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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Stephanie & Doug David – Bow Creek Ranch

Yak, yak, yak. That might be a teenager’s description of the sound of some long-winded grownup – such as me. But yaks are actually a type of cattle. These animals originated in the Himalayas thousands of years ago. Now they are being raised and marketed by an innovative couple in rural Kansas. Many thanks to Carolyn Applegate and Norton County magazine for this story.

Stephanie and Doug David are the owners of Bow Creek Ranch in Norton County. Doug grew up here and met and married Stephanie who is from Nebraska. They farm and raise Angus cattle near Lenora.

“In 1997, I was at the Denver stock show,” Doug said. The stock show was hosting a specialty animal sale where yaks were being sold

“I tried the yak meat and really liked it,” Doug said. He decided to try raising them.

Yaks are an unusual kind of bushy-haired bovine with handlebar-shaped horns and massive shoulders. As mentioned, they originated in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet. Tibetan culture revolves around the yak, similar to how Native American Plains Indian culture revolved around the buffalo. However, yaks are not related to the American buffalo, which are technically bison.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Tom Circle, Pecans

Pecan groves in Kansas? The idea might seem rather far-fetched. In fact, some would say it sounds nuts. But today we’ll learn about a family-owned business in southeast Kansas which is raising and marketing pecans and more.

During the last two weeks, we have learned about local foods in southeast Kansas. A USDA Rural Development grant is supporting K-State’s Technology Development Institute in building markets for local foods.

Tom Circle and his family represent another example of a value-added, local foods producer. In this case, the food is pecans.

“We are on the northern edge of the pecan belt,” Tom said. He grew up on the family farm here where his parents and grandparents raised traditional row crops. During the farm downturn of the 1980s, his family wanted to diversify.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Heather Horton, Toast

“Toast of the town.” That would be quite a title. Today we’ll learn about a culinary entrepreneur who is helping her town in the food business. She operates a cake decorating enterprise and, soon, will open a new restaurant with the name of Toast.

Heather and Roger Horton

Last week we met Heather Horton and learned about her involvement in the revitalization of the historic downtown in Pittsburg, Kansas. She is also the owner of these growing small businesses.

In 2017, USDA Rural Development awarded a grant to help build markets for local foods in southeast Kansas. That project is led by Heather Morgan, director of engagement and community development for K-State’s Technology Development Institute. She identified Heather Horton as an example of excellence in local foods entrepreneurship.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Heather Horton, Block22

Block22. That sounds like part of a play call in football. In this case, Block22 is the name of a redevelopment project which is helping transform a historic downtown in a key southeast Kansas community.

Block22 in Pittsburg, Kansas

Heather Horton is an entrepreneur and owner of a small business located near the district known as Block22 in Pittsburg, Kansas. Heather grew up in the nearby rural community of Girard, population 2,789 people. Now, that’s rural.

In Girard, her high school sweetheart was Roger Horton whom she would later marry.  Heather earned a bachelor’s degree in commercial art and a master’s degree in communications from Pittsburg State, while Roger studied at Fort Scott Community College.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: One Million Cups

One million cups of coffee. That’s a lot of caffeine. It’s also much more than that, since this is the term for a movement which is supporting entrepreneurs across the nation. This program is building a peer support network to help those who are starting and growing their businesses.

(left to right) Jonny Heath, organizer Joe Gerken, and Tim Gregory visit between presenters at a One Million Cups event. Networking is encouraged during the program. Photo courtesy of Cynthia Naughton Photography

Amber Starling and Joe Gerken are among the organizers of the Manhattan, Kansas chapter of this group called One Million Cups. Last week we learned about another of the organizers, Darin Miller. He operates Iron Clad Coworking Space with facilities in Manhattan and in the rural community of Wamego, population 4,272 people. Now, that’s rural.

