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Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development

2002 Profiles

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

How's your memory? Mine's slipping, a little bit. But I have happy memories of visiting family and friends in lovely homes with nice antiques. I think of old homes which friends of ours have restored. These are happy memories also. Today we'll meet a company which specializes in high quality antiques, interiors, and restoration work - from rural Kansas. Fittingly, the name of the company is Memories Restored. Stay tuned for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Vicki Dipman. Vicki is the founder of Memories Restored. She has been joined in the business by her daughter and son-in-law, Sandi and Jeff Bates.

Vicki started learning very young about the skills to do this enterprise. She says, "My mother started painting and papering in homes when I was seven months old. Many times I went with mom in a baby buggy."

Maybe that early exposure paid off. Vicki grew up, married a farmer near Larned, and had children of her own. She was doing some interior decorating work when the farm crisis hit in the 1980s. During those tough times, farmers were having to sell land which had been part of their family's farms. Vicki told her husband, "If there's anything in me, we'll never lose any of this ground." She says, "That night, it came to me that this is what I should do."

Her idea was to add to the family income by opening an interior decorator, home restoration, and antique shop with antique restoration, right there on the farmstead.

Vicki says, "My husband was against it and the banker was against it, but they couldn't stop me cause I had the money saved." So she had some Mennonite workmen build a building to house this new enterprise.

The building itself is built to look a little bit like a barn, but when you enter the store you are overwhelmed by the beautiful decor and striking antiques. The shop offers a selection of decorating and remodeling products as well as an array of antiques, bronze sculptures, victorian and custom designed lamps and shades, home accessories, and gifts for anyone's taste.

Memories Restored is truly a family operation. As mentioned previously, Vicki's daughter Sandi is now part of the business. Sandi grew up there on the place and went to K-State where she met and married Jeff Bates.

Sandi and Jeff went to Dallas after graduation but eventually found their way back to their home in Kansas. Sandi is the business manager for Memories Restored as well as for her dad's farming operation. She also works closely with their customers in the design and selection phase of their projects. Jeff handles most of the installation and remodeling aspects of the business. Vicki says with a smile, "He does the heavy lifting."

And you can see there would be a lot of it. Sandi says, "We don't just design and pick things out, we also do the work. Everything we sell, we install ourselves. And we are very particular and demanding of our work. We've worked hard to get the reputation that we have among our customers."

That customer base has really expanded over time. They have done work as far away as Illinois and Texas, but more of their work is in and around Kansas. Not only do they do home restoration and residential remodeling, they have done commercial work in hospitals at Great Bend, Larned, and Ellsworth.

One of the banker's concerns when this business got started is that it couldn't work being located out in the country. The shop is there on the farmstead, on Route 3, a few miles from the Fort Larned National Historic Site, near the town of Larned, population 4,317 people. Now, that's rural.

Yet this shop has become a fun trip for people who want to visit, and Vicki, Jeff, and Sandi will often travel to meet with customers at their own location. In the guest book of visitors who have come to the shop, you would find people's names from as far away as Florida, California, and even Stockholm, Sweden. Wow.

Vicki says, "When friends and family come to visit people in our area, often they will come here."

For more information, you can contact Memories Restored at 620-285-3478 or www.memoriesrestored.com.

How's your memory? However it is, you can restore happy memories with the restoration work, remodeling, and antiques that are available through this innovative rural business. We salute Vicki Dipman and her husband and Sandi and Jeff Bates for making a difference with their creativity and innovation. It's a story to remember.

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

Blattner Manufacturing

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 feedyard in southwest Kansas, where it's time to feed the cattle. But there is one problem: The feed truck is broken down, and there's no way to dump the feed out for all those steers. And there are 4,000 hungry steers waiting to be fed. Wow, that's even more hungry mouths than we have at our house.

So at the feedyard, when the feedtruck breaks down, who you gonna call? Not Ghostbusters. It just might be Blattner Manufacturing, a welding, repair and construction business in a truly rural setting. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Stan Blattner. Stan is President of Blattner Manufacturing, which is a truly family business in a rural place.

This business goes way back. According to a local history book, Jacob Blattner was a skilled iron worker in Germany who migrated to Kansas in the 1800s. He set up a blacksmith shop in Jetmore and taught the trade to his boys. When they got older, two of his sons, Charles and Louis, moved slightly east to Rozel and set up a shop of their own in 1906. Charles and Louis would be grandfather and uncle of the generation which is managing the business now.

Charles' son Eugene came into the business when he got old enough, and later on the next generation did also. Eugene is now retired at age 77, but Stan says, "He's here every day anyway, because it's just fun for him."

Eugene and Evelyn Blattner had three sons: Stan, who is now president of the company; Steve, who is vice president and chief engineer; and Stuart who is now in St. Joseph, Missouri. Stan and his wife are alums of Fort Hays State University. Steve and Stuart went to K-State. Steve has a degree in Civil Engineering and was an Air Force pilot before coming back into the business.

So what is Blattner Manufacturing today? Stan explains, "There are three main facets of the business. One is we are a welding shop and do ag repairs. The second is construction work in feedlots, such as building fencing for corrals and sick pens and doing concrete work. The third is construction of ag buildings and small commercial buildings."

While the business has diversified, it is still a family affair. Stan Blattner says, "When I was 10 years old, I would come down here after school and help out Dad. I would help clean up the shop or put bolts in drawers. I was a phenomenal broom sweeper." He adds with a smile, "Guess what. I still do that."

I really like the relaxed atmosphere and family approach of this business in a rural setting. Stan says, "We are family oriented here. If somebody has a ballgame or boy scouts, we have flexibility to do that. We've been blessed to employ good people. Our people have a good work ethic, and they like it cause they're not doing the same thing everyday."

He says, "Everybody that's a welder for us has trained here." Their employees commute to Rozel from nearby towns such as Burdett, population 250, and Hanston, population 294.

Blattner's territory is primarily within a 75 mile radius of Rozel. Rozel is located in Pawnee County west of Larned, between Great Bend and Dodge City. Rozel itself is a town of 180 people. Now, that's rural.

What is the secret to maintaining and diversifying a family business like this for nearly a century? Stan Blattner says, "The Good Lord has blessed us through the good times and the hard times." He says, "We work hard, and we've been blessed.

He says, "Service is important to us. If we have a customer with a breakdown" - such as the feedtruck I mentioned at the beginning - "We hustle to get them going again."

He says, "Most of our business comes through word of mouth. Our work is what advertises our business. And we really appreciate the people who use us."

Let's go to a feedyard in southwest Kansas, where it's time to feed the cattle. There's a big problem: The feed truck is broken down, and there's no way to feed all those hungry steers. Who you gonna call? For many of those customers, they call Blattner Manufacturing, knowing that they will get prompt and reliable service. We commend Stan and Steve Blattner and all the people of Blattner Manufacturing, for making a difference by sustaining a multi-generation business in a truly rural setting. And now, I have to go feed some hungry calves of my own.

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

Ag Hall of Fame

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

Let's go to the National Hall of Fame. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? It makes me think of legends of sports, such as at Cooperstown or Canton. But this national hall of fame isn't about sports games, it's about a fundamental industry of our nation: Agriculture. Yet how many Kansans know that a national hall of fame is located right here in Kansas? Stay tuned for a Hall of Fame edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Tim Nimz and Cathy Hahner. Tim is director and Cathy is assistant director for education and programming at The National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Perhaps you've seen the sign for the ag hall near Interstate 70 outside of Kansas City. Let's stop in for a visit.

First, some background. As Tim Nimz says, "Agriculture touches the lives of every living person." From the food we eat to the values which shaped our country, agriculture has been at the heart of it. Yet modern society does not seem to fully appreciate the contributions of agriculture.

In the 1950s, agribusiness leaders in Kansas City and around the country envisioned a national center which could preserve and promote the history of agriculture. That center became a reality on paper when it was issued a federal charter by an act of the 86th Congress and signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower on August 31, 1960. Although the museum was created by federal action, it receives no appropriation from local, state, or federal government.

Of course, the next question was where to put the ag center? After a nationwide search involving 29 applicant cities, the site was selected in western Wyandotte County, Kansas near Bonner Springs. Today it consists of 172 rural acres and several buildings.

The first building includes such things as the gallery of rural art, the national rural electric conference theater, and the hall of fame itself. There are displays about each of the 35 inductees to the Ag Hall of Fame, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Eli Whitney, Abraham Lincoln, Cyrus McCormick, George Washington Carver, Arthur Capper, John Deere, Norman Borlaug, Squanto the Indian and more.

The largest building is the Museum of Farming, which contains many of the center's 30,000 artifacts. Here you find antique farm machinery and tools used in agriculture since the early 1800s. The very first artifact donated to the center was the boyhood plow of President Harry S Truman.

On the grounds of the museum are nature trails, a 3 acre pond, 30 acres of cropland, plenty of parking, and a recreated turn-of-the-century village known as Farm Town USA. Here are replicas of a blacksmith shop, grocery store, and poultry hatchery, plus a 100 year old railroad depot and an operating narrow gauge railroad, great for kids.

Nearby is a replica farmhouse and shed, plus a one-room schoolhouse where the center does living history with hands-on activities for school-age visitors. Out front is the National Farmer's Memorial, featuring three massive bronze relief panels honoring farmers of the past, present and future. A national agricultural communications center is also on the grounds, where the nationally syndicated AgriTalk radio program is produced.

The center plays host to special events, such as the International Lineman's Rodeo, Farm Heritage Days, Kansas City Americana Weekend, and more. The new NASCAR track is just a few miles away, as is the new commercial complex that is being built. Since 1997, attendance at the center has increased by 75 percent. To date, nearly 2 million visitors have come to the ag hall of fame from around the world. Wow.

The center director himself has rural roots. Tim Nimz is originally from Healy, Kansas, with a population of about 250 people. Now, that's rural.

The center celebrates and informs people about the rural way of life. There are five support staff, 12 tour guides and historical interpreters and 164 trained volunteers who assist with various aspects of operations.

Not only is all this educational, it is great for families. My kids love to ride the train, and their grandparents can tell about all that antique equipment.

The center is open daily, mid-March through November. For more information, go to www.aghalloffame.com.

It's time to say goodbye to this national hall of fame – not about ballplayers, but about the farmers who are the backbone of our nation. We salute Tim Nimz, Cathy Hahner, the Board and all the volunteers of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame for making a difference by honoring this vital part of our heritage.

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

Ian Bautista - Hispanic culture in Kansas

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

Hola. Habla Espanol? No, this isn't the Spanish-speaking station, this is a special edition of Kansas Profile to celebrate the Hispanic culture in Kansas. The growth of the Hispanic population of Kansas is one of the striking trends demonstrated in the 2000 Census – in both urban and rural Kansas. Stay tuned for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Ian Bautista, Deputy Director of El Centro, Inc. in Kansas City, Kansas. El Centro is a not-for-profit social enterprise. It is both a social service agency and a community development agency, which makes it unique. El Centro's primary service area is Wyandotte County and Johnson County, Kansas. Now, that's urban. El Centro serves approximately 15,000 families annually, most of them Hispanic.

Ian himself comes from a Latino family. He grew up in Kansas City and went to K-State where he received degrees in Political Science and Spanish with a secondary major in Latin American studies. He went on to receive a masters degree in Regional and Community Planning from K-State. I remember Ian as a student leader here. Now he is in a three-year succession plan to become director of El Centro.

Recently I heard Ian on a program where he was describing the growth of the Hispanic population in the Kansas City metro area. During the last decade, Hispanics in Kansas City, Kansas increased by 130 percent. The growth of Hispanics in Johnson County was even higher, at 150 percent. Wow.

This was interesting to me, because it parallels the findings of recent research we did on demographics in rural Kansas.

For example, from 1990 to 2000, there were ten counties in which the Hispanic population increased by more than 100 percent. That includes the urban counties of Johnson, Wyandotte, and Sedgwick. But it also includes counties in rural central and southwest Kansas.

Here is a list of other counties and their county seats along with the percentage of growth in their Hispanic population in just the past decade: Finney County, Garden City, had 110 percent increase; Stevens County, where Hugoton is, had 115 percent; Seward County, where Liberal is, increased 159 percent; Saline County, Salina, had 164 percent; Lyon County, Emporia, had 184 percent increase; Barton County, Great Bend, had 187 percent; and Ford County, where Dodge City is located, had nearly a 200 percent increase in the Hispanic population. Wow.

And that only includes counties that had an increase of a thousand or more in their Hispanic populations. There were other counties with even higher percentage increases, but they had such a small base to begin with that the percentages could be misleading.

The point is that the Hispanic population is growing rapidly in certain areas of our state, and is a very important part of our overall population. In Stevens County, for example, the Hispanics represent more than a fifth of the total population. Hispanics are 43 percent of Finney County, 42 percent of Seward County, 38 percent of Ford County, and 35 percent of Grant County.

When approximately a quarter of their population is Hispanic in Haskell and Kearny Counties, that has an impact on their county seats - towns like Lakin, population 2,172; and Sublette, population 1,416 people. Now, that's rural.

Of course, there is a reason that Hispanics are moving to these areas: Economic opportunity. In southwest Kansas, much of the labor force is provided from the Hispanic community.

In addition, the Hispanic culture provides great richness to the fabric of our society. Ian Bautista notes several ways in which our state benefits. First, he says new Hispanic arrivals to the US are largely interested in starting their own business, which adds to our entrepreneurial spirit and provides economic stimulus. Second, many Hispanic voters are being courted by both political parties.

Third, Ian says, "Given the migratory nature of Hispanic job seekers coming to Kansas,

it is a testament to Kansas' high quality of life that these otherwise migrant families or single workers would choose to stay and raise their families in the State." We need to do more to welcome them, in language training, cultural training for public servants, and appropriate social service networks in their communities.

Ian says, "We need to understand people individually."

Habla Espanol? I wish that more of us did. Becoming bilingual in Spanish is one way of bridging the cultural gaps which exist in our society. We commend Ian Bautista and the many leaders of the Hispanic community who are making a difference by the value and diversity which they bring to our state.

With an adios from the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, this is Ron Wilson with Kansas Profile.

Rick Williams

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

Last Christmas while at the relatives, I saw a really neat birdhouse in a catalog for a company in California called Wind and Weather. They sell weather instruments and home and garden ornaments. One of the products they listed was a cute birdhouse in the shape of little white church, complete with steeple. It was an eye-catching product. The catalog description said, these are handcrafted in Kansas, the heartland of America. It turns out to be from a birdhouse business that is beyond belief. Yes, it's tempting to say this story is for the birds. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Rick Williams of Pittsburg, Kansas. Rick is the craftsman who produces these birdhouses and many more.

Rick grew up in Sharon, Oklahoma. He was in the car business in Oklahoma City for some 10 years, when tragedy struck his family. His wife died of a brain aneurysm at age 42. That is incredibly sad.

But life goes on. Rick eventually got in touch with his high school sweetheart, who was living in Pittsburg, Kansas. Sure enough, the two reconnected and were married. I love a happy ending.

And what about birdhouses? Rick says, "My uncle was a carpenter, and he taught me a lot of things growing up. I tinkered with things like this for years. As I traveled in the car business, I would visit gift shops and sports stores and get ideas, and come home to see if I could make something even better."

In 1997, he went into business for himself, producing theme birdhouses. Theme birdhouses are those that are not just a plain structure to house birds, but have some special feature or design incorporated into it also.

The church birdhouse is an example, but even more popular are those birdhouses that use a bent license tag with school logos for a roof. With one of those, you can provide your birds a home complete with Powercat or Jayhawk on it. Depending on your school loyalties, that can make bird-watching especially enjoyable. It might be a present for the fan who has everything.

Rick Williams produces two main types of birdhouses; those using weathered barn wood and those in what he calls shabby chic – that's chic, spelled c-h-i-c. These utilize a dark stained wood covered with white paint that is partially rubbed off to render an interesting look. He adds features like roofs made of old ornate tin ceiling tiles and cast iron spears.

These products have proven extraordinarily popular. Within three years, Rick's sales exceeded a million dollars. Wow. He has literally shipped birdhouses coast to coast, possibly to every state.

Rick may be a bird's best friend. Even the Audobon Society doesn't do that. Seriously, the point is that Rick has utilized his skills and craftsmanship into a remarkable business that is responding to markets nationwide. Besides the shop in Pittsburg, Rick contracts with a facility in Missouri where handicapped people sand wood and help assemble his products.

Rick's products are available in Hallmark stores, other gift shops, and some grocery stores across the state. Rick also produces customized birdhouses as fund-raisers for local schools. In other words, your school could have its logo put on birdhouses and sell them to supporters and alumni.

One interesting example of that was found in McCune, Kansas, a small town just west of Pittsburg. McCune no longer has a high school, but it does have an alumni association. The McCune Alumni Association got birdhouses with their old school name and sold more than 400 of them. And McCune is a town of 492 people. Now, that's rural.

It's exciting to see a business like this that can both benefit rural Kansas and serve markets across the nation. To contact the Rick Williams company, call toll-free at 1-888-266-1714. That's 1-888-266-1714. Or go to www.wrensport.com. That's www.w-r-e-n-s-p-o-r-t.com.

Last Christmas, I saw a really neat birdhouse in a catalog from a company in California. Little did I realize that these birdhouses came from this company in Pittsburg, Kansas, that is making some 25,000 birdhouses a year. Wow. They are shipping birdhouses coast to coast – yet I wouldn't even have known about it if not for finding this in a catalog from California. How often we don't realize, or take for granted, the remarkable things we have right here in Kansas. We salute Rick Williams and the people of his company for making a difference with creativity and initiative. It's helping rural Kansas to build a nest egg.

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

Women's basketball

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

It's like a tale of the old west. Three young sharpshooters come riding in to help the town. They are great shooters, and as they have success, they become heroes far and wide.

But today's story isn't about the old west, it's set in modern times. These heroes aren't shooting bullets, they're shooting basketballs. And what's more, they're three of the nicest girls you'll find. No, this isn't an old western, it's a modern miracle in Manhattan: Three small-town Kansas girls making their mark in Big 12 basketball. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Nicole Ohlde, Kendra Wecker, and Laurie Koehn. These three girls are writing a new chapter in the history of women's basketball in Kansas. All three are starting for the K-State's women's basketball team. Another Kansas team-mate is senior Kristin Rethman, who we profiled a year ago. Let's meet these remarkable new talents.

Nicole Ohlde is from near Manhattan at Clay Center, where her mother is in school food service and her father works construction. At 6-4, she was a remarkable player even in high school. But how would she adjust to college?

The answer was phenomenal. Nicole was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year, after a season in which she averaged more than 17 points and eight rebounds a game. She led K-State in scoring 17 times and in rebounding 20 times. Until Laurie played, Nicole was only the second Wildcat in school history to have two 30-plus point games in a single season – and this was her freshman year! Wow. But the Wildcats struggled through a rugged Big 12 conference schedule, and thoughts turned to next season. What a season that would be.

Nicole was joined by outstanding newcomers, including Kendra Wecker. Kendra is from Marysville, where her mother is a cosmetologist and her father manages the NCRA pipeline station nearby. Kendra first gained national attention when, at age 12, she beat all the boys to win the state's punt, pass and kick competition. She went on to win regionals and place second in the nation. We knew she was an athlete, and what a basketball player she would turn out to be. As of mid-season, she is leading K-State in rebounding and is third in scoring -- as a true freshman. Wow.

The third player in this young Kansas trio is Laurie Koehn from Hesston. Her mother is a nurse and her dad is a PE teacher and also coaches at Moundridge High, where Laurie went to school. She was a two-time Kansas Player of the Year in high school, and expectations were high when she came to K-State. But the injury bug bit: Laurie injured her foot and was unable to play at all. So she took a redshirt season, which set the stage for 2001: She scored 27 points her first game out and is the Cats' leading scorer. In fact, she leads the entire nation in three-point shooting. Wow.

Even with all these individual achievements, when I asked these three about the highlight of their careers, their answers had to do with team success. They were excited about winning their Big 12 games, beating three ranked teams in a row, and playing before sell-out crowds in Manhattan.

Now let's be frank. Athletics are so competitive today that coaches have to go all over for players, and we care less about where they come from and more about whether they can produce. But for fans in Kansas, it has to be extra-special that some of the best talent in the nation can be found in small-town Kansas.

After all, Nicole comes from Clay Center, population 4,692; Kendra is from Marysville, population 3,128; and Laurie played at Moundridge, population 1,541 people. Now, that's rural.

Can small-town players succeed? These young women say yes. Laurie says, "There is so much pride in a small community." Kendra says, "The support you get from your community is just great."

And what would they advise an athlete in a little town? Nicole says, "Look at what you can do, not what people say you can't." Laurie says, "Work hard." And Kendra says, "Dream big."

It's like a tale of the old west: Three young sharpshooters become heroes. But these are modern heroes who are doing their shooting on the basketball court, and making K-State basketball history in the process. We salute Nicole Ohlde, Kendra Wecker, Laurie Koehn and all the athletes of rural Kansas for making a difference by building pride for communities across the state. With that, I'll ride off into the sunset.

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

Formation Plastics

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

From the basement to the big-time. That's our theme today.

Let's go to Denmark, where a worker is lifting a load with a heavy duty winch that has a plastic cover. Where did that cover come from? If you didn't guess Quinter, Kansas, then stay tuned for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Penny Huffman of Formation Plastics, the company which produced this plastic winch cover and other products. Here is the story.

Galen and Karen Huffman are the owners of Formation Plastics. 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 drafting teacher and coach. Those mechanical design skills would serve him well. He taught at Oakley and Quinter, and then went into the business world.

In 1989, Galen Huffman built a thermoforming machine in his nephew's shop. 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.

Galen says, "We had the single station thermoforming machine running in the garage. The pattern shop and office were in our basement and we rented storage." That was the beginning of Formation Plastics.

In 1992, the company expanded into an industrial building in Quinter. Today, the company serves such industries as agriculture, lawn and garden, recreational vehicles, electronics, health care, sporting goods, toys, industrial equipment, irrigation, and appliances.

Examples of the products they make are seed tubes for grain planters, hospital bed head & foot boards, cooling fan shrouds, greyhound dog muzzles, sweep guards for plows, speaker casings, lawn & garden parts and the winch cover we talked about at the beginning.

The company has grown to 15 employees, and sales in 2000 grew by 200 thousand dollars. Wow. The Huffman's daughter Penny has joined the business also.

The company is in Quinter, on I-70 in Gove County between Hays and Colby. Quinter is a town of 960 people. Now, that's rural.

What are the pros and cons of being in rural Kansas? Penny says, "We are far away from certain things - you can't just run downtown and grab something you might need in the shop - and some distributors may not want to ship out here. But we have an excellent work ethic among our people, and we have so many quality people who are willing to give above and beyond. People know its gonna take a little extra out here, and their values and faith motivate them to give that extra."

