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Kansas Profile

Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Jay Clark – Buffalo Soldier

Fort Union, New Mexico. At this historic fort, a group of African-Americans are re-enacting the role of the historic U.S. Cavalrymen known as buffalo soldiers. One of their leaders is a man from rural Kansas.

Jay Clark is founder and organizer of the Wichita Buffalo Soldiers. The name “buffalo soldier” came from the native American Indians in the 1860s, because the strength, courage and curly hair of the African-Americans reminded them of the Great Plains buffalo.

One of Jay Clark’s ancestors was a buffalo soldier. Jay’s father served in the military as well. Jay grew up at Nicodemus, which had been originally settled as an all-black colony in northwest Kansas in 1877. Nicodemus is located near Bogue, a rural community of 143 people. Now, that’s rural.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Matt Barten – Embruon

How can a beef producer improve his or her herd more quickly? Since beef cows have a nine-month gestation period – longer than other livestock – generational improvement takes time. In recent years, a number of producers have used the process of embryo transfer, in which a superior cow is fertilized and then her embryos are transferred to recipient cows that carry the calves to natural birth. This multiplies the offspring of high quality cows, but it still takes nine months or more to see the results. Today we meet an entrepreneur who has devised a process to get an advance look at how those embryos will perform when they become a full-grown beef animal.

Matt Barten is the owner and founder of a new company called Embruon. He grew up near Carlton in southwest Dickinson County and earned an animal science degree at Fort Hays State.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Russell Disberger – Executive Education

A high-performance car needs to have its engine tuned just right. High-performance organizations sometimes need something similar. Today we’ll learn about a new executive-education program which seeks to help senior leaders of those organizations achieve the highest levels of performance, using a nationally known consultant from rural Kansas.

In fall 2017, Kansas State University is offering the first of three programs: The Executive Coach, which will be followed by The Strategic Leader and The Frontline Leader. The three programs are targeted for executives, mid-level managers, and front-line managers, respectively.

As we have previously profiled, Russell Disberger is the founder and owner of Aspen Business Group. He has deep roots in rural Kansas.

Russell Disberger’s ancestors homesteaded near Council Grove. When Russell’s father took a position teaching agriculture at Hutchinson Community College, the family relocated to Reno County. Russell and his siblings went to school at Haven and lived near the rural community of Yoder, which has a population of 194 people. Now, that’s rural.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Zenda – Part 2 – Mike Molitor, Lumber Yard Steakhouse

“Let’s go to the lumber yard.” At our house, that usually means we need supplies for carpentry repairs or a do-it-yourself project. Today we’ll learn about a lumber yard where one can find a whole different set of supplies. Instead of wood, we find wine. Instead of hardware, we find hamburgers. Instead of stacks of lumber, we find steak dinners. This business is owned by a pioneering cattleman from rural Kansas.

The Lumber Yard Steakhouse is in Zenda, Kansas.

Last week we learned about the community of Zenda. One of the prominent businesses in Zenda is the Lumber Yard Steakhouse, now owned by local rancher Mike Molitor.  Special thanks to Kansas writer Steve Suther and the Angus Journal whose 2014 article provides background about the Molitors.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Zenda – Part 1 – 130th Anniversary Celebration

If a centennial is 100 years and a sesquicentennial is 150 years, what is 130 years?  Whatever that number of years might be called, in 2017 it is the basis of a celebration of the founding of a historic community in rural Kansas.

Zenda, Kansas will celebrate its 130th anniversary on Sept. 2.

A team of volunteers has come together to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the founding of Zenda, Kansas. Zenda was founded along a railroad line in Kingman County on Sept. 6, 1887.

The town was originally named New Rochester. However, the post office found that there were already 28 places named Rochester in the U.S. so the name needed to be changed to avoid confusion. The wife of a railroad employee had just read an 1884 novel called The Prisoner of Zenda, and she suggested Zenda because it was a pretty-sounding name. Another version of the story is that Zenda is the shortened form of an ancient religious term meaning “Good Prevails over Evil.” In any event, the town’s name was officially changed to Zenda in 1899.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Dr. Deb Mangelsdorf – A Dog’s Purpose

The book was on the New York Times bestseller list for 52 weeks. In the acknowledgements section of the best-selling sequel to this book, the author expressed his thanks to several people – including a woman veterinarian from rural Kansas.

