 4-H members talked about how they had used GPS-GIS technology to map where crimes were being committed in their community during after-school hours, compared to where deputies were located. They shared their findings with the local police department, which made adjustments and reduced crime by some 20 percent. Beth was immediately excited by what she heard.

"In the first five minutes, I was hooked. Sign me up to learn how they did that," Beth said.

She got a grant which provided software and support to youth in her county to do GPS/GIS-related work. Leavenworth County created a tech team involving 4-Hers in various community service projects utilizing GPS and GIS technology. The 4-H members were locating certain items or information using handheld devices and entering the data on computers with special software.

For example, the tech team digitally mapped such locations as the water sprinklers at a local recreation park, the one-room schoolhouses around the county, and riverbank erosion along the Kansas River. To accomplish the latter, team members used GPS devices and gathered data for the high water marks along the Kansas River and then plotted the points using GIS software. The 4-Hers presented the results of their work to the county GIS, planning and zoning, emergency management, and public works departments. The county GIS director applauded the excellent value of their project.

This innovative work led to Beth being named associate specialist in geospatial literacy for the state 4-H office. What is geospatial literacy? "It's the study of our space, the world around us, and how it connects together," Beth said. In practice, it means learning how to use GPS and GIS technology and applying it in a community setting. Kansas 4-H has launched a GeoTech Community Service Learning Program so that more 4-Hers can learn and utilize this technology.

Beth Hecht sees benefits to both communities and 4-Hers. Communities benefit from GIS as it allows information to be visualized and understood, helping to answer questions and solve problems, and the youth benefit from learning and applying this leading edge technology. "They're developing critical thinking skills as they gain hands-on knowledge about technology and their communities – stuff they're going to be using throughout their lives, in their careers," Beth said. For more information, go to www.kansas4h.org.

Having completed their digital mapping, the team members hit "enter" on their handheld computer devices, as they finish their GPS and GIS project. We commend Beth Hecht and all those involved with the geospatial literacy project for making a difference by benefitting their county while learning about this technology. While helping their community, these 4-Hers are also positioning themselves for rewarding careers in a global society.

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

Brenda Johnson – Hometown Market

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

Oh, there's the doorbell. Here's your delivery. No, it's not UPS or the pizza man, it's groceries. Here are milk, juice, cereal, meat, fruit, and fresh vegetables, all delivered to your door. What a remarkable service, having groceries delivered to your home. Service to customers has been a fundamental part of the success of this home-owned grocery business in a rural community. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Brenda Johnson is owner and manager of Hometown Market in Bird City, Kansas. Hometown Market is one of those surprising stores which has been able to survive, in spite of the many challenges facing rural grocery stores.

Bird City is a rural community of 472 people. That's rural – but there's more. Brenda grew up at Hill City. Then Brenda lived at McDonald, where her aunt had a grocery store, and Brenda worked for her there. When her aunt retired, Brenda took over the store.

Then the grocery store in nearby Bird City closed, and Brenda was asked to take it over. The Bird City Century II Development Foundation remodeled the store and Brenda stocked it and opened it as Hometown Market in 2003. It is supplied by Affiliated Foods Midwest.

At a time when many rural grocery stores are struggling and closing their doors, how in the world does a person manage to open and sustain a store in such challenging times?

"They know we're here for them," Brenda Johnson said, as she greeted customers by name. "Be personal with them." Over time, the store has diversified and innovated to respond to its customers.

Hometown Market offers a full-range of typical grocery products, including meat, dairy, frozen foods, snacks, household needs, health and beauty products, and produce. An in-store meatcutter still cuts and grinds fresh meat products daily.

The store offers other features such as video rental, greeting cards, gifts, and helium balloons for special occasions. There are t-shirts for sale, promoting Bird City and the local school. In the back corner of the store is a cluster of chairs around a table, coffee pot, and a television set.

Hometown Market has now launched a rewards card, through which frequent shoppers can accumulate points toward free items. The store also serves lunches at noon.

Remarkably, this rural grocery store is online. The store's website is www.bchometownmarket.com. Not only does this site include a video greeting from Brenda, there are links to customer request and customer comment forms, weekly ads, a printable shopping checklist and a link for an online order form.

Online order form? Yes, this innovative store offers a printable store order form on the website. That form has space to list the products that the customer wants to purchase, plus a place to mark whether the customer will be picking up the order at the store or if the order will be delivered to home or to work.

Delivered to home or work? Yes, Hometown Market will deliver the grocery order to the customer's home or workplace. The printable form includes a place to list item, size, price, and quantity, plus a delivery address. This form can be mailed, faxed, or phoned in to the store.

"We have several customers that we deliver to weekly," Brenda said. "They just call in a list every week. I bought a golf cart so I can run around town making my deliveries," she said.

Brenda's store now places orders for five other stores in the region: One in Nebraska, one in Colorado, two in St. Francis, and one in Brewster, population 280 people. Now, that's rural. These rural stores can help sustain themselves by placing group orders wholesale.

"When I had the store in McDonald, other stores let me place orders with them, so I'm glad to do this for other stores now," Brenda said. "I love helping out others."

There's the doorbell. Sure enough, it is your grocery order, delivered right to your door. We commend Brenda Johnson and the people of Hometown Market for making a difference by offering this personal service to their customers. Not only is this market in these customers' hometown, it is virtually at their doorstep.

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

Brian Logan – Homestead Custom Cabinets

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

"One good thing leads to another." That truism applies to many things, and it certainly applies to the business of Homestead Custom Cabinets. Word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied customers has helped grow the business for this custom cabinet-maker in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Brian Logan is owner of Homestead Custom Cabinets near Wamego, Kansas.

Brian grew up at Concordia, where he attended community college before coming to K-State. Brian's father was a lifelong barber, who was also very handy in his workshop. Apparently Brian got those skills as well.

"I always enjoyed woodworking," Brian said. In 1993, he went to work for Bob Buchanan's cabinet shop at Wamego. Brian found he enjoyed designing and producing high quality cabinets.

In 2001, Bob Buchanan retired and Brian purchased the business. Brian also wanted to expand and have his own building. In 2002, he started a building a new shop of his own south of Wamego.

"We built the shop ourselves on weekends," Brian said. "It was me and Archie (an older worker in the shop) and my dad and brother." There was also the question of what to name the business. At the time the Logans were building the building, the county assigned a name to the roadway next to their new location: Homestead Road. That name seemed to fit the cabinet business as well.

Homestead Custom Cabinets became the name of this new business. In 2003, Homestead Custom Cabinets opened in the new shop six miles south of Wamego, on Homestead Road along Highway 99. It is in a truly rural location, halfway between Wamego and the community of Alma, population 785 people. Now, that's rural.

The shop is new, but it is well-connected to the past. In the lobby sits one of Brian's father's old barber chairs.

Homestead Custom Cabinets does both commercial and residential work. Their cabinets are popular in homes and businesses in north east and north central Kansas. The business specializes in custom cabinetry.

"We do all kinds of cabinetry work," Brian said. "Not just kitchen cabinets, but entertainment centers, headboards, office spaces, and even in campers." He does the design the old-fashioned way, with a tape measure and a story pole. "It's something the old carpenters used for layout," Brian said. "I learned it from Bob Buchanan." Now Brian's son-in-law Chase is working in the business also.

"Every job is its own job," Brian said. "Every job is individual. We're really good at matching existing cabinets in a space. And we really emphasize quality."

"When you open (a cabinet) up, you can see how it's made," Brian said. "We use ¾ inch plywood rather than particle board. Some people use particle board which is cheaper, but it is also heavier which really isn't needed. I don't want to get into the lower end cabinets. And we finish the inside of our cabinets too, so they are finished inside and out."

This emphasis on quality has paid off in terms of the business. Brian gets lots of return business, repeat customers, and word-of-mouth marketing.

"Word of mouth, referrals, and repeat business have been my best advertising," Brian said. There seems to be a ripple effect when he works on projects.

"We were working for a family at Alta Vista, and then the son needed something done," Brian said. "When the inlaws saw it, that turned into a project for them. And then the sister wanted something."

Brian has appreciated the support he's received in the community. For example, he has done projects for the local vet clinic, hospital, museum, city hall, and library. At the Wabaunsee County Courthouse, he did a project in the Register of Deed's office. It went so well that the county attorney wanted something. That led to projects for the traffic division, county treasurer, and then the county clerk. Wow.

"One good thing leads to another." Yes, that's been the path of business growth for Homestead Custom Cabinets. We commend Brian Logan for making a difference with his hard work and emphasis on quality craftsmanship. For rural Kansas, let's keep the good things coming.

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

Bridgit Smith – Majestic Theater

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

Where is the longest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state of Kansas? I might have guessed Kansas City or Leavenworth. But according to the book Kansas Opera Houses, 1855-1925, the longest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state of Kansas is in a rural community -- the town of Phillipsburg. It is the Majestic Theater, which is not only still operating, it is being renovated. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Bridgit Smith is with Phillips County Economic Development, which is helping with the exterior renovation of the Majestic Theater in Phillipsburg. The history of the Majestic Theater was described by Connie Hull and Winnie Broun, daughters of Ralph Winship who built the structure back in 1905.

Ralph Winship constructed the Winship Opera House upstairs from his general store. This opulent opera house, featuring venetian red walls and gold trim, was the only one in that part of the country. Vaudeville companies from around the nation performed here. Formal dress was the standard, and ladies wore evening gowns.

By 1921, these live performances by traveling companies were being replaced by silent movies. In 1925, Ralph Winship renovated the opera house to show moving pictures on the first floor. It was named the Majestic Theater.

Connie Hull danced and performed in plays on that stage. Her sister Winnie Broun remembers going to silent movies there and sitting on her grandmother's lap while her Grandma read the captions to her. A live pianist played music to accompany the show: Romantic songs when the guy met the girl, sad songs when the heroine died, and so forth. Shows cost 10 and 25 cents and starred people like Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

Then in 1927, silent pictures became talking pictures. The first sound was played from disks, kind of like wax records, but it was hard to synchronize the sound and the picture. Sometimes the actors would say one thing and the audience heard another. Eventually sound tracks came along, as we have today.

After many years of family ownership, in 2000 the Majestic Theater became a community-owned facility. Under a manager and a board of directors of community volunteers, the theater continues to offer current movies. In fact, the Dane G. Hansen Foundation of Logan provided a grant for a new 3D projection system in 2009. However, the physical facility was showing wear and tear.

The theater board, Discover Phillipsburg Main Street, Huck Boyd Foundation, and Phillips County Economic Development discussed how to deal with renovation. The economic development office and Albert Morgan Foundation provided a grant for an architect to work on feasibility plans.

In mid-November 2009, there was good news and bad news. The good news was that Small Community Improvement Program grants were available from the Kansas Department of Commerce. The bad news was that the grant application was due December 4. That left three weeks for the community to write the application, identify volunteers, and raise matching funds. This is a challenge for a rural community like Phillipsburg, population 2,602 people. Now, that's rural.

Connie Hull wrote, "My daddy Ralph Winship ran the theater 56 years. How I would love to see the Majestic Theater brought back to life."

"The community embraced this," Bridgit said. "Volunteers went around to businesses and even the school and nursing home to find supporters." By December 4, the community identified more than 280 willing volunteers, generated more than 50 support letters, and raised more than $90,000. Wow.

Fortunately, much of the preparatory work had already been done. The grant was awarded and the community went to work. An exterior renovation is now underway and a new marquee will soon be installed. To celebrate this milestone, community leaders held a ceremony – not a ribbon cutting, but a film cutting. The person doing the honors was the 86-year-old daughter of Ralph Winship, Connie Hull.

So where is the longest continuously operating entertainment venue in the state of Kansas? Yes, it is the Majestic Theater in Phillipsburg. We commend the members of the Ralph Winship family and all those who are making a difference by supporting this renovation project. I think it is majestic.

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

Chad Carter – Car-Tel Enterprises

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

A woman's miniature horse is about to give birth. To be safe, the woman checks the expectant mare regularly during the night. But this doesn't require the woman to bundle up and walk to the barn in the dark, because she's using a video monitoring system designed and built by a security and telecommunications integrator from rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Chad Carter is owner-operator of Car-Tel Enterprises, a security telecommunications company based in rural Kansas. Chad is an Oklahoma native. He and his family came to Kansas so his father could manage the Anchor D Ranch near Olsburg. After school, Chad joined the military and became an Army Ranger. After the service, he went to K-State and then worked for a cable television company in Manhattan. Eventually he became a telecommunications contractor and worked for a telephone and cable company in Glen Elder before going out on his own.

While in the military, Chad had been trained as a communications expert. His specialty was long-range surveillance. In the process, he learned what modern technology can do. When he returned, he became frustrated with the type of security and telecommunications services available in Kansas.

"Time and time again big name companies install low grade products at high prices, with no thought to the feelings of the customer," Chad said. "I started Car-Tel Enterprises because all customers should get the best quality job for their money."

Chad's business specializes in security systems, video monitoring systems, burglar alarms and telecommunications. He partners with a Kansas City monitoring company for the burglar alarms. Now there is demand for those video security systems in rural Kansas.

Even farmers benefit from remote video cameras. Some farmers use them for security on remote machine sheds, for example, and others use them for monitoring irrigation systems. The key is that these systems can be operated and monitored remotely – there is no need for a giant cable running all the way out to the field. Wireless communications and the Internet have made this possible.

For example, Chad demonstrated a wireless camera system at the Kansas State Fair with a sign that said, "Look Mom, no cables!" Power is provided by solar panels and the video signal is transmitted wirelessly through antennae to monitors at the home location where operators can view them.

How far can those wireless signals reach? Chad figures on three to five miles, although he had one signal go 29 miles in a case where there was a perfect, unobstructed line of sight from the transmitter to the receiver.

Co-ops, farm implement and fertilizer dealers use these security systems to protect their equipment. In many communities, tanks of anhydrous ammonia fertilizer have been moved out of town for safety, but as a result the tanks are isolated. Video security systems can protect those tanks and facilities from bad guys who want to steal copper or supplies to make meth.

Chad is finding demand for his products from other, unexpected places as well. Schools, businesses, individuals, and even small towns are using his products. One miniature horse owner used his system to monitor her pregnant mare. Chad's customers also include local sheriffs, a high-end hunting lodge, and an oil drilling company.

"Some small towns may not be able to afford to pay a cop, but these systems are an affordable way of providing security," Chad said. Of course, the eye of the camera is on duty 24-7 – and it doesn't require donuts.

Perhaps it is a reflection on society that, during 2011, Chad's business doubled as more and more people sought video security systems. Now he is installing systems all across Kansas and from Nebraska to Oklahoma. He remains based in his wife Pam's hometown, the rural community of Cawker City, population 510 people. Now, that's rural.

The moment has come. The miniature horse gives birth to a healthy foal, while the owner captures the moment on film and monitors the birth from the comfort of her home. We commend Chad and Pam Carter and Car-Tel Enterprises for making a difference by utilizing such technology. For benefitting rural Kansas, it sends a strong signal.

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

Cheryl Unruh – Flyover People

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

The author reads her work as the audience enjoys her well-written prose. Was this in a coffee shop? Bookstore? Library? No, this particular reading took place in the chamber of the Kansas House of Representatives. Wow. That venue is especially fitting when one learns that this particular writer is a true Kansan – and is creating wonderful columns celebrating our great State. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Cheryl Unruh is a columnist for the Emporia Gazette. Her weekly column and her new book bear the same name: "Flyover People." It's a term for those who populate Kansas, which some east or west coast residents dismissively call "flyover country." But Cheryl Unruh loves Kansas: its beautiful skies and wide open spaces. She especially loves the people and places of small town Kansas, and sharing their stories with others.

Cheryl grew up in the rural town of Pawnee Rock, population 351 people. Now, that's rural.

Cheryl wrote of her view of her hometown at age 18: "A dirt-street town with familiar faces, loose dogs, and few opportunities." But today, she reflects nostalgically on the sense of safety she had as a kid in Pawnee Rock, and the joys of small town living.

Cheryl is a natural born wordsmith. As a high school student, she wrote about her school for the local newspaper in Larned. Her writing skills were helpful as she followed her older brother to KU, although as a matter of teenage rebellion she refused to major in journalism because he had already done so. She graduated in education and settled in Emporia, but the urge to write continued.

"I always wanted to write a column about Kansas," Cheryl said. "I pestered the people at the Emporia Gazette until they let me try it." On January 28, 2003, her first column ran. Fittingly, it was the day before Kansas Day.

"As a writer, I can't think of a subject I'd rather cover each week than the great state of Kansas—its small towns, the weather, the people, the landscape," Cheryl wrote later. "I love this place."

So Cheryl set out to write a weekly column with its focus on our state. She wrote, "I call this column "Flyover People" because of my fascination with the sky, the sunsets, the clouds, as well as the planes and travelers that inhabit the air. Our endless sky...belong(s) to us. It is ever-present, a player in our daily lives."

Her love for Kansas came through, and her column gained quite a following. Then the column developed into a book.

"In March 2010, it hit me that the Kansas sesquicentennial was coming," Cheryl said. "What better time to put a Kansas book together." Cheryl got in touch with her older brother the journalist, and he helped her assemble some of her favorite essays into a book which was published in August 2010.

It is titled "Flyover People – Life on the Ground in a Rectangular State." Her stories of life on the ground are, by turns, entertaining, humorous, and touching. She writes fascinating tales of small town Kansas people and her own experiences while growing up there.

"I'm documenting Kansas as it is at this point in time," Cheryl said. "It's a living history." Cheryl and her husband Dave like to travel and experience those small towns first-hand.

"We'll get in the car, pick a direction and just go," Cheryl said. "Every town has something, and each town has its own personality. I can't wait to see what's there." For more information, go to www.flyoverpeople.net.

And so, each week the Emporia Gazette carries her column, and people are enjoying her book. On June 18, 2011, she presented a reading of her work in the House Chamber of the Kansas Capitol building.

The author concludes her reading as the audience applauds -- not in a coffee shop, bookstore, or library, but in the chamber of the Kansas House of Representatives. How fitting that this author is Cheryl Unruh, who is making a difference by writing so passionately and eloquently about Kansas living. She manages to lift up the Flyover People of Kansas while staying down to earth.

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

Chris Sramek – Decision Weather

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

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it," said Mark Twain. Yes, we all feel the impact of the weather. Today we'll meet an innovative private meteorologist who is providing weather-related services to rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Chris Sramek is owner and meteorologist at Decision Weather in Atwood, Kansas. Chris grew up on the family farm near Atwood. He was studying computer science at Fort Hays when he visited Boulder, Colorado. While there he visited the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and one might say he was "blown away" by what he saw there. The cutting edge technology and weather analysis was very impressive.

"I knew this was what I wanted to do," Chris said. On the same trip, he took a personality test which suggested that he was not cut out to be a computer programmer. So Chris decided to make a change and transferred to the University of Nebraska where he graduated in Meteorology.

He took a position with a private meteorology firm in Kansas City and worked there seven years, but he really wanted to get back closer to the farm and family in Rawlins County. In spring 2001, Chris made the move back to Atwood where he established his own meteorology firm called Decision Weather and got involved with his hometown.

"The folks in Kansas City told me, 'You're the first radio-TV weather personality that we've had that's gone the other way,'" Chris said. "Most of them are coming from small towns and trying to move into larger markets." After all, Atwood is a rural community of 1,258 people. Now, that's rural.

But Chris could see how the technology was changing to enable electronic communication, and he wanted to use the technology to benefit agriculture. He set up Decision Weather to provide personalized weather forecasts and weather consulting to individuals and all types of businesses, such as agriculture, construction, radio, transportation, public works and roads, education, aviation, recreation, and public utilities.

For the first two years, Chris operated from an office in his home. Then he rented space downtown, and in 2006 Decision Weather purchased the building where they operate today. Decision Weather utilizes a fully staffed state-of-the-art weather lab equipped with a broadcast studio, high-speed Internet, and multiple PC weather stations. He's done weather reports for communities from Salina to Fort Morgan, Colorado, but now focuses on his core region.

Chris does the weather forecast on the radio stations in Colby and Goodland and provides private weather consulting services for his various clients. At first most of his clients were businesses like construction companies and golf courses, but the ag side of his business has grown so much that farmers make up most of his clients today.

For example, his clients might receive a daily email or text with the weather report. Then when they get into a busy farming or construction season, they might consult with Chris about weather conditions – such as if they are preparing to pour concrete or spray a field.

The name "Decision Weather" is fitting, because his weather reports and analysis help his clients decide on how to plan their outdoor work. If a farmer needs to spray for weeds or pests, for example, Decision Weather provides key information on wind speed and direction so as to make sure that nearby fields are not affected.