Karen says, "It's taken a lot of courage and determination to hang in there, but it's finally paying off. A small rural community like Quinter needs industry for jobs to keep it going. We think Quinter is a good place to live and to raise families, and we want to do all we can to help

maintain that." Galen's motto is: "We exist for the glory of God and our neighbor's good."

In 2001, the company purchased the building it was renting and doubled its size. They also brought in new equipment to do pressure forming. This uses air pressure to form the heated plastic to the mold, and allows for more detail. They also added a 5-axis CNC router, a kind of computerized robot that trims parts and makes tooling.

Assistance came from the Mid-America Manufacturing Technology Center, with field engineers at Hays and Manhattan.

Penny Huffman says, "Mom and Dad have tried to tap into every available resource to help. In the process, they have helped raise awareness of western Kansas."

The company has grown to serve customers in 12 states, yet it all began with one machine in Galen Huffman's garage and an office in the basement.

From the basement to the big-time. That's what's happened with Formation Plastics. Now it's time to say goodbye to Denmark, where a worker is using a winch with a plastic cover made by this company in Quinter, Kansas. How exciting to see an entrepreneur using his skills, accessing resources, and making this business work in a rural setting. We salute Galen, Karen, and Penny Huffman and all the people of Formation Plastics for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and free enterprise. They're serving markets and creating jobs which is good for our state's economy.

From the basement to the big-time, it's a benefit.

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

Miller Ranch Equipment

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 tried to lift a 1 thousand, eight hundred pound bale of hay? Here, let me show you. These are really heavy. Yet these giant round bales are the modern way to gather, store, and feed hay to cattle. You've seen those big round bales along Kansas roadsides. But if you're trying to move or feed that hay, it's not easy to handle bales of hay that are so big and heavy. That's why we need the folks we're going to hear about today.

The old adage says, Make hay while the sun shines. That's a fitting theme for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Connie and Carl Miller of Miller Ranch Equipment. They offer various types of equipment to be used for farm and ranch operations. They know these how these products work first-hand, because they've used them in rural Kansas. Here's the story.

Carl Miller grew up in Douglas County near Lone Star lake. Connie grew up near Udall, down in Cowley County. They met at K-State, got married, and went into the ranching business in the Flint Hills east of Manhattan.

Carl knew ranch equipment well, and he also knew which products worked the best. So in 1985, they decided to go into the business of selling those top quality equipment products.

Carl and Connie became ranch equipment dealers, operating from their home. In 1991, the Millers moved to their current place, which is just off I-70 on Highway 99 north of Alma. Alma is a town of 842 people. Now, that's rural.

From this setting, the farm and ranch equipment is a natural. For ranches and livestock operations, that means a lot of hay handling equipment.

Today, Miller Ranch Equipment offers various lines, such as Vermeer, Triple C HydraBeds, and Winkel livestock panels and flatbeds. This includes the balers which produce those heavy big round bales and the equipment to handle it. For example, there are units that go on trucks to carry and unroll the bales, and machines to chop up the bales if you're going to feed them that way. Then there are the livestock gates and panels, other truck flatbeds, and various accessories.

This type of equipment is a great fit for the Flint Hills and other places where cattle are fed and handled. Miller units have been purchased from as far away as Texas and Montana.

Carl and Connie have literally built this business from the ground up. Since they used this equipment on the ground themselves, they have a lot of credibility with ranch operators.

Connie says with a smile, "What we know about business, we've learned ourselves." They've also raised a family. Carl and Connie have two boys, a junior at K-State and a senior in high school.

Now, when I was a kid, we raised hay on the farm too. It was baled in small square bales in those days. I started out as the little brat who rode on top of the stack of bales on the wagon, while the big boys pulled those bales off the baler and stacked them. I was told my job was to hold the stack together, but looking back, I think my older brothers were just trying to get me out of the way. Later on, I would stack those bales on the wagon myself.

But times have changed. On the one hand, the big round bales are a much more efficient way to handle hay, and at the same time, there often aren't extra hands around to help.

Connie points out that these hay handling trucks have the versatility to respond to these changing times. For example, many families are operating ranches while covering lots of territory or working other jobs too, so they need equipment which the rancher or ranch wife can operate by themselves. The flatbed truck units which carry these big round bales have hydraulically operated arms that can lift and place those heavy bales for feeding. That's a development with lots of pluses for the farm and ranch family.

Have you ever tried to lift a 1 thousand, eight hundred pound bale of hay? Yes, they're heavy. They require special equipment – such as offered by Miller Ranch Equipment today. We salute Carl and Connie Miller for making a difference by responding to this need in rural Kansas.

Make hay while the sun shines, says the old adage. Today, this enterprise is helping provide a little extra sunshine for rural America.

Allright, can I put this hay bale down now?

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

Galen Ackerman - Triple C

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

Do it yourself. That sounds like the handyman section of a hardware store, but it might be today's theme.

First let's go to Montana. Here's a truck from a utility company carrying big spools of wire out into the country. It's a challenging task, to lift and unroll those giant spools of wire, but this truck has hydraulic arms on the truckbed which make it possible for one person to operate. Where did this equipment come from? Did you guess a cattle company in Kansas? I'll explain on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Galen Ackerman of Triple C manufacturing in Sabetha, Kansas. Triple C produces truck beds with hydraulic powered arms which can be used by utility companies as well as in agriculture. Here is the story.

Galen Ackerman has rural roots. I remember him receiving awards at the state FFA convention. After school, Galen joined the family livestock business near Sabetha, a town of 2,421 people. Now, that's rural. Galen was feeding big round bales of hay to the cattle herd, and he needed a machine on his pickup truck to help handle and feed the bales.

Here, our story takes a tragic turn. Galen's brother was helping with the livestock also, when, as a high school senior in 1978, he was killed in a tractor rollover accident. That is such a tragedy.

It reminds us of the importance of farm safety and to be careful with tractors. Stockmen are better off using their trucks rather than tractors for road travel, but in those days few trucks were equipped to handle the big bales.

Galen needed something to fit on his truck to feed those bales, and he knew of a company which produced a bale feeder which bolted onto truck beds. Galen says, "I was just about to buy one of those when I realized that if I put it on my truck, I couldn't use the truck for anything else. And we couldn't afford to buy a second truck." He thought, "There's gotta be a way to incorporate the bale feeder into the truck bed."

Galen says, "My father and another cattleman I worked for were good at building things for themselves." The idea was, if you want it, do it yourself. So Galen set out to design and build what he wanted.

He worked in an unheated corn crib that winter, but by spring he had built a truck bed with hydraulic arms that could carry big round bales and would fit down flush so that the truck bed could be used for other things too. That was the beginning of the product known as the Hydrabed.

As neighbors saw the unit, they encouraged Galen to go forward with the product. Galen got a patent and tried to sell the concept to Kansas companies, but those companies were unwilling to try it, given the impending farm crisis.

So once again, Galen was left to do it himself. A local welder built some units for him and they refined it further. In December '83, the first unit was sold to a large ranch in western Kansas. The winter was a really hard one, and this feeding unit turned out to be a lifesaver. The company began to grow.

The company is named Triple C Inc., using the initials of the Cottonwood Cattle Company which is the name their fifth generation cattle operation goes by. Galen says, "Each of these designs is tested on our place first," which gives it credibility with producers. He says, "An engineer would look at our products and say they are overbuilt, but we know they need to be strong cause they're going into rough conditions."

The result of this testing and high quality work has been a success story. Having a one-person-operated hydraulic lift that fits down into the bed of a truck is an extremely useful thing, and more uses continue to be found. Hydrabed-mounted bale supplement feeders and post hole diggers have been developed. And now there are even more uses, such as municipal or utility applications. Today, Triple C's Hydrabed product has gone from coast to coast and into Canada, and annual sales have grown to more than 3 and a half million a year. Wow.

It's time to say goodbye to Montana, where a utility company might be using this versatile product which was first designed to benefit cattleman. We salute Galen Ackerman and all the people of Triple C for making a difference through creativity and entrepreneurship. It's gone from do it yourself to Can do.

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.

Today let's visit Whale Branch Middle School in Seabrook, South Carolina. It's a school that looks like any other school: Shiny floors, lots of lockers, and gum under the desks. But when we step into the technology classroom, we find something especially advanced. This is not your grandfather's classroom. It's a modular classroom, complete with computers at work stations and a computer-based curriculum. It looks like a high-tech computerized classroom of the future. And where do you suppose the components of this modular classroom came from? Yes, from Kansas. Stay tuned for the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Dennis Hurt, the president of the remarkable company which produced this modular computer classroom. The company is called DEPCO Inc. The DEPCO stands for Dependable Educational Products Company.

The history of DEPCO begins with Dennis' parents, Robert and Elma. Robert Hurt was a salesman in southeast Kansas, selling shop tools and supplies to schools. But as he looked at the instructions that went with some of those products, he believed they could be better.

So Robert and Elma set out to develop better classroom products in technology. Dennis Hurt says, "Mom and Dad started out on the kitchen table with a manual typewriter."

The year was 1981. Robert and Elma would go on to develop their own company to create and market these products. With the advent of robotics and computer-aided design in later years, the company added whole new dimensions. Of course, one of their best additions was their son Dennis. He joined the company in 1984.

Now how exactly does this work? Dennis Hurt says, "We produce and integrate technologies into a modular education format." For example: Instead of desks in rows, this type of classroom will have modular work stations, equipped with computers, at which students work in pairs and can rotate every 10 days to a different topic.

Dennis says, "This allows a classroom teacher to teach 15 to 18 different subject matters simultaneously. The content is delivered through multimedia, including video, slides, and books. This is self-directed and hands-on. That means the teacher has time to work with individuals as needed."

Dennis says, "The students will learn a certain technology application and then use it."

In other words, if you were a student in a technology class, you and another student might spend several class days on the computer working through a unit on virtual reality, see a video depiction, read a unit, and then actually get to experience it in a sample headset, before moving on to the next module where robotics might be taught, for example.

Dennis says, "We show 'em, they read it, and then they do it." That sounds like a formula for good education.

DEPCO Inc. produces everything from the curriculum that is presented, the software that runs the computers, and the modular cabinets that they go in.

So is this being used very much? Oh my goodness. DEPCO offers 58 different career and technology units, 34 materials and processes books, and 55 family and consumer sciences units. Dennis estimates that there are nearly 800 labs completely furnished by DEPCO around the country and nearly 4,000 classrooms where some DEPCO products are used. Wow.

DEPCO Inc. is one of the leading providers of technology education programs throughout North America. The school in South Carolina that we described at the beginning is just one example. On the day I visited, a delegation of Canadians was coming to town. Yet the company remains in the town where it was founded: Pittsburg, Kansas, population 18,073 people. Now, that's rural.

Dennis says, "We're often asked, why Pittsburg, Kansas? Economics is a factor. We're centrally located, with affordable land and labor, but most of all, this is our hometown."

How exciting to see homegrown Kansas businesses succeed. Dennis says, "Since 1990, we've been on a 22 percent growth pattern." DEPCO has built a new building at the airport and is up to 115 employees.

And recently, Dennis' parents retired. I think Robert and Elma should be proud.

It's time to say goodbye to this high-tech classroom in South Carolina. How exciting to think that it was furnished by an entrepreneurial company way out in Kansas. We commend Dennis Hurt, Robert and Elma, and all the people of DEPCO Inc. for making a difference with entrepreneurship, innovation, and technology in education.

And now, school's out.

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

Michael Boss

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

Planes, trains, and automobiles. That was the name of a movie some years ago, but it also could be a description of some artwork done by the man we will meet today. He has a knack for bringing to life wonderful images of aviation, outer space, and railroad history. His artwork has been featured on book and magazine covers and can be found in collections across the country - yet he comes from rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Michael Boss. Mike is this excellent historical illustrator. He's from Hill City, in Graham County in northwest Kansas.

Mike's artistic abilities showed themselves at an early age. He says, "As a kid, I was drawing all the time." His older brother steered him toward an interest in the arts. Mike liked music also.

And like lots of kids during that time, he built model airplanes. Remember the model plane kits they had in those days? Inside the box would be those little pieces you could put together to make a miniature of some famous plane, and on the outside of the box was a fantastic illustration of that airplane in action. Those pictures were worth the price of the kit itself. Mike Boss built those model airplanes, and he kept the boxes for the artwork.

Mike studied music at Colby Community College, Southern Illinois University, and K-State, but a real turning point came when he happened to pick up a copy of Private Pilot magazine that had an article about the illustrator who created those action scenes of airplanes on the model airplane boxes. That illustrator was Jack Leynnwood.

Leynnwood had a long and distinguished career in California. Mike Boss got in touch with him, and Leynnwood took Mike under his wing. Today, Mike credits most of his art training to this renowned illustrator, now deceased.

They shared a passion for historical illustration. Now, Mike is an independent illustrator who has been professionally creating aviation, space, and railroad history paintings for more than 20 years. Perhaps you've seen Mike's work on the cover of a book or magazine. He loves to do paintings of old time railroads and old time airplanes, and he has a passion for doing so with meticulous realism.

This is not abstract art. His work includes striking images which make you feel as if you are there at the scene.

He did a whole railroad series from Kansas City to Denver, originally the Kansas Pacific Railway, featuring scenes there such as depots and water towers. He went to nearly every location and used historical photos to enhance the accuracy of his depictions. Then there was the aviation series, where he painted old air terminals and airplanes in southern California and elsewhere. Now he is doing a series of historical paintings featuring Kansas riverboats from the 1800s, visiting such places as Manhattan, Fort Riley, Lawrence, and Kansas City.

One of Mike's paint suppliers is a company in Wisconsin. One time Mike sent them a message requesting a couple of new greens. Mike says, "I sent them a couple of samples. The next thing I know the company president is on the phone, and they were saying, 'Your work is stunning.'"

Words really don't do justice to these works of art. You just have to see such works as his painting of Vail Field in Los Angeles and his night scene of the train at the Granite Dells in the southwest. One aviation art magazine described him as a "treasure."

Not only has he done trains and planes, he does outer space scenes. His pieces are in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona and the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. One of his pieces is as far away as Sweden. Wow. But he remains in the town of Hill City, Kansas, population 1,654 people. Now, that's rural.

A few years ago, I was in Omaha, Nebraska doing some research with the Union Pacific railroad. As I finished my business, I stopped at the company gift shop. Among the things I spotted and purchased that day was a print of a train stopped at a depot in Manhattan, Kansas. The artist? None other than Mike Boss.

Planes, trains, and automobiles. No, it's not just a movie, it's a description of the type of scene that is depicted so well by Michael Boss. We commend Mike and other illustrators and artists of Kansas, for using their talents to make a difference in the lives of others.

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

Rick Hitchcock - Chieftain Meats

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

Today let's get to the meat of the matter. We'll go to Omaha, Nebraska, to a national tournament of kid baseball teams. There are kid's teams from all over, including one from around Alva, Oklahoma. Now you need to know a little background about this team. The kids are ages 13 and 14, and they had to raise their own money to travel to this tournament. It turns out that the primary source for this particular team's fundraising was a line of meat products from a processing plant in rural Kansas. So when I say, get to the meat of the matter, I mean that literally – it was meat sales that helped this team of kids travel all the way from Oklahoma. This meat business is benefitting rural Kansas as well. Stay tuned for a meaty edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Rick Hitchcock of Chieftain Brand Meats in Kiowa, Kansas. Chieftain Meats is the source of the meat products which this baseball team sold to pay its way to the national tournament. But more than that, Chieftain Meats, as a company, is an innovative response to the changes of the marketplace. Rick Hitchcock explains.

He says, "My father bought this locker plant in 1970," when it became Kiowa Locker. It had been operating as a local meat locker plant since 1941, and has always been family-owned and operated. Rick came into the business also, after college and the military.

Over time, the business expanded. In 1998, the company began a total remodeling of the plant. The company replaced the old gas-fired smokehouse with two larger computer-controlled electric smokehouses, and added a kitchen and other equipment.

At the same time, the company was looking to expand markets for its products, and Chieftain Meats was formed in 1999. Rick says, "In our county, we have 5,500 people and 60,000 head of cattle. With those numbers, it's clear we need to be looking outside our county to find more customers."

Another issue was the meat inspection system. You need to understand that the government has a two-tier meat inspection system: A state system, for plants that ship products within state borders, and a federal system for plants which ship interstate. The Kiowa Locker had historically been state-inspected like most of our smaller, homegrown plants, but that meant they couldn't sell across state lines, and Kiowa is only half a mile from Oklahoma. In July 2001, Chieftain Meats reluctantly changed over to federal inspection.

Today, Chieftain Meats offers a full line of federally-inspected meat products, including fresh items such as ribeyes, T-bones, Kansas City strips, and boneless sirloins; fully cooked items like Maple Sugar Cured and Hickory Smoked hams, Beef Summer Sausage, Smoked Sausage and Hotlinks; and Shelf Stable items such as Spicy Beef and Pepperoni Sticks, Smoked Sausage Sticks, and Beef Jerky.

I was at a collegiate ballgame recently and ordered a spicy beef stick at the concession stand. It was from none other than Chieftain Meats at Kiowa. They have shipped products from Washington State to New Jersey. Sales have gone from less than 200 thousand dollars in 1980 to more than three-quarters of a million today. Wow. Yet Chieftain Meats is located in Kiowa, Kansas, population 1,046 people. Now, that's rural.

The company does contract work for other meat companies too, and even slaughters buffalo and elk. It does not slaughter deer but will process boneless venison brought in by hunters.

One innovative marketing approach they use is helping kids with fund-raisers. Chieftain Meats offers a special deal for school groups or kids organizations that want to raise money. The groups can order and sell the shelf-stable meat products and keep the proceeds. This has worked successfully for a variety of schools and groups, such as high school bands raising money to go to a bowl game.

Rick Hitchcock says, "We do a lot of work with kids. That's the most fun part."

Now we're getting to the meat of the matter. It's time to wrap up our visit to this national baseball tournament in Omaha, where a team from Alva, Oklahoma paid its way there by fundraising with Chieftain Meats. And just to give this story a perfect ending, how do you suppose that Oklahoma team did at the tournament? Sure enough, they won it all: National Champions – powered by Chieftain Meats. We commend Rick Hitchcock and the people of Chieftain Meats for making a difference with their innovation and their service to youth. This type of business is helping rural Kansas make both ends meat.

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

John Suhr - Terrapin Creek Manufacturing

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

Let's go to the Bahamas. Here among the scenic tourism attractions is a horse-drawn trolley carrying people back and forth. Where did that horse-drawn trolley come from? Sure enough, from rural Kansas. And how did it make it to the Bahamas? For the answer, sit down and enjoy the ride on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet John Suhr. John is the owner-operator of Terrapin Creek Manufacturing, which produced this horse-drawn trolley which we found in the Bahamas.

Our story begins more than a quarter-century ago, with the Arnold Suhr family in northeast Kansas. Suhr, by the way, is spelled s-u-h-r. Arnold Suhr always had saddle horses around, like many of us did growing up. But around 1975, he had a problem: He and his wife were having kids, and not all could fit on a horse at the same time. If only there was a way for the little kids to all go together.

Now I can vouch for the fact that this is a real problem. My wife and I are currently dealing with this very thing at our house. All the kids want to ride the horsey right now.

Arnold Suhr came up with the perfect solution: He bought a pony wagon and a team of ponies to pull it, so all the kids could ride at the same time. Arnold liked the ponies, but with time he became interested in the larger horse teams. He ended up in the draft horse business, specifically with those big, beautiful Belgian horses.

Mr. Suhr has been in the draft horse business for some 20 years now. Every time there was a festival or function in town, the Suhrs would be invited to bring a team of horses and provide rides. It started as kind of a hayrack ride, but then the Suhrs had the chance to use other types of wagons.

Arnold's son John was grown and helping out by now. You might say he picked up the lines from his father...

By the late 90s, John had married a local girl named Lisa and returned to the area to raise kids of his own. He was working in a metal fabrication shop, as he and his dad thought about the cumbersome wagons they had been exposed to, so John set out to build the ideal horse-drawn trolley.

John designed and built the trolley at home, but his boss let him use the company's metal fabrication equipment after working hours. In 1998, he took his first trolley to a draft horse auction in Missouri and it sold really well.

That was the beginning of Terrapin Creek Manufacturing, named for the creek that runs below their house.

Now this company has produced trolleys that have gone from coast to coast, and even as far away as the Bahamas. These trolleys are a sight to see. They are 20 feet long, eight feet wide and low to the ground for ease of passenger boarding. Typically they are two-tone, painted in hunter green and regal red. They have handmade oak benches with ornate cast iron ends, a torsion suspension rear axle, hydraulic brakes, and a fifth wheel steering assembly that enables it to turn around on most any street.

John says, "My mother works at a nursing home, so it makes sense that we would be asked to provide rides for the residents. So we built these low to the ground and easy to get on." Using the tail gate as a wheelchair ramp, they can even be handicapped accessible. They can be made either open-air or partly enclosed. And they can be made with a battery on board, so the trolley can have its own CD player, speaker system, and headlights. Wow. They can be built as trams or to be pulled by a motorized vehicle, in addition to the horse-drawn model.

When you see the workmanship, you can tell why these are popular for cities, carriage companies, resorts, weddings, or other places or events where people are to be transported. These trolleys have gone from Washington State to Virginia and even overseas, but they are built here in Sabetha, Kansas. John and Lisa Suhr live near the Brown County town of Morrill, population 282 people. Now, that's rural.

It's time to say goodbye to the Bahamas, where we find a horse-drawn trolley built in rural Kansas. We commend Arnold and John Suhr and their families for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and creativity – and maybe I should say, some good old horse sense.

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

Winkel Manufacturing

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

I'm going to bed. No, I'm not being lazy – in fact, I'm talking about truckbeds, not the kind of bed you can take a nap in. I'm going to see flatbeds for trucks made by an innovative manufacturing company which makes these and related products in a truly rural setting. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Roy Winkel of Winkel Manufacturing. Winkel Manufacturing is a producer of various kinds of livestock and hay related equipment, including truck beds.

Our story begins in the 1950s, when Roy's father Paul Winkel was working for the township running a roadgrader. Paul was good at working with metal, and he started to custom-build some equipment.

As more people became interested in his products, he made more of them. In 1957, Mr. Winkel started on this full-time. He was building his products in an old garage, probably about a 20 by 30 foot building. Some of the equipment had to stand outside. And some of the jigs they used to hold the metal folded up into the wall.

So you get the idea. It wasn't exactly a giant manufacturing center, but it was a start.

His first product was those slip-in pickup truck stock racks that were popular in those days. With time, he developed new products and branched out.

The core of their business remains in the livestock and hay equipment, which they know best and which is a natural for this part of the country.