The One Million Cups concept was begun by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in 2012. The idea was simple: Great ideas are discussed over a million cups of coffee.  The Kauffman Foundation wanted to create a time and place where entrepreneurs could share with each other. Coffee was provided and entrepreneurs were brought together in Kansas City. The results were remarkable.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Darin Miller, Iron Clad Coworking

Iron clad. The term suggests something that is certain and stable. It is also the name of an innovative place which is now providing shared space for Kansas entrepreneurs to work and grow.

Darin Miller is the founder and owner of Iron Clad Coworking in Wamego and Manhattan. Darin grew up near Newton. He went to school at Berean Academy in the rural community of Elbing, population 229 people. Now, that’s rural.

Darin Miller

As a student, he competed at the state cross country meet at Wamego. “I could see that Wamego was a community with a winning attitude,” Darin said. He studied mechanical engineering, worked at Cessna in Wichita, and then happened to come to Wamego for a project at Caterpillar. He and his wife decided to stay.

Darin noticed a change in the way corporate life operated. “Managers said they didn’t have enough room (for employees’ offices) but at any given time, a third of the people were out working on projects elsewhere,” he said. Technology was making it possible for people to work without being confined to a particular office. “Entrepreneurs were using coffee shops and libraries, but those didn’t work for some business purposes,” he said.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Rosslyn Schultz, Post Rock Limestone Coalition

Is it a post or is it a rock? In central Kansas, it might be both. A unique limestone formation in central Kansas has given rise to the name Post Rock country. Now a dedicated group of community advocates is launching a new coalition to attract visitors to the Post Rock region.

Limestone art in Lucas, Kansas.

Last week we learned about the Russell County Area Community Foundation which is supporting the new Post Rock Limestone Coalition. The coalition is co-chaired by Rosslyn Schultz of the Grassroots Arts Center in Lucas.

As we have shared before, Rosslyn went to K-State and met and married a Lucas-area wheat farmer. Her interest in wheat weaving led her to become involved in folk art. She eventually became director of the Grassroots Arts Center which specializes in outsider, self-taught art environments across Kansas and the Midwest.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Angie Muller, Russell County Area Community Foundation

Sometimes it takes a spark to get something started. Today we’ll learn about a spark which is indeed starting something, but this spark is spelled SPARC with a C. The SPARC program was launched by an innovative community foundation to encourage and support vital economic development projects in the region.

Angie Muller is executive director of the Russell County Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Greater Salina Community Foundation. She told me about the SPARC grant program.

Angie is a native of Russell. She earned a degree in economics from Kansas State University and a master’s degree in defense studies from the University of Reading in England. She went on to work with federal agencies and then non-profit organizations in the Washington, D.C. area, but she had fond memories of home.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Mark Nutsch

Someone has to be the first. When the U.S. military enters an international conflict, some soldier has to be the first to lead his unit into combat. That soldier is like the tip of a dagger, bravely entering a life and death conflict. Today we’ll learn the

Mark Nutsch (center) and colleagues.

remarkable story of a young Kansas man who served his nation in this amazing way.

Mark Nutsch is the former commander of the first Green Beret unit which went in to Afghanistan after the bombing of 9-11. His harrowing and heroic true story would become a major motion picture.

Mark Nutsch grew up near Washington, Kansas. Today his family farms in Wabaunsee County near the rural community of Alma, population 783 people. Now, that’s rural.  Mark came to K-State where he joined the college rodeo team.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Jan Leonard, Hugoton

Buried treasure. Bonnie and Clyde. These are terms that might be found in adventure stories or action movies. Today we’ll learn about a community which didn’t find buried diamonds or gold, but it did uncover historic remnants of pioneer medicines from a century ago. What’s more, this community is believed to have once harbored the infamous outlaws, Bonnie and Clyde.

Jan Leonard is economic development director of Stevens County. He told the story of the remarkable things which have recently been found in the county seat town of Hugoton.

Old tunnels connected several of the buildings in downtown Hugoton. Most of these had fallen or filled in through the years, but in April 2018, one semi-collapsed tunnel was found under a building called the Bundy Hotel.

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