"I'm not necessarily just delivering the weather anymore," Chris said. "My job is more consulting with people and helping them interpret what they see."

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

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it." Yes, weather affects all of us, but this entrepreneurial Kansan has found a way to build a business of serving agriculture and consulting on the weather. We commend Chris Sramek for making a difference by bringing his expertise back to rural Kansas. His work can help rural Kansas weather the proverbial storm.

And there's more. Remember that Chris got involved when he moved back to his hometown? He ended up leading an initiative which is transforming his community. We'll learn about that next week.

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

Chris Sramek – Hometown Prosperity

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

"Changing the trend lines." For those of us who study graphs and charts depicting the demographic trends of rural Kansas, the thought of redirecting those trends positively is a remarkable achievement. We've seen too many examples of long-term population loss, outmigration, and declining jobs and school enrollments. Today we'll learn about a community-based initiative which is changing the trend lines in a positive way. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Last week we learned about Chris Sramek who moved back to his hometown of Atwood in 2001 to create a private meteorology business. He wanted to be close to family and farm, but he saw his community facing many challenges and got involved to make things better.

When the local economic development director retired, the board selected Chris Sramek to replace her. It was a part-time position, so it enabled Chris to continue to build his meteorology business at the same time.

In his new position, Chris got involved with bottom-up economic development efforts such as Ogallala Commons, a multi-state grass-roots initiative for sustainable development, and a Nebraska initiative called HomeTown Competitiveness.

In 2008, Kansas Farm Bureau launched its own initiative based on the Nebraska model. It was called the Kansas HomeTown Prosperity Initiative. This model emphasizes local leadership, strong local development organizations, community philanthropy, and youth engagement, attraction and entrepreneurship.

Atwood/Rawlins County was one of three locations selected for the Kansas HomeTown Prosperity Initiative. This would then become the Kansas Entrepreneurial Communities Initiative, which supports entrepreneurs and trains business coaches in partnership with NetWork Kansas, the Kansas Small Business Development Centers, and others.

So what happened in Atwood? Lots of things. A new dental clinic was brought to Atwood after three years of work. A new High Plains Food Co-op was created, through which 40 farmers direct market their products to Denver using online orders and monthly deliveries. Atwood became the state's first E-Community as designated by NetWork Kansas. Improvements were completed at the high school and the movie theater downtown. An entrepreneurship fair was conducted including a business plan competition for junior high and high school students.

One interesting element of the change in Atwood is the high level of leadership by women. "Female leadership in this whole process has doubled in the past ten years," Chris said. The report notes that Atwood is full of strong female leaders such as the former mayor, city council members, economic development director and the chamber director.

Another change is regional cooperation. Students in the Rawlins County town of McDonald cross the county line to go to school in Cheyenne County, which creates some intense rivalries. "Twenty years ago, that was like the enemy line," Chris said. "Now we're doing projects together." Such cooperation is important for rural communities like McDonald, which has a population of 155 people. Now, that's rural.

Still, what are the bottom line results? Kansas Farm Bureau studied these outcomes in a 2011 report. One finding was that personal income by non-farm proprietorships in Rawlins County grew to record high levels. Another finding came from the 2010 Census: For the first time since the 1930s Census, Rawlins County grew in population – a stark contrast to the typical rural pattern of population loss.

What does this mean for the schools, for example? From 2000 to 2007, local school enrollment had plunged by 34 percent. But from 2008 to 2011, enrollments have stabilized or even slightly grown. For the first time in a long time, the lines on the charts are trending upward.

In September 2011, Kansas Farm Bureau held its annual Governor's Tour in Rawlins County. In addition to a farm tour, some 60 Rawlins County High School students came to the community meeting with the Governor. "The Governor turned to the students and asked, 'If you had an opportunity, how many of you would want to come back to Atwood?'" Chris said. "In contrast to the old days, almost all the kids raised their hands. That's when you sit there and think, 'This is making a difference.'"

We commend Chris Sramek and all those involved with the Kansas HomeTown Prosperity Initiative for helping move those trend lines up.

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

Christy Hopkins – Unified Greeley County

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

Community conversation. That sounds like something that goes on at the coffee shop, but in this case, it refers to an organized and focused conversation about how the community can be improved. Greeley County, Kansas has used community conversations to help shape its future. For example, such conversations helped lead the county to vote to consolidate city and county government – the first rural county in Kansas to do so. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Christy Hopkins is Director of Greeley County Community Development. Her article in Country Living magazine is the source for today's story.

Greeley is a truly rural county. The county seat is Tribune, population 765 people. Now, that's rural.

In 2004, Greeley County engaged in what is called the Public Square process. Terry Woodbury, who has been profiled here before, is President of Public Square Communities LLC. He uses the powerful symbolism of the public square to describe the different elements of a community that can come together in transformative community conversations. For example, the four sides of the square represent the business community, education, health and human services, and government.

Greeley County became the first accredited Public Square Community in 2007 and was re-accredited in 2009. "As a community, these steps confirmed Greeley County's dedication to engaging individuals from around the public square on community issues and using community conversations to develop goals and ideas for the future," Christy Hopkins said.

According to Terry Woodbury, a community conversation is "the opportunity to bring the community together to discuss needs, wants and plans. It is a place for a community to dream together. When one person says to another, 'I have an idea, what do you think' then change has begun. When that conversation is patient and deep and thorough, then the idea is shaped to fit the community environment." Such conversations have become the norm in Greeley County.

"For residents of Greeley County, grassroots bottom-up community conversation has become the default behavior," Christy said. 'It is how plans are made, how difficult issues are confronted, how we work together to come to solutions on tough questions like "what can be done about the theater?" or "how should we address street repairs in Tribune?"' These conversations require attendees to be active participants, to provide input and ask questions, and to play a role in determining the best course of action.

Community conversations are open, "everyone-invited" gatherings designed to share ideas and opinions while helping develop the solution that best fits Unified Greeley County. Though the format of each gathering may vary, ranging from predominantly open forum to small group discussions and often including clarifying presentations on a given topic, each conversation focuses on positive interaction, giving every Greeley County resident the opportunity to take an active role in charting the course of the community's future.

Since engaging in the Public Square Process in 2004, Greeley County has held community conversations on a range of specific concerns: community vision and goals, a housing shortage, the future of the theater, maintenance of city streets with limited government funds, best location for a veterans' memorial, and, most recently, prioritizing and funding major renovations on the elementary school.

Results of these conversations touch all segments of the Public Square. For example, in 2009 voters approved a new "Unified Greeley County" with a 73% majority vote to consolidate city and county government. Other landmarks include development of a county-wide recreation program that sponsors some 50 activities annually, creation of a new community foundation, a renovated community-owned theatre showing late-run films, formation of Greeley Homes LLC to attract private investors in new housing, construction of a memorial honoring 400 veterans, and 69% voter approval for a $3.8 million school bond. Wow.

"By talking through the alternatives, developing new ideas, and working together to reach consensus, our citizens are building a stronger, more stable community for future generations," Christy said.

Community conversation. It's not just talk, it's a way of bringing the community together for positive change. We commend Christy Hopkins and all the citizens of Greeley County for coming together in constructive conversation. These conversations have helped bring about transformation.

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

Cliff Shank – Sports Coverage

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

The high school gym is packed as the basketball teams take the floor. The players are excited, the coaches are prepared, the game is about to begin. But something is missing: There are no goals. It's impossible to have a basketball game without goals. Today we'll meet a leading radio broadcaster who knows the importance of local high school sports and the importance of having goals – in sports and in life. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Cliff Shank is owner of Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting which owns four radio stations serving central Kansas. His stations are leaders in sports broadcasting in the state.

Cliff grew up near Salina. He graduated from K-State in radio-television in 1974 and went to work for a radio station in the rural community of Lyons, population 3,739 people. Now, that's rural. "Sports was my first love," Cliff said. This station did lots of local sports.

One day an older broadcaster at the station asked Cliff what he wanted to do in the future. "I want to be the Voice of the Royals," Cliff said, with all the optimism of youth. "Well, how are you going to get there?" his more seasoned friend replied. Cliff had noticed that a lot of radio station owners and managers were doing play-by-play at the time, so Cliff thought that was the way to go.

"I want to be a (radio station) general manager by the time I'm 30, and an owner by the time I'm 35," Cliff said, with the confidence of youth.

As he looks back on it now, Cliff said, "That was pretty brash for an inexperienced 22-year-old with no money." But he had given voice to his career ambition and it would prove to be prophetic. Sure enough, three months after his thirtieth birthday he became a general manager, and three months before his 35th birthday, he became an owner. "It demonstrates the power of goal setting," Cliff said.

Cliff began at KLOQ in Lyons and then worked for WREN in Topeka and KLEO in Wichita. In 1980, he was hired as sales manager at KSKU in Hutchinson. He was soon promoted to general manager and ultimately became owner, and eventually purchased other stations as well.

Today, his company is named Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting. It includes four FM stations: 94.7 KSKU, which does top 40; 95.9 KWHK, which carries oldies; 100.3 KNZS which does classic rock; and 106.1 KXKU, which carries country. One hallmark which applies to all of his stations is coverage of sports.

"We broadcast more high school basketball games than anybody in the state," Cliff said. His stations cover high school football, volleyball, basketball, softball, baseball, and state track, plus KU and Sterling College sports. "When I got started, there wasn't much sports coverage on FM," Cliff said. "It was almost all on AM. We were some of the pioneers in doing that."

By the way, when Cliff said he wanted to be Voice of the Royals decades ago, the position was already filled by Denny Mathews. Today, more than forty years later, it is still filled by Denny Mathews, which doesn't leave much room for job advancement.

"I didn't become the Voice of the Royals," Cliff said, " but I've become the voice of the Buhler Crusaders and the Little River Redskins and the Sterling Black Bears and more." Such local sports coverage is a vital way of building community in rural Kansas.

"Cliff built successful radio stations through providing good local programming and community service," said Steve Smethers, associate director of K-State's School of Journalism and Mass Communications. "He's the ultimate sports fan. His love of sports fits in nicely with his programming philosophy."

The high school gym is packed, the game begins, and the home team makes the first basket. A ball game needs a goal, and so does someone who wants a successful career. We commend Cliff Shank for making a difference with his pioneering work in local sports broadcasting.

And there's more. Cliff also specializes in severe weather coverage. He's even overcome a disaster which struck his stations directly. We'll learn about that next week.

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

Cliff Shank – Weather Coverage

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

A tornado rumbles across Reno county. Wherever it goes, Cliff Shank will be on the job, broadcasting the whereabouts of severe weather and more. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Last week we met Cliff Shank, owner of Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting which includes four radio stations serving central Kansas. His stations are leaders in sports and severe weather coverage.

Cliff grew up near Salina. As a kid, he went fishing at a nearby sandpit with his family one early spring day. "We caught some fish and had a picnic," Cliff said. "Then my mom got a concerned look on her face and said, 'I have a bad feeling about the weather. Let's pack up and get home.'" They did so, despite Cliff's protests. But two hours later, a tornado developed and struck the very sandpit where they had been fishing.

"I don't believe in ESP and my mom's never done that before or since," Cliff said, but this incident sparked a lifelong interest in severe weather. While studying radio-television at K-State, his senior project was about severe weather coverage by radio stations in Kansas.

Cliff went on to a career in broadcasting and eventually settled in Hutchinson.

Today, he owns Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting. It includes four FM stations: 94.7 KSKU, which does top 40; 95.9 KWHK, which carries oldies; 100.3 KNZS which does classic rock; and 106.1 KXKU, which carries country. These stations also specialize in sports and severe weather coverage.

"In our neck of the woods, I'm the severe weather guy," Cliff said. When there is bad weather in or around Reno County, he is faithfully on the scene, reporting the storm's whereabouts. He has had some close calls and was first-hand witness to storms which hit communities such as Hesston and the rural town of Willowbrook, population 87 people. Now, that's rural. Such weather reports are vital in rural communities.

"People have said to me, 'Your coverage saved my family's life,'" Cliff said.

Sometimes disasters come from man-made sources as well. On September 2, 2011, Cliff got a call at three in the morning. "Our news director told me that the radio station is on fire," Cliff said. "By the time I got there, the fire chief said the building was a total loss and they needed to demolish the remaining walls for safety. They brought in a backhoe. By eight p.m., the building we had been in for 25 years was gone and hauled to the dump. I bawled like a baby," Cliff said.

But he soon was working on a plan to get the stations back on the air. He arranged for a new location and had the stations broadcasting again in less than a month. "On the day after our zoning approval came through, our tower was up in the air," Cliff said.

"Everybody has worked really hard," Cliff said. He credits his wife Vicki, co-owner Mike Hill, and the sales staff for hard work and support.

"We're kind of like family," Cliff said. "Mike and I have worked together in 36 of the 38 years I've been in broadcasting, and some of the sales staff I've known for 30 years." Cliff is especially proud of his own children, including son Chris who is a teacher and coach in Hill City, Stefanie who is an animator-illustrator in New York, and Jonathan who is a college librarian and musician in Chicago.

"Ad Astra Per Aspera is the Kansas motto, and it means To the Stars Through Difficulties," Cliff said. "I think it's a great description of becoming an entrepreneurial businessperson."

"Entrepreneurs must be quick to take advantage of opportunities and
challenges. Cliff Shank has succeeded at that," said Gloria Freeland, director of the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. "To be able to come back after a devastating fire speaks to the courage and persistence of Cliff, his family and his co-workers."

A tornado crosses central Kansas, and Cliff Shank is on the scene. Whether reporting on severe weather or overcoming a disastrous fire of his own, Cliff Shank is making a difference in the broadcast industry of Kansas.

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

Curtis Crawford – Curtis C's Diner

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

"It's time to step up to the plate." Hmm, that statement has a double meaning. It could mean a baseball game -- or dinner. Today we'll meet an enterprise which combines both. It's a restaurant with the feel of a small town diner, and it also features various kinds of memorabilia from baseball and elsewhere in the world of sports. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Curtis Crawford is owner of Curtis C's Diner which combines Curtis' love of sports with his experience in the food industry. Curtis grew up near Manhattan, Kansas and became a sports fan as a kid. He collected baseball cards and became a huge fan of the Kansas City Royals during the 1980s, when George Brett led them to a World Series championship.

Curtis was a ballplayer himself. In baseball, he was a left-handed pitcher. On the Manhattan High football team, he played against (and even tackled) Wichita Northwest's Barry Sanders, who went on to a Heisman Trophy and an NFL career.

Curtis studied Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Management at K-State and worked with Applebee's and Taco Bell in Kansas City and Wichita. In 1994, a local restaurant in Newton came up for sale. Curtis decided to go into the food business for himself. The Village Restaurant in Newton had operated since the 1950s, and Curtis bought it in November 1994.

After thinking about what to name his new restaurant, he chose the option which used his own name and initial: Curtis C's. Said quickly, it sounds like a place where people are being courteous: Curti-Cs. "We do want people to know there is courtesy here," Curtis said.

The other question was the decorations. The old booths were brown and the walls were bland. Curtis decided to redecorate using some of the sports memorabilia which he had collected through the years. The result has the feel of a classic diner with sports bar decorations.

Curtis' favorite collectable in the diner is the framed, autographed Joe Montana Chiefs jersey on one wall. "I bought that after the restaurant had been open a few months and was pretty sure we were going to make it," he said.

Not only did the restaurant make it, in 2003 it expanded into an adjoining space and grew to a 75 seat diner. The decorations are heaven for a sports fan. The counter has a clear top with classic baseball cards on display beneath it, featuring vintage players from the 1950s and '60s. Another table has basketball player cards like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, John Stockton, and many more.

Other collectables from many schools and colleges line the walls, such as photos of Newton's 1950s state championship basketball teams (in ridiculously short shorts) and special displays such as Barry Sanders souvenirs and a corner devoted to George Brett and the Royals. Another spot has a couple of framed Sports Illustrated covers: One showing Rolando Blackman in 1981 and another showing Jacob Pullen in 2010.

While the sports memorabilia is fun, Curtis said the keys to the diner's success have been consistent, quality food and friendly service. "I have good, loyal employees," Curtis said. "You learn the golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. I try to apply it every day."

Curtis remains interested in sports of all kinds. He told me about Berean Academy in the nearby rural community of Elbing, which won the 2011 2A basketball state championship. Elbing has a population of 214 people. Now, that's rural.

Curtis even attended a Royals fantasy baseball camp with Manhattan's Ned Seaton a few years ago. Curtis found himself on the pitcher's mound facing his childhood hero, George Brett, and actually threw a strike by the All-Star. Brett proceeded to pound out a hit immediately after that. "It was a blast," Curtis said.

It's time to step up to the plate – no, not home plate, a plate of food at Curtis C's Diner in Newton, Kansas. We commend Curtis Crawford and the people who work at Curtis C's for making a difference by providing a good dining experience. To me, it's like a run home.

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

Dan Flynn - Deciphera

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

What is a kinase? Some kind of playing card? No, a kinase is a protein which controls nearly every type of cell function inside the human body. Each cell contains an intricate network of interacting kinases that act like a complex circuit. The human genome encodes 520 interacting kinases, so their regulation is very important. Conversely, their dysregulation, often through mutation, can cause over fifty human cancers and various immunological maladies. Now an innovative Kansas company is developing drugs to block runaway mutated kinases so as to fight cancer and other terrible diseases. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Dan Flynn is President and CEO of Deciphera Pharmaceuticals in Lawrence, Kansas. Dan has rural roots, having grown up at Russell, population 4,567 people. Now, that's rural.

Dan went to KU pharmacy school and later received his PhD in medicinal chemistry from KU as well. His distinguished career in the pharmaceutical industry took him to Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, California, and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wow.

In 2003, he sought to pursue a new idea in how to design drugs which would selectively block cancer-causing kinases. That led to the creation of a biotech company he called Deciphera.

Why Deciphera? Dan said, "We decipher kinases. We decipher what makes them disease-causing and then we decipher how to block them with drug candidates."

Investors in Lawrence and Kansas City supported him as did the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, so he relocated the company to Lawrence. Proximity to KU was important for collaborations and for recruiting talented scientists who wished to remain in the area. Deciphera recently moved to a new research and development laboratory in downtown Lawrence.

So what exactly is a kinase? "Kinases are a type of cell messenger," Dan said.

Through intricate communication networks, kinases send signals inside the cells that tells them what to do, such as to grow, die, survive, or respond to a variety of external stimuli. Kinases are regulated inside of cells by control of their shapes, Flynn explains. When a kinase adopts an OFF shape, the kinase does not send a signal. When it adopts an ON shape, the kinase sends a signal. Then most kinases are supposed to revert to the OFF shape. "Kinases regulate their shapes by the use of embedded molecular switches with the kinase protein," Dan said. "Mutational disruption of these switches often leads to a kinase that is no longer regulated. Such a mutated kinase can become oncogenic, and thereby cause cancer."

Deciphera has found a way to inhibit the malfunction of these oncogenic kinases in a highly selective way. "The approach has great promise for fighting cancer," Dan said.

This high-tech company works with preeminent academic researchers around the world, from Harvard to the University of Milano in Italy. Deciphera is currently conducting clinical trials at various research universities on its most advanced drug for treatment of patients with refractory chronic myeloid leukemia.

Such research trials are long-term and capital-intensive. Dan said, "It does require patient investors who are willing to take a long view."

Deciphera has 30 employees, of which 15 have Ph.D.s and another five or ten are graduate interns or post-docs. This creates a wonderful opportunity for our most well-educated young people to pursue their careers in Kansas.

Most importantly, this company can produce life-saving medicines. "Our emphasis is on oncology and immunology," Dan said. "Our most advanced work is in leukemia. Our other programs are advancing treatments for malignant melanoma, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, mast cell leukemia, invasive solid tumor cancers, and a new program designed to protect cancer patients against bone metastases. We are also now advancing a program in autoimmune diseases. We have an advanced drug candidate which looks very promising in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. It might also be used to treat multiple sclerosis, Lou Gehrig's disease, and other autoimmune diseases." For more information, go to www.deciphera.com.

What is a kinase? Now you know that it is a type of protein which controls cell growth, and can be blocked with novel drug candidates to fight cancer and immunological diseases. Dan Flynn and the people of Deciphera are making a difference by pursuing this high-tech medical research. For biotech in Kansas, it is an ace in the hole.