Roy says, "My dad always ran a few cows. When we made something, we could try it ourselves, not just try to get it from a piece of paper." He says, "I think that's probably helped us."

I agree. There is no substitute for that first-hand knowledge of how the product is used in the real world. And it has paid off. The company sells lots of products in the midwest, and has sent products from coast to coast, Hawaii and Alaska, and even internationally. Instead of that original garage, there are now seven buildings hooked together. And in spring 2002, the company will move into another building addition of 8,000 feet.

The company remains family-owned in a rural setting. Paul's sons Roy and Alan have come into the business, and now the next generation is starting there. The business is near Glen Elder, which is in Mitchell County in north central Kansas. It is a town of 439 people. Now, that's rural.

Today, Winkel Manufacturing produces quality, custom flatbeds for a variety of trucks, plus various types of gates, corrals, and livestock feeding equipment. A lot of their equipment is made for handling and feeding hay. Roy says, "We sell the balers to bale it, the forks to move it, and the feeders to feed it." They offer various types, sizes, and styles of feeders to fit various needs.

Another of their really neat products is their portable corral system. This consists of a loading chute and a set of frames and gates that can be mounted on a wheeled trailer. You can pull that trailer carrying the panels into an open pasture and then set up your own corral, wherever you need and with whatever features you need. When you are done working cattle there, you can load those gates up and take them to wherever you will need them next.

That flexibility is a wonderful thing. It lets you take the corral to the cattle, instead of having to drive all the cattle in to one fixed corral.

And then there are the flatbeds. These are sturdy, custombuilt flatbeds that can fit vehicles ranging from a mini-truck up to a five ton dually. All types of features and accessories are available, from sideboards and light packages to built-in toolboxes to custom rear plate designs and pop up king pins for hauling trailers. Importantly, these flatbeds come with a steel frame on the front that protects the cab. Roy says, "I knew a guy who was in a wreck and that kept the cab from being crushed." Because of this protection, some insurance companies will provide a discount on the truck insurance for trucks that get a flatbed.

I'm going to bed. No, not to take a nap, I'm talking about flatbeds for trucks and other products for handling hay and livestock. They're made by Winkel Manufacturing of Glen Elder, Kansas. We salute Paul, Roy, and Alan Winkel for making a difference with their hard work and entrepreneurship. And with that, I'll put this program to bed.

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

Bert and Wetta

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

Today let's go to an upscale neighborhood in the suburbs around Atlanta, Georgia. If you were to find a woman with a plastic bag here, you might expect it to be a shopping bag from some fancy store. But in this case, it's a plastic bag containing some special hay which is being fed to a horse. The owner wants nothing but the best for her beautiful equine, and she also wants ease and convenience. So she isn't feeding her horse just any old bale of hay, she is feeding premium quality dehydrated alfalfa hay packaged in a plastic bag. And where do you suppose this product came from? Sure enough, from rural Kansas. Now, rural Kansas produces lots of hay, but what makes this product special is the packaging, marketing, and distribution which takes it across the country. We'll explain on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Carlton Bert of Bert and Wetta Sales in Larned, Kansas. Bert and Wetta is the source of this high quality, high value hay product. Here's the story.

The company name Bert and Wetta comes from its founders, Ray Bert and Joe Wetta, who had rural roots. They grew up around Wichita in the 1930s. Joe was from Maize, population 1,774, and Ray was from Sedgwick, population 1,451 people. Now, that's rural.

They both went to K-State and were even fraternity brothers there. Then came World War II, which would send them around the world in different uniforms. Joe served in the Army and Ray was in the Navy. But their paths would converge again.

One day in 1946, Ray Bert and Joe Wetta happened to run into each other back on the streets of Wichita. The old friends got to talking about what they were going to do now that the war was over. They discussed some of the new feed processing technology. Later that year, they joined forces to form the company Bert and Wetta, manufacturers of dehydrated alfalfa meal.

Many years have passed since that first meeting. Now Carlton Bert is running his father's operation. Carlton went to the University of Arkansas and then worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City before coming back into the family business.

The alfalfa processing business has seen many changes and challenges through the years. Frankly, the last quarter-century has been devastating to the industry. Some 200 alfalfa processing plants in 26 states have closed during that time.

Bert and Wetta has gone through changes too. Years ago, the company's headquarters moved to the prime hay growing area of central Kansas, specifically to Larned.

Today, the company has nearly a million dollar payroll with 64 employees in three locations, and ships products to some 25 states, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Wow.

Alfalfa dehydrating has historically been done to produce good quality livestock feed, as pellets or meal for cattle, horses, rabbits, and unusual animals such as ostrich.

Bert and Wetta has pursued innovative products, such as the high quality, chopped, dehydrated hay in plastic bags that I described at the beginning. Bagged hay has numerous advantages as a horse feed, since it is higher quality and higher in protein than alfalfa cubes or conventionally grown hay. This bagged hay is cleaner to transport and store, easier for the horse to chew and swallow, and easier for the owner to handle, store, and feed. By being packaged in the plastic bag, there is less waste, virtually no spoilage, and more consistent quality.

Another development is alfalfa as a human health food. Bert and Wetta have a separate processing line in their facility to produce the alfalfa product for human health and nutrition.

One development that Carlton Bert is especially excited about is their recent addition of a special drying unit. This unit uses wood waste to heat and dehydrate the alfalfa. It utilizes an environmentally friendly fuel product which would otherwise be earmarked for the landfill.

This is a win-win situation. It puts to use what would otherwise be a waste product and helps cut the cost of drying the alfalfa. That's good for the environment and good for the bottom line.

It's time to say goodbye to this upscale suburb of Atlanta, where a girl is feeding her horse this high quality chopped and bagged alfalfa which originally came from rural Kansas. We salute Carlton Bert and all the people of Bert and Wetta for making a difference with their innovation and hard work. For rural Kansas, innovations sometimes mean that success is in the bag.

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

Living Water Ranch

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

The ranches in Kansas are very productive. They produce lots of cattle, horses, hay, and other cash crops. Today we'll meet a ranch which has different products on its list: Such things as happy times for families, a more unified leadership team for various groups and organizations, and maybe even a better spiritual life. Yes, this is a very special ranch: It's called the Living Water Ranch. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Alan and Donna Phillips, managers of Living Water Ranch. This ranch is located 16 miles north of Manhattan, Kansas. The mailing address for the ranch is actually Olsburg, a nearby town of 187 people. Now, that's rural.

It is tempting to say that Alan Phillips has deep roots here, but that is almost a painful pun. You see, Alan's great-grandparents came here from England and homesteaded in the beautiful Blue Valley north of Manhattan. But during the 1950s, Tuttle Creek Reservoir was built and the Blue Valley was flooded – covering the Phillips home farmstead. So while the roots are deep, you might say they are deep under water. But of course, the water did not cover the nearby hills, where the Phillips family owned pasture.

Alan was a student at K-State during the time Tuttle Creek was built. Due to the dam's construction, the Phillips family moved the dairy to Nebraska. Alan was working in Nebraska when he met and married Donna.

Alan and Donna were seeking some divine guidance as to what they should do for their lives and careers. Alan says, "We prayed for the Lord to tell us if He wanted us to do something different. Within three weeks, a couple from Colorado invited us to join them in building a Christian camp and conference center out there. We went out for a visit, and while we didn't feel that this was the particular couple that we should work with, we became really interested in the idea."

But they were still soul-searching when they were visiting back in Kansas and took a picnic lunch out in the family pasture near Tuttle Creek. Alan says, "As we talked about things, Donna looked up at the hillside and said, 'That's the very hill I have seen in a vision of what we ought to do.'"

So that was the beginning. Alan and Donna knew that this was the site to build a Christian camp and conference center. They bought a portion of the pasture from Alan's brothers and started to build on it in 1975. It was named Living Water Ranch.

Today, Living Water Ranch offers a range of facilities for families, youth groups, individuals, churches, companies, and organizations. There is an air-conditioned dining and meeting lodge plus smaller buildings for lodging and meeting space for families and other groups, plus camping areas with shower houses and hookups. There is indoor and outdoor recreation, including swimming and a hot tub, hiking trails, a water slide, canoes, and fishing, and in the winter, snow tubing and sledding.

From this spot nestled in the Flint Hills, there is a beautiful view of Tuttle Creek Lake in the distance. Guests can go down to the lake if they wish. When the lake is low, you can see some old stone and timber which was part of the structures on the Phillips family farm.

The ranch is only 16 miles from Manhattan and has modern amenities, but is scenic and pastoral.

There's lots of safe recreation for kids and a comfortable setting for the adults to relax and visit. This facility is a natural for family reunions, staff retreats, special events, school functions, and even weddings. One thing I can say for sure: I never saw a swimming pool in the shape of a dove until I came here.

The Phillips' deep faith is obvious. Both sons, Mark and Mike, have gone into the ministry. Mike is pastoring a church at St. John, Kansas. Mark is now a pastor in Germany, but he founded the Living Water Church which operated at the ranch for 16 years before moving into Manhattan in 1999.

Over the years, we can estimate Living Water Ranch has served well over 100,000 people. Wow.

The ranches in Kansas are very productive. But this ranch isn't about horses and cattle, it's about families and faith. We salute Alan and Donna Phillips, their sons Mark and Mike, and all those with Living Water Ranch who are making a difference in people's lives. That's a crop that brings heavenly rewards.

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

Jane Hatch - Artrain USA

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

Let's visit an art exhibit today. It features a Norman Rockwell original, followed by works of art by such artists as Peter Max, Andy Warhol, and James Wyeth. Sounds pretty impressive, doesn't it? So where is this exhibit? Chicago, Kansas City, New York?

Would you believe: LeRoy, Kansas? LeRoy is an eastern Kansas town of 613 people. Now, that's rural. How in the world would such a tremendous collection of artwork be coming to a rural Kansas town like LeRoy? The answer is, by train. Stay tuned for the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Jane Hatch. Jane is the County Library Administrator for Coffey County Library in Burlington, Kansas. She played a key role in bringing this wonderful art exhibit to Coffey County.

Jane explains that in April 2001, she and a friend decided to go visit another friend of theirs who they had known in Kansas City but who had moved away. This friend had left to take a job traveling with something called Artrain USA. Jane didn't know what Artrain USA was, but she wanted to see this friend so they went to the exhibit that was coming through.

Jane says, "We got there and it was magnificent." It turns out that Artrain USA is a train that carries traveling art exhibits around the country. In fact, it is the nation's only traveling art museum on a train. It includes internationally acclaimed artists' work, presented in a top quality format.

Jane says, "It had excellent art, beautifully displayed." And why is this on a train? The answer is that Artrain was founded in Michigan in 1971 as a way to deliver art viewing opportunities to the rural areas of that state. It worked so well that the idea was adopted nationally.

Jane thought this was wonderful and she wondered if the Artrain could be brought to Coffey County. She wrote a letter and got a response saying that it might be possible in 2005. But a couple of days later she got a phone call, saying that while Kansas was not a destination in 2002, the train would be traveling through the state and there would be an opportunity.

When it was all said and done, the deal was set: Artrain USA will be in LeRoy, Kansas for public viewing on March 9 and 10, 2002. In fact, the train will stay two days after that for school visits and private tours.

The current exhibit on Artrain USA is called Artistry of Space. It includes 78 paintings, drawings, prints, music, and fiber art from NASA and the National Air and Space Museum art collections. Wow.

The train actually consists of five cars. Visitors will be able to tour the gallery, take part in an interactive program, visit the gift shop, and view Artrain USA's resident artist and local community artists demonstrating their skills.

Registration for Artrain USA will be held at LeRoy High School, 1010 Main Street, and shuttle buses will then take people to the train cars. An Artrain USA Expo will also be held at the high school during these days, featuring 18 various organizations and businesses.

The national sponsor of Artrain USA's Artistry in Space tour is Daimler Chrysler. That makes a nice connection for a local Chrysler dealership, Beyer Motors of Gridley, which will display new Chrysler vehicles. The East Central Kansas T Club will have vintage model T vehicles on display and the Heartland PT Cruiser Club will have a poker run in conjunction with the activities.

So it turns out that this is quite a community event. A coalition of local organizations has come together quickly and effectively to make this possible. Mid-America Arts Alliance also provided funding.

LeRoy is one of the smallest towns in the nation that Artrain USA has visited. LeRoy was the only town in the county that had a siding available, so this is a wonderful opportunity for rural Kansas.

For those who want to visit Artrain USA, reservations are preferred but walk-ins are accepted. Call toll free for reservations to 877-364-2002. That number again is 877-364-2002.

Jane Hatch says, "This has been a great project to work on because people have been so willing to help."

It's time to say goodbye to this art exhibit. It features internationally-known artists but can be found in rural Kansas, thanks to Artrain USA. We commend Jane Hatch and the people of Coffey County for making a difference by coming together to make this possible. They are bringing a wonderful opportunity to their region. All Aboard!

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

Ride Into History

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

Let's take a ride. Where to? Into the country? Into the next town? In to the store?

How about if we ride...into history? Stay tuned for the explanation on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Joyce Thierer and Ann Birney. These two remarkable women are the founders of a cultural and educational project called Ride Into History. They mean Ride into history quite literally. They will come riding in on horseback and in costume to perform as characters from Kansas history. Here is their story.

Joyce Thierer and Ann Birney are both native Kansans. Joyce's ancestors came to Kansas in 1856. She grew upon a farm in Wabaunsee County between Alma and Alta Vista. Joyce's mother was concerned about preserving and promoting farming history, so they opened a museum about farming on their home place. Joyce has a Ph.D. from K-State in agricultural history and now teaches various classes at Emporia State, while operating the Ride Into History project with Ann.

Ann Birney grew up in Emporia and Topeka. She says she really was a city girl, but she loves horses. She has a masters degree from Emporia State and recently received a Ph.D. from KU. She previously worked at the K-State Library and now does Ride Into History.

Ann and Joyce first met at the library at K-State. Both are accomplished horsewomen. And both happened to be working in Nebraska, when Joyce came to a tragic time in her life. Joyce's mother had cancer, and so Joyce was moving back to the state to care for her mother.

Coincidentally, Ann Birney called during that time to say that she had taken a job in Kansas and did Joyce know of a place to live? Joyce said, "I just rented a place near my mom's. Why don't you live there and share the rent?" So they did, and later they would buy a farm together.

At one point, Joyce was asked by the Kansas Humanities Council to present a lecture at a summer seminar for teachers. As she prepared, she hit writers block. Finally Ann suggested, "Let's take a break and go for a ride."

As they rode, Joyce explained that she had not been the easiest student to teach as a child, and was having a hard time convincing herself that, even though she was now a college teacher, those teachers would take her seriously.

Ann asked, "So how did you get through school?" Joyce replied that she was inspired by Calamity Jane, whom she discovered while doing a high school paper on outlaws. Calamity's life was so much harder that Joyce figured she could make it, with a mother who loved and supported her no matter what.

So the idea came to present a performance in the historical persona of Calamity Jane. Joyce got out some of the items she had donated from the family's museum, including her grandfather's saddle made in 1900, and prepared. They invited the teachers out to their place and had food for them in the backyard by the firering. When it was time, Joyce came riding in at full gallop in her costume as Calamity Jane, and started talking in character. The teachers loved it, and wanted it for their students.

Joyce began doing more of these performances when one day, another character was needed for a performance. The person who was pressed into service was Ann Birney.

She did so well that Ann and Joyce formed Ride Into History in 1990. Now they perform three true-to-life characters and four composite characters: Calamity Jane; aviator Amelia Earhart; Julia Archibald Holmes, a Santa Fe Trail traveler; Rosa Fix, a pioneer farm woman; Elizabeth Hampstead, a teacher-turned-suffragist; Jo, a woman who fought in the Civil War disguised as a man; and Grower, a Native American woman from the time of Lewis and Clark. They perform in historically accurate costumes.

When performing outdoors, they gallop to the staging area on horseback. Indoors, they enter carrying saddles and accessories. They conduct workshops for other performers

and people who want to learn to do historic performance.

Ride Into History has performed for school and adult groups from New York to Nevada and from Texas to Washington DC – even the Smithsonian. Wow. But they operate from their home outside Admire, population 149 people. Now, that's rural.

Let's take a ride. No, not to the store or into town, but into history. We commend Joyce Thierer and Ann Birney for making a difference by bringing this history alive from rural Kansas. It looks like the ride of a lifetime.

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

Hasty Awards

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 the awards ceremony for the Olympic swim trials in Indianapolis, Indiana. The top qualifiers in the various events are being presented with their medals. Wow, an Olympic medal. Where do you suppose those medals come from? Would you believe, from small town Kansas? Stay tuned for this award-winning story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Jim and Judy Hasty of Hasty Awards company in Ottawa, Kansas. Here is their story.

Jim Hasty comes from Denver originally. He was a teacher and coach in the Denver school system, and he saw first-hand the problems facing urban schools. So in fall 1978, he and Judy and their young family moved out to Ottawa, Kansas where they had relatives. Jim substitute-taught in the schools, but he knew he wanted to start his own business. He had been an industrial arts teacher, so he always had a shop and was good at making things work.

His other role had been as a high school swim coach, where he had a great deal of success. Many of his teams and individuals qualified for ribbons and medals. Eventually, he got tired of those same old ribbons and medals, and thought that plaques should be offered for those winners.

Jim designed some plaques of his own and made them out of walnut – of which there is a great deal in eastern Kansas. His walnut plaques were well-received, so he expanded his business into selling trophies and then more.

Meanwhile, his wife Judy worked for the city of Ottawa. Their two sons went to KU. One is a doctor in Indiana. The other studied business at KU and came back into his father's company with ideas about further diversifying. That son has now purchased the business from his dad.

Today, the Hasty Awards company is an international supplier of medals, plaques, trophies, pins, ribbons, apparel, promotional products, and the finest custom awards. Hasty Awards has grown to 40 employees and serves customers in all 50 states. As I mentioned at the beginning, this company provided medals for the Olympic trial winners in Indianapolis. Hasty Awards has shipped products to Venezuela, Switzerland, Italy, New Zealand, and more. Sales in 2001 reached 4.5 million dollars. Wow.

What has made such success possible? Jim Hasty says, "We believe strongly in customer service."

Judy told about a large order they had in Wichita where the customer made a mistake and mis-ordered by 300 trophies. Unfortunately, he didn't realize his mistake until the day Jim delivered them, which was the day that the trophies were to be presented. Ouch.

But when they realized the problem, Jim called his son in Ottawa and had him print new plates to go on the trophies as fast as he could. Then the son drove them toward Wichita. Jim met him at the McDonalds in Emporia, exchanged the plates and delivered the new ones back to Wichita – with 20 minutes to spare. Whew. That's customer service.

Another key to their success is found in the way they deal with their workers. Jim says, "We treat our people like family. They can bring kids to work if needed. If it's somebody's birthday, we'll treat for lunch and they get to choose whatever they want to eat." They must like it – the oldest employee is a lady who is 78 years old.

The jobs created by this company help the economy, including rural communities in the region. Jim says, "Some of our best workers are young people who came through the ag program over at Williamsburg." Williamsburg is a nearby town of 292 people. Now, that's rural.

Jim delivers many of his orders in person. He estimates that he drives 60 thousand miles a year.

Jim also reports that the Internet has been good for them, since people can order from anywhere. He says, "Over the Internet, we can send people pictures of something they ordered and they can see it virtually instantly." The company's web address is www.hastyawards.com. Again, that is www.hastyawards.com. Or you can call toll-free at 1-800-448-7714.

He says, "I tell our employees what I told my kids when I was coaching: Concentrate on the fundamentals and the conditioning, and winning will take care of itself."

It's time to say goodbye to the Olympic trials, where the winners receive medals that came from Kansas. We salute Jim Hasty and all the people of Hasty Awards for making a difference with entrepreneurship and customer service. All in all, it makes rural Kansas a winner.

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

Jack Beauchamp - Buffalo

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

Here's a riddle for you: What is a bison? The answer is, it's what a guy in Australia washes his hands in.... Okay, maybe it's not a very funny riddle, but it does get us thinking about bison. No, not a wash basin, the bison – that massive prairie animal that many Kansans would call a buffalo. The proper name for the American buffalo is bison, although I'll use the terms buffalo and bison interchangeably today. This animal is considered by some to have had a greater impact than any other animal in Kansas history. Wow. Today, buffalo are being raised by entrepreneurial producers in rural Kansas. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Jack and Lyndell Beauchamp. The Beauchamps are bison producers, and they are also innovators and community leaders. They have deep roots in Kansas agriculture and a strong belief in public service.

For example, the farm where they live has been in Lyndell's family since 1902, and her grandfather served in the Kansas Legislature in the 1920s and 30s. Her uncle served on the state fair board.

In later years, Jack would maintain that tradition. He served on the state fair board and Kansas Board of Agriculture for 18 years, and was elected to the Kansas Legislature in 1986. So service has been important to this family.

One other interesting note about Lyndell's family: She had 4 uncles who all lived to be over 90 years old. In fact, the last one died in 1999 at age 104. How about those genes??

Anyway, Jack and Lyndell operate this family farm, called Shadeland Stock Farm, near Ottawa in eastern Kansas. In the 1980s, Jack was seeking new opportunities for the farm and he decided to try bison production. He began with one female buffalo. Today, they have a beautiful 100-head buffalo herd and a shop selling buffalo meat and related artifacts on the farm. They offer tours by appointment and have converted a granary and smokehouse into a facility where they provide wonderful barbecue dinners.

This creates opportunities for rural tourism. The Beauchamps have had visitors from Europe, China, Russia, and Greece.

Jack Beauchamp tells visitors the fascinating history of this remarkable animal. The bison has been described as the majestic monarch of the plains for more than 200 centuries. Bison are native to the North American continent. Of course, they were integral to the lives of the native people of the prairies, providing food, hides, and all types of uses.

Then came the white man and the railroad. Men like Buffalo Bill Cody got their names and fame from hunting and killing huge numbers of the giant animals. By 1900, less than 500 of the animals survived.

Fortunately, there were those who chose to preserve this remarkable breed of animals, and today some quarter-million bison are grown in the U.S. Kansas has a significant number of producers, including Jack Beauchamp.

The Beauchamps sell their buffalo meat direct from the farm and also to restaurants and stores in Kansas City, Lawrence, and elsewhere in the region. The Kansas Buffalo Association has a list of restaurants all across the state that sell buffalo meat products. These range from Wichita to the town of Longford, population 66 people. Now, that's rural.

Bison production provides an alternative opportunity for entrepreneurial ag producers. It also produces a healthy, nutritious product. Buffalo meat is very low in fat and cholesterol. This is why many cardiologists recommend buffalo as an alternative to more fatty meats. Buffalo meat has a higher protein content than beef – in fact, it has the highest percentage of protein of any meat tested.

