By Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University.
“Soul sister.” The term implies a kinship, a virtual sisterhood, a deep connection. Today we’ll learn about two young women who have formed a creative business together and are now connecting with customers across the nation.
Shanna Lindberg and Michelle Lindberg are co-founders of this remarkable business known as Soul Sister Ceramics. Shanna grew up in Scandia in north-central Kansas. She earned a degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Kansas and married a farmer from Courtland. She worked for the local radio station for a time and then stayed home when her children were born.
Among her friends in Courtland was Michelle Lindberg, a local nurse. “Our husbands are first cousins,” Shanna said. The two young women hit it off.
“We were talking about finding a hobby that we could do together,” Shanna said. “Michelle had a mug that I really loved.” That inspired them to try making ceramic pottery.
“Creating a classroom.” That’s something that teachers do frequently. Today we’ll learn about a Kansan who is creating a classroom for agriculture, but not inside a traditional school. This Kansan is leading a national center which provides a living experience to help people of all ages learn about agriculture.
Dawn Gabel is the new director of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. The ag center, as it is sometimes called, has deep history in Kansas. Congress approved a federal charter for the center. It was signed by President Eisenhower in 1960.
However, no funds are appropriated to support the center, so it relies on private sector funding. Today the facility has grown to include 10 buildings and tens of thousands of visitors – but a lack of funding caught up with the center in 2014.
When the previous director left, the board decided to close for the 2014 summer months. Now a new director has been hired and the center is again open and active.
Dawn Gabel is the new center director. She has deep roots in rural Kansas. Her family homesteaded in Jewell County. Dawn grew up at the rural community of Courtland, population 322 people. Now that’s rural.
World Wide Web. Of course, that’s the term that we see on the Internet. It reminds us that Internet technology operates far beyond our borders. Today we’ll meet an Internet marketing company which is using the tools of technology to transcend the traditional limitations of distance in rural America. Special thanks to Nex-Tech and writer Steve Herrs whose article in Connections provided content for this Kansas Profile column.
Jenny Russell is the owner and founder of JenRus Freelance, a marketing company which does both traditional and Internet marketing. Last week we learned about her associate Luke Mahin, who also serves as economic development director for Republic County. Jenny and Luke are officed in the rural community of Courtland.
Jenny grew up nearby in the rural community of Glen Elder, population 428 people. Now, that’s rural. She went to Bethany College and earned a degree in Business – Communications and Marketing.
“My dad farmed and my mom teaches school,” Jenny said. “My mom always asked, ‘Wouldn’t you love to move back?’ I said, ‘Sure, but what would I do if I moved back?'”
Fun Day. No, not Sunday, as in the first day of the week or an ice cream treat. I refer to an event called Fun Day in Courtland. For 50 years, the rural community of Courtland has put on a community Fun Day.
Luke Mahin is the economic development director for Republic County and is the one who told me about Fun Day in his hometown of Courtland.
In 1964, businessmen in Courtland wanted to have a community celebration. It morphed into an annual community picnic and much more. It is called Courtland Fun Day. Posters, koozies and t-shirts commemorate the event yearly.
The event is held annually on the last Saturday of July. During the week preceding Fun Day, called Fun Week, a downtown clean-up is held on Monday. “Everybody pitches in to clean up the town,” Luke said. “They will literally bring brooms downtown and sweep the sidewalks.” Talk about a hands-on way to take responsibility for your community’s well-being!
Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University writes Kansas Profile. The weekly posts highlight individuals or companies in rural Kansas who are making a difference to their community and state.
The Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development is a public / private partnership between Kansas State University and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The mission of the institute is to help rural people help themselves. Learn more at www.huckboydinstitute.org.