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

Dave Dreiling – GTM Sportswear

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

How does a person take a business from the trunk of a car to a multi-million dollar enterprise? There's no easy answer. In fact, if I was asked to describe how to achieve such business growth, I might reply: "It's greek to me" -- Not just because I don't know how, but because a company named It's Greek to Me has done it. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Dave Dreiling is owner of GTM Sportswear, which began as It's Greek to Me. This is the remarkable story of his business.

Dave is an entrepreneur with rural Kansas roots. In the 1950s, Dave's parents, Leo and Carolyn Dreiling, were newly married and Leo was managing a clothing store at Stockton, Kansas. A friend of theirs moved to Mankato and heard that the people in Mankato wanted a clothing store in their community. He referred them to the Dreilings, who were interested but didn't have necessary funding. The downtown merchants pooled their money to help bring a store to their rural community of Mankato, population 923 people. Now, that's rural.

The Dreilings expanded their clothing business over time, opening another store in Smith Center. Meanwhile, their son Dave went to high school in Concordia and Cloud County Community College before coming to K-State where he majored in business.

"I learned business at home," Dave said. "While other families might be talking about ball games or the weather around the dinner table, my folks were talking about the store." He said, "My Dad is my mentor."

Dave put his business skills to work when he came to K-State. As a student, he bought a limousine and operated it part-time. He also became social chairman for his fraternity, which meant that he occasionally bought Greek-lettered products from vendors. In the process, he met a guy from Colorado who was taking orders for Greek products from the various fraternities. "He basically sold stuff out of his car's trunk," Dave said.

After he and Dave had gotten acquainted, he suggested that it would be good to have a full inventory of products on hand to sell, rather than simply taking orders. Dave was interested in that business idea and asked what it would take for him to become involved. The answer is a classic, which demonstrates the plight of so many small business startups. His friend said, "Well, I have this invoice here from a supplier, and it's 90 days overdue. If you can pay the invoice, than you can get into the business with me."

Unfortunately, that is often the type of situation in which many small businesses find themselves: strapped for cash and without a system to manage it. Anyway, Dave sold his limousine and scrounged together the cash to pay that overdue bill. With that, he was in business.

Because their target market was the fraternities and sororities of the collegiate Greek system, the business was named It's Greek to Me. Dave went to work to expand the business, and he ultimately bought out his partner. Sales in the first year were about $500,000, but today he has built the business to approximately $70 million in sales. The business, now known as GTM Sportswear, is selling products coast to coast and diversifying into various markets for athletic products and sportswear. In fact, there is $18 million in inventory and 150 sales representatives at the company's headquarters in Manhattan. Wow.

Dave has worked at making the supply chain more prompt and efficient so as to cut costs. When he started, it might take four to six weeks for a customer to design and receive a customized product. Now, if the artwork is ready, in some cases the product is available on the next day.

"We want to have great service, and we want to be the most convenient place to order sportswear," Dave said. The company website is www.gtmsportswear.com.

It's Greek to Me – not just the keys to business success, but the name of this original business with rural roots. We commend Dave Dreiling and all the people of GTM Sportswear for making a difference with entrepreneurship, leadership, and service. That is simply good business.

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

Dave Lewis family

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

The farmboy drove the tractor across the field, working the land. As he drove, he listened to the radio and started to entertain himself by emulating the voices of the radio announcers. That experience on the tractor marked a connection with this family's rural roots as well as the beginning of a wonderful career. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Dave Lewis is a Riley County Commissioner and professional DJ and broadcaster. His father is Don Guthals. Don shared with me the history of this old tractor and its connection with his family.

Don was born south of Abilene in the rural community of Elmo, which isn't even on highway maps anymore. Today it has a population of perhaps 25 people. Now, that's rural.

But when Don was born, Elmo was an active community. It had lots of businesses, including an International Harvester farm equipment dealership and hardware store operated by Don's uncle and his father Louis. The business was known as Guthal Brothers.

"The key was that (Dad and my uncle) would help farmers get the equipment set right. Then Dad would go out to the farm and fix 'em when they needed it," Don said. That type of service made a big difference in growing the business.

According to a history of Elmo, during the 1930s Guthal Brothers sold more tractors in one year than any other dealership in Kansas. One spring the company sold 30 grain binders. Eventually the brothers went into farming full time.

Don grew up on the farm and went to McPherson College where he met his wife Helen. He later took counseling classes at Emporia State. They taught school for two years before coming back to Elmo to farm. Don spent the rest of his career farming and teaching at Hope High School. They were active in church and the Elmo community.

In 1948, Louis bought a new Farmall H tractor for $1600. "We used it for practically everything, from haying to cultivating to sowing crops," Don said. "We even used it to check cows that were calving at night because it had a spotlight."

Don and Helen had four children, of which the youngest son is David Louis Guthals. Dave used that Farmall H tractor around the farm, and even drove it to go fishing.

While working the fields, Dave started listening to the radio on the tractor and then emulating those radio voices.

His voice developed into a rich, mellifluous tone. He started doing radio and DJ work when he went to Cloud County Community College and went on to a career in radio at stations around Kansas, using Dave Lewis as his on-air name.

In 1991, Dave joined Manhattan Broadcasting as an announcer and program manager, just in time for the 1993 flood. His tireless work in keeping the community informed through radio earned him numerous awards from the community. Dave is now the public address announcer for KSU football and basketball.

Meanwhile, Don and Helen retired from the farm. Dave asked for the old H tractor which he refurbished.

In November 2007, Don and Helen moved to a senior apartment complex in Abilene, but it is always tough for a farmer to leave the farm.

"We got our final load of stuff in the car, and I cried as I drove away from the farm," Don said. "So I turned on the radio and the first thing I heard was a K-State football game where they were saying, 'Now Dave Lewis will introduce the graduating seniors.' It made me feel better," Don said.

I only got to meet Don Guthals one time, on August 2, 2011. Exactly one week later, Don passed away from a sudden heart attack.

We commend Dave Lewis and his father Don Guthals for making a difference with their community service. In fact, Dave was so active in the Manhattan community that he was asked to chair the Manhattan-Riley County sesquicentennial committee. The committee put on a big parade to celebrate the event, and the sesquicentennial float was pulled by none other than Dave Lewis on his refurbished Farmall H tractor. Don had to be proud.

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

David Stump – Round Barn

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

Let's have a barn dance. That sounds like a phrase from yesteryear, but today we'll learn about a family which is having a modern-day barn dance as a centennial celebration to honor their 100-year old round barn. It's a fitting symbol for a historic Kansas farm family. This is today's Kansas Profile.

David and Delores Stump are owners of Springhill Herefords near Blue Rapids, Kansas. They are also the owners of this historic, rural round barn which will reach 100 years old in 2011.

The farm where the barn stands was settled by Mr. and Mrs. John Drennan who came to Kansas from Ireland in 1870. While building a home for his family, Drennan lived in a dugout on the ranch. The Drennans had ten children.

In 1911, the Drennans had a barn built on the place. It was constructed by Benton Steele, a pre-eminent barn builder and architect of the time. He designed the barn to be round and self supporting. The unique structure left no flat surface exposed to the Kansas wind. A trolley system was designed to distribute loose hay in the center for storage and a manger can feed 100 cattle at a time around the perimeter.

It was built for approximately $3,000. The barn is 92 feet in diameter and 40 feet from the bottom to the cupola on top. The big hay mow could hold 230 tons of loose hay. Wow.

In the 1920s the Drennan's dispersed their registered Hereford herd and rented out the farm. Meanwhile, David's father Harold Stump began Springhill Herefords in 1937. He rented this farm for five years when he was first married and then moved to a farm across the river. David followed his dad into the Hereford business.

In 1960, the Stumps bought the Drennan farm, including the historic round barn. Today, Springhill Herefords is a family operation dedicated to producing efficient Hereford cattle that excel in the pasture and the showring. They have more than 150 registered Hereford cows, 1,200 acres of native bluestem grass , and wheat, milo, corn and soybeans on their 3,500-acre operation.

This is a family affair for the Stumps. David and Delores have three daughters: Angie, Jami and Kim. Now all three girls are married and are starting families of their own.

Their cattle business has its own website: springhillherefords.com. The website has lots of production data about the Hereford breeding stock for sale, and it also describes Springhill Herefords as "Home of the Round Barn."

"We use this barn every day," David said. "We start our calves in there and calve heifers in there," he said. "There's a hay mow in the middle and small bales stacked on one side." The old trolley system for moving hay is still in the barn but not in use. A concrete floor and working facility was added inside the barn a few years ago.

"It's probably 99 percent original," David said. "About the only thing we've replaced is a few boards on gates, shingles, and a few windows."

The barn is a striking sight, both inside and out. A cone-shaped rooftop covers the large open area in the center, surrounded by pens and stalls.

"I appreciate the historical value, but it's also a very useable barn," David said. "You can clean it out with a skid loader or tractor. As you use that barn, you really come to appreciate it."

The barn still stands at its original location on the farm east of the rural community of Blue Rapids, population 1,073 people. Now, that's rural.

2011 will mark 100 years since the barn was first constructed. The Stumps plan to mark this milestone with a special celebration on August 27. The local historical society will provide lunch, followed by barn viewing, pasture tours, a barbecue supper and – what else? – a barn dance.

We commend David and Delores Stump and all the family for making a difference by honoring history while engaging in modern beef production. Now – may I have this dance?

And there's more. Remember Benton Steele, the premier barn-builder? In future weeks, we'll learn about him and about other historic barns around Kansas.

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

Diane Stiles – Northwest Tech iPads

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

Fast Company magazine, fall 2010. An article describes "five technologically decked-out schools," including Notre Dame, Stanford, Duke University, and...Northwest Technical College in Goodland, Kansas. What is a technical college in rural Kansas doing on this list of technological giants? It's today's Kansas Profile.

Diane Stiles is Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Northwest Technical College in Goodland, population 4,775 people. Now, that's rural. The college is known as Northwest Tech for short. Diane told me about Northwest Tech's innovative initiative to have an iPad for every student.

Dr. Ed Mills became President of Northwest Tech in 2009. "We've got to have cutting edge technology," Dr. Mills said. He was working with the college's chief information officer, Ben Coumerilh, on a proposal to provide every student with an iPod. Then in March 2010, Apple announced the iPad, a lightweight tablet computer.

"The benefit (of the iPad) is that you can create content, not just consume it," Diane said. So Northwest Tech launched an iPad Learning Initiative under which every full-time student would receive an iPad for their use. Various applications for the iPad were integrated into technology classes and general education classes.

"We were the first two year college in the nation to have a one-to-one initiative, with one iPad per student," Diane said. With 400 students on the campus, Northwest Tech suddenly became very technologically empowered.

"Teaching is something that we've got to be able to adapt to the way people learn nowadays, and the iPad has allowed us to bridge that gap," said Coumerilh. "(The iPad) is a tool students can use and have fun with while actually learning."

Then Eagle Communications partnered with Finley Motors to donate a car which was raffled off so that iPads could be purchased for faculty members as well. Now faculty are using iPads to communicate with students and in the classroom and laboratory.

Diane Stiles is excited about what the iPads can mean to the students. Getting a textbook as an E-book, for example, means that the virtual backpack can now be a one-pound electronic device, rather than a big, heavy load of paper to carry around.

"There are all kinds of apps and customized uses which students and faculty are exploring, from auto mechanics to cosmetology," Diane said. "I think Apple was interested in seeing how their iPad would do in a rough environment such as the diesel shop. And because of the high quality camera on the iPad, students can develop an E-portfolio of their work to show to potential employers."

Apple filmed a documentary about Northwest Tech's work which will be featured on the Apple Education website. Each year Apple features six colleges a year out of 200 proposals.

Diane is evaluating educational outcomes, but there is clearly an excitement around this new equipment. "The change in the commitment of faculty to using technology in their teaching is incredible," President Mills said. "The change in students to use technology as a part of the learning process here is amazing."

The City of Goodland (with the motto "Kansas Begins Here!") also adopted an iPad initiative. "We are the first or among the first to implement the usage of iPads for a paperless agenda," City Manager Doug Gerber said. "We use an application called Dropbox which Commissioners can access electronically. This saves lots of paper, time, and money."

Other municipal functions benefit as well. For example, a building inspector can use the iPad's high-def camera to take a digital picture of a code enforcement issue, which the computer can identify through GPS. In the municipal electric system, the city plans to use iPads to manage distribution which would allow delinquent accounts to be cut off at the touch of a button – reducing what had been a daylong process to literally seconds. Wow.

Fast Company magazine, fall 2010. Northwest Tech in Goodland, Kansas is on the high-tech college list because of the iPad Learning Initiative. We commend President Ed Mills, Ben Coumerilh, Diane Stiles, Doug Gerber, and all those in Goodland who are making a difference with this pioneering use of technology in education and community.

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


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

"The white cliffs of Dover." That's a reference to the scenic landscape along the British coastline in the English Channel. Those white cliffs have provided inspiration for many travelers and artists – and even inspiration for those who would name a town in far-off rural Kansas. This is today's Kansas Profile.

In a previous profile, we learned about the many attractions chronicled on a new CD about the Native Stone Scenic Byway. The byway is a 48-mile highway route between Topeka and Alma.

The easternmost community within the Native Stone Scenic Byway is Dover, namesake of the famous landmark on the British coastline. Dover, Kansas is located in Shawnee County, at a point where the Southwest Trail crossed Mission Creek. This area was first settled in 1856 by brothers Alfred and Mark Sage who had come from near Dover, England. They were soon joined by the Haskel, Loomis and Bassett families.

These early settlers spoke of living "Up Mission Creek", or "Down Mission Creek" depending on which side of the creek's crossing one lived. The first post office in the area was called Mission Creek. The village of Dover was established at the crossing in 1870.

According to the Sage family, Dover took its name from their birthplace in England, since nearby Echo Cliff reminded them of the famous White Cliffs of Dover in their homeland. The Haskels claim it is named after Dover, New Hampshire. Back in England, folks in Dover argue over whether the name is of Roman or Viking origin.

Today, Dover, Kansas is known for its historic Sage Inn and the Sommerset Hall Café. Sommerset Hall was the original name of the three-story frame building erected in 1893 by members of the Sage family, descendants of the region of Somersetshire in England. The Sage Inn, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built in the 1870s to serve travelers on the trail. Today it is a bed and breakfast serving the same purpose.

Dover was a natural spot for growth because it was the halfway point on the Southwest Trail, which connected the Oregon Trail in east Topeka to the Santa Fe Trail in Council Grove, a one-day's ride from each. It was also the route of the old Wells Fargo line between St. Louis and Denver and the only place where Mission Creek could be forded by wagons. Because it was the original "route west" through Kansas, today's K-4 Highway (formerly Southwest Trail Highway) was the first paved road in the state – built in 1913.

The Sage brothers were premier stone masons. They so impressed folks with their building of the Sage Inn and Stagecoach Station that they were invited to do the stone work on the first portion, now the East Wing, of the State Capitol Building 18 miles away in Topeka. A total of four native stone buildings still remain in Dover, as well as the wall of what is called "Campbell's Curve" four miles to the north.

In the 1800s, a New York Times writer described Mission Creek in spring: "The woods in every direction are rendered beautiful by the gay attire of red bud trees covered in early spring with a rich pink blossom, before any appearance of the green leaves. Some of them are twenty feet high and now in full bloom. Plum trees are also in flower and very abundant. Grape vines, gooseberries, blackberries, mulberries, strawberries, raspberries, etc., are scattered in profusion in many places; hops also grow abundantly, wild."

In modern times, Sommerset Hall Café is the site of home cooking. In 2008, ABC's "Good Morning America" had a contest to find the best pie in the nation. The winner was a pie by the late Norma Grubb, age 88 at the time, who baked pies for Sommerset Hall Café. After a taste test and online vote, Norma's Coconut Cream Pie was the winner. This made a difference in a rural town like Dover, with a population of maybe 50 people. Now, that's rural.

For more information about the byway, go to www.wabaunsee.com.

So, I get the Dover part. What about the white cliffs? We'll learn about that next week.

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

Doyle Pearl – Part 1 - JB Pearl

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

If you want to get eggs, you have to feed the chickens. If you want your car to go, you have to feed it gas. If you want to get milk, you have to feed the cows. And if you want to raise the best crops, you have to feed the soil.

Perhaps we don't think of "feeding the soil" in the same sense that we feed our pets or our livestock, but providing precise nutrients to grow crops has led to a revolution in production agriculture. Scientifically feeding the soil, along with other crop enhancements, has created dramatic improvements in yield and productivity, thus helping to feed the world. It's also benefitted rural economic development, as entrepreneurial businesses have been created to help supply those products. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Doyle Pearl is general manager of J.B. Pearl Sales and Service, one of those businesses providing soil nutrients. Doyle is a son of J.B. and Eileen Pearl, who started this business in 1961 while farming near St. Marys.

"Anhydrous ammonia (fertilizer) was fairly new and not everybody had the equipment to apply it, so Dad saw an opportunity there," Doyle said. J.B. mounted a small tank on the back of his tractor and used it to apply the anhydrous ammonia for other farmers, while his wife brought it to the field. He kept records in a spiral notebook in his shirt pocket.

That was the beginning. As the fertilizer business grew, his sons joined in. After serving in the military, Doyle entered the business, becoming general manager when his father retired.

"Dad was such an innovator," Doyle said. "He was always trying different formulations and wasn't satisfied with the status quo. His focus was on service."

Through the years, the business expanded into other products to feed the soil. In the 1990s, J.B. Pearl Sales and Service moved into precision agriculture.

Today, J.B. Pearl Sales and Service is a full-service agribusiness offering a wide variety of products, services, and knowledge. These include custom application of fertilizers, lime, and crop protection products, liquid and dry fertilizer applicators, and diversified seed sales. J.B. Pearl Sales and Service offers crop consulting by certified crop advisors, soil testing and mapping using global positioning satellites and geographic information systems, and variable application of products to meet specific, targeted crop nutrient needs.

Computers and other advanced technologies have made this possible. These computerized data bases are a long way from the spiral notebook in J.B.'s shirt pocket, but the goal is the same: Provide the best possible product and service for the producer.

From its beginning with just J.B. and his wife Eileen, the company has grown to 27 employees and three locations serving rural Kansas. In addition to the home office in St. Marys, the company now has locations in Lawrence and Perry, Kansas, population 906 people. Now, that's rural.

Doyle and his wife Laura are in the business as are his brother Don and his wife Patty. Now their sons are the third generation in the family business.

"We have dedicated and skilled employees who are passionate about what they do," Doyle said. "It all hinges on service. We want to give the grower the information and tools they need to succeed."

"Some agronomists say that modern corn genetics could produce 600 bushels of corn or more per acre, and we're at only a third of that today," Doyle said. "You need to feed the soil to reach maximum yield potential."

If you want to get eggs, you have to feed the chickens. If you want your car to go, you have to feed it gas. And if you want to raise the best crops, you have to feed the soil. Feeding the soil for maximum crop production is the purpose of agribusinesses such as J.B. Pearl Sales and Service. We salute J.B. and Eileen, Doyle and Laura, Don and Patty, and all those involved with this business for making a difference by feeding hungry fields so as to feed a hungry world.

And there's more. Doyle is now in a national leadership position for the agribusiness industry. We'll learn about that next week.

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

Doyle Pearl – Part 2 - ARA

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

A device rolls across the field, with giant flotation tires and metal wings reaching 70 feet across. Is this something out of science fiction? A landing from outer space? No, this device is the newest in fertilizer applicator systems. It's being utilized by an innovative agribusiness firm in rural Kansas. Now the general manager of this company is playing a national leadership role for his industry. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Doyle Pearl is general manager of J.B. Pearl Sales and Service in St. Marys, Kansas. As we learned last week, Doyle's business was founded by his parents, J.B. and Eileen Pearl, back in 1961.

J.B. was farming in the Kansas River Valley and started applying anhydrous ammonia fertilizer for neighboring farmers. J.B. mounted a 250 gallon tank on the back of his tractor to apply fertilizer while his wife brought it to the fields in a farm truck. From that beginning, J.B. and his sons built the family fertilizer business through the years.

Today J.B. Pearl Sales and Service is an active member of the Agricultural Retailers Association, the national non-profit association representing the interests of agricultural retailers on legislative and regulatory issues in Washington DC. After several years of serving on the ARA Board, Doyle Pearl became the Chairman of the Agricultural Retailers Association in December 2010.

"ARA is the voice of ag retailers and the distribution arm of our industry," Doyle said. "The association includes cooperatives, large national accounts, and independent businesses such as ourselves," Doyle said. "It's an honor to represent Kansas in this group, and I'm humbled by that."

ARA has some 370 members with 2,000 retail outlets from coast to coast. This year, the chairman of this national organization comes from the rural community of St. Marys, Kansas, population 2,221 people. Now, that's rural.