If you would like more information about producing buffalo or about finding a place to get buffalo meat in your area, you can call the Kansas Buffalo Association toll-free at 1-888-28-BISON. That's 1-888-282-4766. Or you can contact Jack and Lyndell Beauchamp at 785-242-3540. That number again is 785-242-3540.

So here's a riddle: What is a bison? No, not just something an Australian washes his hands in. The American bison is a fascinating part of Kansas history and is now a positive alternative for innovative ag producers. We salute Jack and Lyndell Beauchamp for making a difference by combining tourism opportunities with production of a natural and healthy product. It's helping solve the riddle of rural economic development.

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

Dennis Main - Tech agent

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

High tech, high touch. That's a phrase that combines high tech, modern technology with the personal touch – a real person who is close enough that you can touch. Sometimes that personal touch gets lost in our modern high tech society, but when you combine the two – high tech and high touch – there is a great strength there.

Today we're going to talk about a new type of position that is offered through K-State Research and Extension in Sedgwick County, Kansas. A good description for this position might be high tech, high touch. It's an innovative approach for the Extension service, and we'll learn about it on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Dennis Main. Dennis is the new Extension agent for Technology and Community Development in Sedgwick County.

If that title sounds a little unusual, let me explain. Here's some background.

First, a word about the Extension service itself. It's a part of our nation's landgrant system, where a century ago, states received a grant of land as a basis for creating public universities that would serve the people. The Extension service was created to extend the research findings from those universities into the field, to help farmers, homemakers, and citizens at large.

Through Extension, a network of county offices was created with university-supported professionals in every county who do educational work in the field. Historically, those agents have been organized into four types of work: Agriculture, Family and Consumer Sciences or FACS for short, 4-H, and community development. Thus, in many counties, there is an ag agent and a FACS agent and both work with 4-H youth.

Now there is a new type of agent on the scene. We might call it a Tech agent. This person's mission is like other Extension agents, in that his role is to deliver educational programming. But instead of being about wheat management or diet and nutrition, his educational area is technology – particularly computers.

Bev Dunning is the County Extension Director in Sedgwick County. She created this new tech agent position after consulting with the state Extension director at K-State. In March 2001, Dennis Main became this new agent.

Dennis Main is a farm boy from Michigan who got hooked on electronics when he became a ham radio operator as a kid. He moved to Kansas and eventually established his own company, Main Electronics, which provided calibration services for electronic devices and microcomputer system repairs. He later served as a consultant, finished an MBA at Friends University, and teaches there still.

One day he was working on delivering a certain program by satellite and he happened to drive by the Sedgwick County Extension office. He noticed a satellite dish on top of the building and he wondered if that dish was available to rent for his program. So he stopped in, hardly knowing what Extension was. Once he learned about Extension, he became excited. He became a technology consultant for Sedgwick County Extension and eventually took this new agent position.

Not only does he provide tech support for the Extension staff in Sedgwick County, he does educational outreach for citizens at large. Because of the need, he has targeted such populations as seniors, shut ins, and specialized cases. He has enhanced the county Extension website, added streaming media, and is working on an online community radio station. And while he is based in Wichita, he is willing to help throughout the county. Already he has done programs in Sedgwick County towns such as Haysville, Valley Center, and Kechi, a town of 831 people. Now, that 's rural.

How exciting to see Extension change with the times to add technology to the scope of its educational mission.

High tech, high touch. That combines the most modern technology with the personal touch, which is a powerful combination. We salute Bev Dunning and Dennis Main for making a difference through innovation in Extension programming and serving Kansans in a new, much-needed way. It's high tech, high touch – and that's a highlight.

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

Huck Boyd - 10th Anniversary Program

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

Today we celebrate a birthday. Sorry, no cake and candles. It's not a birthday of a person, it's the birthday of a program – specifically, this radio program. Today's program marks the 10 year anniversary of Kansas Profile on the radio. We'll reflect on that decade and revisit our very first program on today's Kansas Profile.

It's hard to believe it was a decade ago when I first approached the K-State extension public radio station about this concept. As director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, I knew I wanted to do some outreach to encourage rural entrepreneurs and community leaders. It seemed that rather than preaching at people about what they ought to do, or telling them what the academic theories were about rural development, it would be most effective to share actual examples of what real people were doing in a rural setting.

So I suggested to the station manager that we would do a series of features about rural entrepreneurs and community leaders. He agreed on one a week and suggested that his office could distribute it to other stations around the state, which he did.

We figured it would last six months. That was 10 years ago. By doing one story a week, I have had the opportunity to learn about and tell about more than 500 wonderful people during the decade this program has been on the air.

Let's revisit that very first Kansas Profile. It is the story of McDill "Huck" Boyd himself.

Huck came from northwest Kansas. He went to K-State and came back into the family newspaper business, where he became editor and publisher of the Phillips County Review. He became deeply involved in his community, working on issues of economic development, rural health care, and more.

Huck got involved. He became county chairman with the political party of his choice, and worked his way up the ranks to become national committeeman for Kansas. When senators and presidents wanted to know what rural people thought about an issue, they would call on him.

When the Rock Island Railroad took bankruptcy, it proposed to abandon 465 miles of rail line across the heartland -- including Huck's hometown. Loss of the rail line would have been devastating to the communities, farmers, and other businesses served by the railroad.

I was working in Washington DC at that time, as a flunkie staff member for Senator Nancy Kassebaum. She introduced me to a man who was visiting from Kansas: Huck Boyd. He was in Washington leading the fight to maintain rail service for his region. The experts said it couldn't be done, but Huck found a way. He led the effort to form a Mid States Port Authority to buy the line and continue service.

Today a private sector shortline railroad is operating on what would have been abandoned track. It's testimony to what a committed leader can do.

Today the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development strives to build on that legacy of service to rural Kansas. We are working to develop community leaders across the state, in partnership with K-State Research and Extension.

And we're still having a lot of fun doing this program. I'm proud to report that we have done profiles featuring people in every county of the state, ranging from people in our more urban counties to communities as small as Freeport, Kansas, population 9 people. Now, that's rural.

I would like to thank the professionals of KKSU radio and the other radio stations across the state which carry this program. And most of all, I would like to thank those faithful listeners who follow this program regularly.

When I encounter some remarkable rural business, I will sometimes tell the business owner, "Your business is so successful that you could be in New York or California. Why do you remain here in small town Kansas?" The answer I generally get is, "We want to be here. This is our home. This is where we grew up, and where we want to raise our families." And they go into all the economic reasons, of their investment in their plant and their employees' good work ethic. But it is clear that they care about their community.

So happy birthday to Kansas Profile, in honor of rural entrepreneurs and community leaders. As I said to conclude that first program 10 years ago, "May Huck Boyd's example remind countless others of what is possible when local people want to make a difference." Now let's have some birthday cake anyway.

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

Walter Wulf Jr. - Monarch Cement

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 heard the phrase "cement the relationship"? I've heard it used in connection with a couple of organizations that are moving to work together. They will take steps to cement the relationship, meaning to strengthen or solidify their partnership. Today, we'll meet a company that has cemented its relationship with its home community, and I mean that literally – because what this company produces is cement. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Walter Wulf Jr., President of The Monarch Cement Company. He tells the company's fascinating history.

Our story begins early in the last century. Mr. H.G.F. Wulf was running a farm implement and hardware store in Cheney, Kansas, when some farmer friends of his urged him to buy stock in a cement company over in southeastern Kansas. It was the Monarch Portland Cement Company that was organized in 1908.

So Mr. Wulf bought stock, and this same group wanted him to serve on the board of directors. They got him on the board, but after he had been to a board meeting or two, he came back to them and told them he didn't like what he was seeing – he advised them to sell their stock. They disregarded his advice, but it turned out he was right. It wasn't long before this company went into receivership.

Now this group was even more impressed with Mr. Wulf. In fact, they went to the judge and asked him to appoint Mr. Wulf as the receiver, which he did.

Meanwhile, another stockholder was Mr. August Kreitzer, a successful farmer who had retired and moved to Wichita. He wanted to save his investment in the company also, so he and Mr. Wulf reorganized the company in 1913 as The Monarch Cement Company. In fact, the two lived near each other. Mr. and Mrs. Wulf had a son and Mr. and Mrs. Kreitzer had a daughter. What do you suppose happened? Yes, as sometimes happens with the girl next door, those two would eventually marry. Talk about cementing a relationship...

Anyway, the son was Walter Wulf. He ran the company for years until his son Walter Wulf Jr. took over. The senior Mr. Wulf passed away in 2001 at age 101.

Back in 1913, when the company was reorganized, it had the capacity to produce 1.5 million barrels of cement or 282,000 tons a year. Today, it has the capacity to produce some 850,000 tons of cement. Now Monarch is working on a 35 million dollar expansion which will expand that capacity to more than a million tons.

Some of the primary things you need to produce cement are limestone and natural gas – both of which are found extensively in Kansas. For example, limestone is taken from a quarry and crushed to make the primary ingredient of cement.

Back in 1913, the stone from the quarry was loaded by hand into mule-drawn cars. By 1920, the mules had been replaced by 8-ton steam engines. Today, the quarry is operated using giant front-end loaders, conveyor belts, and 50-ton trucks.

The limestone from the quarry is carried to the processing plant where the rock is crushed, mixed with certain other ingredients, heated to 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit, and ground to the fineness of face powder to make cement. Two giant kilns do the heating. In addition to the natural gas, Monarch Cement found that they could use waste tires as fuel for the kilns also - up to 2,000 tires a day. That is a win-win deal. The tires save Monarch Cement from using scarce fossil fuels, and those tires don't fill up a landfill someplace. That's good for business as well as the environment.

Processing and quality control are computer-controlled and closely monitored. Monarch cement goes to ready-mix operators and concrete products companies through the central U.S. Monarch now has terminals in Iowa and Dodge City and owns several subsidiaries. But the headquarters remains in the company's original home community, the southeast Kansas town of Humboldt, population 2,139 people. Now, that's rural.

Walter Wulf Jr. estimates that there are 165 Monarch employees at Humboldt and, counting all subsidiaries, some 700 employees overall. Wow.

Have you heard that phrase "cement the relationship"? It's fitting in this case, because The Monarch Cement Company has cemented the relationship with the community of Humboldt for more than nine decades. We commend Walter Wulf Jr. and all the people of Monarch Cement for making a difference through their hard work and growth through the years. It helps make the rural economy rock solid.

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

Bret Albers - Art's and Mary's

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

Would you eat a food product recommended by a Maniac? Sounds suspicious, doesn't it? Today we'll meet a company which produces a potato chip that is endorsed by Maniac, but don't worry -- it's all good. In this case, MANIAC is an acronym for Movement for Americans Not Into Average Chips. Those initials spell MANIAC. And you thought you'd heard every acronym in the books...We'll get the whole maniacal story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Bret Albers and Jeff Albers. Bret and Jeff are co-owners of Art's and Mary's Chips, a potato chip company in south central Kansas.

Bret explains that the company began in the early 1980s with a couple in Wichita. Their names, remarkably enough, were Art and - you guessed it - Mary. This couple made a homegrown type of potato chip which was delicious, and so they formed a company to produce and sell them.

In 1994, Art's and Mary's was purchased by another company in Wichita, but unfortunately, two years later the company closed. No more Art's and Mary's chips were produced, and that left lots of unhappy consumers.

Among those unhappy consumers were Bret Albers and Jeff Albers. Bret says, "We loved Art's and Mary's chips." He says, "We go down to Grand Lake in Oklahoma a lot, and in those days the chips were sold only in Kansas. So when we would go to the lake, we would stop in Fredonia - which was the last convenience store in Kansas that we knew had Art's and Mary's chips - and buy all we could get our hands on."

You can see that Art's and Mary's chips had quite a customer following, and they were sad that Art's and Mary's chips were no longer produced. But then a thought came to Bret and Jeff. They were young entrepreneurs who owned pizza restaurants in Cheney and Harper. Bret says, "We figured, hey, we're already in the food business. What if we could do Art's and Mary's chips?"

So they gave it a try. First, they gained the license rights to the name and the processes which the company used. One thing led to another, and in September 1999, Art's and Mary's chips were re-introduced in Wichita. Now the product line has been expanded and the chips are selling all over Kansas and into Missouri and Oklahoma.

Bret and Jeff have remained true to the basic values that made Art's and Mary's chips distinctive in the past. For example, their chips are still sliced thicker than the average potato chip, and they still use the striking shiny foil bag with the striped design.

Bret says, "Our goal was not to create something new, but to give the people what they had grown to love over the years." Fortunately, there were still lots of customers who want the chips. Bret and Jeff have made improvements in the business also.

Today, Art's and Mary's chips come in seven flavors: Hot 'n zesty jalapeno, tangy dill, thick 'n crunchy original, naturally tasty no salt, mesquite smoked bbq, herb garlic parmesan, and classic salt 'n vinegar. Yum.

Bret says, "Our seasoning helps set us apart. We use lots of bold flavors and we do a lot of testing. Our jalapeno bites you back."

It's good to see that these young entrepreneurs are having success, and it's especially pleasing to find that they are doing it from a rural setting. Brett and Jeff are running their business, including the main warehouse, from their hometown of Cheney, Kansas, population 1,683 people. Now, that's rural.

And what about the Maniac? Bret says, "We did an ad and had some t-shirts made saying that our chips were endorsed by MANIAC, which stands for Movement for Americans Not Into Average Chips. People were calling up and saying they were maniacs for our chips, all right. We have people who tell us they grind up our parmesan chips and use them as casserole topping, or mix the dill chips in with their ham sandwiches." So there may not be card-carrying MANIAC members out there, but there are some wearing t-shirts and using these chips.

Would you eat a food product recommended by a maniac? Well, in this case, you should. For if you eat Art's and Mary's chips, you will not only get more than the average chip, you will be supporting a rural Kansas company. We salute Bret and Jeff Albers and all the people of Art's and Mary's chips for making a difference through entrepreneurship and creativity. It's enough to make you a maniac.

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

Jeff Davidson - Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train

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

Imagine being in the heart of the Flint Hills and coming across a wagon train, complete with horsedrawn covered wagons. Wow, is this a time warp or are they filming a movie? No, this is a real wagon train operating today in rural Kansas. It provides people of modern times the opportunity to experience a wagon train like our pioneer ancestors. So hitch your wagon to the radio for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Jeff Davidson. Jeff tells about the Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train which provides this remarkable experience for modern-day pioneers.

This began back in 1978, with an attorney from El Dorado named Ervin Grant. Apparently Mr. Grant is an old west history enthusiast. He participated in a wagon train trip out west and wanted to try it in the Flint Hills of Kansas.

So he found folks that had horses and wagons and signed them up to help. Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train began offering weekend wagon train rides each summer.

Through the years, they enhanced the experience. In 1985, Jeff Davidson was asked to come play his guitar and sing western songs at the evening campouts, which he has been doing ever since. He brings songbooks so the people can sing along, and he also weaves in some fascinating Kansas history about the old west and the historic trails that cross the state.

So how does this work? The wagon train rides are offered most weekends from June into September, and school groups or other special event excursions are also done by request. Advance reservations are required.

When Saturday comes, the wagons are boarded at 10 a.m. and then they head across country.

These wagons are authentic type equipment, pulled by teams of horses or mules. There are breaks, including a ham lunch and an afternoon watermelon stop at a place with outhouses. Somehow I don't think the boys on Rawhide had those...

Anyway, when evening comes, it's time to camp. Each person brings their own camping gear. Supper is a hearty, campfire cooked dutch oven meal, including son-of-a-gun stew with beef or buffalo. Then it's time for western entertainment, and a campout under the stars.

Sunday morning begins with a big breakfast and an inspirational service. There may be old-fashioned kids games, such as roll the hoop or sack races, or maybe lessons on harnessing the horses. The wagons make it back to the cookshack in time for a Sunday lunch of sloppy joes plus fixin's and the conclusion of the ride.

This is all done with fun and good humor. The coffee is described as made from freshly ground beans and brewed in a sock. The wagons are described as round-trip, first class transportation -- 1878 variety.

Jeff Davidson often accompanies the wagon train as an outrider. He takes the opportunity to use this time for education on grazing management and plant identification. Trail riders sometimes accompany the wagons, and there are special fees for such rides, one day trips, and other options.

Jeff says, "This is a chance for them to get away from it all. And you meet some really nice people doing this. We get lots of families, sometimes grandparents bringing grandkids, so they can share this history together."

As you might guess, the scene of a modern day covered wagon makes a compelling picture, which has been used in Kansas promotions. Jeff Davidson says, "My horse was in the Christian Science Monitor."

People from the Carolinas to California have been on these wagon rides. They have even had riders from Germany and Japan.

This happens in the heart of the scenic Flint Hills. Guests are directed to meet at the old schoolhouse at Bazaar in Chase County, Kansas and then they drive to the designated boarding area at the Josh Hoy ranch. Bazaar is an unincorporated town, but it is estimated that there are about 15 people actually living in Bazaar. Now, that's rural.

How exciting to see that our rural heritage is being utilized and promoted for the benefit of Kansas. For information or reservations, call 316-321-6300. That number again is 316-321-6300.

It's time to unhitch our covered wagon from this wagon train. We commend Jeff Davidson, Ervin Grant, and all those involved with Flint Hills Overland Wagon Train for making a difference by sharing and marketing this wonderful part of our old western heritage today. And with that, I think we've got this wagon covered.

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

Frankie Rohr - Rohr Restaurant Service

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

For every door that closes, another one will open. That inspirational saying has helped sustain people through all kinds of challenges. When we are discouraged, that saying gives us hope. Today we'll learn of an example where that saying was proven true, by an entrepreneur in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Frankie Rohr. Frankie comes from a farm in western Kansas. He grew up custom cutting wheat. Of course, that meant taking combines and trucks on the road, and following the wheat harvest north as the crop ripened from Texas up to the prairie provinces of Canada. So Frankie spent a lot of time with the custom cutting business.

But perhaps you recall those days of high interest and high fuel prices in the mid-80s. Those conditions hurt lots of businesses, including custom cutters.

Frankie and his crew were at the end of a custom cutting trip in 1985 when they knew that the finances would not enable them to continue. Just at that time, they were cutting wheat in the Dakotas near the Canadian border.

Frankie says, "There is an International Peace Garden there on the border of North Dakota and Canada. We went to visit there, and while we were there we saw a plaque that said, "For every door that closes, another one will open." That provided him a note of encouragement just at the time he needed it.

Frankie returned to his farm in western Kansas. Sure enough, a door was about to open through a rural setting.

One day Frankie was visiting with his aunt who ran a restaurant in the nearby town of Grainfield, population 351 people. Now, that's rural.

His aunt was telling about a problem with the grease that accumulated in the hood vent above the oven in the kitchen. Frankie set out to help by cleaning the hood vent for his aunt. That interest in helping would ultimately turn into a business opportunity.

Frankie says, "We really started by trial and error. We were lucky to have my aunt who was willing to let us try different things."

Frankie blended some chemicals to make a formula that would clean those tough grease deposits. Eventually he hit on some formulas that worked well, and he was willing to apply the elbow grease to get the job done. He realized that many other restaurants had a need for the same type of service. So after he got the process figured out, he began to offer this cleaning service to other restaurants and kitchens.

He began by going door to door. That's truly the way you build business, customer by customer. A person can spend a lot of money on fancy consultants and feasibility studies, but Frankie did it the old fashioned way: He took listings out of the phone books and contacted them, one customer at a time.

Today, Rohr's Restaurant Service of Quinter, Kansas provides cleaning services for restaurants and kitchens all over the western region. In fact, he has some 200 clients all over western Kansas, as far east as Abilene. He even franchised the company at one point, with 13 franchises in Kansas, Colorado, and Indianapolis, but now the company has refocused on its core business. He operates the business from his Gove County farm.

So how does this work? For example, a restaurant would contract with Rohr's Restaurant Service to clean the kitchen equipment. Then Frankie or his crew brings their cleaning equipment in a specially equipped, full size van. They use their special blends of grease cutter to clean the hood. They clean the kitchen with their portable steamer pressure washer that produces 1,500 pounds of pressure and heats the water to 250 degrees. Wow. They have special tarps to cover and protect the kitchen equipment also.

Not only does this service help keep kitchens clean, it eliminates a safety hazard by getting that grease out from above the oven. Frankie says, "Insurance companies, along with the fire marshall and health inspectors, are making restaurants get these cleaned every 3 to 6 months."

"For every door that closes, another one will open." Frankie found truth in that statement, because when his custom cutting business was done, he found a door opening to a new business in helping restaurants. We commend Frankie Rohr and the people of Rohr's Restaurant Service for making a difference by providing this vital service. It helps the rural economy of Kansas to open doors.

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

Debra Wheaton - Equine Eagles

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 heard of equine eagles? It's an odd combination, isn't it -- Equine and eagles? I knew there was genetic engineering going on, but this is ridiculous... Well, this isn't genetic engineering. It's an organization by the name of Equine Eagles that is helping to serve people in a heartwarming way. That's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Debra Wheaton of Independence, Kansas. Debra is the President and Founder of Equine Eagles. She came from the southeast Kansas town of Fredonia originally, and even as a kid, she had a passion: Horses. She says with a laugh, "My family said, 'Oh well, she'll outgrow it.'"

Guess what. She didn't outgrow it, and that's good news for lots of people.

Debra went to college at Independence and worked for several years in the human resources field. She lived and worked in Wichita and Kansas City, but she found she preferred the rural lifestyle – and of course, she couldn't keep horses in the city.

In 1991, Debra learned about a therapeutic riding facility near Coffeyville. Debra had read about therapeutic riding in her horse magazines. That's the concept of helping mentally and physically disabled people by providing them opportunities to ride and bond with a horse. So she knew about the concept, but she didn't know that such a center was nearby.

In spring 1991, Debra volunteered to help at the therapeutic riding center, and in no time, she was hooked. She became certified to teach, and in 1995, founded her own organization: Equine Eagles, Inc., a 501(c)3 not for profit organization.

The goal of Equine Eagles is to utilize horses as therapy, in the treatment of emotional, behavioral, social, mental, physical, and spiritual needs. Debra says Equine Eagles has five ministries: Riding as physical therapy, horses as emotional therapy, vaulting, Equine Connections, and Personal Ponies.

For example: When a physically handicapped person rides a horse, it causes the rider's body to move in a manner similar to a human gait by moving the torso, arms, shoulders, and head in rhythmic ways.

These movements reach deep muscles, while the warmth of the horse helps keep the rider relaxed, causing less pain yet exercise. A horses' movement provides 10,000 revolutions to the rider's body every ten minutes. Riding improves reflexes and balance as well as stretches tight muscles and reduces spasticity. It increases respiration and circulation and helps with digestion. Wow, I just thought it was fun.

But seriously, experts say such riding can benefit amputees and stroke victims as well as those with autism, brain injuries, Down's Syndrome, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, and spinal cord injuries.