Dr. Deb Mangelsdorf is the veterinarian who is credited in this remarkable book by W. Bruce Cameron. The book is titled A Dog’s Journey.

Deb Mangelsdorf grew up in Prairie Village where her father, a K-State alum, worked in the seed business. “I always wanted to be a veterinarian,” she said.

Deb went to Shawnee Mission East High School. Among her classmates was W. Bruce Cameron who was born in Michigan and then moved to the Kansas City area. “He was the class clown,” Deb said. “I tutored him in math.”

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Ben Schears – Northwest Tech

“There oughta be an app for that.” This statement is frequently heard as there is increasing demand for applications on our portable electronic devices. Today we’ll learn about an innovative technical college which is helping students do the coding necessary to develop more software applications.

Ben Schears, president of Northwest Kansas Technical College.

Ben Schears is president of Northwest Kansas Technical College – called Northwest Tech for short – in Goodland.

Ben grew up in rural Lyon County between the towns of Olpe, population 548, and Hartford, population 371 people. Now, that’s rural.

“I admit, I was not the best student in high school and probably didn’t show much promise,” Ben said. “I was more interested in sports and girls.” At the urging of his school counselor, he went to Flint Hills Technical College in Emporia during his last two years of high school where he learned heating and cooling technical skills.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Adrienne Korson – Solar Eclipse

“A once-in-a-lifetime experience.” That phrase is often overused in our modern society, but it would apply literally to an upcoming event in Kansas: A total eclipse of the sun.  The last time a total solar eclipse was visible in Kansas was 99 years ago. In August 2017, a total eclipse of the sun will be visible in northeast Kansas.

Adrienne Korson is director of economic development for Doniphan County in the northeast corner of Kansas. Adrienne grew up in Indiana. While exploring colleges, she made the impulsive decision to take a road trip to Kansas. Here she found Benedictine College. “It was a perfect fit,” Adrienne said.

Adrienne graduated in economics and business management. She had gotten an internship with Doniphan County and then served as interim director of economic development. On April 1, 2016, she took the permanent position as director.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Glen Fountain – Pluto flyby

July 14, 2015. An amazing scientific moment occurs, as a satellite from earth flies directly by the dwarf planet Pluto. Just like the man who originally discovered Pluto 85 years ago, the man who helped lead this mission to Pluto came from rural Kansas.

NASA’s New Horizons Project Manager Glen Fountain of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) gave a thumbs up to news that a flyby of Pluto was accomplished. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

During the last two weeks, we have learned about the discoverer of Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh, and his boyhood home of Burdett, Kansas. Today, in the third and final profile in this series, we will learn about the man who was the project manager for the modern-day exploration of Pluto.

Glen Fountain is the recently-retired project manager for NASA’s New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Glen grew up in western Reno County, Kansas. As a child, he was interested in science, and he found that his involvement in Boy Scouts broadened his horizons and encouraged his work ethic.

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Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural: Clyde Tombaugh – Burdett

Along Kansas Highway 156 about fifty miles west of Great Bend is the rural community of Burdett. Next to the water tower is a roadside park with a historical marker devoted to a local boy who became the discoverer of the planet Pluto.

Last week we learned about Clyde Tombaugh, the local farm boy whose interest in astronomy would lead to his discovery of another planet. Don Cloutman is one of the citizens of Burdett who is seeking to continue to honor Tombaugh’s legacy.

Don grew up southwest of Burdett in another rural community, the town of Minneola, population 717 people. Now, that’s rural.

Don studied zoology at Fort Hays State where he met his wife who is from Burdett. After serving in the Army, he went to graduate school at Arkansas, became a fisheries biologist at Duke Power Company in North Carolina, and earned a Ph.D. at Mississippi State. Dr. Cloutman became a professor of biology at Bemidji State University before he and his wife retired to Burdett.

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