"ARA offers continuing education training and leadership opportunities, but our primary purpose is advocacy," Doyle said. "We are working to make sure that the right information and sound science is delivered to members of Congress and regulatory agencies in Washington DC."

Sound science is especially important these days, given the increased level of science and technology found in agriculture today.

For example, in the 1990s J.B. Pearl Sales and Service moved their company into the use of precision agriculture.

Precision agriculture is a scientific form of crop production which places precise amounts of nutrients where the plants need them, so as to conserve product use and maximize yield. It starts with extensive soil testing in grid sampling form. In other words, soils are tested in acre-and-a-half grids, rather than as a composite of an entire field, for example.

This data is entered into a computerized field map using global positioning satellite and geographic information system technology. Once the soil and plant nutrient needs are determined, modern applicators use the field map to automatically guide the application of fertilizers at variable rates as needed while moving across the field.

"It's a really good tool to use," Doyle said. "One of our machines can apply four different products at variable rates." In effect, this is like giving a treatment with an injection rather than a shotgun. It has agronomic, environmental, and economic benefits.

In contrast to the 250 gallon tank mounted on J.B. Pearl's tractor back in 1961, modern applicators have 1,800 gallon tanks and can cover 600 acres in a day. Modern applicators may include autosteering devices and spray wings which can reach out to a 70 foot swath.

"The newest technology we're working with is called a green-seeker system," Doyle said. "As we drive through a cornfield, the sensors on this device read the reflected infrared light from the chlorophyll and determine how much nitrogen needs to be applied to the plants." Wow.

A device rolls across the field, with giant flotation tires and metal wings which reach 70 feet across. This is not science fiction, it's modern application of crop nutrients using precision agriculture. We commend Doyle Pearl and other members of the Agricultural Retailers Association who are making a difference by using technology to benefit their farmer-customers. No, it's not science fiction, but it is science, and it's fact.

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

Echo Cliff

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

Across the pastoral landscape, a sound echoes through the air. We are visiting Echo Cliff along the Native Stone Scenic Byway. This little-known treasure is today's Kansas Profile.

In a previous profile, we learned about the many attractions chronicled on a new CD about the Native Stone Scenic Byway. The byway is a 48-mile highway route between Topeka and Alma, including the rural town of Dover with a population of perhaps 50 people. Now, that's rural.

According to one account, Dover was named by English immigrants who were reminded of the white cliffs of their homeland when they came across this remarkable stone formation here in Kansas.

Echo Cliff is located two miles west of Dover, Kansas, south on Echo Cliff road. It is an impressive native stone outcropping above scenic Mission Creek, and includes a park with a canopy of ancient bur oak and sycamore trees.

This area was once known as Gibbsville. A major section of sandstone is exposed above the creek. In the mid-1970s a portion of the cliff wall cracked and separated from the main section. More of the sandstone and shale formations were then exposed for all to see. Remnants of this slide remain at the bottom of the cliff in the creek.

Three sites near the cliffs have been studied by state archeologists for the presence of Indian villages. These studies found evidence of the Woodland Indians of the Grasshopper Falls phase, and a Plains Indian tribe with a Pomona influence.

Fred Winter named this location Echo Cliff in 1895, based on the acoustics found here. It became a picnic and camping site.

In 1922, Charles Winter cleaned the grove and prepared it for use as a park and camping ground, which could be rented by the public and used by Sunday School classes. At one point, the grounds included cabins, miniature golf, horseshoe pits, and a croquet field. The park was a location for many campouts by Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Even roaming Gypsies were known to camp there.

A resident by the name of Harry Fellows lived in the area of Gibbsville and operated a broom factory there during the early 30's. He grew broom corn on the bottom ground along nearby Mission Creek and also purchased corn from some of his neighbors. The brooms he made in his factory were sold at general stores in Dover and Topeka.

The land where Echo Cliff is located was deeded to the Dover Grange to be maintained for use by the public. Now it is owned by the Echo Cliff Park Trust, with a board of directors from several Dover organizations.

Currently no overnight camping is allowed, but restrooms and cement tables are available for use in the park. Steel boiler tanks acquired from a demolition company and modified by local farmer Earl Hepworth are used as latrines. It is said that the previous toilets were "commandeered by a group of spirited individuals who rode them down the creek during a time of high water."

Earl Hepworth has been caretaker of the park for more than 50 years, emptying the trash barrels every day. He is the creative mind and hand behind all of the signs, tables and benches. The circular driveway is lined by boulders of Sioux quartzite from South Dakota and Minnesota that were carried into Kansas by the last glacier, along with sandstone from a local quarry.

With the construction of a new bridge over Mission Creek to the west, the old iron bridge has been incorporated into the park also. It provides access to the top of the cliff and is said to be a fine spot from which to fish.

Many people still come to marvel at the scenic beauty of Echo Cliff. One observer wrote, "Rappelers come to scale the cliffs, students come to learn what the rocks seem to offer, and picnickers come to find solitude and contentment." For more information, go to www.wabaunsee.com.

Across the peaceful landscape echoes a sound – a sound of laughter and conversation. Thanks to those who made a difference and preserved this landmark, the benefits will echo to future generations.

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

Edmund G. Ross Homesite

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

"Profiles in Courage." That's the name of a best-selling book written by President John F. Kennedy in the 1950s. It chronicled eight Senators and their acts of principle and integrity in the face of public opposition. One of these men was a Senator from Kansas. This Senator's former homesite can be found in rural Kansas along the Native Stone Scenic Byway. It's today's Kansas Profile.

In a previous profile, we learned about the many attractions found along the Native Stone Scenic Byway which are now described on a new CD. The byway is a 48-mile highway route between Topeka and Alma. It highlights this region where rich history, natural rock outcroppings, and beautiful stone buildings can all be found. A little known part of this history is the now-abandoned homesite of Edmund G. Ross, Republican Senator from Kansas.

The Rosses were active abolitionists from Wisconsin. Several Ross family members came to Kansas to help assure that it became a free state after the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. When pro-slavery forces attacked and burned the free-state town of Lawrence, Edmund G. Ross decided to come too.

Edmund and his wife Fannie first settled in Topeka and went into the newspaper business before joining the rest of the Ross family in Wabaunsee County. While there, he was elected a delegate to the free-state constitutional convention at Wyandotte, under which Kansas was admitted to the Union as a free state. During this time, Ross lived in a now-abandoned home which is located approximately 2 miles south of Kansas Highway 4 and about a quarter-mile southeast of the intersection of Echo Cliff Road and Goldfinch Road. It is west of the community of Dover, which has a population of perhaps 50 people. Now, that's rural.

After the drought of 1860, Edmund and Fannie moved back to Topeka and re-entered the newspaper business. When President Lincoln called for troops in 1862, Edmund responded and was made a captain under Colonel Samuel Crawford's Kansas Regiment. He fought in the "Battle of the Blue" which was called the "Gettysburg of the West" and had two horses shot out from under him.

After the war, Colonel Crawford was elected Governor of Kansas. When it became necessary to appoint a replacement to the U.S. Senate, Crawford remembered Edmund's bravery and leadership skills and appointed him to fill the vacancy.

When Ross got to the Senate, one of the key issues before Congress was how to govern the south in the post-Civil War era. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to impeach President Andrew Johnson because of his leniency toward the South. President Johnson's case went to trial before the United States Senate, including Ross.

Ross strongly opposed President Johnson's policies but in his heart he did not believe that the President's actions constituted an impeachable offense. All Senators except Ross declared how they would vote. With all the other votes committed, the outcome of the trial and the entire fate of the Presidency came down to this one man: Edmund G. Ross. Despite tremendous pressure from the politicians and overwhelming public opinion, Ross voted not to impeach. For this act of conscience, John F. Kennedy included him in his book about Senatorial courage.

After his vote he was vilified by the public. But history vindicated Edmund Ross. Kennedy's book quotes from a Kansas newspaper published decades later: "By the firmness and courage of Senator Ross the country was saved from calamity greater than war, while it confined him to a political martyrdom....He acted for his conscience and with a lofty patriotism, regardless of what he knew must be ruinous consequences to himself. He acted right."

"Profiles in Courage." That's a best-selling book with a connection to rural Kansas, and more importantly to a Kansas Senator who acted on his principles and what he believed to be right, even in the face of opposition. Edmund G. Ross' self-sacrifice and integrity made a difference in the future of the nation. We appreciate the Native Stone Scenic Byway including this history. For more information, go to www.wabaunsee.com. We'll learn more about other attractions along the byway in coming weeks.

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

Galen Huffman – Formation Plastics

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

What do appliances, farm implements, toys, custom motorcycles, airplanes and sporting goods have in common? Hmm. The answer is, they all use thermoplastic parts from Formation Plastics in Quinter, Kansas. The growth of this remarkable company in a truly rural community is today's Kansas Profile.

Galen and Karen Huffman are owners of Formation Plastics in Quinter. Galen is originally from St. Joseph, Missouri. His older sister married a farmer from Quinter, and as Galen came out to work during the summers, he found he liked it there.

Galen graduated from McPherson College, where he met his wife Karen, and began a career as a teacher and coach. He taught drafting, industrial arts, science, and physical education at Quinter. As a teacher, he recognized that the local economy needed diversification to create jobs so that young people could stay in the community.

In 1989, Galen built a thermoforming machine in his nephew's shop and eventually built his own thermoforming business. What is thermoforming? It is a process by which a sheet of plastic is heated to just the right temperature and drawn into a mold by a vacuum to form plastic products of various shapes.

Thermoforming of plastics is an alternative to injection molding, for example. Galen says that thermoforming allows for quicker turnaround times, reduced cost, and more flexibility in making design changes. "Besides having superior flexural strength and impact resistance, thermoplastics are also corrosion resistant, chemical resistant, and weatherable," Galen said.

Formation Plastics became the name of this company, which specializes in designing and producing high quality plastic components for a variety of industries. I first learned about this company in the early 2000s. I was intrigued to find this design and manufacturing business in a small town setting.

"I tell people that we're not in the boondocks, we're behind it," Galen said. Rather than complaining, Galen said, "We have to offer services that our urban and suburban competitors offer and even do them better." He points out that Quinter is right on Interstate 70 and located halfway between Denver and Kansas City.

Flexibility and efficiency have been keys to the success of Formation Plastics. "We have a production manager who is very efficient," Galen said. "He's able to take orders for small quantities and work them in, but he's very committed to on-time, quality work. He would not send anything out that is not up to standard."

Despite the downturn in the national economy, Formation Plastics has been in growth mode.

"We find ourselves adding more technology," Galen said. "We have tried to stay on the cutting edge of this industry. We've upgraded software and computers, and we're needing newer and larger-sized machinery."

Formation Plastics is now working on a 10,500 square feet expansion of their facility. "We need faster CNC and larger forming equipment, along with a large assembly area for our value-added work," Galen said.

The company recently brought in a new General Manager, Bradley Lovelady. "He's originally from Hill City," Galen said. "He's managed three businesses successfully and moved to Quinter to be closer to grandchildren, so we're thankful to have him," Galen said.

When I first encountered this innovative company, it employed about 15 people. Today it employs 26 and expects to add three to seven employees within the next year and a half.

The company's primary trade territory is within 700 miles of Quinter. However, as components of larger equipment, Formation Plastics products have gone as far away as England, China, Uruguay and the Ukraine. Wow.

That is especially remarkable considering the rural setting in which this company is found. After all, Quinter is a town of 937 people. Now, that's rural.

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

So what do appliances, farm implements, toys, custom motorcycles, airplanes and sporting goods have in common? Yes, they all use thermoplastic parts from Formation Plastics in Quinter, Kansas. We commend Galen and Karen Huffman and all those involved with Formation Plastics for making a difference with entrepreneurship and expansion in challenging times. They are managing to serve a variety of industries, and in the process, helping the rural Kansas economy go through trans-formation.

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

Greg Wilson – Howie's Recycling

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

"Reduce, reuse, recycle." That's a familiar phrase which reminds us to recycle and be environmentally wise. Today we'll learn about a business which has made recycling a fundamental part of their enterprise. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Greg Wilson is co-owner of Howie's Trash Service in Manhattan, Kansas. The business was founded by his father, Howard Wilson. The Wilsons (no relation to me) have rural roots. Howard grew up near the rural community of Alta Vista, population 434 people. Now, that's rural.

Howard Wilson met his wife Joann at Alta Vista and went on to K-State where he studied dairy management. When children were born, he started running a trash route as a way to pay his way through college. He called it Howie's Trash Service.

"Thanks to that trash route, my dad got through college in five years while being married with two kids, debt-free," Greg said. After graduation, Howie sold the trash route and worked for the Safeway milk plant for 17 years.

In 1984, Howard and Joann and son Greg went back into the trash business in Manhattan. The business had one rear load trash truck and four Golden Goat machines.

What is a Golden Goat? These were yellow-colored machines that sat in parking lots around Manhattan. A person could put aluminum cans in the front and quarters came out the back. "It was pretty meager," Greg said.

In 1985, they decided to focus their efforts on the recycling business. Today, the business is known as Howie's Recycling and Trash Service.

Howie's opened its first recycling center in May of 1986. At that time, Howie's Recycling, Inc. bought aluminum cans, scrap aluminum and other non-ferrous metals from individuals and businesses. It soon expanded into other household products, such as cardboard, glass, and newspapers. The papers were shredded with a tree shredder, baled with a John Deere hay baler, and sold as animal bedding. Now, that's rural ingenuity.

Trying to recycle plastics proved to be a challenge in the beginning. "The companies we shipped plastics to went out of business or found some fault with the shipment," Greg said. "We never received payment for the first three loads of plastic that we shipped out."

In 1993, Howie's Recycling purchased land in south Manhattan where its building is currently located. The main building is 150 feet x 200 feet in size. All of the materials received at the recycling center are baled with a horizontal baler housed within that building.

In 1998 Howie's Recycling, Inc. added a roll-off trash service to its business. Since then, Howie's has expanded to operate 4 roll-off semi-trucks and more than 200 open top containers in order to keep up with the demands of new construction in Manhattan and the surrounding area. Howie's also provides services to small or large companies needing demolition, handling all sizes and types of debris. The roll-off service also services trash compactors for businesses like the K-State Union and Home Depot.

In 2008 Howie's added a residential and commercial trash service to its business. Howie's currently runs 2 frontload and 1 rear-load trash trucks and services Manhattan, Ogden, and Keats.

Then in 2010, Howie's Recycling, Inc. added optional curbside recycling services for its residential and commercial customers. Recycling containers are picked up from customers twice a month.

Howie's currently has 12 employees. However, Howard, Joann, and Greg Wilson still do a lot of the work themselves.

Today, Howie's is a self-serve center for the recycler. Howie's accepts aluminum cans, food and beverage glass, plastic (#1 and #2), newspaper, magazines, office paper, cardboard, and tin cans, as well as all non-ferrous metals. Saturday mornings are an especially busy time, when families bring their recyclables to Howie's.

When Howie's Recycling started, it took approximately six months to generate a semi load of aluminum cans. Today, Howie's ships an average of 15 semi loads of materials to be recycled per month. Wow.

"Reduce, reuse, recycle." We salute Howard, Joann, and Greg Wilson and all those involved with Howie's Recycling and Trash Service for making a difference with this environmentally positive business. So reduce, reuse, recycle – and revive rural Kansas.

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

Harry Whitney – Horse Clinician

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

Pick up a copy of America's Horse magazine. As we leaf through the pages, we come to an article about an internationally renowned horse expert. Read on – you'll find that this expert on equines comes from rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Harry Whitney, an internationally acclaimed horse clinician. Harry has deep roots in rural Kansas. His great-grandfather homesteaded the family home place. It is located on Gumbo Hill Road, just north of Manhattan. His grandmother Erma was a long-time columnist, writing as the Girl of the Gumbo.

Harry's mother grew up there, and his father grew up nearby at Keats. They married and had a career in the military before moving back home to the farm.

Harry's full name is Harry Everett Whitney III. That sounds like a name that belongs in some snooty east coast school, but Harry got a rural-sounding nickname to compensate for it: Spud. Harry said, "My dad was in the military and was stationed in Maine when I was born. So I was born in Aroostock County where all they raise is potatoes. My grandfather wrote my folks and asked how that new little spud was doing. I've been Spud ever since."

Spud Whitney grew up around horses. Harry said, "I was on a horse before I could talk." He went through Riley County schools and graduated from K-State in animal science.

As a self-taught trick roper, Spud Whitney gained fame during his college days. Then he worked on the rodeo circuit from South Dakota to Alabama, doing trick roping, Roman riding, clowning, pickup man, and announcing. He also worked on ranches, spending lots of time horseback.

In 1983, a Manhattan-area horseman named Bernard Wells asked Spud if he would start (meaning train) a young horse for him. Spud took it on and did it so well that other people wanted their horses trained, and the business snowballed. Spud got married and moved to Ottawa, Kansas where he trained horses full-time.

Other people wanted to learn about the principles Spud was using to train horses. In 1991, Harry and friends put on a clinic to demonstrate these training principles. It went so well that he put on another one two weeks later.

The business continued to grow. Harry's wife passed away in 1995, and he went full-time doing equine clinics around the country. Because of the weather, he started doing his winter clinics in Arizona and eventually moved there. He returns to Kansas during the holidays and often does a clinic around year-end in Spring Hill, Kansas.

Harry's specialty is a week-long clinic where owners come to Harry with their horses to solve problems or improve their horsemanship. Harry said, "It's more about training the people than training the horses. People want to anthropomorphize. They want to impose their own point of view on why a horse behaves as he does. Instead, they need to see things from the horse's point of view."

When people understand the horse's natural self-preservation instinct, for example, then they can begin to understand what causes the action which seems to them like misbehavior and work to correct it. This fundamental understanding has led to Harry becoming an internationally-acclaimed horse clinician.

Harry handles it all with humor and humility. He said with a smile, "I just wanted to get through school. I didn't care if I ever got a job – and fortunately, I never did."

Harry's horse clinics have taken him from Maine to San Diego and from Canada to Florida – even Hawaii. In January 2010, he will present his clinic in Australia – for the third time. Wow. Not bad for someone who grew up on a farm north of Manhattan and east of the rural community of Riley, population 848 people. Now, that's rural.

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

It's time to put away our copy of America's Horse magazine, one of several publications which have featured the work of this rural equine clinician. We commend Harry "Spud" Whitney for making a difference by helping riders understand their horse's point of view, thus improving the situation for both the horse and the human.

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

Home on the Range I

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

(music excerpt – Home on the Range)

What song is more recognized than Home on the Range? Today we'll learn about the history of this wonderful song and the authentic Home on the Range cabin which is found in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

El Dean Holthus is a trustee of the Ellen Rust Living Trust which owns the historic Home on the Range cabin in Smith County, Kansas.

The history of Home on the Range goes back to 1871. In that year, a Dr. Brewster Higley moved from his native Ohio to Smith County, Kansas, where he homesteaded along the banks of Beaver Creek. Dr. Higley was a practicing physician. In 1871, he wrote a poem titled "My Western Home" to describe the beauty of the site he had chosen for Kansas homestead. He completed his cabin there on July 4, 1872.

Higley's poem was strictly for his own pleasure. He was not trying to sell or publish it. In fact, he slipped his copy of the poem into a book and forgot about it.

In 1873, a Mr. Trube Reese from Smith Center brought a man with a gunshot wound to Dr. Higley for treatment. While waiting, Reese picked up a book to read and this poem fell out. Mr. Reese read the poem and said to Dr. Higley, in effect, "This is plum good, you should have it published in the paper." With this encouragement, the poem was indeed printed in the local newspapers.

Dr. Higley passed the poem along to a man named Dan Kelly from the nearby rural community of Gaylord, population 129 people. Now, that's rural. Kelly set the poem to music. This was then given to a Judge John Harlan who first played and sang it publicly with his family.

The song became known as "Home on the Range." It caught on from coast to coast. Of course, cowboys herding cattle loved the song and lyrics, and they shared it from Kansas to Texas and beyond. In the 1930s, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared Home on the Range to be his favorite song.

Then the airplay of this appealing tune came to a screeching halt. In 1934, a lawsuit was filed by an Arizona couple contending that they were the authors of this poem. Their version was called My Arizona Home. They sued NBC and various publishing houses for damages, and broadcasters immediately stopped airing the song.

The case worked its way through the courts. Among the evidence was the Kansas newspapers in which Dr. Higley's poem was first published. Ultimately, the courts found that Dr. Higley was the rightful author.