Emotional therapy comes from using the horse as a mirror to teach us communication, focus, and management skills. This can be helpful to those with low self-esteem, attention deficit and hyperactive disorders, the abused and disadvantaged.

Vaulting is actually gymnastics on horseback. Equine Eagles has an impressive vaulting team where everyone works together to do the moves and performances.

Equine Connections has to do with creating a human-horse bond and with natural training and re-training of horses. This can help a student work through life issues also.

The fifth and final ministry is Personal Ponies, Ltd., a foundation based in New York which raises and breeds miniature Shetland Ponies which are placed with a disabled person.

The common theme of all these is that the horse is being used to help people, and vice versa. Some 25 volunteers help Debra at her training facility near Independence, a town of 9,623 people. Debra's facility is seven miles from town at the intersection of county roads 3000 and 4100. Now, that's rural.

Debra has won several awards, including Award of Merit for an Outstanding Minority-Owned Business. She assisted with the equine events at the 1996 Paralympics, which are held right after the Olympic Games as a competition for disabled athletes.

So why the name Equine Eagles? Debra says, "This is a God-based program." The name comes from the Bible verse which says "they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint." Imagine those physically handicapped folks who are unable to walk at all. Now they can mount up and walk horse-back in a way they might never have dreamed of.

Equine Eagles. It may sound unusual, but it's the perfect name, considering the therapeutic benefit which this can provide. We salute Debra Wheaton and all the volunteers of Equine Eagles for making a difference with their caring service. It makes your pride run like a horse and your heart soar like an eagle.

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

Karen Pestinger - Carrico Implement

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 Palm Beach, Florida, where the John Deere company is presenting awards to its top dealers in the central U.S. states. This award is called the Managers Club, and it is presented to only a handful of dealers in these five states. Here's one general manager coming up to receive the award now. Two things are notable about this particular manager: One, his dealership has won this award for several years in a row, and second, he is not a he. He is a she. I mean, she is a she. I mean....Well, you know what I mean.

What I'm trying to say is that this general manager is a woman. In the traditional world of farm equipment dealerships, it is unusual to find a woman as general manager. But regardless of gender, she is successfully managing this business. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Karen Pestinger, general manager of Carrico Implement company in Beloit, Kansas. The fact that she is a woman in what has historically been a man's business may be unusual, but she is extremely qualified because she literally grew up in this business.

Carrico Implement began in 1954 when it was founded by Karen's grandfather, Paul Carrico. Mr. Carrico had worked for a Minneapolis Moline farm equipment dealership there in Beloit, and he bought the building and started a business of his own. That company did what farm equipment dealers typically do, namely selling tractors, implements, and combines and doing repairs as needed.

Karen's father joined the business in 1963. He had rural roots too, having grown up at the nearby town of Tipton, population 258 people. Now, that's rural.

The business grew, and now the next generation has joined the company. I told you Karen grew up in the business. She remembers being at the dealership as a kid, putting parts in the bins when stock orders came in.

Karen studied international business at Wichita State, worked in Wichita, and then came back into the family business. In 1988, she married Mike Pestinger who has his own downtown business in Beloit.

At Carrico Implement, Karen began as a receptionist and doing office work. At that time, the company had fewer than 20 employees. The next several years would see growth, and Karen worked her way up in the company. Her father is still involved, but Karen became general manager in 1999.

Karen says, "We started selling 4-wheel drive tractors in the last '60s, and then a big step for us was taking on John Deere equipment in 1986." That big step has turned out to be a big plus.

Carrico Implement serves farm customers up to 60 miles around each location with tractors, combines, and other equipment. It has also expanded into consumer and commercial equipment, so that a person can get everything from lawnmowers and snow blowers to skid steer loaders and compact utility tractors.

Today, Carrico Implement has some 80 employees with dealerships in Lincoln and Hays as well as the original headquarters in Beloit. That includes a payroll of more than two million dollars. Wow.

Why such growth? Karen says, "Our parts stock is larger than most dealers. My dad always insisted that we have lots of parts on hand so that we could have it when a farmer needs it." Customer service is the other key. Karen says, "We have twice as many technicians on staff as the average dealer."

And these are definitely not grease monkeys. Karen says, "Our combine technicians have to be certified in electronics and hydraulics. With the use of global positioning satellites in combines, they need to know computers and PC cards and more."

This remains a family business. Karen's older brother is service technician and shop foreman and her younger brother coordinates with the other stores. They leave the office management to Karen. It comes naturally to her, but when she goes to meetings it is still a shock to some people to find a woman in her role. She is one of probably only a handful of female general managers in John Deere dealerships across the whole country.

It's time to bid farewell to Palm Beach, where the Managers Club award has once again been presented to Carrico Implement and its general manager. We salute Karen Pestinger, her father and brothers, and all the people of Carrico Implement for making a difference through service and growth in the farm equipment industry. It's something he, she and we can all take pride in.

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

Kristi Koch - Equi Promotions

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

Today let's go to California, where we happen to be leafing through a pretty horse magazine. It's the February 2002 edition of Paint Horse Journal. There are some attractive, well-designed ads in this magazine which catch one's eye. Here's one, for example. And where do you suppose this ad was designed? Sure enough, by an entrepreneur in rural Kansas. It's time to mount up for the first in our series of horse stories on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Kristi Koch, the owner and founder of Equi-Promotions. As the name suggests, her business specializes in ad design, logos, websites, and general promotions for horse-related businesses. Her market niche specifically has to do with horses. She comes by that interest naturally.

Kristi grew up on a ranch near Hays. Her mom runs a western wear and tack store called Bar B Tack. Coincidentally, we did a Kansas Profile program about Bar B Tack not long ago. That would make Kristi and her mom the first mother and daughter pair to be profiled on our program. Now please, try to contain your enthusiasm about that monumental announcement....

Anyway, Kristi loved the outdoor life and the livestock – especially the horses. She practically grew up on one. Kristi says, "I started showing horses when I was three years old. We started moving cattle as soon as we could ride."

That interest continued as she got older. Kristi says, "I was told I could save money to by my own car or my own horse. I chose to drive my folk's old junker and bought my horse." Boy, think of the gas money you could save... I suppose it would be compensated for by the oat money you'd spend.

Kristi went to Hays High School and Fort Hays State. She also started competing in rodeo queen contests, and it is no surprise that she won six rodeo queen titles. The most prominent was in 1998, when she was crowned Miss Rodeo Kansas. She says, "During that time, I really became interested in communications."

She transferred to K-State, where she earned dual degrees in animal science and ag communications while serving on the horse judging team. In 1999, she married Larry Koch whom she had met at Hays. Larry is a farrier and trains – what else? – horses. They moved back to the area of his home farm in north central Kansas.

As Kristi finished her degrees, she was thinking about career choices. She says, "I figured I'd go into the public relations side of business, but I tried graphic design and found I enjoyed it." She interned with a local agribusiness firm and helped design websites.

In September 2001, Kristi formed Equi-Promotions. Her first major project was the Kansas Paint Horse Directory, a beautiful full-color publication on glossy paper. She had to sell ads and do the design, layout, and editing. Now she has picked up other accounts, and does ads which have appeared in national horse publications as I mentioned at the beginning.

Doing all this nowadays involves a lot of computer technology which Kristi had not learned as a youth. Kristi says with a smile, "I remember calling a friend in a panic saying, How do I save onto a disk?" But Kristi has done a lot of computer work since then, and learned it the best way by doing it herself. Kristi says, "Now she calls me to fix her computer."

Thanks to technology, Kristi can do this enterprise while living out on the farm near Clyde, Kansas, population 726 people. Now, that's rural. Yet living there and having the passion for the horses as she does gives her instant credibility with prospective clients.

I think more recent graduates are thinking about longer-term quality of life and making lifestyle choices as they graduate from college, and that may be influencing them to think twice about careers in the big cities. Perhaps it's the influence of September 11 or just a return to basic values.

Kristi says, "I want to live and have a family in a small town. Being involved in the horse industry is what I wanted to do, and family is very important to me."

It's time to say goodbye to California, where we found a national horse magazine with ads designed by Kristi Koch out in the middle of Kansas. We commend Kristi and her family for making a difference through creativity, vision, and caring for rural Kansas. Now it's time to ride off into the sunset...But tune in next week for another in our series.

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

Walt Gove - Part 1, Card Company

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

Today we'll meet someone who is something of a card. You know that means he is something of a character, which he is. But you could take that phrase another way, because this individual is part of a company that produces greeting cards. Stay tuned for the whole story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Walt Gove. If my brief contact with Walt is any indication, he is something of a card – namely, an interesting character.

Walt is really a cowboy at heart. He worked on ranches all over the west. He worked cattle and shod horses, and even wrote a little cowboy poetry. Now he lives in the western Kansas town of Gove. Gove is a town of 99 people. Now, that's rural.

I told you that Walt had written some cowboy poetry, which is an art unto itself. But Walt's sister is an artist in a more conventional sense.

His sister, Judy Gove Adamick, is an artist in South Carolina. She's a professional painter in oils and acrylics. But the connection with Walt's western interests would prove to be propitious.

Walt says, "For years I tried to get her to do western art but she didn't want to do it. Then one time she was asked to bring some art down for a display in South Carolina. She said, 'Sorry, I don't have anything. Everything's sold. I just have a couple of western theme pieces I did for my brother.' They said, "Well then, bring them down." And when she did, they sold instantly."

That convinced Judy that there was a market in western art, so now she does that in addition to her ongoing work. And then they saw a chance to combine her artwork with Walt's poetry. Now they sell greeting cards with an image of Judy's western artwork on the front, and an appropriate selection of Walt's cowboy verse on the inside. Walt says, "It's not poetic justice, the way I write it's poetic injustice."

That's typical of the humor that he brings to this enterprise. The cards can be both funny and touching. You can view these cards and get more information by going to www.goverlandstagecardco.com. That's g-o-v-e-r-l-a-n-d-s-t-a-g-e-c-a-r-d-c-o.com.

One time, a poem of Walt's was featured on radio in Wyoming around the time of Father's Day. Since it's that time again, we'll share that poem with you today. Walt dedicates it to all fathers, both earth bound and heaven sent. Here's The Rider, by Walt Gove.

There He Goes, Just Rode over the Rise.....

I Knew it Was Him, You Know, I Could Tell by the Eyes!

I Pushed on Further at a Break Neck Speed....

No Chance to Catch Up, It's Called Too Much Lead,

Thru Sagebrush and Prickly Pear 'O How the Rocks Did Fly,

Keeping Just Ahead of Me, I Did Not Know Why......

I Began to Realize I Could Not Catch Up,

For it Was Part of God's Plan, Be it Good or Hard Luck.

My Horse , I Could Feel the Power thru the Reins, as He Forged on Ahead,

I Could Not Stop Him, this Ride Was Heaven Sent.

Would this Be My Last Ride? I Pondered, as I Raced thru the Canyon,

I Miss Him So, but There's No Stoppin' My Companion.....

His Horse Was So Much Faster, and for That I Was Sad,

Then I Realized it Was Okay, 'Cause That Rider Was My Dad.

That poem was The Rider, by Walt Gove. With that, we extend best wishes for Father's Day to fathers everywhere.

That poem is an example of one of the poems featured on these cards.

Today we've met someone who is something of a card – and I mean that literally, in terms of the greeting cards which he and his sister have produced. We salute Walt Gove and his sister Judy who are making a difference with their talent and creativity. We're glad to have that card in the rural Kansas deck.

And there's more. The name of the card company is Goverland Stage Card Company, which is named for an actual place in rural Kansas. We'll get the story on our next program.

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

Walt Gove - Part 2, Goverland Stage Stop

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

On our last program, we learned about a greeting card company with rural Kansas connections. The name of the company is Goverland Stage Card Company. No, I didn't say overland stage company, as some of the oldtime stagecoach companies were called, I said Goverland stage company. What is Goverland? Stay tuned for the answer on today's Kansas Profile.

Walt Gove is the western character we met on our last program. He writes cowboy poetry that is featured with his sister's art on greeting cards. Those cards and many other items are sold in a place called the Goverland Stage Stop in western Kansas. Here is the story.

As we heard last week, Walt Gove is really a cowboy at heart. He worked cattle and shod horses on ranches in Wyoming, Oregon, Nebraska, and Arizona. But as Walt says, "Buckarooing doesn't pay."

So Walt went to work with Black Hills Trail Rides in the Black Hills of South Dakota. That was great fun but it was seasonal. After a couple of Dakota winters at 50 degrees below, Walt was ready to head south for the central plains.

As you travel south from the Black Hills, your route takes you through western Kansas. When Walt did so, he came through Gove County. There was just something about that name that appealed to Walt... Don't forget, Walt's last name is Gove also.

It turns out that Gove County is named for a cavalry soldier named Grenville Gove, who might have been a distant relation of Walt. Anyway, Walt was intrigued by the name. As he traveled north and south through the area, he bought a place in Gove County just as a place to stop.

One time while coming through, Walt saw that the abandoned Stuckey's was for sale up on Interstate 70. He eventually bought and remodeled the building. On September 1, 2001, he and his wife Dorothy Jean opened a new business there.

It is the Goverland Stage Stop. Not Overland, but Goverland with a G as in Gove. Nice combination, you see. Goverland Stage Stop includes a café, gift shop, kids games, and more attractions on the way.

Visitors to Goverland will be able to stay in the Native American campground in real teepees or their own campers. Walt anticipates that the Indian village campground will have authentic pow-wows and cultural information about the Native Americans.

Goverland also offers Bed and Breakfast rooms and fresh homemade foods in the restaurant. Of course, the gift shop includes the greeting cards featuring Walt's poetry and his sister's art. There are even facilities for pets and horses on premises, with farrier services available 24 hours thanks to Walt Gove.

There are several attractions in the area which visitors can take in. They can take an agricultural tour of farms and ranches or go fossil and artifact hunting. They can visit historical sites, museums, water parks, or lakes for swimming, boating and fishing. Nearby are also natural rock wonders such as Castle Rock and Monument Rocks.

This is a fun stop for visitors to eat lunch and see some neat gifts and collectables. It is conveniently located at Exit 93 on Interstate 70. The address of the business is actually Grainfield, Kansas. Grainfield is a town of 351 people. Now, that's rural.

Grainfield appears to be located roughly halfway between Topeka and Denver, so it is an excellent strategic location. Goverland Stage Stop has already had visitors from Alaska to New Jersey.

More information is available by going to www.goverlandstagestop.com. That's g-o-v-e-r-l-a-n-d-s-t-a-g-e-s-t-o-p.com.

Today is our second and final program in our series on Walt Gove. He runs a place for visitors to stop along I-70 with a western theme, but it's not the overland stage stop, it's the Goverland Stage Stop. We commend Walt and Dorothy Jean for making a difference with their entrepreneurship. They're helping take rural tourism up to the next stage.

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

Linda Thurston - Survival Skills

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

I will survive, says a popular song. But for the most disadvantaged in our tough economic times, surviving can be a challenge. Today we'll meet someone who is helping to equip people with the skills they need to survive successfully. She's a special person who comes from rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Linda Thurston, founder of Survival Skills Education and Development, or SSED, of Manhattan, Kansas.

Linda truly has rural roots. She grew up on a farm in Chase County, near the eastern Kansas town of Elmdale, population 82 people. Now, that's rural.

Linda went to Baker University and became a teacher like her mother. She later became a fulltime homemaker and mom. While in Texas, she earned a degree in clinical psychology. She came back to Kansas and earned a graduate degree from KU in child psychology.

After that, Linda was working in Kansas City on an inner city children's project. She was working with parents of children with disabilities, and she found the parents themselves had lots of challenges of their own. These were typically low income, mostly African American single moms. But they really wanted to help their kids.

Linda says, "We decided we should back up and do some life skills training with the moms before they could help their kids. We would do it in a community learning setting, where they could learn from each other rather than have some expert come in from out of town."

So they started doing some work with these mothers on goal setting and other basic competencies. The project worked, and soon people from other states were calling to learn how they did it.

Meanwhile, Linda felt burned out in Kansas City so she decided to move back home to Chase County. She opened a cafe in Cottonwood Falls, with lots of community help, she says. She named it the Emma Chase Café, which would later to be featured in the book PrairyErth.

In the early 1980s, she took a part-time position with the College of Education at K-State. But in addition to college work and the Emma Chase café, she continued to receive inquiries about the life skills training she had done in Kansas City.

It was time for that training enterprise to become a business of its own. Linda took leave from her college position, hired one person to help, designed a curriculum, and opened her business for training: Survival Skills Education and Development, or SSED. Their first offering was Survival Skills for Women, a series of ten workshops teaching behaviors leading to economic and personal independence. Topics ranged from nutrition to child management to budgeting to coping with crisis. Every aspect of the program was tested and improved.

The program was so successful that survival skills programs are now offered for men, youth, and trainers who work with these populations also. These are designed for those most in need, and may be used in homeless shelters or even prisons. This training has become a key component of welfare to work programs in several states.

In the first year, SSED programs were utilized in 5 states. Today, SSED has been used in 42 states and one foreign country. Company headquarters is in Manhattan, but SSED has staff and trainers around the country and in Canada, and holds training sessions all over the nation. This model has been featured at the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing and at the White House. Wow.

Linda says, "We invented this because moms needed it. Now we're receiving inquiries from all over the world." Meanwhile, Linda has worked her way up the ranks to become an assistant dean in the College of Education.

Most of all, this training is making a difference in the lives of people who really need it. There are countless testimonials from SSED participants. Linda says, "I think about Gigi, an abused woman in west Texas who was living in a car with her five kids when she came to us. She took Survival Skills for Women because she was required to as a welfare recipient." Gigi turned her life around, pursued her education, and is now a teacher with a masters degree. Wow.

I will survive, says the popular song. Today, we have learned of a remarkable business which is helping people to survive the most difficult of circumstances all across the country. We commend Linda Thurston and the people of Survival Skills Education and Development for truly making a difference in these people's lives. It's helping them to survive and thrive.

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

Ruth McKee - Little House on the Prairie

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

Little house on the prairie. You may know that as the name of a famous children's book written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or, you may know that as the popular TV show of that name which starred Michael Landon. But did you know it is possible to visit the original site where Laura Ingalls Wilder lived in Kansas? Not only is this true, it is one element of a whole new excitement in tourism which is found in southeast Kansas. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Ruth McKee. Ruth told me the fascinating story.

Let's start with the basics. Laura Ingalls was born in 1867. She spent her childhood traveling west by covered wagon, including to such places as Indian Territory in Kansas. She met and married Almonzo Wilder in Dakota Territory. In later years, Laura was urged by her daughter to write down her stories of pioneer days for other children to enjoy. So she did. Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote eight books, including Little House on the Prairie. They gained popularity all over the world and have been printed in 40 languages! The television program Little House on the Prairie was based on her books.

I remember being in grade school and having our teacher read passages to us from Little House on the Prairie, including stories about their life in Kansas.

But as of the early 1970s, one mystery still remained: Where exactly was it that they lived in Kansas? It was around Independence, according to the books, but nobody knew the exact location.

So a lady from Independence named Margaret Clement teamed up with Eileen Charbo at the Kansas State Historical Society and did years of research. A reference to the family was found in the Montgomery County census records of 1870. And in 1977, the original home site was located, thanks to the location of the old Ingalls well. The homesite is 13 miles southwest of Independence, just off Highway 75.

This farmstead was on land now owned by a family named Kurtis. Bert Horton had bought the land back in the 1920s and passed it on to his daughter Wilma who married a Bill Kurtis. The Kurtis's were interested in the history of the Laura Ingalls Wilder home. Volunteers built an authentic replica of the original log cabin at the original site, following the exact descriptions in the book.

Today this location is the official historic site of the Little House on the Prairie as designated by the State of Kansas. Also located there now are a genuine one-room schoolhouse and a post office building from Wayside, Kansas. Both buildings date back to the turn of the century or before.

I was intrigued by that town of Wayside. It is an unincorporated town nearby. Ruth McKee and her husband live near Wayside. It has approximately 50 people. Now, that's rural.

This rural setting is perfect for Little House on the Prairie. Ruth McKee, a niece of Wilma Horton Kurtis, helps manage and promote the facility.

Did I mention that Laura Ingalls Wilder's books gained popularity all over the world? Ruth McKee says 8 to 10,000 people a year will visit the Little House on the Prairie historic site. Last year they had visitors from every state and 25 foreign countries. Wow.

I was at the Little House on the Prairie in early May, and I checked the guest book. On the day before I visited, there had been guests there from such places as Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, California, Arkansas, and Munich, Germany. Yes, her books really were popular all over the world. This demonstrates the potential in rural tourism. There is even a website at www.littlehouseonprairie.com.

Little House on the Prairie. Yes, it is a tremendously popular children's book and a highly rated television show, but it is also a part of the authentic tradition of rural Kansas. We salute Ruth McKee and all those who are making a difference by building on this attraction.

And as I mentioned at the beginning, this is taking on a whole new life today. Remember I said that this location was on land that belonged to Bill and Wilma Kurtis? The Kurtis' had two children. Their daughter is Jean Kurtis Schodorf, now a State Senator from Wichita. Their son is a namesake of his father, namely Bill Kurtis -- Yes, the same Bill Kurtis who became a famous national television broadcaster. He is now reinvesting in southeast Kansas, and we'll hear about that on our next program.

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

Bill Kurtis - Red Buffalo

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

One day the famous television broadcaster Bill Kurtis was driving through his homeland in southeast Kansas. He had just returned from his world travels for one of his award-winning TV documentaries. In this case, he had been in Nepal, looking for the supposed location of Shangrila – the mythical paradise on earth. Unfortunately, Shangrila had not been found. But as Bill Kurtis drove through the beautiful rolling hills he had known in his boyhood, he had this thought: I've found my Shangrila right here. This is just as scenic as any place in the world.

That thought would lead Bill Kurtis to re-invest in southeast Kansas, and in doing so to spark a new excitement in rural tourism. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Patty Horton, manager of the Red Buffalo gift shop in Sedan, Kansas. That's one of the businesses owned by Bill Kurtis as part of this rural renaissance.

First, some background. Bill Kurtis – spelled with a K as in Kansas – grew up at Independence. He was working for WIBW television in Topeka when the tornado hit in 1966. His high quality, marathon coverage during that time brought him national attention, and he moved to the national networks. Now he is based in Chicago and produces high quality documentaries.

But Bill Kurtis has also gained a whole new appreciation for his home state, and he is proving it. In 1996, he purchased an 8,000 acre ranch near Sedan. Sedan is a town of 1,286 people. Now, that's rural. But as he told one reporter, "I could not be an absentee owner. I felt a commitment to the people here. I could not let Sedan wither and die."

So now Bill Kurtis is literally investing in the community of Sedan. Patty Horton says, "He fell in love with Main Street. There were buildings in disrepair, and he bought and renovated them." Now there are eight commercial buildings with new retail establishments. Of course, one is the Red Buffalo Gift Shop.

Patty says, "Bill has a knack for knowing these things. In his reading and research, he found that the Indian name for prairie fire is Red Buffalo. So he named the ranch and then the gift shop Red Buffalo."

The Red Buffalo gift shop is an upscale place for gifts, books, clothing, artwork, and gourmet treats. It even has its own website, at www.theredbuffalo.com.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – I've always wanted to say that – information on the Kurtis' Red Buffalo Ranch can be reached through that same website. The ranch is managed by Jack Horton, who is Patty's husband and Bill Kurtis' cousin. In addition to the cattle herd, the ranch hosts about 50 buffalo – but as far as I know, they're brown...

Even the ranch is being marketed creatively. There are covered wagon ranch tours, campouts, nature trails, and visits to sites like scenic Butcher Falls there on the ranch. And they even have the Chautauqua Hills Chuck Wagon Races. Bill Kurtis believes this is part of an authentic prairie experience which can be marketed to the world.

In Sedan, the excitement continues to grow. Nita Jones has worked for years on promoting Sedan, through such ventures as the Yellow Brick Road previously described on this program. Now, in addition to her business called Jones World, downtown Sedan has a new high quality antique shop, donut shop, hunting goods store, bath shop, quilt shop, and leather store. The Art of the Prairie gallery will be opening soon, and funds are being raised to renovate the historic Bradford Hotel. It is exciting to see this happen in rural Kansas.

And now, you can see Bill Kurtis share his passion on this topic first-hand. Bill Kurtis will be delivering the next Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media on Thursday, September 26, 2002, at the K-State campus in Manhattan. It is sponsored by the Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media, which is a sister institution to the Huck Boyd Institute. For information, contact center director Gloria Freeland at 785-532-0721. Mr. Kurtis' lecture will be September 26 at 1:30 p.m. in the Student Union Forum Hall and the public is invited to attend.

It's time to say goodbye to southeast Kansas, where Bill Kurtis found his Shangrila. We commend Bill Kurtis, Patty Horton, Nita Jones, and all those who are making a difference by building on these authentic Kansas treasures to share Kansas at its best. Just as Bill Kurtis experienced, perhaps we will travel the world and find our Shangrila close to home.

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

Maisie DeVore

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

You can make a difference. That's a phrase we use frequently on this program, but today the emphasis is on the word Can. Stay tuned for an explanation.

Let's go to Washington DC where the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award is being presented. This award goes to only five individuals in the entire nation. It is considered one of the nation's highest awards for public service. Yet would you believe that this particular winner comes from Eskridge, Kansas – population 495 people ? Now, that's rural. How in the world could a person from such a small town win national recognition? We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Maisie DeVore. Maisie is recipient of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Award in 2002. And what did she do to earn such a prestigious award? Well, she didn't find a cure for cancer or create world peace – we'll leave that to the contestants in some beauty pageant. But she did make a tangible difference in the quality of life of kids and families in her community with vision, hard work, and persistence. Here's the story.

Maisie comes from Eskridge in Wabaunsee County. She grew up at Maple Hill. Maisie married a farmer back in 1938, but he tragically passed away in 1962. At the time of her husband's death, she had three children and was three months pregnant with another. Wow, that's tough.

Her fourth child was born and the kids grew. Five years later, she married Jim DeVore and moved back to Eskridge. At that point, her two youngest children were five and seven. In the summertime, Maisie noticed something that her kids and others needed. Specifically, the closest swimming pool with a lifeguard was in a town some 20 miles away.

Maisie says, "It was a 40 mile roundtrip to take the kids to a swimming pool, and then you either had to stay with them the whole time or drive back and get them." That would make 80 miles. The cost, the time, and the miles added up as a burden for families.

Maisie says, "We just needed a swimming pool here in Eskridge." But it takes a lot of money to build a swimming pool. Lots of people said it couldn't be done. But Maisie started raising money.

Maisie had been involved with fundraisers for projects when her kids were in band and in Girl Scouts. One of their fundraising strategies was to collect aluminum cans. So Maisie started collecting cans.

Keep in mind that the value of a recycled can is about one penny each. The cost of building a swimming pool would turn out to be about 200 thousand dollars, and increasing each year. It looked impossible.

But Maisie kept at it. She collected cans from around the town square and along a roadside out in the country. She would mash those cans and take them to a buyer in Topeka. Other people heard about her work and collected cans for her.

Then Maisie pursued other grass-roots methods for raising money. She did bake sales and rummage sales and picked wild berries which she would make into jelly and sell also.

With a lot of determination and persistence, Maisie would ultimately raise nearly one hundred thousand dollars. Then there was a grant from Kansas Wildlife and Parks and donated funds, supplies and labor from others.

On July 14, 2001 -- 30 years after the beginning -- the impossible happened: The Maisie DeVore community swimming pool opened in Eskridge. Maisie's great-grandchildren are among those who benefit. She is 83 years old, and her vision and determination have brought her international recognition.

Meanwhile, Maisie is still collecting cans. She says, "We have to pay for sewer, the concession stand, insurance, lifeguards, a pool cover, and more." When she received the national award in Washington, her friends in Eskridge sent her a special bouquet – with flowers in the top and a couple of crushed aluminum cans stuffed in the bottom. Sure enough, she saved the cans and added them for the cause.

If you would like to contribute, send checks payable to Eskridge swimming pool in care of Maisie DeVore, P O Box 393, Eskridge, Kansas 66423. That address again is Maisie DeVore, P O Box 393, Eskridge, Kansas 66423, or call 785-449-2388.

It's time we said goodbye to Washington DC and this national award presentation. We salute Maisie DeVore and all those who have helped with this project. They proved you Can make a difference by Pooling your efforts.

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

Nicodemus Flour Co-op

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

Let's take a look at the June 2002 New York Times. There are lots of articles about international affairs, and then another which catches our eye: This article is about a group of black farmers out in the middle of rural Kansas. What in the world are these farmers doing in Kansas which would make them newsworthy for the New York Times? The answer is, it's something of a grind. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Sharyn Dowdell. Sharyn is one of those who is recognized in this New York Times article. The article is about Nicodemus Flour Co-op, which finds its roots in a fascinating chapter of Kansas history.

In the late 1870s, thousands of black freed slaves came to Kansas along with others seeking opportunity in the post-Civil War era. These black settlers who made their exodus from the south were called Exodusters. One of the communities which they founded and farmed was the northwest Kansas town of Nicodemus.

But with time, Nicodemus and other small farm towns fell into decline. Very few of the black farming families are left. Nicodemus, which had once been up to nearly 700 in population, is now down to 25 residents, all retirees. Now, that's rural.

What does a community do in the face of such odds?

Sharyn Dowdell says, "We originally gathered as a group interested in the black farmers lawsuit against USDA." As the group talked, they discussed the problems in agriculture such as the low price of wheat.

Sharyn says, "Somewhere along the way we started talking about doing something more direct with taking our wheat to the public." This is the concept of value-added, to add value to the raw farm product by further processing it into a higher value product.

As I said, that can be something of a grind. In this case, it meant grinding that wheat into flour.

Nicodemus Flour Co-op was founded in 2000 by Sharyn, her brother Gil Alexander of Nicodemus, Veryl Switzer of Manhattan, Wilburt Howard from Logan County, and Rod Bradshaw from Hodgeman County. A grain consultant from Omaha named Edgar Hicks took a keen interest and assisted the co-op. An attorney in Hutchinson provided legal help. K-State's Arthur Capper Cooperative Center, Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and Wheat Research Center helped in various ways.

I mentioned Veryl Switzer. Yes, this is the same Veryl Switzer who was an outstanding football player at K-State and the Green Bay Packers, and was later a top administrator in Manhattan. He grew up at Nicodemus and still owns wheat ground in that area. In fact, he was one of the first to raise varieties of white wheat recommended by K-State that have especially good milling qualities.

The group acquired a small flour mill from back east and shipped it out to Kansas. In July 2001, the Nicodemus Flour Co-op group first milled its wheat into flour.

The progress of this group has generated national attention. The co-op acquired a federal USDA grant and was later written about in the New York Times, as I mentioned at the beginning. An ABC TV crew has even been there.

Each summer, there is a reunion and gathering at Nicodemus. As many as 500 people from around the country come back to their roots in Graham County. Almost all are African-Americans with ties to Nicodemus. And this is also a perfect opportunity to market those bags of flour.

Sharyn says, "We'll eventually have to go to a bigger mill." The flour will be selectively marketed to specialty shops.

If you are interested in purchasing this flour, write to the Nicodemus Flour Co-op at P.O. Box 187, Nicodemus Kansas 67625. That address again is Nicodemus Flour Co-op, P.O. Box 187, Nicodemus Kansas 67625. Or you can e-mail inquiries to nfcoop@ruraltel.net. That e-mail address again is nfcoop@ruraltel.net.

It's time to close this edition of the New York Times, which wrote about this group of innovative, entrepreneurial farmers out in the middle of Kansas. We salute Sharyn Dowdell, Gil Alexander, Veryl Switzer, Wilburt Howard, Rod Bradshaw, Edgar Hicks, and all those who are making a difference in this effort. They are adding value to their products in an effort to benefit their historic community. It may be a grind, but now it is coming to full flour.

And there's more. The historian of the community is Angela Bates-Tompkins, who is bringing yet another part of the Nicodemus history to life. We'll hear about that on our next program.

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

Louise and Vance Ehmke

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

Today let's visit a grain bin on a western Kansas farm. Sounds typical, doesn't it? You know that a grain bin is one of those big round metal buildings that stores wheat. But take a closer look at this one. Inside this grain bin you will find running water, central heat and air conditioning, computers, telephones, fax machine, carpeting, windows, guest rooms, a balcony, and more. Wow, this is no ordinary grain bin. It is a special structure built by a family of innovative producers in rural Kansas. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Vance and Louise Ehmke, innovative farm leaders from Lane County in western Kansas. This grain bin is just one example of their leadership and innovation.

The Ehmke family has deep roots in Kansas. Vance's ancestors homesteaded here in 1886. Vance grew up here and went on to college where he met and married Louise. She graduated from Bethany College and Vance went on to finish at K-State.

He wrote for Progressive Farmer for a couple of years and then returned to the farm in Kansas, where he has maintained an active free-lance writing career. Vance was always quite a craftsman also.

The Ehmkes are very active in local, church, education, and agricultural circles. Louise graduated from the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership program. Vance was president of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers and Louise was president of Wheathearts. They have four kids: Cole, Tanner, Layton, and Marit.

In addition to producing kids and wheat, the Ehmkes began producing and selling varieties of seed wheat, triticale, and rye. As the business grew, the Ehmkes installed those round metal grain bins which you often see on Kansas farms. They also put in an 80 foot long scale for the larger trucks that many farmers are using these days.

The new scales meant they really needed a scalehouse to house the office and equipment that goes with it. But plans to build a conventional building for the scalehouse proved unsatisfactory, so they had this idea: What if they built a special grain bin to be a scalehouse and guest house for the family?

Interesting idea. The Ehmkes contacted Kevin Govert, a grain bin contractor in Tribune, and Stan Salmans, an architect in Scott City. Both became intrigued with the notion and went to work.

In the fall of 2001, a new grain bin was constructed at the Ehmke farm. It is a round steel structure, like the others on the place, but with all kinds of amenities inside.

It is built near the scales and includes the scalehouse, so it is a working facility with trucks and seed wheat purchasers coming and going. But it also includes offices, a conference room which can hold 25 people, guest lodging space and a kitchenette.

The structure itself is a 42-foot diameter grain bin with one and three-quarter floors. Vance says if it was an actual grain bin, it would hold 25,000 bushels.

The space is designed in the shape of a donut, around a center core covered in corrugated strongbarn metal also. There is an enclosed entryway which leads to a small lobby that is open to 31 feet above.

There are lots of rustic decorations and personal touches. The ceiling fans look like v-twin Harley engines. Steel stairs go up to a balcony with a wonderful view. The front door handle and many drawer pulls inside are made from genuine deer antlers.

Remember I mentioned that Vance is quite a craftsman? He custom-made most of the furniture in the scale house. Several beds and six desks were built by Vance from old corral fence and barnwood siding.

The Ehmke farm is located nearly 10 miles west of Dighton, population 1,261 people. Now, that's rural.

When someone suggested this could be a bed and breakfast, someone else corrected them: "No, it would be a bin and breakfast." But it is really not for public guests, although groups can meet there. Vance says, "The statement that building makes is: We're in the grain business. Some of our customers say it's worth it to come buy wheat just to see this building."

It's time to leave this western Kansas grain bin – a very special grain bin, thanks to the vision, innovation and creativity of Vance and Louise Ehmke. They are making a difference, not just with this scalehouse, but in their contributions to the industry of agriculture. That's a value you can put in the bin.

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

Statuary Hall

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

Let's go to the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. Here is Statuary Hall, with an impressive array of statues from every state in the nation. Whom do you think are the statues from Kansas? Well, they're not exactly household names, and the winds of change are blowing in Statuary Hall. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Many years ago, I was a flunky Congressional staff person in Washington DC. I had taken a job with Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, and I quickly learned that she wanted to take good care of any visiting Kansans. So one of my jobs as a young staffer became giving tours of the capitol for any interested constituent. I learned more history in a few weeks than I ever did in a classroom.

When I gave a Capitol tour with visiting Kansans, among other things I would explain that in 1864 the Congress agreed to establish a National Statuary Hall where each state could place two statues of its citizens. Over the years, those statues have been distributed around the Capitol building.

You can see such statues as George Washington from the state of Virginia, Henry Clay from Kentucky, Andrew Jackson from Tennessee, and many others less familiar. "Oh," the visitors would ask, "Where are the ones from Kansas?" "Well," I would answer, "They are in this back hallway: John J. Ingalls and George Glick." "Oh," they would say, because they - like 90 percent of us – had never heard of Ingalls or Glick.

For the record, John J. Ingalls was an attorney, writer, and abolitionist who became president pro tem of the Senate. George Glick is even less known than Ingalls. Glick was a one-term Governor of Kansas. At least this anonymity is bipartisan – Ingalls was a Republican, Glick a Democrat.

The reason many of these statues are little known today is that many were selected by their states in the late 1800s and early 1900s. These people were heroes in their states more than a century ago.

But as I said, the winds of change are blowing. Congressman Todd Tiahrt of Wichita says, "I thought we ought to get someone more current." He was the main force behind a bill Congress passed in December 2000 allowing states to replace statues. And now, Kansas is the first state to do so.

So who would you choose, if you had the opportunity to pick which Kansan would be portrayed in the nation's capitol? Kansas has selected probably our most famous Kansan - not counting Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. No, our state has selected to depict Dwight D. Eisenhower.

This is an outstanding choice. Eisenhower was Supreme Allied Commander in World War II and a two-term President of the United States. He grew up in Abilene, Kansas, population 6,520 people. Now, that's rural.

But building or changing statues is not a simple proposition. Congressman Tiahrt led a national fund-raising effort through the Eisenhower Foundation which has raised more than a quarter of a million dollars to commission the sculpture and transport it to its new home in Washington D.C. Currently, they are about 35 thousand dollars short of their goal. Note that

private money, not taxpayer's money, is being used to get this done.

After a national search to select a sculptor, the artist who was chosen was Jim Brothers in Lawrence, Kansas. How great that Brothers is a Kansan as well as a nationally acclaimed artist. His statue of Ike will be unveiled in Washington in January 2003, the 50th anniversary of Ike's inauguration.

And remember, there are two statues. Longterm plans call for replacing the other one with another excellent choice -- a statue of Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviator who was born and grew up in Atchison. When that statue is done and in Washington, we can finally say we know where she landed.

One other historical footnote: I learned that the Senator who proposed creation of a national Statuary Hall back in 1864 was Justin Morrill – the father of the Morrill Act, which created land-grant universities such as Kansas State. I love a good connection.

It's time to leave Statuary Hall in our nation's capitol. We are excited about these new statues which will portray Kansas to the world. We commend Congressman Tiahrt, the Eisenhower Foundation, and all those who are making a difference by honoring our history.

And don't feel too sorry for Glick and Ingalls. The plan is to move those two statues back to the Kansas Statehouse, where more Kansans can see them. I can't wait to take a tour.

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

Ernestine's - Angela Bates-Tompkins

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

Ernestine's. For folks all over Kansas, the name conjures up images of wonderful, mouth-watering barbecue, prepared at Ernestine's restaurant. But Ernestine retired several years ago and the restaurant closed, so that wonderful barbecue was no more.....until now. Yes, Ernestine's is back, and with it comes some special Kansas history. Stay tuned for the story on today's Kansas Profile.

On an earlier program, we learned about the Nicodemus Flour Co-op. It's named for the northwest Kansas town of Nicodemus, a black settlement created after the Civil War.

The historian for Nicodemus is Angela Bates-Tompkins, who has previously been profiled on this program due to her African-American historical presentations. Angela's husband Barrie Tompkins does an outstanding buffalo soldier presentation. Now Angela is bringing another element of Nicodemus history to life.

Ernestine is one of those who grew up in Nicodemus. She got her start at Julia Lee's Café there. In the 1940s, Ernestine and her husband moved to California where he took a job and she opened a barbecue restaurant in Pasadena. In the early 1970s, he retired and they moved back to Nicodemus. They decided to open her barbecue restaurant back here in Kansas, and her husband was doing a lot of the carpentry.

At this point, our story takes a tragic turn. Ernestine's husband was making a trip to California to pick up more of their things when he was killed in a car accident. What an awful blow. But Ernestine decided to go forward with the plans for the restaurant in Nicodemus.

Ernestine's barbecue opened in Nicodemus in the mid-70s. It became quite a drawing card for people all over the region. I remember hearing people from Topeka talk about what great barbecue you could find at Ernestine's.

Another drawing card was the atmosphere. Ernestine would play the piano and sing gospel music and the blues.

But time passes, and as Ernestine got up in years, it was time for her to retire and the restaurant closed. Ernestine moved to California again for two years and then again came back to Nicodemus.

As I mentioned, Angela Bates-Tompkins is a historian for Nicodemus. As a third generation descendant of Nicodemus, she has deep roots there. Both of Angela's parents are from Nicodemus, but her family moved to California when Angela was 4. Angela and her sister even helped do the cooking at Ernestine's in Pasadena when they were in junior high and high school. Angela says her specialty was making pies.

Angela came back to Kansas to go to Emporia State. After graduating in 1975 with a degree in education, she moved to Washington DC and then to Denver, but eventually moved back to the Nicodemus area to establish her own educational consulting company.

Now Angela and Ernestine are both back in Kansas. Angela helped write a cookbook for Ernestine, featuring some of her great recipes.

And now she has taken another step. In May 2002, Angela opened a new Ernestine's restaurant. It is located near Nicodemus in the nearby town of Bogue, population 162 people. Now, that's rural.

Again people are being drawn to the wonderful barbecue at Ernestine's. Angela says, "We are open on Fridays and Saturdays from noon until the last customer leaves in the evening. We use that original barbecue recipe." And Ernestine, who is now 83, comes back to the restaurant in the evenings and plays the piano like in the old days. With Angela's help, they will even make up songs for customers that include their names and they are from and the food they ordered.

This is an experience that is worth the drive. Visitors have come from as far away as Alaska, Costa Rica and even Austria. Wow.

Angela also does barbecues for special events, such as tours, covered wagon rides, and campouts which they offer, and does catering and large group parties also.

The new restaurant is located in Bogue, four miles west and one south of Nicodemus on Highway 18. Bogue is about 30 miles north of Interstate 70, so it has good access to both Highway 24 and the Interstate.

If you would like to contact Ernestine's, you can call 785-421-2091. That number again is 785-421-2091.

Ernestine's. For those who visited her restaurant before, they know this is a place to come for fabulous barbecue with all the trimmings. Now that barbecue is back, thanks to Angela Bates-Tompkins. We commend Angela and Barrie and certainly Ernestine for making a difference by using their talents, even in challenging times. And now, please pass the barbecue.

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

Bill Meyer

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

Let's go to the annual meeting of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. It is time for the presentation of the prestigious Eugene Cervi award. This award is presented to one person annually for a career of outstanding public service through community journalism and for adhering to the highest standards of the craft. And the winner is....Bill Meyer of Marion, Kansas. How did such international recognition come to someone from small town Kansas? Stay tuned for the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Bill Meyer, President of Hoch Publishing and Publisher of the Marion County Record. He has deep roots in rural Kansas and in journalism.

Bill grew up near Cassoday, Kansas; a town of 99 people. Now, that's rural. He went to school in El Dorado and his mother worked for the Wichita Eagle. She later worked with legendary editors such as Clyde Reed, Rolla Clymer, and William Allen White. That meant young Bill Meyer met them too.

Bill says, "William Allen White said to me, 'Young man, you go up to KU and get a degree in journalism and then come here to Emporia and I'll teach you to be a newspaperman.'" That was a pretty powerful message, and Bill kept that thought in the back of his mind. Bill did go to KU to study journalism, but a little thing called World War II intervened.

Bill enlisted when the war began, and by the time he got back, William Allen White had died. But nonetheless, Bill was launched into a lifelong interest in journalism.

Before we leave the war, however, we should note that Bill served with honor. He was in the 99th Infantry Division and was part of many battles in Europe including the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war, he returned to KU. When he graduated in journalism, there were two job openings with Kansas newspapers that he and a friend were considering. The two flipped a coin, and Bill got the one in Marion.

So Bill took a job as news editor with the Marion County Record. Today, he is editor and publisher of that paper, plus two neighboring papers in Hillsboro and Peabody. Bill is an amazing guy. He is now 76 years old. At an age when many folks are slowing down, Bill recently purchased those two neighboring papers at age 75.

Bill is an innovator. Bill says, "Times have changed and we've had to change. We've become regional papers now, not city papers."

Of course, technology has changed dramatically. His paper was an early user of computerized typesetting and pagination, and one of the first to go to digital photography. Bill says, "Now we send our papers to the press electronically. It's a paperless newspaper."

One thing that hasn't changed is his commitment to community. In June 2002, as I mentioned, Bill received the Eugene Cervi award from the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors.

Here's what one of his supporters wrote: "He has been a mainstay of the Marion County Record for 54 years. In that time he has dedicated his life to making his community a better place to live. It is nearly impossible to drive through the city of Marion without seeing some landmark or facility that does not have Bill Meyer's thumbprint."

He has also had the courage to take editorial positions that caused controversy when necessary.

That same writer wrote, "Not only has Meyer weathered the storm of controversy on various issues, he has been the victim of violence and vandalism because of his convictions. Meyer's newspaper office has been painted with graffiti, had the windows shattered by shotgun pellets, and suffered tire slashings on company vehicles. He continues to stand tall for issues and projects in which he believes."