The Kansas Legislature adopted Home on the Range as the official state song of Kansas on June 30, 1947.

Meanwhile, several owners had owned the original cabin through the years. In 1950, it was purchased by neighboring farmers Pete and Ellen Rust. The Rusts were instrumental in saving the original cabin. They had at least two major offers to sell the cabin but chose not to. In fact, one out-of-state tourist attraction is said to have literally given the Rusts a signed, blank check to purchase the cabin and take it away, but the Rusts declined.

As a result, this cabin still stands in its original location in a pretty natural setting along Beaver Creek. The limestone end walls of the cabin are original, while the logs in the side walls date back to the 1870s. In 1954, the Smith Center Rotary Club renovated the building. The cabin is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

But time has taken its toll on the old building. Now El Dean Holthus and others are making a difference by leading an effort to renovate and restore the old cabin again. We'll learn about that next week.

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

Home on the Range II

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

Home on the Range is considered the world's best known cowboy song. So, just as the cowboy good guys of yesteryear would rescue someone in the old western movies, it is appropriate that a group of modern cowboys is coming together to rescue the historic Home on the Range cabin in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Last week we learned about this historic cabin which still stands on its historic location in Smith County. It was the home of Dr. Brewster Higley, who wrote the poem which would become the world-famous song, Home on the Range. Higley's homestead was west of Smith Center and north of the rural community of Athol, population 51 people. Now, that's rural.

The cabin was owned for years by the Rust family, who protected the original structure from destruction or relocation. The family set up a living trust with 200 acres of surrounding farmland, the income from which goes to support the cabin. Rusts' nieces and nephews now serve as trustees.

El Dean Holthus is one of those trustees. He said the trustees are committed to restoring the cabin and maintaining it in its original location. Yet the years have taken their toll on the old stone and log cabin. The foundation is crumbling and the roof needs replacing. The trustees are seeking a cost sharing grant from the Heritage Trust Fund of the Kansas Historical Society to restore the cabin. To qualify, however, requires a $20,000 match.

Beccy Tanner, a writer for the Wichita Eagle, wrote about the challenges facing the Home on the Range cabin. That caught the eye of Orin Friesen, a cowboy singer who manages the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper near Wichita.

"Home on the Range is the most famous state song of all, and one of the most famous songs, period," Orin said. "When we performed in China, we sang part of Home on the Range in Mandarin, and many in the audience sang along." Now, that's world famous. In one recent period, the cabin guest register showed visitors from 32 states and four foreign countries.

"We wanted to help save this historic structure," Orin said. The trustees and the Prairie Rose agreed to pursue a grass-roots effort.

"During World War II, kids would save scrap metal to help the war effort," Orin said. "I thought it would be great to involve kids in saving the cabin."

"We've been asked many times why we just don't go to some corporation for funding," El Dean Holthus said. "That would have been easier, but the cabin has always been family-owned and we wanted to get lots of individuals involved. If some kid donates part of his allowance, he can tell his children and grandchildren that he helped save the Home on the Range."

So schoolchildren started donating their funds. Then cowboy singer Michael Martin Murphey got involved. He volunteered to perform at a benefit concert at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon Supper. When it was all done, some $27,000 had been raised from the concert, benefit auction, and donations.

One auction item was a Kansas City Chiefs souvenir donated by the Voice of the Chiefs, Mitch Holthus. Does that last name sound familiar? Yes, Mitch is the son of El Dean and Kathy Holthus.

Most of the funds raised were generated by the concert, but what touched me the most was the handwritten letter from a third grader which said: "Here's a dollar. Please save the cabin."

"That was as important to that child as the thousand dollar donations were from our larger contributors," El Dean said. Thanks to this grass-roots effort, a grant application will be submitted in fall 2011.

"July 4, 2012 would be the 140th anniversary of the construction of the cabin," El Dean said. "We hope to have a celebration at that time and then start reconstruction."

The cowboys are coming to the rescue again, just like in those shows of yesteryear. We commend Orin Friesen, Michael Martin Murphy, and all those involved with the Home on the Range cabin for making a difference in saving this historic structure. I know these are the good guys.

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

Read to Your Bunny

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

The bunnies are multiplying. This is not some biology experiment, but rather the rapidly growing number of toy bunnies and reading packets which are being distributed to families of newborn children in Emporia and beyond. Thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers, these are being provided to encourage young families to read together and stimulate infants' language capacity. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Janice Romeiser and Eleanor Browning are founders of a project in Emporia called Read to Your Bunny. Janice and Eleanor are long-time teachers with roots in rural Kansas. Eleanor is originally from Woodbine. She met her husband at Emporia State. They made their home on his family farm near Emporia. Janice grew up in Rush County and now lives with her husband at the rural community of Hartford, population 499 people. Now, that's rural.

Janice is director of the Teacher's College Resource Center at Emporia State. She and Eleanor are both special education reading instructors.

In 2007, Janice attended a reading conference in Chicago. One of the speakers was an author named Rosemary Wells who had written a book called Read to Your Bunny.

"It gave me goosebumps," Janice said. "Every family needs this book." The book reinforces the importance of parents reading regularly to their children at the earliest age.

When Janice returned to Kansas, she told her office-mate, Eleanor Browning, "Wouldn't it be great if every child and young family could have this book?" Eleanor said she'd seen in the Emporia Gazette that the Emporia Community Foundation was seeking community projects, so Janice wrote a grant to accomplish just that. The foundation staff loved it.

With grant funding and then ongoing support from the Emporia NEA and others, every newborn at Emporia's Newman Memorial Hospital now receives a packet to encourage reading. The packet includes a hand-made, stuffed toy bunny, a copy of the Read to Your Bunny book, a discount coupon for a children's book at Town Crier, an invitation to the library for a free library card, and a refrigerator magnet which reminds parents to read to their baby 20 minutes a day.

"We call the hospital every day," Janice said. They hand-deliver the packets at the hospital and ship to other newborns when notified. Bunnies and packets have been shipped as far away as Nebraska, California, Florida, and even Germany.

The bunnies themselves are unique. These are hand-made, washable cloth bunnies. Volunteers fill them with soft batting during Bunny Bees at the library. Janice does the sewing. Eleanor paints smiling faces on them. Bunnies come in all colors and designs of fabrics, most of which are donated.

Besides being a free toy, the bunnies serve as a reminder of the importance of reading to young children. "Research shows that children who are read to as infants have the advantage in school," Janice said. "Reading is a positive way to activate early language skills and stimulate vocabulary growth which can make a huge difference."

"Children whose parents read to them do better in school, have better vocabulary, and are even better behaved," Eleanor said. Several volunteers and civic clubs have stepped up to help. One quilting group bought a template so the bunnies don't have to be cut out of the fabric by hand.

"There are other Read to Your Bunny programs around the country, but there are no others which offer this service at the hospital," Janice said. "Every time you walk into a hospital to see the family of a newborn baby, that is the opportune moment," Eleanor added. "It's a joyful and exciting time, and everyone is focused on the needs of this new little person."

As of mid-July 2011, the number of bunnies and packets which had been delivered to young families had reached 1,819. Wow.

The bunnies are multiplying -- no, not in the rabbit pen, but in the number of toy bunnies and reading packets which are delivered to families of Emporia newborns. We commend Janice Romeiser and Eleanor Browning for making a difference by supporting and encouraging these families to help their children's language skills by reading with them. Yes, the bunnies – and the benefits – are multiplying.

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

Jeff Oakes – Flint Oak

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

Where would you find the world's largest sporting clay tower? Go ahead, take a shot. No, not in Texas. The world's largest sporting clay tower, and one of the finest venues for hunting anywhere, is right here in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Jeff Oakes is General Manager of Flint Oak, a southeast Kansas hunting lodge and resort. It began as a vision of Ray Walton, a successful businessman in Wichita. He enjoyed hunting and his wife got him a bird dog, but he was finding it harder and harder to find a place in the country where he and his friends could go hunting together.

So, Ray bought scenic acreage in the southern Flint Hills and then decided to use the land as a private member hunting club.

"Ray used to joke that the one Brittany bird dog which his wife got him caused him to spend 20 million dollars," Jeff Oakes said. Sometimes those free gifts get expensive.

In 1982, Flint Oak opened its doors. It expanded through the years. Today, Flint Oak has 5,000 acres of land and lakes for hunting and fishing. Flint Oak offers field hunts for upland game birds, driven European-style pheasant shoots, deer, duck, dove and wild turkey hunting for members. Fully-guided three-hour field hunts include one to three hunters with a guide and well trained bird dogs. For those who don't choose to walk, Flint Oak offers vehicle-assisted hunts in which hunters ride a four-wheeled vehicle to the dogs on point.

"We have many hunters even 80 years old who enjoy hunting this way, even though they can't walk the long distances involved in a traditional field hunt," Jeff said. "It can be magic when we have three generations in the field at the same time experiencing Flint Oak."

Flint Oak has 95 hunting dogs, including Pointers, English and Irish Setters, Brittany Spaniels, German Shorthairs and Labrador retrievers. Other shooting options include sporting clays, skeet shooting, trap shooting, and 5-stand -- plus the largest sporting clay tower in the world.

For fishermen, Flint Oak offers both guided and non-guided opportunities on three beautiful lakes and Indian Creek. Indian Lake was initially stocked with 8,000 two pound bass and 1500 wipers who now weigh in over 10 pounds.

Flint Oak offers picnic sites, volleyball, horseshoes and a large heated swimming pool. For equestrians, there are 6 paddocks and over 16 miles of trails through natural wildlife habitat.

In 2003, Flint Oak opened a new lodge with sleeping accommodations, dining area, and a pro shop. Flint Oak's main lodge has 40 rooms and 80 beds. Occupancy is 140 people for the entire facility. Rooms range from "an old-fashioned bunkhouse" to deluxe accommodations with full baths.

In summertime, Flint Oak's facilities are open to the public for shooting sports, corporate retreats, weddings, company picnics, youth camps, reunions, charity events, fishing, nature trails, and more.

Today, Flint Oak has more than 50 employees and 350 memberships from 29 states, plus foreign countries. During 2010, more than 10,000 guests came to Flint Oak. Wow.

Using the multiplier effect, the company's 1.2 million dollar payroll has an estimated impact of 1.8 million dollars on the local economy of a truly rural county.

"There's not a stoplight in the whole county," Jeff said. Flint Oak generates 330,000 thousand dollars in sales tax, which is 60 percent of all sales tax collected in Elk County. The closest town to Flint Oak is Fall River, a community of 158 people. Now, that's rural.

It is this natural, rural setting that makes Flint Oak appealing and picturesque to visitors, coupled with good service and high quality lodging and attractions. Flint Oak has been described as "America's premier hunting resort" and "an outdoorsman's paradise." For more information, go to www.flintoak.com.

So where is the world's largest sporting clay tower? It's found right here in Kansas, along with other elements for great hunting and fishing. We salute Ray and Winona Walton, Jeff Oakes, and all those involved with Flint Oak for making a difference by sharing the best of Kansas outdoor recreation with others. It helps give rural Kansas our best shot.

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

Jerry McReynolds – Wheat Growers

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

Working together. That's something which is often hard to do for farm organizations as they compete for scarce resources in Washington DC, for example. Yet according to one national agricultural leader, working together can sometimes help those organizations accomplish even more. This national farm leader is making cooperation among farm organizations a priority, just as he has practiced back home in his state of Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Jerry McReynolds is President of the National Association of Wheat Growers. He comes from rural Kansas, where he produces wheat, sorghum for grain and forage, corn and soybeans. He also operates a commercial cow herd. His farm is located south of Woodston, Kansas, population 114 people. Now, that's rural.

Jerry graduated from K-State in agricultural economics and was a member of the very first Kansas Ag and Rural Leadership class. He was active in the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers at the local level and worked his way up.

"One time Senator Pat Roberts really challenged us," Jerry said. "He was speaking at a meeting several years ago and pointed out that Kansas is a big contributor to the national wheat organizations because of our large production, but we hadn't had a national President of those organizations in many years. So he encouraged us to get involved and become national officers. I thought to myself, 'Well, he's right. Somebody ought to do that.'" At the time, he didn't realize that he would become that somebody.

Jerry did get involved on various committees, was asked to serve as President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, and eventually asked to serve as National President.

"I never felt I had the time, but I'm concerned about policy issues and the future of our profession," Jerry said. In March 2010, he became President of the National Association of Wheat Growers. One of his recent predecessors was Kansas' John Thaemert, who also took up the challenge from Senator Roberts.

In Kansas, Jerry was involved in the process that culminated in Kansas Wheat, the innovative cooperative agreement and unified staffing arrangement between the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Jerry believes in cooperation among farm organizations where possible, and he is drawing on his experience in his home state. When he was President of the Kansas association, many organizations were gearing up for the 2008 farm bill. He led the effort to create a Farm Bill Coalition from every commodity group and general farm organization that he could get to participate. They identified policy statements on issues where all the organizations could agree.

"If anybody had disagreement with a position, we wouldn't go there," Jerry said. A neutral moderator launched their discussion, and the organizations took turns providing the chairman for each meeting so that no one organization would dominate. They found a surprisingly high level of agreement on common issues.

"We agreed on 34 statements of policy, and then we shared those with the Kansas Congressional delegation and others on the Hill," Jerry said. "I think they were impressed that we could come with some unified issues."

"We're not going to agree on everything," Jerry said. "We're working hard for wheat growers best interest, but in doing so we find we can agree with other commodity organizations more than we disagree." Now at the national level, Jerry is again working to create a dialogue with other grower groups.

"We've met with representatives of corn, soybeans, grain sorghum, cotton, peanuts, and rice," Jerry said. "We're making an effort to build relationships so we can pull together on this farm bill. We hope to work together for all of agriculture."

"It's not about me," Jerry said. "It's about the organization and how we can contribute to make things better."

Working together. That's not always easy for farm organizations in a time of scarce resources, but this national ag leader from Kansas is making cooperation a priority. We salute Jerry McReynolds for making a difference by finding ways for farm organizations to arrive at common ground.

In addition to being a wheat state, Kansas is a meat state. We'll learn more next week.

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

Jim Sharp – Black Settlers

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

Two teams take the field for a six-man high school football game. The quarterback looks across the field and sees something he's never seen before: A young black man playing for the other school's team. The quarterback thought to himself, "How did a black kid get out here in the middle of Kansas?" That question remained in the back of his mind for many years. It ultimately led to a research project and the creation of a book about the little-known black settlers of this region of Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Jim Sharp is the author of an interesting book titled "Black Settlers on the Kaw Indian Reservation." Jim was the quarterback of the White City high school football team in 1942 when his school played the team from Dunlap. To Jim's surprise, the Dunlap team included a black player.

Jim went on to study business and history at K-State and then had a career with Kansas Farm Bureau.

In 1975, Jim and his wife joined the Morris County Historical Society. In the process, Jim asked about how this young black man had come to be in high school at Dunlap back when he played football. The Morris County folks knew there had been some black families living in the region, but they asked Jim to research the topic in more depth.

"It turned out to be much more than a black farmer or two," Jim said. "It's about the whole history of Morris County, Indian relocation, and black resettlement from the south."

At the heart of the story is a man known as Benjamin "Pap" Singleton. "I studied history in college, but before I did my research, I had never heard of Pap Singleton," Jim said. "Now I believe he is the most significant black man in Kansas history." Wow.

Benjamin "Pap" Singleton was a former slave in Tennessee who escaped to freedom on the Underground Railroad. When southern landowners refused to sell cropland to freed blacks at competitive prices, Singleton encouraged the black families to move to Kansas. Singleton's sister had moved to Kansas with her husband and settled southwest of Council Grove, among the Kaw Indians.

Under an 1846 treaty, the Kaw Indian tribe was located in the Neosho River Valley of Kansas. Twenty-seven years later, they were moved to Oklahoma by another treaty.

This tragic relocation of the Kaw Indians created an opportunity for black families and others to buy land on the former reservation. Pap Singleton preached to black freedmen in Tennessee and Kentucky that they should come to Kansas. For example, "Ho for Kansas!" was the headline of one poster shown in the book.

Many people followed the call. Some 500 black families, including Singleton, ultimately moved to Kansas and settled in and around the town of Dunlap and bought thousands of acres. One settlement was called the Singleton Colony.

The first black immigrants had been advised by Pap Singleton to come with adequate resources to buy land and build homes, and things went well for them. But when word of their success got back to the south, many others made the migration – and many of those were unprepared and could not make it in the new location.

In 1880, the U.S. Senate had a hearing on the "Negro Exodus from the Southern States." Among those called to testify was Pap Singleton of Dunlap –which today has a population of 82 people. Now, that's rural.

Singleton died in 1883. Over time, the population of the region dwindled and black families went various ways. By the 1970s, the black population was virtually gone. This chapter of Kansas history would have disappeared, if not for the inquiring mind and persistent research of Jim Sharp.

The book "Black Settlers on the Kaw Indian Reservation" is available on Amazon.com or call 785-539-8582. Copies have sold from California to Washington DC.

The high school football game is over. Jim Sharp leaves the field along with the first black man he had ever seen. That chance encounter would lead to this book which makes a difference by capturing an interesting and little-known element of Kansas history. It was a good game.

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

Benton Steele

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

Who is considered the father of round barns in Indiana? That distinction belongs to a barn builder and architect of yesteryear, who helped lead the movement that brought about construction of the remarkable round barns which can still be found occasionally across the heartland. This barn builder's name was Benton Steele, and he lived in rural Kansas. This is the latest in our series about historic barns. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Johnny Steele is a grandson of Benton Steele, the man who was this innovative barn-builder and architect. On a recent profile, we learned about the Drennan-Stump barn which celebrates its centennial year in 2011. That barn is one of only two remaining round barns built in Kansas by Benton Steele.

Benton Steele grew up in Indiana where he became a skilled draftsman, carpenter, and architect. Benton was 13 years old when his great aunt built a new house, and she had it built in the shape of an octagon. He was so intrigued with this unusual shape that it sparked a lifelong interest in innovative types of structures.

Benton Steele went on to design and build round barns. In 1901, he built an 80 foot diameter round barn for a prominent banker in Indiana. It went so well that a local Congressman had him build a 100 foot diameter barn. Then another legislator wanted the largest round barn in the state, so Benton Steele built one that was 102 feet in diameter. The legislator wrote, "My barn is now completed and I am more than pleased with it. It is the largest and finest barn in the state. There have been thousands of people to see it and all pronounce it the most convenient barn they ever saw. The circular barn is a great improvement over the rectangular plan. I think there is no plan of barn to compare with it."

Soon, many everyday farmers wanted round barns. A 1902 tornado caused devastation in the region, but the round barn which Benton Steele had built survived. After that, some people dubbed the round barns as "cyclone-proof."

Benton advertised heavily in such publications as The Indiana Farmer and the Breeder's Gazette, and his round barn designs were highly recommended by state agricultural experiment stations in Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Indiana. Benton wrote, "The circular form of building is and always has been and always will be, the ultimate in architectural form as well as the strongest shapes ever conceived by man. The Creator made and fashioned every known or tangible thing after the circular form..."

In 1909, Benton Steele moved to Kansas where he spent the rest of his days. He built five round barns in Kansas, of which only two remain standing. Mr. Steele went on to a career in architecture and construction of all kinds of structures, in Wichita and beyond. He lived at the rural community of Sedgwick, population 1,549 people. Now, that's rural.

Benton's sons became excellent carpenters as well. When he passed away in 1943, his sons built a beautiful wood casket for him as a final tribute. Benton Steele is buried in the Sedgwick cemetery. Johnny Steele, his grandson, went on to an engineering career in the aviation industry in Wichita. Johnny still has his grandfather's Corona typewriter and a collection of square nails.

"He was a gentleman and a scholar," Johnny said about his grandfather. He was a strong believer in round barns, and people are still fascinated with these structures.

"I'm amazed at the number of people interested in round barns," Johnny said. "People drive in from Oklahoma and Missouri and anywhere, asking about them."

So who is the father of round barns in Indiana? Benton Steele of Sedgwick, Kansas. Mr. Steele has been described as the "Frank Lloyd Wright of barn-building" and "the foremost designer, builder and promoter of round barns" during this era. We salute Mr. Steele's descendants and all those who are making a difference by preserving this part of our agricultural heritage. I'm glad there are still people keeping these barns a-round.

And there's more. Next week we'll learn about the only other remaining Benton Steele barn in Kansas.

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

John Scott – Interfaith Housing

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

Would you like some CASH? Today we'll meet an organization that doesn't just hand out money, but which assists low income people with saving and meeting their housing needs. One of this organization's programs is called CASH – not small, unmarked bills, but an acronym for a program named Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope. It's one example of the creative work done by this organization serving rural Kansas. This is today's Kansas Profile.