Two other points about Bill Meyer. One, he is only the second Kansan to win this award in its 26 year history. The first Kansan was Huck Boyd himself.

Second and finally, Bill remembers Huck Boyd and others calling him and offering help when Bill took over the paper. Bill says, "Now I've had the chance to help some other young men who are getting started. You have a kind of responsibility to mentor others along the way. I see a future for strong community newspapers."

It's time to say goodbye to this meeting of the International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors. We commend the newest award winner, Bill Meyer, for making a difference with a lifelong commitment to community and community journalism. William Allen White would be proud.

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.

It takes a lot of heart to make it through tough times. We'll learn of an example on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Kathy Reed from Ottawa, Kansas. Kathy has enough heart to endure lots of challenges, and she also has a heart for western history and western music.

Kathy is from Lenexa originally, but because of her parent's ill health, her mom and dad thought it would be easier for them in a small town. So after Kathy got out of school, her folks moved to the southeast Kansas town of Bronson. After Kathy married, she and her husband moved there to be with them for a time also. Bronson is a town of 348 people. Now, that's rural.

Later on, Kathy and her husband Jim moved back up to Gardner. She was working in the bank there when she got bad news: She was diagnosed with lupus. She would have to quit her job, and to make things worse, her mom had died just one year before from the same disease. Wow, that is scary.

But Kathy didn't give up. In fact, she found comfort from an unexpected source.

Kathy says, "After I quit my job, it was really the first time I had a chance to listen to much entertainment or watch TV. I was drawn to some of the western music produced by artists like Michael Martin Murphy."

Not only is that terrific music, Kathy says it made a difference in her life.

Kathy says, "Lupus is a disease where the body attacks itself, and in my case it causes pain in the joints and a lot of fatigue. During the day, there were lots of distractions to keep my attention, but at night there is nothing to take your mind off the physical pain. I can't say how many nights I stayed up listening to and enjoying that western music. I like to say it saved my life."

That interest in western music turned into a passion. Kathy wanted to share this music with more people.

At the same time, she and Jim were involved with a company producing those laser cut metal cutout designs. I've seen metal cutouts of horse and rider, for example, and this company produces those and many more. The company offers various sizes and types of decorative designs along western, sports, wildlife and contemporary themes.

Jim and Kathy would go to small fairs and horse shows where they would have booths advertising their products, and Kathy started adding western music tapes and CDs. Now they are active in the Kansas chapter of the Western Music Association. Kathy has a heart for preserving and promoting this heritage.

Today their business is called, appropriately enough, Westheart. It even has a website at www.mywestheart.com. There you can learn about the laser cut metal art as well as other products. The Reeds have arranged for laser cut metal dealers as far away as Mississippi and Arizona

Also on the site is information on the western entertainment acts which they promote, as a service free of charge. They also offer western books, framed western art prints, and a specialty item: Miniature branding irons. No, they're not for branding miniature steers, they can be used to mark your possessions or simply as a conversation piece.

Kathy Reed says, "This all comes out of a love for western history and western music." And it doesn't stop there. Last year Kathy was looking for a site for a western music festival in northeast Kansas when she learned about an old western town near Leavenworth. She called the owners, a family named Culbertson, but found more devastating news. She learned that the owner's two sons had just been killed in a car wreck. How awful. Again, Kathy's heart went out to them.

Now, nearly a year later, Jim and Kathy and friends from the western music industry are leading the effort to conduct the first annual Larry Jr. and Chad Culbertson Memorial Trail Ride near Leavenworth. The trail ride will be September 21, 2002, and will feature chuckwagon meals and western entertainment. Kathy says it will be a time to remember.

Here is Kathy Reed, still living with lupus, yet finding time to help others while promoting our western heritage.

For more information, call 1-800-352-3034, that's 1-800-352-3034, or go to www.mywestheart.com.

It takes a lot of heart to make it through tough times. We commend Kathy and Jim Reed for making a difference with passion and entrepreneurship. In her case, it comes from the heart.

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

Joyce Wilson - Golden Plains Llamas

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

Today let's go to the State Fair with a special 17-year-old girl. This young lady has severe muscular dystrophy, is deaf, bed-ridden, and uses a ventilator. But in the fall, she gets in a mobile bed and her family and nurse take her on a trip to the State Fair. What is it that this little girl wants to see the most? The answer is, the llamas. Yes, I said the llamas. It's just one example of the fascination which people have with llamas, the subject of today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Joyce Wilson of McPherson, Kansas. Joyce, who is not related to me, by the way, told us all about llamas. Joyce and her family love animals. Joyce wanted the flexibility to be with her two kids Jonathan and Megan, so they operate a dog boarding kennel. Then Joyce became interested in llamas. She would see the llamas at the state fair each year, and in Christmas 1998, her husband Tom bought her a gift: Their first llama.

It was one of those gifts that keeps on giving. Today, she has 16 llamas on the place.

Joyce says that llamas are gentle, social, and intelligent animals. Llamas are members of the camelid or camel family. They were first domesticated in Peru some 4,000 years ago.

Today, llamas have many uses: breeding stock, wool, carrying loads, as pets or companion animals, as guards for flocks of sheep, therapy animals at rest homes and for children, and as 4-H projects.

Tom and Joyce operate TJ Llama Farm and are active in the Golden Plains Llama Association or GPLA. GPLA was formed in 1989 and has more than 70 members across the central U.S., mostly in Kansas.

That includes larger cities such as Topeka and Wichita, but also such rural places as Easton, population 427 people; Havensville, population 147; and Penalosa, population 21. Now, that's rural.

GPLA sponsors several shows, competitions, and gatherings during the year. As an example of llama intelligence and trust, they hold competitions where llamas are led through an obstacle course by an adult or child. Llamas are quick learners and remarkably trusting in their human companions.

They are social animals, but also loyal and protective. Good guard llamas will protect a flock of sheep from coyotes or other predators.

However, with people, llamas can be quite loving. Some are known for giving a llama kiss, where they actually brush their nose across the cheek of a person.

That's one of the reasons that Joyce Wilson loves to take llamas to nursing homes. Not only are llamas loving and eye-catching, they are clean and fastidious. Now how do I explain this part? Let's just say that Joyce tells us she has never had a llama leave a mess when they have brought the llama inside a rest home. You couldn't count on that from a horse or cow, to be sure.

Joyce says, "I love to see the reaction when you take a llama into a nursing home. The retired farmers love it because it's livestock. And the llamas just seem to take to the people. I've seen llamas go lie down by someone in a wheelchair."

Since llamas do not require a lot of feed, they are inexpensive to raise.

Hmm: loving, clean, and light eaters. That puts llamas ahead of most human teenagers I know...

But actually, the people are another reason that Joyce Wilson likes llamas. She says, "The people in GPLA are so nice and helpful. My kids feel like they have lots of grandparents."

If you would like more information about llamas, contact Joyce Wilson at 620-241-7388 – that's 620-241-7388 – or any member of GPLA. On January 8, 2003, there will be a llama auction during the farm show in Topeka. For information, contact Susan Peterson at 913-651-3855 or email susie@birch.net.

It's time to leave the State Fair, where a special little girl always goes to see the llamas. She has severe muscular dystrophy, but she loves to see the llamas and they react well to her. The girl's nurse says, "Seeing the llamas is the highlight of her year." While she was at the state fair this year, Joyce saw one of the llamas come over to that girl and give her a kiss. Joyce says, "When I saw her kiss that girl, I said, 'This is why I've got llamas.'" We salute Joyce Wilson and the members of the Golden Plains Llama Association for making a difference by promoting this alternative enterprise and for sharing it with others.

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

Kansas Saddlery

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 Sheridan, Wyoming to a leathercrafter's trade show where you find all kinds of leather products. One Kansan came here and found something else: A wife and business partner. That wasn't what he was looking for, but nonetheless he found someone who shares his love and artistry. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Tuffy Flagler and Shannon Wrango.

Shannon Wrango is originally from Pendleton, Oregon, home of the 4th largest pro-rodeo in the US and home to world famous Hamley saddles. Shannon gained leatherworking skills by watching as she swept out the old saddle shops. Shannon eventually joined the Air Force. She has seen more foreign countries than states in the US!

But her western roots lead her back to leather work and in 1996 to a leathercrafters trade show in Sheridan, Wyoming. There she met a Kansan by the name of Tuffy Flagler.

Tuffy is a master artisan in the leather trade also. He grew up in Mulvane, Kansas, where his father did leatherwork at Sheplers. He recalls going into the leather shops as a kid and smelling the wonderful smells from the different leather. He says, "It was my destiny to work in a leather shop." 33 years later, he still is.

In 1972, he went to work for what was then the world famous Cowboy Shop, owned by a former world champion saddle bronc rider. Later Tuffy set up his own business in Latham.

In 1996, Tuffy went to that leathercrafters trade show in Wyoming where he met his future wife Shannon Wrango. At the time Shannon was an outrider for the Oregon Trail wagon train. They traded letters from the trail and within 6 months Shannon had moved to Kansas.

Tuffy has a rural mail route and Shannon transferred her Air Force assignment to McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. In 1999, Shannon retired from the Air Force.

Meanwhile, Tuffy and Shannon changed the name of the their shop to Kansas Saddlery, with the byline "Building Tradition for the New West". They worked in a converted garage in Latham until they outgrew the building.

On a trip to Cambridge, Shannon noticed an old closed stone building. Peeking through the smudgy windows, all they saw was potential! Tuffy knew the owners, and as luck would have it they were wondering what they should do with the old historic building. It was an old mercantile, built around 1900. Sounded like a match.

Unfortunately, the interior was in rough shape and had no electricity and no water. But the outside of the building was built from native limestone, so it was made to last and looked great.

Shannon spent the next 6 months renovating the building, including reclaiming the original interior tin ceiling. The result is a gem.

The beautiful front stone steps into a custom leather store with top quality leather and cowboy gear. Kansas Saddlery has unique, authentic western and cowboy gifts and music, horsemanship books, sterling silver jewelry, 100% silk wild rags, 100% wool blankets, rawhide ropes, elkskin gloves, palm leaf hats, chaps and chinks and - oh yeah - saddles. These are not just any saddles, they are custom made western saddles and cowboy saddles, built to last everyday cowboying. They even hand-tie cinches, using 100 percent wool mohair.

Their chinks and chaps have been featured in Western Horseman and Cowboy magazines and been made for customers in 7 countries. Wow. Shannon was recently chosen as one of 52 exhibitors for a first-ever women-only gear show held in Elko, Nevada. Their workmanship is topnotch.

You don't want to miss this place. There's a hitchin' post out front with an oldfashioned boardwalk with some 200 actual ranch brands branded into the wood. It gives new meaning to the term brand name.

Tuffy and Shannon proudly make each custom piece the old timey way, yet they are also quite modern. Shannon designed and maintains their website, www.kansassaddlery.com, where you can see examples of their work and order items found in their shop. Yet they are in the town of Cambridge, Kansas, along Hwy 160, population 74 people. Now, that's rural. Tuffy also announces local ranch rodeos. They are founding members of the Working Ranch Cowboy Association and hold several events yearly to benefit local ranch cowboys.

It's time to leave this leathercrafter's trade show in Wyoming, where Tuffy Flagler and Shannon Wrango first met and, well, the rest is history. We commend Shannon and Tuffy for making a difference by bringing the age old artistry of fine leather to Kansas and building tradition for the New West!

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

Non-Profit Board Training

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

Kansas needs leaders. Leaders need training. How's that for a short summary of a concept? It's short and sweet, and also true: Kansas needs leaders and leaders need training. With the challenges before our state, leadership is more important than ever. And we are also asking more and more from our non-profit organizations and groups. We'll learn about a leadership development opportunity for non-profit organizations on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Dan Curtis, coordinator of the Central Prairie Resource Conservation and Development District in Great Bend, a part of the national RC&D program. Peggy Blackman is President of the Kansas Association of RC&Ds, and she has also helped inform me about these excellent organizations.

RC&Ds or Resource Conservation and Development Districts are sponsored through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service. RC&Ds help improve the capability of state, tribal and local units of government and local nonprofit organizations in rural areas to plan, develop and carry out programs for natural resources conservation and development. The program focuses on improving quality of life through natural resources conservation and community development, leading to sustainable communities and prudent use, development, management and conservation of natural resources.

Typically, these are multicounty organizations working on a variety of locally-directed needs in rural areas. There are several excellent RC&Ds in Kansas, working on various type projects.

Central Prairie is one of the newer RC&Ds in the state. It is based in Great Bend and includes the counties of Rice, Stafford, Reno, McPherson, Barton, Edwards, & Pawnee.

Volunteers from each of these counties come together to form a board. As you might guess, the larger towns in that region are represented, such as Great Bend, South Hutchinson, and McPherson, as well as mid-size towns such as Larned and Lyons. But the president of the Board is from Kinsley, population 1,634 people, and the vice-president is from Pretty Prairie, population 584 people. There are even board members from Alden, population 173, and Olmitz, population 123. Now, that's rural.

So, small and large and rural interests can come together through RC&Ds and work on various projects. One of the Central Prairie's current projects is a special training opportunity for members of non-profit organization boards of directors.

The rationale for this training, as I said at the beginning, is rather simple and direct: Kansas needs leaders, leaders need training. Central Prairie RC&D is partnering with Sterling College to provide such training for non-profit organization board members.

On October 17, a non-profit board member workshop is being held at Barton County Community College. Dr. Richard Robl and Kathy Glynn of Sterling will be the instructors. This workshop will cover how the modern 501c3 or non-profit board operates and the methods of successful leaders that get things done for their communities.

The workshop will include how to write a mission statement; how to have timely, effective meetings; strategic planning; financial statements; selecting and developing Board members; and supporting entrepreneurs in the community.

Central Prairie RC&D President Lavern Wetzel says, "Kansas has great folks that work hard and believe in doing the right things. They need to develop positive leadership within

organizations that effect where we are going and how we are going to get there. Non-Profit Board training will teach these leaders more about the responsibilities and the parameters of issues they can solve."

Vice-chair Curt Miller says, "This training will teach good leaders how to be better, it will give them financial growth information that will turn their Non-Profit organization into a For-Profit team. Team building, knowledge of grants, foundations, and Leadership training are key benefits of this training. Rural Kansas will benefit tremendously from these workshops!"

Dan Curtis says,"This Non-Profit Course will develop the technical skills of attendees, so that they can better understand, develop, and involve relationships that we pawn off as networking. The data to be shared at this Workshop will develop positive feedback for Non-Profits to interact in the leadership roles of communities and begin filling the 'Gaps of Needs in rural Kansas', that Government and Business sometimes cannot link."

For more information, call the RC&D at 620-792-6224 or go to www.geocities.com/

central_prairie. Again, that's 620-792-6224 or www.geocities.com/central_prairie.

Kansas needs leaders. Leaders need training. It's true in our state and true in the non-profit organizations which serve our state. We salute Peggy Blackman, Lavern Wetzel, Dan Curtis, Curt Miller and all those with the Central Prairie RC&D as well as other RC&Ds around the state, whose activities make a difference – including this leadership development opportunity. Because Kansas needs leaders, leaders need training, and Kansas needs you.

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

Connie Essington - Cottage House

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 gone after something and then settled for an alternative that turned out to be better than what you were after in the first place? Sometimes, that's the way life is. It happened in Council Grove, where the chamber of commerce was seeking a national brand name hotel to locate there. One of the people working on this for the chamber of commerce was a local dentist's wife. She and others worked on attracting a national chain to build a hotel in Council Grove, but never could get a company to do so. Then one day while looking at some historic buildings downtown, she began to think that they could use one of those for a community hotel. Her family invested in and refurbished that building, and the result is a historic treasure in rural Kansas. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Connie Essington, owner and manager of the Cottage House in Council Grove. Connie is the local dentist's wife who was involved with the chamber's efforts to entice a national chain hotel into town. But after that didn't happen, she was encouraged by Helen and Charlie Judd, owners of the historic Hays House restaurant in Council Grove, to pursue the Cottage House as a hotel instead.

The history of the Cottage House goes back over a century. It began as a three-room cottage and blacksmith shop built in 1867. In 1871, a minister and his wife bought it and built a two-story brick house around the cottage, beginning the Cottage House's history as a boarding house.

In 1879, the house sold to another family which built a beautiful, 5,000 square foot, two story Queen Anne addition which marked the Cottage House's transition from boarding house to hotel.

Fast forward to modern times. Through the years, the building had been altered and partially converted to apartments. In 1982, Connie and her husband bought the building and began restoring it.

Today, the Cottage House is a completely restored, prairie victorian hotel and bed and breakfast. The rooms are beautifully decorated and furnished in keeping with the period in which they were built; namely the 1870s, 1898, and 1913. That means you will find lace curtains and antique furnishings throughout the main hotel, while each room has its own personality. There's Aunt Minnie's Room, an Anniversary Suite, Bridal Chamber, and Honeymoon Suite. Aunt Jo's Gift Parlor is downstairs, along with a breakfast area for the daily continental breakfast. On the front of the hotel are attractive gazebo-style porches.

For those of us who want to have our cake and eat it too, we can enjoy this classic splendor while benefitting from modern amenities such as private baths, cable tv, and touch tone phones. Somehow I don't think the original blacksmith had all those things.

I mentioned the beautiful furnishings. In the 1970s, Connie was in Wichita and spotted some attractive drawings which she purchased. After buying the Cottage House, she framed and displayed those drawings along one hallway. Then one day in 1993, a watercolorist and his wife were checking in. They were switching rooms due to a recent injury to the artist and were directed down that hallway. The artist recognized the artwork. They were his pictures. Because he is known as a watercolorist, these ink sketches were quite rare, and he wouldn't even have seen them if not for the switch in rooms. It must have been meant to be.

The combination of historic elegance and modern amenities has made the Cottage House quite a draw. On the one most recent page of the guest register were guest names from as far away as Oregon and New Jersey. They have had guests from coast to coast and as far away as Brazil and New Zealand. Wow.

You can contact the Cottage House at 1-800-727-7903. That's 1-800-727-7903.

Have you ever gone after something and settled for an alternative that turned out to be better than what you thought you were after in the first place? It happened in Council Grove. They were trying to attract a national chain hotel but couldn't do it. The big companies looked at Council Grove and saw it was population 2,265 people. Now, that's rural, and not enough population for them to come in.

But in the process, Connie Essington brought about the Cottage House. The result is even better – a locally-owned historic treasure nestled away in small-town Kansas. We commend Connie Essington and those at the Cottage House for making a difference by bringing this history back to life.

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.

Change. No, not just the coins in your pocket or purse. Change is a condition which happens all around us. Today is a story about good changes happening in small town Kansas, thanks to a committed group of women. It's today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Shelly Buhler, Ann McCullough, and Christi McKenzie. These women have helped bring about positive change at Rossville Grade School. Rossville is in Shawnee County, west of Topeka. It's a town of 1,074 people. Now, that's rural.

In the fall of 1998, some of the playground equipment at Rossville Grade School needed to be removed for safety reasons. So, the old merry-go-round and a tall slide were taken away.

Unfortunately, that didn't leave a lot to play on. More boredom and bullying resulted among the kids.

Shelly, Ann, and Kristi became aware of this and wanted to do something about it. So they went to the principal of the grade school and told him that new playground equipment was needed.

Ann McCullough says, "Our school had an open door policy but no welcome mat," so to speak. So the principal wasn't quite sure what to make of this public input. And money was not allocated in the school budget for new equipment.

But to the principal's credit, when these women told him they wanted to hold a public meeting about the playground equipment needs, he let them try it. They were halfway afraid that nobody would show up at the meeting. To their surprise, more than 25 people attended.

Everybody agreed that new equipment would be nice, so they began to see if they could raise the necessary money to pay for it.

Remember I started talking about change? Their first idea was to invite all the school kids to bring in loose change and drop it in a giant water bottle that was set up at the school. All that small change eventually added up. Around $500 was raised that way. The volunteers went on to raise money through the school carnival and serving food at ball games, and by year-end had raised more than $4,000.

That was encouraging, but with the high cost of playground equipment, they figured that all they could afford might be a swing or something small.

Ann says, "We met with the Miracle Playground Company to see what we could buy, and a miracle happened." Yes, through this company they were able to purchase a full playground set, complete with a tall purple spiral slide.

But the most important thing was not the playground. The important thing is the can-do attitude that this project instilled in the volunteers who made it happened. They decided to try other projects to support the school, such as organizing a learning lab, bringing a picture lady in to discuss art with the kids, beautifying the flag pole area, arranging for senior citizens to greet the kids at school one day a week, decorating the blank wall where kids wait outside the bathroom, and revising the annual play day to make it more kid-friendly. That original group of 25 people is now 135 people strong.

One day the core volunteers approached the school principal with yet another idea. He was getting used to this by now. The volunteers said, "Each January, for Kansas day, we celebrate our state's heroes. How about if we celebrate our local people who are heroes to these kids? What if each kid wrote a paper about one special person in their lives and invited them to breakfast?"

The principal rolled his eyes. Here we go again. But 350 kids wrote such papers, and during one week, some 335 special adults came to breakfast with those kids.

Christi McKenzie says, "There were some wet eyes when that one was over. These were ordinary people that had taken the time to be with those kids or to listen to them, and it meant so much to those kids."

The Rossville Grade School volunteers have helped foster change, in school and in the community.

In April 2001, a new mayor was elected: None other than Shelly Buhler. And the principal, who is really quite supportive, wrote in a letter: "I reflect in awe of the accomplishments of our volunteer group in the past year."

Change. Yes, this principal saw change, starting with loose change to build a playground. Now that has helped build a closer connection between school and community. We commend Shelly Buhler, Ann McCullough, and Christi McKenzie for making a difference by fostering such change for the better.

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

Mark Ball - USA Gymnastics

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

Did you know there is a Disneyland in Tokyo, Japan? Let's go for a visit. Here we find all the fun and bright displays that are typical of Disneyland. And here, for example, is a big colorful mat in the shape of a starfish. Now where do you suppose that this mat came from? Mickey Mouse will be proud of you if you happened to guess that it came from rural Kansas. How in the world did a mat from the middle of Kansas make it to Disneyland Tokyo? Keep your mouse ears open, we'll tell you the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Mark Ball, the owner of USA Gymnastics in Great Bend, Kansas. It is his company that is the source of that colorful mat at Disneyland Tokyo.

Mark is a guy with rural roots. He grew up at Medicine Lodge, Kansas, a town of 2,224 people. Now, that's rural.

He played all sports, as most kids have to do growing up in small towns. He enjoyed the athletics and walked on at Fort Hays State in track and gymnastics, going on to Northern Iowa for a graduate degree.

Mark says, "I intended to teach and coach. But when I finished my masters at the end of summer, most of the teaching positions were filled so I took a machine shop job at Great Bend as a temporary position."

Meanwhile, his interest in gymnastics would lead him a different direction. Mark says, "I went to church the first Sunday I was here, and a lady there asked for prayers for her daughter who had hurt her ankle while doing gymnastics." This was the first Mark knew that there was even a gymnastics group in town.

He asked about it and found there were about 40 kids involved. Mark volunteered to work with the program and it grew. He was looking for equipment to equip his small gym, and he found the mats and other equipment to be quite expensive. He wondered if he could produce some of that equipment himself.

Mark ran an ad in a gymnastics magazine and bought a band saw and some fabricating equipment. He was able to meet his own needs and had more left over to sell. This would grow into the business that is known today as USA Gymnastics and Supply.

The company offers a variety of vinyl-covered surface mats and wall padding for gymnastics, martial arts, cheerleading, and other uses. They include various custom features, such as velcro so that the mats can be connected together.

Putting together these thick foam mats requires an industrial laminator. But when Mark priced such equipment, he found it would cost more than a quarter-million dollars. So he asked, could we make a laminator which would do the same thing? Ultimately they did, for only $40,000.

This type of creativity and ingenuity would help the company to grow. USA Gymnastics has sold products to schools and others all over the country. Less than one percent of their business is in Kansas. They have done special items such as the mat at Tokyo Disneyland, and have done products for most NBA teams, for example, from the Boston Celtics to the Phoenix Suns. The company has even done a 100 foot long training trampoline for the U.S. Olympic Training Center. Wow.

Yet all these products are coming from this company in the middle of Kansas.

I asked Mark, why not relocate closer to an urban center? He said, "This is where God has us." It is clear that Mark takes his faith seriously. In addition to this business, his family offers a Christian bookstore and supports a Christian school as well as Lasting Life Ministries, a soup kitchen and other services for the needy.

So he has a lot of heart, in addition to this remarkable business. Employment has grown to around 40 people. He also takes the time to meet with youth and student leadership groups to encourage them.

Mark says, "If you're thinking creatively, you can find other ways to get it done."

It's time to say goodbye to Disneyland in Tokyo, and to this colorful mat which happened to come from halfway around the globe in the middle of Kansas. We salute Mark Ball and all those of USA Gymnastics and Supply in Great Bend, for making a difference with entrepreneurship, creativity, and reaching out to people's spiritual needs also. All in all, this is no Mickey Mouse outfit.

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

Trappers - Tony and Becky Prochaska

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

Do you ever fall into the trap of going to the same old places to eat? Many of us do. Today, we'll learn about a delicious new place to eat in a rural location. It's no trap, but is called Trappers. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Tony and Becky Prochaska, owners of Trappers Bar and Grill.

Tony Prochaska's grandparents live here in north central Kansas. Tony worked for a farmer in the area, but he wanted to try something new.

In 1994, he opened a restaurant called Trappers Bar and Grill. Tony's bride Becky says, "Tony likes to hunt and trap and fish." It shows in the restaurant's name and decor.

What has made Trappers a success? According to a report in the Salina Journal, Tony says the three key factors are accessibility, atmosphere, and large helpings of food at good prices.

By accessibility, he means that Trappers is located near and between several larger towns such as Beloit, Concordia, and Salina.

In terms of atmosphere, you just have to see Trappers to fully appreciate it. I would describe the decor as "early plywood..." The walls are unfinished, and adorned with a collection of mounted deer and other animals, along with old license tags and other rustic treasures. Old Kansas truck tags dating back to 1921 decorate the walls. There's a whole variety of hides and mounted animals – even a double-barreled shotgun on the deer rack above the door.

In other words, this is a fun and relaxing place to visit.

Becky says, "The atmosphere here is real relaxed." People do come as they are, which is great for the farmers who live and work in the area. Becky says, "Some days you'll come at noon and there are a bunch of rubber boots laid outside." And at night, people can come, even late, without having to dress up.

The good service is another part of the atmosphere. Becky says she hires hard-working local girls and also wants good personality. She says, "One girl stopped in for an application to work here, and I told her we don't have any. Just come on back and we'll talk. That way I can tell if they have the personality that our customers will like."

But even with a neat atmosphere, the third and final - and most important - factor is the food. As stated, Tony's goal is large helpings of food at good prices.

The menu is a piece of newsprint with wildlife sketches, historic photos, and most of all, an offering of a variety of steaks, sandwiches, seafood dinners, appetizers, and more. The steaks are said to be charbroiled to perfection. An all you can eat prime rib buffet is offered on Friday and Saturday night, and this has proven to be a big draw.

So how has Trappers grown? It started in a small building which had been a post office and was turned into a restaurant. The area which is now the kitchen had been a beauty shop.

As Tony's business grew, he added on another room to the back of Trappers and then another. Currently he is working on yet another expansion which will add 50 seats. A large grill sits outside the kitchen to charbroil steaks, and that aroma is bound to be good for business.

So where is Trappers? It is in the town of Simpson, just off Highway 24 east of Beloit in Mitchell County. One of Simpson's distinctions is that it is the home of the Tri Century Bank, established in 1894. It may be the smallest town in Kansas to have its own bank, and now it has Trappers too.

Simpson is a town of 105 residents. Now, that's rural. Yet this town of just over 100 people will have 5 to 600 people dining at Trappers during a weekend, and visiting from around the country. Becky Prochaska says, "There have been people here from California to Florida." Wow.

Do you ever fall into the trap of going to the same old places to eat? Yes, it's a trap that many of us fall into. Today we've heard about a relatively new place in small town Kansas that is building its success. We commend Tony and Becky Prochaska and all those involved with Trappers for making a difference by helping a small town restaurant to succeed. Trappers can help you out of the same old trap, and it's worth the trip.

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

Lee Borck

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

"Now wash your hands before you sit down to dinner." Did your mother ever tell you that? Mine did repeatedly, and now I find myself saying the same thing to my kids – unfortunately, with the same limited effect. I guess what goes around comes around.

But as we have learned more about food safety, we have come to the conclusion that Mom was right. Washing hands and keeping things sanitary are part of the keys to keeping food safe. That same principle also applies in the food supply chain, even before the product reaches our home. Today, we are going to meet a pioneering group of rural cattle producers who are putting this principle to work in enhancing the food safety of our meat supply. Stay tuned for today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Lee Borck. Lee is owner of the Ward Feed Yard near Larned, Kansas. Lee has deep Kansas roots. His family homesteaded on the farm near Blue Rapids, north of Manhattan, in 1865. After graduating from K-State, Lee went to work for the Farm Credit System. Some of his customers were feeding cattle in the feedyards of south central Kansas, and Lee became interested in the business. So when he had the opportunity, he became an owner of Ward Feed Yard near Larned.

As you may know, the beef industry is big business in Kansas. It has also been through a lot of change.

Lee says, "In 1988, we had the option of expanding either through capital or through cooperation. We chose to cooperate." Six feedyard owners went together to form the Kansas Beef Marketing Group.

Lee says, "Working together as a cooperative, we can have more impact than we could as an individual."

In the 1990s, food safety issues were increasingly coming to the forefront. The cooperative started working on these issues with a young woman who was a graduate student at K-State named Heather LaBrune. In conversations with Heather and her professor about what could be done to enhance food safety at the producers' end, some ideas were developed.

In 1999, the beef marketing group launched what is believed to be the only scientifically based pre-harvest food safety program for commercial feedlots in the world. Wow.

Now what exactly is a pre-harvest program? Well, in crops it is pretty simple - it is obvious when the grain is harvested. In cattle, it is the same principle. It simply refers to the time when the cattle are in the feedlot, prior to going to the processor.

These feedyard owners identified practices which they could implement in their feedlots which could enhance food safety on down the food supply chain. For example, they may shorten the time when certain feedstuffs are sitting out, or regularly wash and sanitize the water tanks, or clean the trucks thoroughly before transporting cattle to the packer. The overall goal is to do things in the feedyard to eliminate pathogens in the environment and help improve the safety of the product.

Lee Borck says, "Health is a primary concern in the beef industry. It's an obligation that we produce the safest possible product with proper animal welfare."

Now Heather LaBrune is the full-time food safety director for the beef cooperative, and these food safety practices are being implemented by the cattle feeders involved. Their feedyards are primarily located in Kansas, near such towns as Pawnee Rock, population 347 people. Now, that's rural.

How exciting to see these industry leaders from rural Kansas implementing a pioneering program in food safety. Lee Borck is indeed a leader in the industry, and he and his wife Kathy have been active in various volunteer activities. Their daughter Debi and her husband now live in Olathe.

Another project that Lee is involved in was the creation of a new bank based in Great Bend. American State Bank was formed in 2001, and in March 2003 it will open a branch in Larned's historic downtown train depot. The depot is being restored to 1890s style bank decor. Lee says, "We want to put the old hometown service back in banking." It's good to see it happen in rural Kansas.

"Now wash your hands before you sit down to dinner." Yes, Mom was right when she said that, and now these innovative producers are implementing the same concept in the beef cattle industry. We salute Lee Borck and all those who are making a difference through this effort to enhance food safety. Mom would be proud.

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

Dale Kuhn - Nutri-Shield

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 heard of an artificial nose? No, it's not a gizmo that hangs in the middle of your face or something created by a plastic surgeon. An artificial nose is the name of a technological device used in laboratories which detects and compares aromas. Now what kind of business would be using an artificial nose? Today we'll meet an innovative business which uses such a device to measure the effectiveness of its product, and is doing so in rural Kansas. We'll get the story on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Dale Kuhn. Dale is the owner of Nutri-Shield, Inc.

Dale went to college in Ohio and joined the Babcock and Wilcox company. He was in engineering and then in sales. Eventually his business career led him to Kansas City, where he worked on the start-up of the Crown Center complex.

Dale eventually went into business for himself, and in 1988 started a company known as Nutri-Shield Inc. It made a product which you sprayed on big round hay bales to prevent moisture penetration and spoilage.

One day, Dale was in Mexico demonstrating his product for prospective customers south of the border. His customer asked an unexpected question: Could this product be used to preserve tortillas?

Now that was a new one. They also said that they were interested in a dry powder, rather than a spray-on. Dale did some work and found a combination of chemicals which would preserve tortillas and other products. By accident, this product had other properties: It removed odor and off-flavors usually associated with dry chemical powders.

This created a whole new market opportunity for Nutri-Shield. By applying this technology to food preservatives, it launched a new generation of products for food formulators to use when designing preservation systems.

Today, Nutri-Shield preservatives are used in such products as tortillas, bagels, cheeses, hand lotions, soaps, and shampoos. The company is shipping products coast to coast and as far away as Mexico, Central America, South America, and Europe. Wow.

Dale Kuhn's office is in Shawnee Mission, but the Nutri-Shield processing plant is located in the town of Courtland, in north central Kansas. Dale has a son in Courtland, so he knew of the facility and the need for economic development there.

The company has four employees and is looking to expand. Nutri-Shield holds several patents. The Kansas Technology Enterprise Corporation, or KTEC, has provided assistance.

Dale says, "We're building a business based on quality." Recognized for its rigorous quality assurance testing, Nutri-Shield has been described as the preservative supplier of choice for many of the world's leading food formulators.

In an effort to assure such high quality, the company uses some high-tech quality control equipment. At the plant in Courtland, for example, Nutri-Shield uses a liquid chromotography unit and a device called an artificial nose. This device picks up and measures vapors. Not only is it used for quality control, it can be a sales tool to show customers how the product is effective.

Nutri-Shield is growing rapidly, has upgraded its product and equipment twice, and will soon be unveiling another process. One alternative for their next expansion is in a smaller town south of Courtland. That town is named Kackley, population 27 people. Now, that's rural.

Dale Kuhn says, "We feel like the big discount stores have done some damage to rural Kansas. We want to do our part to see if we can build some of that back." Nutri-Shield not only provides local employment, it helps support activities such as the arts in the community.

It's also provided some much-needed opportunity. Dale says, "We took a girl who had been abused who could barely look someone in the eye." She joined the company, got training and built self-respect as well as a career interest. Dale says proudly, "She will be graduating from Cloud County Community College and going on to K-State to study food science." And Dale himself, by the way, will turn 74 in April. Wow.

Have you ever heard of an artificial nose? No, it's not like a hearing aid for your face, it's a device which can measure the quality and effectiveness of the odor control in these products of Nutri-Shield. We commend Dale Kuhn for making a difference, not just by building a business but by helping a rural community and helping turn around a young life. That makes for genuine results.

And there's more. I mentioned that Dale Kuhn has a son in Courtland. We'll get his story on our next program.

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

Dan Kuhn - Depot Market

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 Koenigsbrunn, Germany. A Christmas gift basket is arriving. It's loaded with goodies, from delicious jams and jellies to chocolate fudge treats. And where in the world do you suppose that Christmas gift basket came from? Yes, from rural Kansas. Stay tuned for a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.

Meet Dan Kuhn, owner of the Depot Market and Cider Mill near Courtland, Kansas. When I called the Depot Market one day recently, they were preparing a Christmas gift basket for shipping to Koenigsbrunn, Germany – but don't hold me to the pronunciation of that. Now what is the Depot Market, and how did it get to be shipping products around the world? The answer begins with Dan Kuhn.

On an earlier program, we learned about Dan's father Dale.

Dan grew up in Shawnee Mission in the Kansas City area. He went to KU and then transferred to K-State to study horticulture and crop protection. He loved growing things, and even rented an apple orchard while in college.

A friend of his knew of another orchard out in north central Kansas. After graduation from K-State, Dan moved out there to work in that orchard. It was near the town of Courtland.

Dan moved into ownership of that orchard and began to expand his business. In the 1980s, Dan was a major marketer of apples in the area. He expanded and diversified by getting into vegetable garden crops.

Today, Dan produces apples, sweet corn, and various types of vine crops such as pumpkins, canteloupe, watermelon, and several types and colors of gourds. In fact, in 2002 he produced 25 different kinds of fall decorating crops.

Many of these products are sold wholesale to buyers in four states, but Dan was also interested in a retail market. People would drive out to the orchard to buy apples, but Dan knew he wanted a retail outlet right on Highway 36, which is a major east-west thoroughfare in northern Kansas.

One day he was driving through Courtland and he went right by the old Santa Fe train depot, which had closed. The idea hit him that they could use that building. So Dan bought the old historic depot and moved it out to the corner of Highways 36 and 199.

They fixed up that 100 year old building and it became the Depot Market and Cider Mill. The Depot Market offers a delicious variety of homegrown Kansas produce, jams, jellies, syrups, and gift baskets. In addition to these items, the Depot makes its own fresh apple cider. One expert proclaimed their cider the very best in Kansas.

They also offer jellies, apple butter and syrups from many varieties of orchard fresh apples and wild fruits, native to North Central Kansas. These include jellies made with Chokecherry, Wild Plum, Elderberry, and Crab Apple. Flavors of syrups include Rhuberry, Apple Pie, Cinnamon Cider, and more. Then there is the delicious homemade fudge, which you can buy by the piece or by the pound. Yum.

Having a hard time deciding? The only solution is to get a sampler pack, which provides you a variety of choices. Then there is the extensive collection of attractive gift baskets, featuring everything from holly candles to the Chocoholic's selection. These have proven to be very popular as gifts during the holidays.

Another special product is something called Wisdom biscuits. Dan says these are the High Plains alternative to fortune cookies. Each one is a chocolate shortbread cookie, made in a tornado shape. Each tornado biscuit contains a proverb of wisdom, in a package with a humorous version of the Kansas state seal. Now that's creative.

And to make it even more convenient, these products are offered on-line as well as at the Depot Market. The website is simply www.kansasdepot.com. That's www.kansasd-e-p-o-t.com. So anyone world-wide can order these products over the Internet, yet they are based in the town of Courtland, Kansas, population 322 people. Now, that's rural.

It's time to say goodbye to Koenigsbrunn, Germany, but we are excited to find a gift basket shipped here from halfway around the world in rural Kansas. We commend Dan Kuhn and all the people of Depot Market and Cider Mill for making a difference with their entrepreneurship and hard work.

And there's more. Dan's wife is leading a renaissance in the arts in Courtland, Kansas, and we'll hear about that on our next program. But for now, we want to wish you and yours a most blessed holiday season.

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

Carla Kuhn - Courtland Arts Center

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

Arts and culture can help to connect people. For example, in 1994 there was a 46-member Russian folk dance troupe, complete with orchestra, which toured the U.S. They saw the sights in our country, including Courtland, Kansas, population 322 people. How could a town of 322 people host nearly 50 Russians for an arts program? Learn the answer on today's Kansas Profile.

Meet Carla Kuhn. Carla's husband is Dan, whom we met on a previous program. Carla grew up at Salina. She studied theater at KU, and while on study abroad trip to Ireland, met a fellow student named Dan Kuhn. Later they transferred to K-State, were married, and moved to Courtland.

Carla was involved with founding the local arts council in Courtland in the early 1990s, when a special opportunity came along. The State of Kansas was going to host a Russian Festival, and there were four different sizes and types of groups of Russians who would be visiting the state. Kansas communities had the opportunity to host these various groups, at their own expense.

The fledgling arts council in Courtland considered what size of group to offer to host. Carla says, "At that time our arts council didn't have a checking account, startup funds, or even a receipt book. But we didn't need those things, because we had Herbie."

Who was Herbie? Herb was the senior officer of the local bank. Carla consulted with Herbie as to how many Russians to try to host. In Carla's eyes, the cost of hosting the largest dance group looked like a small fortune. But Herbie the local banker said, "Well, let's get the big group."

That was just what they needed. Carla says, "Three months later, after intense planning, cooperation, and community generosity, the Courtland Arts Council presented this 46 member Russian dance troupe to a sellout crowd of more than 600 people from Kansas and Nebraska." Wow.

That was the beginning of the volunteer Courtland Arts Council. By 2001, the council had grown to the point that it was time for an executive director. The person selected was none other than Carla Kuhn.

The youngest of Carla and Dan Kuhn's seven children was starting kindergarten, so it was a good time for Carla to do this. She has put together a wonderful program of theater, gallery shows, music, and arts education. This includes everything from the Raise the Roof musical revue, to arts classes, to the Summer on the Prairie arts reach project featuring residencies with several Kansas artists, to a Celtic band for St. Patrick's Day, to a quilt show, to the Prairie Wind Dancers, to the Glenn Miller orchestra. Wow.

Carla is especially proud that, with help from the Kansas Arts Commission, more than $17,000 worth of arts have been brought into the local school.

In the middle of all this came another big development. A downtown storefront building came open in Courtland and, as Carla says, "Our honorable mayor and the city council acted immediately to make wishes come true. They bought the building and presented it to the arts council for a long term lease of one dollar a year."

So now there is a Courtland Arts Center. The Arts Council has raised more than $40,000 to restore this building and is working on the next phase.

This benefits the whole region. The Council's board includes people from neighboring towns the size of Scandia, population 389 people. Now, that's rural.

Carla says, "Just because we're a small town doesn't mean we can't have quality arts programs. Geographic isolation has led us to love and value every person in our town, whether visitor or local, artist or just plain citizen. The fact of being off the beaten path allows our town to have a certain magic charm and hospitality often rare in this day and age."

So that's the story of the Russian folk dance troupe which toured the U.S. The smallest town they would visit on their tour was Courtland, Kansas. The Russians enjoyed it so much they asked for and were granted permission to stay an extra day in Courtland. The exchange came to a poignant close as a tour bus full of tearful Russians waved farewell to more than 50 misty-eyed citizens of Courtland who turned out in the rain to say goodbye. Arts and culture can help to connect people.

We salute Carla Kuhn, Herbie the banker, and all those with the Courtland Arts Council who are making a difference by bringing the arts to rural Kansas.

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

Terence Newman - K-State football

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

It's the final game of the K-State regular football season. The Cats are playing Missouri on the road. Missouri gets the football first, but the defense makes a stop. On fourth down, Missouri punts the ball away. Back deep to receive is Terence Newman. Newman makes the catch and starts upfield behind strong blocking. Newman is on his way – but it is only another part of a journey that began years ago in Salina, Kansas. We'll learn about that journey on this special bowl game edition of Kansas Profile.

Terence Newman grew up in Salina. His mother and grandfather Ernest Newman provided great love and support.

As a little boy in Salina, Terence Newman was said to have an attitude bigger than his size. He was a tough little kid. As described in Powercat Illustrated magazine, his youth league coach was a friend of Terence's grandfather. The coach saw Terence pick a fight and, with grandfather's permission, threw Terence off the team. At home, he was ordered to clean house for a month and not allowed to go outside.

A month later, the coach allowed Terence back on the team, and a lesson had been learned. Terence responded favorably to sports and improved in school. He grew and developed, and made a great showing as a runner in track while playing both basketball and football.

The big colleges started recruiting him to play football, and he made a selection: The University of Kansas. Oops, that wasn't what you expected, was it?

But Terence went on to make a visit to Kansas State, and it changed his mind. He committed to become a Wildcat after all.

Terence Newman has always had speed, but what stands out is the way he has developed as a football player. As an underclassman, he played on special teams and sparingly in the defensive backfield. He did an outstanding job running track, becoming Big 12 Outdoor Champion in the 100 meter dash in 2001 and defending that championship again in 2002.

Meanwhile, he was developing into a very special football player. As a junior, he started all games at cornerback. There was even talk about him jumping to the NFL after his junior season. But Terence chose to come back to K-State for his senior year, and what a year that would prove to be.

By year-end 2002, he had led the team in interceptions, returned two punts and one kickoff for touchdowns, and also scored on a 51-yard pass reception. He was named a First Team All-American, Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, and on December 12, received the Jim Thorpe award as the nation's best defensive back. Most important to Terence, he has helped his team to a remarkable 10-win season.

There has been a succession of young men from all over Kansas who have come through the K-State program with great success. That includes players from rural schools, such as Mark Simoneau from Smith Center. Most recently, we see players like Jon McGraw, a graduate of Riley County High School. Riley has a population of 753 people. Now, that's rural. Yet Jon is now starting for the New York Jets in the NFL.

Terence Newman's background is different from those. Yes, he's a Kansas kid, who says that he enjoys fishing. But he grew up in the industrial area of north Salina rather than the quiet wheatfields of western Kansas, yet he overcame all the obstacles before him to succeed.

As a college football junior, Terence turned down the lure of pro football's big money to return for his senior season in order to help the team. The result is a big benefit to the team, and also to him. Today we celebrate the achievements of Kansas athletes in towns large and small, for their hard work, sportsmanship, and their importance to their community.

It's the final game of the K-State regular season. Terence Newman receives a punt, and starts to make his move upfield. Behind strong blocking, he bursts into the open and outruns the competition all the way to the goalline. It's yet another goal along Terence Newman's journey.

We commend Terence Newman and hard-working athletes in schools all across Kansas for making a difference with their hard work and commitment. We wish them much success, all the way to their goal line.

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