John Scott is President and CEO of Interfaith Housing Services, which developed several innovative programs including this project called CASH. John grew up over in Zaire where his parents were missionaries. He met his future wife in Hutchinson, Kansas where he had family. They went into the mission field themselves in Africa before returning to Hutchinson.

"The same needs I had seen overseas, I saw in my own neighborhood," John said. He saw people with houses in disrepair and others needing better homes.

The city of Hutchinson created a task force on housing needs and affordability. In 1989, a housing summit was held in Hutchinson to talk about how to assist low-income families and individuals meet their housing needs. From that meeting, a core group of volunteers from various churches developed Interfaith Housing Services or IHS. In 1991 IHS was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization. John Scott became the first director.

"They hired me as a part-time director if we could raise any money," John said. He went to work, with a committed core of volunteers.

IHS set out to provide homeowner-occupied housing repair and rehabilitation for low-income homeowners in Reno County. Since then, IHS has assisted more than nine hundred households make much-needed repairs to their homes.

In 1992, IHS received its first grant for developing a special needs rental program. Since then, IHS has developed 120 units in Reno, Harper, and Ford counties.

In 1993, IHS began an initiative called First Homeownership Opportunity Program or 1HOP. This program provides customized financial counseling and matched savings for each household. IHS has successfully assisted over 50 individuals or families with the purchase of their first home.

In 2003, IHS partnered with the Hutchinson Correctional Facility and the Southeast Kansas Educational Service Center to build homes for these programs. IHS provided all materials. Houses were built on the correctional facility grounds by inmates in the vocational training program and then moved to vacant lots in the community. This innovative program helped provide affordable housing while assisting inmates in obtaining marketable skills for a new life. Eleven houses were built before the program closed due to funding cuts at the correctional facility.

IHS also provides weatherization services to 25 counties in southwest Kansas. Income-eligible households receive a comprehensive home assessment which includes repair or replacement of heating systems, insulation and caulking at no cost to the client.

In 2008, IHS established an Individual Development Account Program (or IDA) designed to help low- to moderate-income individuals break the bonds of poverty by saving for a major asset purchase, such as first time homeownership, homeowner occupied housing repair, post secondary education, specialized skills training, or small business capitalization. This program - now called CASH - Creating Assets, Savings, and Hope – is designed to transition low and moderate income families off of government and social services and into self-sufficiency and financial stability. Every dollar a client saved toward a future goal is matched with two dollars. "The program provides the education and encouragement to permanently change their future," John said. This program is funded through private 75% State of Kansas Tax Credit donations.

Interfaith Housing Services has grown to 21 employees with offices in Hutchinson, Dodge City, and the rural community of Anthony, population 2,361 people. Now, that's rural.

"We feel we're impacting not just individuals but a whole generation," John Scott said. For more information, go to www.ihs-housing.org.

Would you like some CASH? Not folding money, but a program to help the disadvantaged build their savings for the future. We commend John Scott and all those involved with Interfaith Housing Services for making a difference by assisting those less fortunate. As the IHS motto says, they are "Helping Hands, Helping People."

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

Keith Miller - USMEF

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

Tokyo, Japan. In a downtown grocery store, a consumer approaches the meat counter, picks up a package of beef, and holds it under a scanner. Then a nearby tv screen brings up the production history of the live animal which provided that beef, including who raised it, what feed and medicine it received, and where it was processed. Yet this consumer is not your everyday housewife. He is a beef producer from rural Kansas who is in Japan promoting American meat. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Keith Miller is Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and a livestock and grain producer from Barton County, Kansas. Keith went to school at Ellinwood, population 2,130 people. Now, that's rural.

Keith is active in farm and community organizations, including Kansas Farm Bureau. KFB joined the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) because of the importance of meat exports to Kansas livestock producers. USMEF is the trade association that develops international markets for the U.S. red meat industry.

"I was the one appointed (from the KFB Board) to go to the USMEF meetings," Keith said.

"One day while sitting on a tractor, I got to thinking that 70 percent of what I grow is going into meat exports," Keith said. "If I could make a positive difference to grow those exports, it would help the bottom line of lots of Kansas producers, and help lots of truckers and shippers and processors and bankers too."

So Keith got involved in the organization and was asked to take on several USMEF leadership positions before becoming Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Meat Export Federation in November 2010. His duties require him to travel extensively promoting U.S. meat. "I'll be in hotels over a third of the year," he said.

Miller's first priority as Chairman is to gain more access for U.S. meat products overseas. "We're looking at declining domestic red meat production," he said. "For farmers like me to remain profitable, we need to be ready to meet the demand of foreign consumers."

Another priority is securing capital for self-help marketing efforts like USMEF. A portion of the checkoff dollars collected from producers' livestock sales is used to promote U.S. meat overseas. This is matched with other funding to support market development activities. "Funding from checkoffs and the USDA Market Access Program is extremely important," Keith said. "We need to educate Members of Congress how important this is to rural America," Keith said.

"Exports are a vital part of the livestock economy," Keith said. "$150 of the value of every beef animal processed and $45 of every hog processed comes from exports. Twelve to 15 percent of our beef and nearly 25 percent of our pork goes into export markets. That means one of every four hogs we produce is shipped overseas. If we want to be profitable, exports are where the future is," Keith said.

Traceability is another key issue. "Our international customers are telling us that they want the ability to know the production history of the livestock and products they are buying, and our competitors have seen this. The U.S. is falling behind other major beef exporting nations in terms of mandatory animal identification systems, and they're using it as a competitive advantage," Keith said.

The demand for traceability among foreign customers was driven home to Keith when he visited Japan and saw the scanner which could bring up production history on each item of meat. "Japan has gone this way and I expect Korea and even China to follow," he said.

As USMEF Chair, Keith sees first-hand how his checkoff dollars are being used. "Together, they are an effective tool for USMEF to conduct marketing and educational programs and gather the intelligence to grow our market share in these key markets," he said.

It's time to leave Tokyo, where a Kansas beef and grain producer is seeing how Japanese consumers want to buy beef. Keith Miller is to be commended for making a difference with his passion for promoting American meat products, with a goal of helping the bottom line halfway around the globe in Kansas.

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

Keyta Kelly – EAST

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

"Go EAST, young man." Wait a minute, didn't that famous saying say, "Go west, young man."? Yes, in 1865 the editor of the New York Tribune, Horace Greeley, wrote "Go west, young man" in his newspaper, urging enterprising young men to migrate to the west. Today young people can still find entrepreneurial opportunities, but they don't have to go any further west than Kansas. In fact, today we'll learn about a group which is encouraging enterprising people in Kansas, and it happens to use EAST as its acronym. EAST stands for Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together. Appropriately enough, it is based in eastern Kansas. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Keyta Kelly is, among several other things, a member of EAST - Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together. EAST is a group of entrepreneurs and small business owners in Leavenworth County who have come together to network and support each other.

Keyta credits Gary Walker with the inspiration to create the EAST group back in 2010. Gary, a K-State graduate, is a financial services planner in Tonganoxie. As he observed entrepreneurs and small business owners in southern Leavenworth County, he conceived the idea of a business support network through which these businesspeople could help each other through mutual referrals.

Some people got together and created this organization which became known as EAST: Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together. Since I am always a sucker for a good acronym, I was intrigued with this group when I had the opportunity to learn about them. But more important than the name is the way this group has come together and grown in support of rural entrepreneurs.

Keyta Kelly is one of those small business owners and entrepreneurs. She and her husband have their own independent law firm in Tonganoxie.

Keyta and Gary Walker talked about this idea of bringing business owners together and decided to give it a try. "If there's value in this, then people will embrace it," Keyta said. The group meets for breakfast every Friday morning to network and make business referrals to each other.

"It started as a simple referral group, but it has really blossomed," Keyta said. People did indeed embrace it. A recent meeting of the EAST group in which I participated had some 45 local entrepreneurs and business people attending.

The mission statement of EAST is "to bring a community together by nurturing and caring for our businesses while working toward a common goal of adding value to each other." Keyta emphasizes several elements of that mission statement. The first is unity – having people work together. A second is community, and growing their hometown. Another is caring for their businesses, and the last is adding value through mutual support.

Now the EAST group represents people who are sharing resources, knowledge and beliefs, and supporting each other through encouragement, training, and education. Notably, this is not part of some top-down, federal initiative. It is a group of local citizens who have voluntarily chosen to work together for mutual benefit.

These businesses are primarily based in southern Leavenworth County, which takes in several communities. That includes rural communities like Linwood, population 378 people. Now, that's rural.

Leavenworth County is also the site of the 2011 Kansas Sampler Festival, as we learned last week. In fact, the director of the 2010-11 Kansas Sampler Festival is none other than Keyta Kelly. She is excited about the festival and what it will offer in the county.

"There's no better entertainment value," Keyta said. "It's a one-stop shop where visitors can sample all there is to see, do, hear, taste, buy and learn in the state."

Go EAST, young man. No, that's not the same as Horace Greeley's historic admonition for enterprising young people to go west. But back in those days when ambitious young people came west, they came to places like Leavenworth County in Kansas. Now many Kansans can go east to find the Kansas Sampler Festival as well as the EAST group of local businesspeople. We salute Keyta Kelly, Gary Walker, and all those involved with the EAST group for making a difference by supporting Entrepreneurs Achieving Success Together. Go, EAST!

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

Kansas Sampler Festival 2011

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

Grab your passport! No, not for some overseas travel. This is about an event inside our state's borders that one magazine has termed a Passport to Kansas – and you won't even have to go through Customs. The event is called the Kansas Sampler Festival. Special thanks to Kansas Magazine and writer Kimberly Winter Stern whose article told this remarkable story. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Marci Penner and her father Mil, whom we've profiled before, are cofounders of this event. In 1990, they hosted the first-ever Kansas Sampler Festival on the Penner farm near the rural community of Inman.

"Dad and I wrote our first book, Kansas Weekend Guide," Penner said. "We had a book signing and invited places in the book to help support the purpose, which was to stimulate travel throughout Kansas. We were in one big tent on a cold November day and 1,000 people showed up." Wow.

The following year, the farm's outbuildings and large tents were used to house exhibitors. "The shed where my dad stored tools and oily rags became the Tin Shed Cinema where communities presented slide shows about their town's attractions," Penner said. In 1993 the duo launched the Kansas Sampler Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve, promote and maintain Kansas culture.

For years the Penners hosted the event on their farm, allowing people to park in a spacious alfalfa field. "We rotated the crops in 1998, so took the show on the road," Penner said.

Now the opportunity to host the Kansas Sampler Festival is awarded to a different town every two years following a rigorous application process. Leavenworth County—the first county-level group to receive the honor in the festival's history—was tapped to organize and host the 2010 and 2011 events. The large and small towns in Leavenworth County come together to stage this event. That includes bigger cities like Leavenworth and Lansing, plus rural communities such as Tonganoxie, population 3,030, and Basehor, population 2,324 people. Now, that's rural.

This year's festival is May 7-8, 2011 at Leavenworth's Ray Miller Park. In 2010 the event drew more than 8,000 people.

The Kansas Sampler Festival is like a well-plotted GPS that gives attendees a perspective of the state's simple pleasures and treasures, plus its fascinating past and vibrant present.

Colorful exhibitor tents feature artists, authors and regional tourism and travel councils. Food and drink concessionaires sell Kansas-made artisan products, while vendors exhibit everything from soup to nuts. Entertainers perform on various stages and roam the festival grounds. Sprinkled throughout the sprawling event are some hundreds of enthusiastic volunteers who help bring the Kansas Sampler Festival to life.

Historic performers re-enact characters central to Kansas history, including Calamity Jane, Amelia Earhart, General Robert E. Lee, and Doc Holliday. Each year an all-star cast from the Kansas Alliance of Professional Historical Performers shares thrilling tales of the colorful characters who helped write history.

Marc Ferguson, an award-winning historic performer, is one of those who portrays multiple characters. Ferguson, a Kansas farmer and former wedding photographer, is an avid history buff who enjoys performing for audiences across the state. He's even appeared as a movie extra and on the History Channel. He delivers riveting monologues about the trials and tribulations of characters who weren't necessarily model citizens in a fledging Kansas but capture the Old West's flavor.

Ferguson is President of the Gray County Historical Society and manager/curator at the Dalton Gang Hideout in Meade. In the late 1990s, he saw Joyce Thierer performing as Calamity Jane and wanted to try it himself. He attended some workshops and gave it a try. The rest is, um, history.

For more information, go to www.kansassampler.org/festival. For info on Kansas magazine, go to www.kansasmag.com.

Grab your passport! No, not for travel overseas. This event doesn't need a passport at all. All one has to do is come to Leavenworth for the annual Kansas Sampler Festival to learn about the best that Kansas has to offer. We salute Marci and Mil Penner for making a difference by promoting our rural culture in this way. This passport will take you to one place where you can sample our entire state.

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

Larry Nelson – New Age Industrial

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

The Pentagon, near Washington DC. Here at the headquarters of the Department of Defense, we find a custom-made, metal security cage. And where do you suppose this product was designed and built? Not California, not Chicago, not Atlanta, but at New Age Industrial located in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Larry Nelson is President of New Age Industrial in Norton. This is the story of this remarkable company.

In 1966, a fellow from Nebraska came to Norton to buy a car. The car salesman must have been a good one, because not only did he sell him a car, when the salesman learned that the man from Nebraska was getting ready to set up a factory, he convinced the man to put that factory in Norton. Local investors got together and built a building to house this new business, which would become known as New Age Industrial.

Unlike these days, when the term New Age refers to some kind of metaphysical thinking, this company was New Age before it was fashionable. The concept was that this company would usher in a New Age of manufacturing, and so the company was born.

New Age Industrial set out to work on the extrusion of aluminum. It opened in a 50 x 200 square foot building. By 1972, when Larry Nelson joined the company, it had seven employees. As the company diversified into making various products from the extruded aluminum, it began to grow.

In fact, numerous additions were built onto the building through the years, but one of those almost led to a disaster. On April 8, 1996, a spark from a welder that was being used to construct an addition to the building set off a fire. That fire burned for 9 ½ hours.

Fortunately, the extrusion press, offices, and production area were saved from the fire. The fire was on Monday. On Tuesday the owners met with key employees to form a recovery plan. On Wednesday, employees came in to begin to clean up and rebuild. No one was laid off, and two weeks later, the company had re-started production.

"The fire took out several walls of the old buildings," Larry Nelson said. "It actually opened up some space. We redid our electrical system and improved our product flow. We found the good that came out of it, but I wouldn't want it to ever happen again," Larry said.

Today, New Age Industrial operates in 180,000 square feet of space and employs 113 people. Products from extruded aluminum are still the company's specialty. This includes thousands of products made for use in food service, health care, materials handling, correctional facilities, and other venues. This includes such things as carts, trays and much, much more. In fact, about half of their business includes custom-designed and manufactured specialty products.

"Not too many people do that type of custom work any more, but we enjoy doing it," Larry Nelson said. "Our minimum order is one."

This responsiveness to the customer has paid off in the long run. The list of New Age Industrial's customers is astounding, including many small businesses plus national brands such as Costco, Target, JC Penney, Caterpillar, Advanced Auto, and McDonalds. New Age Industrial products have literally gone coast to coast from Norton, Kansas. Wow.

In fact, New Age Industrial products have gone to such places as Walt Disney World, the Pentagon, and the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Not bad for a company in Norton, Kansas, population 2,943 people. That's rural, but there's more. Larry actually lives at nearby Almena, population 461 people, and the company controller is from Jennings, population 143 people. Now, that's rural.

"We have great people working here," Larry Nelson said. "We take pride in quality work." For more information, go to www.newageindustrial.com.

The Pentagon, near Washington DC. Here and from coast to coast, one can find products from this remarkable company in Norton, Kansas. We salute Larry Nelson and all the people of New Age Industrial for making a difference with their hard work, service, and entrepreneurship. Even in this new age, their commitment to quality and customer service is ageless.

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

Linda Mowery-Denning – Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter

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

"Stop the presses!" Okay, maybe that phrase is never heard anymore except in old movies. But other newspaper traditions, such as covering breaking news, focusing on local coverage, and producing a newspaper on time, still remain in rural Kansas. Today we'll meet a newspaper publisher who rose to the best traditions of Kansas journalists while facing a tremendous challenge: her newspaper office was totally lost in a fire. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Linda Mowery-Denning is editor and publisher of the weekly Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter. Linda is from Indiana originally. Through a friend in Topeka, she came to Kansas and ultimately got a job at the Salina Journal where she worked for nearly 27 years, covering news stories in communities around Salina.

One of those communities was the rural town of Ellsworth, population 2,946 people. Now, that's rural. This town had a shock when its long-time newspaper publisher, Karl Gaston, was killed in a tragic auto accident. Townspeople grieved for the family, and then worried about the sale of their local newspaper.

"A friend of mine and I got the crazy idea that we would try to buy the newspaper," Linda said. They made a bid but a company from Georgia named Morris Multimedia bought the paper instead. Still, Linda and her friend were so intrigued by the community that they decided to create a competing newspaper to serve Ellsworth. The Ellsworth County Independent was born.

"The workload was incredible and the competition was stiff," Linda said. Ultimately, Linda's partner went back to Salina but Linda continued to produce the paper. Then she was approached by the owners of the newspaper chain about a merger, which was finalized in 2001. Linda became editor and co-owner of the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter.

"They've been great," Linda said of Morris Multimedia. "They don't interfere and they've been very supportive."

Then came Sunday, June 19, 2011. Linda was home when she got a call from her business manager, whose husband is a firefighter.

"I think she was trying to ease me into what had happened," Linda said. "She told me, "There's a fire downtown at Douglas and Second Street." I was trying to think, 'Hmm, what building is that?'" And then it hit her – that's her own newspaper's building.

By the time Linda got downtown, there were smoke and flames shooting through the top of the newspapers' building. An attorney in the next block was carrying files out of his office in case the fire spread.

But firefighters came from all over and contained the fire. "The firefighters did a remarkable job," Linda said. For the newspaper staff, this was not only a huge loss, it was a news story to cover.

Linda and her staff swung into action, taking pictures and interviewing people. Meanwhile, Linda was thinking about how to produce a newspaper. Her first call was to the school superintendent to ask about using the high school journalism department, and he didn't hesitate to agree. Fortunately, Linda had the page templates on her laptop computer which she had with her at home.

On the next morning, the executive director and the president of the Kansas Press Association were in Ellsworth to help. Offers of assistance came from all over. Remarkably, that week's edition of the Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter was produced on time, as it has been ever since.

"I'm so proud of our staff," Linda said. "There was never a thought that we wouldn't put out a newspaper that week. And I can't say enough good about the support we have received from the community."

"Linda's coverage of her community is amazing. I am especially impressed with her positive attitude — even through a very challenging year," said Gloria Freeland, director of K-State's Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media. "Linda has provided leadership for other community newspapers through the excellent example she sets for her own."

"Stop the presses!" Okay, maybe that phrase isn't used any more, but the traditions of local coverage and on-time publication still remain. We commend Linda Mowery-Denning and all those involved with Ellsworth County Independent-Reporter for making a difference by demonstrating that, in rural Kansas, even a fire isn't enough to stop the presses.

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

Lowell Lydic – Cedar Festival

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

Are you going to a reunion this summer? No, not a family reunion, a festival reunion. In June, a rural Kansas community is hosting its tenth and final annual country music festival, with a reunion of performers through the years. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Lowell Lydic is organizer of this annual music festival. This year's event is called the Cedar Depot Festival Reunion, because past performers are invited. The number and quality of the performers is amazing, considering that this festival is held in one of the smallest communities in Kansas.

Lowell Lydic's career with the Dekalb seed company took him to Illinois, Arizona, Texas, and Kansas. While in Arizona he got involved with the Rex Allen Museum and then became active in the Western Music Association.

He continued that involvement after moving to the small rural community of Cedar in northwest Kansas. He and his wife Nancy met lots of western entertainers, including Janet McBride from Texas.

Janet was performing at a festival in Nebraska, so she stayed at Lowell and Nancy's home. Lowell said, "The next morning she got up and looked at the park across the street from our house and said to us, 'That would be a pretty place to have a festival.' I said we were talking about restoring the old depot over there so maybe we could pull that together."

Janet agreed to perform and they scheduled the festival. On Memorial Day weekend, with a couple of flatbed trailers by the depot as a stage, more than a thousand people showed up for the Cedar Depot Festival. Wow.

It went so well that it became an annual event and was moved to the weekend after Memorial Day so as to have space for lodging. The event has grown to include three days of shows, stages in two parks, musical workshops and equestrian performances.

It's a remarkable happening for a small Kansas town. After all, Cedar is a town of 17 people. Now, that's rural.

What is life like in a town of 17 people? Lowell Lydic said, "Well, my wife and I are both on the city council and my brother-in-law is the mayor, and if you don't show up in church, you are missed." How does a town of 17 host a music festival for a couple thousand people? "It's taken the cooperation of everyone," Lowell said. People help from all over. "Some 60 RVers will camp at Cedar," Lowell said.

Do you know of any other town of 17 people that has two parks? Lowell explained that there was a lot in town with a falling-down house and brush around it that needed to be cleaned up. Lowell and Nancy bought it for a park and dedicated it to the memory of their son Jim, who had died in a tragic poisoning incident in Arizona. Volunteers pitched in and today, it is a beautiful park.

2011 will mark the tenth year of this amazing event, but the decision has been made that this will be the last. This final show is called the Cedar Depot Festival Reunion, and performers through the years will be invited back – including Janet McBride, who will be selling her autobiographical book. The festival will be dedicated to her husband, who passed away in December 2010.

Daytime shows will feature more than 40 performers at Cedar, with cowboy church on Sunday. Friday and Saturday night concerts will be held at nearby Smith Center High School with headliners like Maggie Mae, a nationally known performer from RFD-TV.

"We're especially proud of how we've involved and encouraged the young people," Lowell said. The festival has provided opportunities for numerous youngsters to perform and get a start here. In fact, a group called the Talented Teens will open each evening show. For more information, go to cedar-depot-festival.com.

Are you going to a reunion this summer? Not a family reunion, a festival reunion. We commend Lowell and Nancy Lydic and all those involved with the Cedar Depot Festival for making a difference by enhancing their community with country music. It sounds like a great place for any family to reunite.

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

Martha Farrell - Kansas 150

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

You are invited to a birthday party – not just any birthday party, but a birthday party for the whole state. The State of Kansas is celebrating its sesquicentennial in 2011. Many local commemorative events will be held around Kansas. One of those will be a special performance featuring Kansas western artists and saluting 150 years of our state's history in poetry and music. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Martha Slater Farrell is President of First Generation Video in Wichita and a volunteer coordinator for this special sesquicentennial show. The project is called "Kansas: Home on the Range."

"This whole thing began as a vision of Roger Ringer," Martha said. Roger has been profiled here before, as vice-president of the Kansas chapter of the Western Music Association. Several years ago, he had the idea of having Kansas performers commemorate the state's sesquicentennial, but he was frustrated that state agencies were unable or unwilling to fund it.

"Out of hardship comes inspiration, as is always the case with Kansans," Martha said. When Roger presented the idea to the Kansas chapter of the Western Music Association, the members agreed to take it on as a grass-roots project. Then some exciting partnerships developed.

One was Smoky Hills Public Television which became interested in the idea. Another was Judy Coder of Topeka who volunteered to serve as artistic director for the project. Martha Slater agreed to produce video so as to make this a multi-media presentation, and her husband's singing group, the Diamond W Wranglers, agreed to perform. Then the historic Fox Theatre in Hutchinson agreed to host it.

The stars lined up. On Sunday March 13, 2011, the historic Fox Theatre in Hutchinson will host a special performance to celebrate the state's 150th birthday. It's called "Kansas: Home on the Range."

Members of the Kansas Chapter of the Western Music Association will be presenting music and poetry to tell the story of Kansas' 150 years. They will be joined by the Hutchinson Symphony and the McPherson Children's Choir. Allen Bailey, Marshall of Dodge City, will host.

The program will include brief documentary video clips from Martha Slater's company, narrated by Bill Barwick of the Encore Westerns channel. A reception with the performers will follow the show.

The live performance will be filmed by Smoky Hills Public Television and broadcast over every Kansas public television station as well as public radio stations in Kansas sometime during the Sesquicentennial year. The program includes musicians and cowboy poets from around Kansas and beyond. This includes performers like Barry Ward, Judy Coder, Roger Ringer, Kerry Grombacher and Ann Zimmerman, plus groups such as the Diamond W Wranglers, Prairie Rose Rangers, and Three Trails West.

It involves musicians from the larger Kansas cities, as well as rural performers including yours truly, Jeff Davidson from Eureka, Del Shields from Humboldt, and Fred Hargrove who ranched near Atlanta, Kansas, population 252 people. Now, that's rural.

The venue for this performance is Hutchinson's historic Fox Theatre, which was at risk of demolition during the 1980s until a group led by Martha Slater Farrell initiated an effort to restore it. Ultimately, the theatre was restored to the way it looked in 1931. It reopened on Kansas Day of 1999.

"I have been passionate about Kansas history since we began (our business) 32 years ago," Martha said. She is excited about the upcoming performance involving western performers.

"It's a grand opportunity to spotlight a wonderful genre and celebrate Kansas history at the same time. I think it will be one of the top events of the sesquicentennial year," Martha said.

Tickets to the show are now available at 620-663-1981 or 877-FOX-SHOW. Further information can be found at www.kansaswma.org or www.hutchinsonfox.com.

You are invited to a birthday party – not just any birthday party, but a celebration of 150 years of Kansas history. We salute Martha Slater Farrell and all those involved with the "Kansas: Home on the Range" project for making a difference by honoring the legacy of our state in video, poetry, and music. It sounds like quite a party. I wonder if there will be 150 candles on a cake?

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

Martin and Cheryl Rude – Barns at Timber Creek

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

The head of security for the National Football League is staying overnight in Kansas. Is he lodging at some four-star urban hotel? No, he's staying in a barn – specifically, a barn which has been remodeled into an elegant bed and breakfast in rural Kansas. Today we'll continue our series on historic barns, but these barns have taken on an entirely different life. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Martin and Cheryl Rude are owners of the Barns @ Timber Creek, a bed and breakfast located near Winfield, Kansas. They met while Cheryl was a youth minister in Wichita and Martin was in a Christian band. They married and moved to Dallas.

After children, they opted to move back to Kansas and took positions at Southwestern College in Winfield. Cheryl is the faculty director for an undergraduate and graduate leadership development program and Martin works with students preparing to lead worship in the church.

In 1997, Martin and Cheryl purchased a rural property along Timber Creek north of Winfield. This place included an 1881 stone barn and an old stone quarry. They considered remodeling the stone barn into a home, but decided to leave it in its historic state.

Then they found another barn west of Winfield, near the rural town of Oxford, population 1,162 people. Now, that's rural. A hailstorm had recently taken the roof off this old barn and a flood had taken the foundation. Martin and Cheryl decided to save the old barn and moved it to their place north of Winfield where they remodeled it into a residential bed and breakfast.

"There's no limit to what you can accomplish with tenacity and complete ignorance," Martin said with a smile. "Being Kansans, we'd seen too many old barns get torn down. We connected with the Barn Again movement and found people who could help us rebuild this structure."

When the paint was still drying on just two of the five guest rooms, the first call came. During the annual bluegrass festival in Winfield, the local chamber of commerce called and asked if some of the overflow out-of-town visitors could stay overnight. They did, and enjoyed it so much that they told other people. Interest grew and the rest of the rooms were quickly finished. The Barns @ Timber Creek opened.

In the bluff east of the house was the old stone quarry which had become overgrown with trees. Martin cleaned out the trees and placed a gazebo at the top. When some Southwestern College students asked to have a wedding there, they rearranged some of the old quarry stones to make a natural, secluded outdoor chapel.

Meanwhile, the original stone barn on the place was in need of repair as well. Martin took a year cleaning vegetation from the old barn site. He burned the brush, but eight days after his brush burn, a spark from an old stump caught the barn on fire. Community members helped clean it up, and Martin used cables to straighten the old stone sides. Then a funnel cloud came through and took down one wall. The Rudes finally decided to fully restore the barn, with modern doors, floors, and structural trusses. Not all the lofts were put back in, so it is very spacious.

"It's not historic in that sense, but it is alive," Martin said. Now this building is used for parties, weddings, and receptions.

The bed and breakfast has been busy. Rooms are decorated in various themes reflecting local history and culture: Railroad, Barnyard, Southwestern College, Granary, and the Birdhouse. The Birdhouse, for example, is located in the loft of the barn and accesses a balcony from which visitors can view the surroundings from a 40 foot tall perch. Guests have come from coast to coast and as far away as Scotland, Germany, Greece, and Malaysia. Wow.

For more information, go to timbercreekbarns.com.

The head of security for the National Football League is overnighting in Kansas. The place where he chooses to stay is the Barns @ Timber Creek. We commend Martin and Cheryl Rude for making a difference by preserving this history and sharing this hospitality.

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

Silver Creek Beneficiary Club

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

Social networking. It's highly popular right now, through Facebook and Twitter. But before computers existed, and in fact from the beginning of history, there were social networks being created in a non-technological sense. Today, we'll learn about a traditional rural Kansas social network with a lot of staying power. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Melinda Sinn told me about the Silver Creek Beneficiary Club, a network of women in rural Riley County. Club members live near the small rural Kansas town of Keats, about 10 miles west of Manhattan. Keats is a town of perhaps 300 residents. Now, that's rural.

The Silver Creek Beneficiary Club took its name from the creek that runs north out of the Wildcat Creek Valley. Silver Creek was also the name of a country school that once stood at a nearby crossroads.

Talk about staying power. On July 14, 2011, the Silver Creek Beneficiary Club will be celebrating its 90th anniversary. Wow.

The club was formed in 1921 by a small group of neighborhood women who wanted to provide help to those in need in their community. The women started meeting in each other's homes and formed a club to share educational pursuits and help their community, family, friends and those in need.

"Ninety years ago this group of women formed a social network that has passed the test of time," Melinda said. "Still today, the club brings pleasure, enjoyment, and a helping hand when needed, to the families in this rural community."

The Silver Creek Beneficiary Club started out with 20 members and has 24 members today. Many members today are third generation members of the club. Their grandmothers were founding members of the organization. While the club has never been large, it has been steady.

One tradition of the club is a summer family picnic. In the early days, the picnics were often held alongside the creeks that run through the valley. Now the picnics are held at the Keats park, which the club helps maintain by planting and caring for the flower garden during the long summer months. Other traditions include meeting in member's homes, helping those in need, and participating in educational programming.

The club also has a service mission, giving help to those in need and those who are sick. Club members raise funds for the Red Cross and Salvation Army, supply food for the Northern Riley County Food Pantry, and collect Toys for Tots at Christmas time.

The club continues to be a true social network. "The Silver Creek Beneficiary Club has always been about the friendships that have been formed over the years and the social opportunities brought to a small Kansas community," Melinda said. The club motto is "Let's Go."

"The club is all about sharing stories, learning together, sharing laughter and sorrow, helping each other, neighbors, families and friends and even strangers," Melinda said. "They work hard to gather resources, whether it is raising money to help someone who is sick or who has had a fire or been hit by a tornado, or sewing pillows or walker bags for those in elder care facilities. They provide educational opportunities by sharing, reading books together, having guest speakers, and in more modern times by going on excursions to learn more about homes, families, gardens, cooking, and many other areas."

The Silver Creek Beneficiary Club will have an open house at the Keats United Methodist Church on July 10, 2011 from 2 to 4 p.m. The public is invited to come and learn more about the club and its history through posters, a video, historical records, quilts and photos, and visiting with members.

Social networking. It is hugely popular today, in the form of Facebook, for example. But the Silver Creek Beneficiary Club reminds us that it is possible for people to make a difference with a local, face-to-face social network of their own. Through this club, social networking can be in the form of long lasting relationships – not through technology, but through neighbors helping neighbors, friends helping friends, shared laughter and social gatherings, generation after generation. That's rural Kansas: a social network where no technology is needed.

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

Ron & Rhonda LaRue – LaRue Machine

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

London, England. On display is a gorgeous, restored 1954 Corvette. Inside this Corvette are authorized replacement parts, manufactured halfway around the globe in rural Kansas. Rev up your engine, it's today's Kansas Profile.

Ron and Rhonda LaRue are owners of LaRue Machine in Chanute, Kansas. Their remarkable business produces parts for Corvettes and performs many other types of metal machining.

Ron and Rhonda have deep roots in rural southeast Kansas, where both grew up on farms. Rhonda went to Chanute High, Neosho County Community College and became a registered nurse. Ron got a vocational degree at Pittsburg State. Even before graduating, Ron bought his first lathe for his dad's shop on the farm.

He and Rhonda got married. Ron was employed at various jobs while working in his own shop on the weekends, when he was asked to produce some parts for restoring a Corvette. That became his business' first machine shop project. He is still producing parts for that company today.

When Ron and Rhonda had children, they wanted to be available for them, so they built a shop in which to operate their business next door to their house located between Chanute and Erie. LaRue Machine was a metal fabrication shop, doing repairs and subcontracting parts, toolwork, and machining with both CNC and manual equipment. The business grew with time, but then was hit by the recession.

Meanwhile, Ron had been in touch with Bernard Dick in Chanute. Bernard had been CEO of Churchill Machine before it was purchased and moved to Texas, at which point Bernard started and grew his own machine shop called Econo Machine. But Bernard was turning 65. He approached Ron LaRue about taking over the business.

"It was kind of a miracle," Ron said. "You don't buy a business in the middle of a recession." But they worked with Tom Byler and Kathryn Richard at the Small Business Development Center at Pittsburg State.

"I can't say enough good things about Tom and those people," Ron said. "Tom facilitated all these entities coming together." Eight months later, with help from the city of Chanute, Prosperity Foundation, Southeast Kansas RC & D, Start-Up Kansas, and local banks, the LaRues bought Econo Machine. Bernard Dick, the retiring CEO, is staying on as a salesman.

"Bernard has been a wonderful mentor," Ron said. "He has lots of experience and has been a great advisor." While Econo did large scale machining, LaRue Machine had smaller specialized equipment, so the two businesses complement each other well in production capabilities and target markets.

Today the company performs a mix of metal machining, stamping, custom and repair operations, including CNC lathe and mill work, tool and die making, and all types of welding. Ron is President of the company. Rhonda is Vice President, Secretary and Office Manager.

"Business has really opened up after the first of the year," Ron said. "We've already hired on more than was projected in our business plan."

"We're a large, diversified job shop," Ron said. "We're doing aluminum castings which opens up the refinery business and airlock valves for plastic manufacturing. We do repairs for the cement industry and parts for Cobalt Boats, for example." Meanwhile, the company still stamps parts for Corvette body mount kits for cars which are going worldwide.

That's remarkable for a family business based in rural Kansas. Ron and Rhonda's son Garrett is studying management information systems at K-State and helping with the business's computers, while daughter MaKayla is in high school at Erie and helps run the family cattle operation. They went to grade school in the nearby rural community of Galesburg, Kansas, population 149 people. Now, that's rural.

From these rural roots, this Kansas family is building a remarkable Kansas business.

It's time to leave London, where we found a beautiful 1954 Corvette which includes parts made all the way over in rural Kansas. We commend Ron and Rhonda LaRue, Bernard Dick, and all those involved with LaRue Machine for making a difference with entrepreneurship and hard work. Such entrepreneurship can help restore Corvettes, and it can help restore the economy of rural Kansas as well.

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

Rusty Rierson

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

How did you spend spring break? Some college students went to a sunny beach, a family trip, or just caught up on their sleep. Today we'll meet a student who spent his spring break going to Nashville – not just to listen to country music singers, but to identify a studio where he could sing himself. This is an up-and-coming country western singer with deep roots in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Rusty Rierson is a cowboy singer from rural Kansas. A native of El Dorado, he grew up on the family farm near Leon in Butler County.

"I was really shy growing up," Rusty said. "I wouldn't even sing in front of my mom and dad." But he did enjoy singing, and he started out singing along with the radio on the tractor while working in the field. "That's where I learned to harmonize," Rusty said.

At age 14, he started singing in church. At age 16, his dad got him a guitar and suggested they take guitar lessons together. "I suspect this was all Dad's strategy to get me started on the guitar, and sure enough it worked," Rusty said. He found he loved playing the guitar and singing.

Meanwhile, he went on to K-State and got a degree in Agricultural Economics. In spring 2011, he will complete a Masters in Animal Science. But at the same time, his music career has blossomed.

In 2005, he went to the Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmer and Rancher Talent Find and won the contest. He got to play at the state fair and has been invited back since. In 2007 Rusty won the "Colgate Country Showdown" at the state level and placed in the top 15 nationally. Now he is actively traveling and touring.

Rusty has played in Kansas, Missouri, Las Vegas, Texas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and California. He played in Mexico while on a church mission trip and in Central America while on a K-State study abroad program. Traveling with the Better Horses radio network, he has played rodeos, barrel races, and horse events all over the midwest, including at the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas in 2009.

Rusty has finished and produced 3 albums. There are now more than 20,000 copies of his albums in print. In 2009 Rusty released "Good Morning Glory," a patriotic single and tribute to veterans that also includes a song written for legendary bull rider Lane Frost.

Rusty's talents appeal to various types of markets. He is writing and performing songs for the modern country-music market, and he enjoys gospel and the old-time cowboy singing as well. "My mom and dad loved Don Williams, Conway Twitty and Merle Haggard, so we got to listen to the older style of music," Rusty said. "I know lots of songs that were popular 20 years before I was born," he said.

In spring 2011, Rusty spent spring break in Nashville – not just listening to shows, but touring studios. He was in the process of selecting a studio to produce his new album, and it happens that the producer he selected is Dolly Parton's cousin. More importantly, the producer generates high quality production and helps market the album once it is produced.

"It was awesome. I had never been exposed to that quality of professional musicians before," Rusty said. For more information on his upcoming album, his upcoming performance schedule and more, keep watching www.rustyrierson.com.

It's good to see a small town Kansas performer succeed. After all, Rusty grew up on the family farm which is 10 miles from the rural community of Leon, population 641 people. Now, that's rural. "I'm in touch with my roots," Rusty said.

How did you spend your spring break? Some students spent time on a sandy beach or family trip, and others just caught up on sleep. But for Rusty Rierson, spring break was an opportunity to tour studios in Nashville and meet songwriters and producers who are key for his music business in the future. We salute Rusty Rierson for making a difference by staying true to his country and western musical roots.

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

Shelley Davis – The Feedbunk

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

Let's go to a branding in the Flint Hills. The fire is hot and the branding irons are ready – but there are no cattle in sight. These brands are being burned into the walls of a new restaurant in a rural Kansas community. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Shelley and Charlie Davis and sons are owners of The Feedbunk, a new locally-owned restaurant in Yates Center. Shelley explains that her youngest son Lance had the dream of going to culinary school. While still a high schooler, Lance wanted to open a locally-owned restaurant in his hometown. When the city council ended up with a vacant grocery store building downtown, it turned out to be a great location for the restaurant.

The Davis family pitched in to help, and ultimately the restaurant opened on March 19, 2009. It is named The Feedbunk.

"We live in cattle country," Shelley explained. "All the animals go to the bunk to eat, so it seemed an appropriate name."

The restaurant's slogan is "Homestyle Cookin' like Grandma's." In fact, Shelley uses some of her grandmother's recipes in the cooking. "My son had the opportunity to be around my Grandma a lot," Shelley said. "She babysat for them and he was around her all the time."

The restaurant offers a full menu of sandwiches and dinners, plus breakfast. The "little kids and big kids menu" is for those under 12 and over 62. There are daily lunch specials, fried chicken and roast beef on Sunday, homemade Mexican food on Thursday nights, and steak night Friday and Saturday. Some of the entrees have names like the Farm Hand Breakfast, Harvest Crew, and Meat Galore Omelet, in addition to the meals on the lighter side.

"We want to provide a place for families to bring children," Shelley said. One corner of the restaurant is a play area called the Kids Corral where kids can play until their food arrives.

The restaurant offers affordable prices and hearty portions. One set of tables pushed together is called "the gossip table" or "the never-ending table." Local farmers and others will come there for breakfast and coffee before work, then return for lunch and again for coffee and conversation in the afternoon.

Friends of the Davises came up from Georgia to deer hunt, and they love the restaurant. "They inspired our Feedbunk caps in camo and blaze orange designs," Shelley said.

Shelley had worked for K-State Research and Extension but left that office to "devote 110 percent" to the restaurant. Son Lance took business classes at Allen County Community College and is now taking culinary courses at Washburn Tech with hopes of going to advanced culinary school. He returns on weekends to help.

The décor of the place is part of the fun. The walls are decorated with old barn wood. As a reflection of the local culture, ranchers were invited to burn their brands into the wood, and brands dot the walls in hundreds of places.

Then there are the license plates. "Lance was at a garage sale and he bought a bundle of 13 license tags," Shelley said. "When he put them up on the wall, lots of people got interested." Then people started volunteering to give them license tags to post.

Today, there are some 84 license tags of various types, styles, and vintages around the restaurant. These have come coast to coast – literally from Alaska to Florida – plus Washington DC and more. There are even tags from Newfoundland in Canada and the island of St. Maarten in the Caribbean. Wow.

That's impressive in a rural Kansas community. After all, Yates Center has a population of 1,586 people. Now, that's rural.

Let's go to a branding in the Flint Hills. No, there are no cattle in sight, but local folks were invited to burn their brand into the walls of this new restaurant. It's a fitting way to decorate a restaurant known as The Feedbunk in the heart of cow-calf country. We commend Shelley and Charlie Davis and sons Lance and Levi for making a difference with a locally-owned restaurant that is, well, almost brand new.

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

Skip Yowell - JanSport

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 had a mountaintop experience? Today we'll meet a man from rural Kansas who has had many mountaintop experiences. In the process, he's taken a company to the summit of American business. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Skip Yowell is a co-founder of JanSport, one of the nation's leading outdoor equipment and apparel manufacturers. Skip grew up in Grainfield, population 321 people. That's rural – but there's more.

While growing up, Skip spent several summers visiting his aunt, uncle and cousin Murray in Seattle. Skip loved the outdoors and went hiking with Murray in the mountains. Back in Kansas, Skip attended Wichita State.

One day Skip got a call from Murray, who explained that one of his class projects at the University of Washington was to make something unique out of aluminum. Based on his hiking experience, Murray designed an adjustable aluminum frame for backpacking – one that was lightweight and strong, and allowed for individual precision fitting.

The design won an award and Murray decided to market it, but he needed some help. First, he told his girlfriend, who was very skilled in sewing, "Jan, if you marry me, I'll name the company after you." She agreed, they were wed, and that was the beginning of the company known as JanSport.

What about marketing the JanSport backpacks? Murray called upon his old friend and cousin back in Kansas, Skip Yowell. Skip relocated to Seattle to help his cousin. This was the 1960s, and the three self-described "hippies" went to work.

They had no business plan or money, but they did have Murray's innovative design, Jan's sewing skills, and Skip's creative instincts and love of people. They started making packs in the upper floor of Uncle Norm's transmission shop. To save money, Skip slept there on a cot, and Aunt Mabel did the books.

On the weekends, they would go hiking in the mountains, for fun and to test their equipment. They refined their products and started selling packs to retailers of outdoor products.

One day Skip got a call from the bookstore buyer for the University of Washington. This bookstore sold the usual campus-related items, but also had a line of outdoor products including the JanSport backpacks. Since it rains a lot in Seattle, students were buying the backpacks to put their books in to keep them books dry – plus it made it easier to carry the books.

Skip and Murray improved their design and sent them to the bookstore, and the new backpacks sold like hot cakes. During the seventies the packs sold in college bookstores across the country. During the '80s they caught on at the high schools, and by the 1990s backpacks were used at the grade school level. Today, virtually every kid goes to school with a backpack.

JanSport continued to diversify and improve its product line, testing the companies' gear under extreme conditions. Skip and Murray went on a climb to the summit of Mount Rainier when a blizzard hit, but they survived. In the process, they learned a lot about themselves and overcoming adversity, as well as about how to improve their products. A similar trip to the Cascade Mountains demonstrated the need for a new and improved tent, and led to Skip's creation of a dome-shaped tent which would become the industry standard. Skip went on to visit such locations as Tibet, Kilimanjaro, and even Mount Everest.

Today, JanSport is the world's largest backpack maker and a global leader in outdoor apparel and equipment. Skip wrote a book about his experience titled "The Hippie Guide to Climbing the Corporate Ladder and Other Mountains." He retired in 2010. Skip and his wife Winnie bought a home back in Kansas, in the unincorporated community of St. Peter with an estimated population of 8 people. Now, that's rural.

Have you ever had a mountaintop experience? Skip Yowell has literally had lots of mountaintop experiences, in some of the highest and most demanding mountains in the world. That has helped him make a difference by creating the type of quality products which are dependable and reliable for anyone, and helped him take this business to the top.

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

Steve Radley – NetWork Kansas

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

E =mc2. That was the famous equation proposed by Albert Einstein. While the E in that equation stood for energy, today's society has other important E-words, such as entrepreneurs. In fact, we might say that E=Entrepreneurship. There is increasing appreciation of the importance of entrepreneurship in growing our economies and communities. Now, an organization named NetWork Kansas has created a system for supporting and enhancing entrepreneurship in communities across the state. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Steve Radley is director of the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship which operates under the name of NetWork Kansas. Steve is a native of Wichita who grew up in Oklahoma and has degrees from Wichita State and OU. He began his private sector career with a business startup technology company in Wichita, where he helped the founding entrepreneur grow the business from a $6 million company to more than $175 million. Steve co-owned two other businesses after that.

In 2004, the state legislature passed the Kansas Economic Growth Act which, among other things, created the Kansas Center for Entrepreneurship. Steve became the center's first Director in 2005. That organization, now known as NetWork Kansas, is intended to assist entrepreneurs in the state. It opened with a call center and website to provide prospective business startups with information and referrals to partnering organizations. This initiative began with 250 partnering organizations in March 2006. Now NetWork Kansas has some 470 partnering organizations.

In the summer of 2006, NetWork Kansas held 18 town hall meetings in 45 days around the state, seeking input on how to do more to assist entrepreneurs. One outcome of this process was that NetWork Kansas launched a Start-up Kansas fund to assist small business growth. This is a statewide matching loan fund for entrepreneurial projects submitted through partnering organizations.

Steve Radley said, "As I wrote the town hall meeting report, I visualized a community with three bridges: Expertise, Economics, and Education. Each bridge had those resources moving both ways." He said, "We need to truly empower these communities with assets and decisionmaking."

This led to the creation of what NetWork Kansas calls E-Communities. A NetWork Kansas E-Community is a partnership that allows a town, a cluster of towns, or an entire county to raise seed money for local entrepreneurs through donations from individuals or businesses within the community. These funds are raised using Kansas Entrepreneurship Tax Credit allocations and are then distributed in the form of matching loans and grants to new and expanding businesses through a competitive application process administered by a local leadership team.

Essentially, this enables a donor to the entrepreneurship fund to receive a credit on their state income tax. Then the funds are used to grow local businesses. NetWork Kansas selects five to eight new E-communities each year. This service is intended to reach out to the whole state, not only to the big cities.

Twenty-four E-communities have been selected so far in every region of the state, from Greeley County to Linn County. More than half are county wide. The list of individual towns selected includes small- to mid-size communities but does not include Kansas City, Topeka, or Wichita. In fact, it includes rural places such as Bird City, population 472, and Alden, population 165 people. Now, that's rural.

Altogether, more than $4.5 million dollars has been raised to provide matching loans and grants to local businesses. Based on current loans and grants funded, it is estimated that these funds will help generate more than $35 million of investment in rural businesses across Kansas.

Steve Radley said, "Our goal is to help communities grow their own money and make their own decisions." For more information, go to networkkansas.com.

E=mc2. That was Albert Einstein's famous equation. But in this case, E equals Entrepreneurship. We commend Steve Radley and all those involved with NetWork Kansas and the E-communities for making a difference by targeting and supporting entrepreneurs. If E equals Entrepreneurship and "mc" stands for My Community, that makes for a powerful equation to benefit rural Kansas.

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

Sue Krehbiel - Artist

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

Where does an artist find his or her inspiration? For some, it may be a vast mountain view or a scenic ocean. Today we'll meet a rural Kansas artist who finds her inspiration close to home, in her farm and family – in fact, in her own backyard. This is a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.

Sue Krehbiel is a sculptor and graphite artist who sculpts and sketches items of a western flavor. She loves her kids and horses, and enjoys depicting them in her art.

Sue is originally from Ohio where her family had horses and she was active in 4-H as a youth. Sue's mother was quite creative and Sue took lots of art classes during high school.

In 1983, Sue's brother came west to work in the wheat harvest. He joined a custom harvest crew based at Inman, Kansas. That summer his girlfriend and his sister Sue came out to visit.

"They eventually married and moved back to Ohio," Sue said. "I married and I'm not moving." Sue met Kevin Krehbiel while visiting Kansas, and they tied the knot and settled near Inman. "There are a lot of Krehbhiels around Inman," Sue said with a smile. "My husband had to go clear to Ohio to find someone he wasn't related to."

In addition to her husband, Sue fell in love with the western lifestyle. Her father-in-law, Kevin's dad, was an active horseman who had several teams of horses and had trained mules for the Army.

Kevin and Sue settled in to rural life near Inman, a community with a population of 1,139 people. Now, that's rural.

Sue painted as a way to utilize her creative side, and then they started a family. Their two daughters, Sarah, age 16, and Katie, age 11, are active in 4-H. Kevin is an auctioneer and real estate broker with Triple K Auctioneering. He also sells Loomix cattle supplement. The Krehbiels have lots of animals: Horses, mules, cattle, pigs, and goats.

Sue's kids and the western lifestyle provided ample sources of inspiration for Sue's creativity. She turned to sculpting and pencil sketches as a way to capture and depict the scenes which she observed.

As Sue's artistic career developed, she took art classes at Hutchinson Community College. She also studied under noted sculptor Mehl Lawson and pencil artist Carrie Ballantyne.

Today, Sue has a studio in a building in her backyard. She depicts the things she loves: Kids, horses, and the western lifestyle. She exhibits at the Prairie Fire Gallery in Buhler and does various art shows in the region.

Meanwhile, she and Kevin continue the family tradition of horses. They have a team of Belgian draft horses which they use for wagon rides. If you attend the Symphony in the Flint Hills, you just might have a wagon ride provided with horsepower – and I mean that literally – from Kevin and Sue Krehbiel's team of horses.

"We've always done our church hay rack rides," Sue said. "We bring them in for the church nativity scene and we used to plow with them."

A mule team provided the material for her original print Rose and Jess. Some of her other original pencil drawings are Birds Eye View, Buck, Shur'nuf a Cowboy, and Amish Boys. She has also created some striking Indian masks. These are of fired clay and acrylic paint, decorated with turkey and pheasant feathers and horsehair braids.

In addition, Sue makes jewelry. "My dad's a rockhound," Sue said. He goes to Arizona for the winters and gathers stones which he shapes and polishes for Sue to use in necklaces.

When asked her favorite work of art out of all those she has created, she replied, "Usually it's the last thing I've done. I try to get a little better each time." Her favorite subjects are children in a western setting, and she has to look no further than her own family. For more information, go to www.suekrehbiel.com.

Where does an artist find his or her inspiration? For Sue Krehbiel, it is found in the western family lifestyle which she lives, loves, and enjoys every day.

Wishing you happy holidays, for the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

Terri Reece – Round Barn Ranch

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

"Raise the roof." That sounds like something done by loud fans at a sports arena, or maybe by your teenage son's rock band. Today, in our continuing series about Kansas barns, we'll learn about a historic round barn in central Kansas which literally needed to have its roof raised. Its owners have successfully managed to raise the roof, and now they are opening the barn to the public. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Terri and Jon Reece are owners of the Round Barn Ranch in Derby, Kansas. It features a round barn constructed by the eminent barn-builder Benton Steele back in 1910 -- the oldest remaining Benton Steele barn in Kansas.

The barn is called the Foley-Reece barn, after the original and current owners, respectively. The Foley family had it built for use as a dairy barn. It is a striking, two-story circular structure surmounted by a big dome. In 1945, another owner added two long, gable-roofed wings to the north and south. From the air, the round barn with its two long wings looks like a large red propeller. Local pilots even used the barn as a navigational landmark.

In 1960 Dr. Richard and Imogene Fleming bought the barn. The milk room in the south wing was converted into a clinic for Dr. Fleming's medical practice – for years, the only medical facility in the area.

The rest of the south wing was converted into an antique shop and the north wing was turned into a meeting facility. The Round Barn itself was used for parties, dances and other large events. Later, the south wing and the clinic were converted to residential housing. Mrs. Fleming lived on the place for years after her husband passed away.

Meanwhile, Terri moved from California to Kansas where her family had roots. Terri's mother came from the rural community of Madison, Kansas, population 862 people. Now, that's rural. Terri met and married Jon, who is an Oklahoma/Kansas boy.

The Reeces settled in Haysville, where Terri became a real estate agent and Jon a restaurant manager. "My husband wanted to do a B&B ranch kind of thing when he retired, so I was looking for a place to do that," Terri said. "I was on my way to another property when I drove by the round barn. I said to myself, "If I was ever to get a historic property, that would be the one I'd want. So on a wild hair, I just went door-knocking."

Mrs. Fleming answered the door. "She was the sweetest old lady," Terri said. "She didn't know me from Adam, but she invited me in and we talked for hours." However, Mrs. Fleming was not prepared to sell the round barn.

Terri stayed in touch, and by 2008 Mrs. Fleming was ready to sell and the Reeces bought it. What they found was scary: The barn had suffered neglect and was at major risk.

"We brought a structural engineer in here when we first bought it," Terri said. "He said, if we get a lot of ice and snow, that roof might not last the winter." It was starting to cave in, and one side was four feet lower than the other.

It was time to raise the roof. The Reeces brought in a crew and equipment, stabilized the roof, and then embarked on a renovation. The roof renovation was completed in fall 2010. Other interior work is underway.

In October 2011, the Round Barn Ranch is opening to the public. "I love old buildings with architectural uniqueness," Terri said. "Our goal is to preserve this magnificent structure for generations to come, while at the same time, opening the property as a unique venue for group functions and special events. We've already hosted some weddings and private parties." For more information, go to roundbarn.webs.com.

"Raise the roof." No, not a rock band or sports arena, this refers to the work that was done to stabilize the dome on this historic round barn. We commend Terri and Jon Reece for making a difference by preserving this heritage so that the round barn roof is once again standing tall.

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

Tom Bowman – Tom's Taxidermy

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

Kodiak Island, Alaska. An eight-foot tall grizzly bear has been claimed by a hunter. The hunter is so proud of his trophy that he is going to have it mounted in its original life-size form by a master taxidermist. And where is this master taxidermist found? Halfway across the continent in rural Kansas. This is today's Kansas Profile.

Tom Bowman is the master taxidermist who handled this grizzly bear and a remarkable array of animals from around the world. But he started small.

"When I was a high school kid, I had some small animals that I wanted to get mounted," Tom said. But since he didn't know of a taxidermist in his area and didn't have extra money to pay for one anyway, Tom set out to learn how to do taxidermy himself.

"I was self-taught, and that's a slow way to learn," he said with a smile. "I gathered all the books and articles I could and went to practicing. I started with pigeons and squirrels." The first-hand learning paid off, and he perfected his craft. "I probably took five years working on animals before I ever did something professionally."

Meanwhile, Tom graduated from K-State in wildlife biology and went to work for what is now the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism. On his own time, he would hunt, fish, and do taxidermy. The business began in 1977. It became known as Tom's Taxidermy. Tom took early retirement in 2005 and now does taxidermy full-time. He has been joined in the business by his son Clint Bowman and friend Gary Penn.

Tom and his wife moved to Wakefield while he was working for Wildlife and Parks. Adjacent to his home is his shop which includes the largest showroom of any taxidermy business in the state.

Tom prefers working on big lifesize mounts, while Clint does game heads and small mammals. Gary does most birds and all fish.

In 1982, Tom helped found a new organization, the Kansas Association of Taxidermists. That association offers various educational seminars, which Tom greatly appreciates because there was so little information available when he got started.

The association also presents awards in various classes of competition, from novice, amateur, professional and masters level. "Some of the foremost authorities in animal anatomy do the judging," Tom said. "The masters level is extremely technical. (The judges) are literally looking for things like the wrinkle in the eyelash."

Tom is himself a master taxidermist, and is involved at the teaching level now. His son and business partner Clint is also a master taxidermist. Among Tom's major awards are Best Gamehead, Best Lifesize Mammal, Best All-around Taxidermist, Best of Category, People's Choice, Safari Club, and the McKenzie Distinguished Taxidermist award.

The company website is www.tombotaxidermy.com. Here one will find photo galleries of their animal projects from North America, Africa, and other exotic locations. Beside grizzly bears, Tom has worked on such projects as African lions, deer, elk, mountain goats, and a one-ton buffalo.

One restoration project involved a stuffed tiger which had been donated to the College of the Ozarks museum. Tom restored the tiger, which was the third-largest tiger ever taken. The tiger specimen is especially rare since tigers have been declared an endangered species and have not been hunted for more than 40 years.

Almost all of Tom's business is from word of mouth and existing customers. Many are people who came to Kansas on a deer or pheasant hunt and then learned about Tom at the time. He ships the finished mounts to their homes.

Today, Tom's customers are literally from coast-to-coast, from Washington State to New Hampshire to Florida. Not bad for a business located in Wakefield, Kansas, population 841 people. Now, that's rural.

It's time to leave Kodiak Island, Alaska, where a hunter has claimed an eight foot tall grizzly and is having it shipped to Tom Bowman in Wakefield, Kansas. We commend Tom and Clint Bowman and Gary Penn for making a difference by practicing the art of taxidermy at such a high level. Such a business can help preserve rural Kansas and help bring it to life.

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

Traci Savolt – Bob Huber Produce

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

"Home-grown." That's a description of our favorite products from the garden. It also describes a produce business which serves southwest Kansas and which developed, quite literally, from the ground up. This remarkable family is still building on the family tradition of produce-growing and customer service. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Traci Savolt, her sister Kelley Bickett and their husbands, with help from sisters Rhonda and Heidi, are owners and operators of Bob Huber Produce in Garden City, Kansas. The Huber family came from southwest Kansas where Bob's parents raised and sold produce. Bob Huber Produce dates back to 1979. Bob got fresh produce from Colorado and sold it locally. Then he bought a farm near Holcomb and started growing his own.

Bob and his wife had four daughters and a son, and the children worked alongside them in raising and selling produce. "One of my favorite memories was pulling a wagon around the neighborhood, selling homegrown tomatoes in paper sacks," said Bob Huber's daughter Traci. The kids were close to their parents and worked happily together on the farm.

As the kids grew, so did their responsibilities. "Dad taught me how to drive a tractor, haul, and sell," Traci said. "He always said that he would put up any of his daughters against any of the guys."

The Hubers raised a wide variety of products on their 100 acres near the rural community of Holcomb, population 1,883 people. Now, that's rural.

In 1993, the Hubers built an open air building in Garden City to serve as a roadside stand for their produce. In 1998, they built an enclosed building to do the same across town and eventually consolidated into a single market there. The girls moved into the business full-time. Traci married Tim Savolt and Kelley married Gary Bickett. Now their kids help too.

As Bob got older, Traci and Kelley took on more responsibility for the business. When Traci expressed to her father how much they needed him, he replied, "You're doing it now. The people love you. You've done this all your life. Keep it up," and she promised that she would. Mrs. Huber passed away in 2008. Bob passed away a year later.

The girls were true to their word and kept the business going. In fact, they added a "to go" food service counter at the market, expecting that customers would buy produce and prepared foods to take with them. Instead, the customers asked to sit and enjoy their meal right there. The sisters put in a table, but people wanted more. Now, Bob Huber Produce and Country Café includes ten booths for customer seating, with a menu of sandwiches, salads, and sides desserts like Grandma's carrot cake. They've hosted up to 100 people in the building for special events. During fall pumpkin season, some 2,500 kids will visit the store. Wow.

Bob Huber Produce offers locally grown cantaloupe, watermelon, honeydews, tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, honey, pumpkins, beans, sweet corn, and more. Most of these products are raised on their family farm, supplemented with products from other growers.

The sisters have upheld their father's traditions of quality and service. "I have to be sure it's right before I sell it," Traci said. "We'll taste test it. If it isn't good, we won't sell it. And we love our customers, they're like family," she added.

Linda Beech, K-State Research and Extension agent in Finney County, has seen the business grow first-hand. "The sisters were a delight as they prepared and served our great food," Linda said. "This is a family that very obviously loves working together and they continue to honor their parents' traditions of hard work and good service in a family business that truly is a labor of love."

Home-grown. That's a term which not only describes the locally grown produce sold by the Huber family, it describes this business itself. We commend Traci and Tim Savolt, Kelley and Gary Bickett, and all the family for making a difference by continuing the tradition of truck farming and service. In operating and expanding this business, they are sticking close to their roots.

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