Let’s go to the 2019 National Restaurant Association Expo in Chicago. Food suppliers are displaying products from across the nation. Only one of these suppliers is a producer of a healthy, fermented drink called kombucha that promotes health in a person’s gut. This remarkable business is owned by a Native American woman who lives in rural Kansas.
Melinda Williamson is the founder and owner of the business called Morning Light Kombucha, the only such business at this 2019 national foods show. Melinda was born and raised in Topeka. She is of Native American descent, specifically from the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation.
“I always dreamed of having my own business,” Melinda said. “I think I started a little cleaning business when I was in the fourth grade.” As she grew older, she became very interested in science. She got a B.S. in natural history biology at K-State and then worked as a senior research specialist in a laboratory at Oklahoma State where she got a master’s in rangeland ecology and management, all while raising her daughter.
“God, family, America, and freedom.” Those are the priorities that rural entertainer Brad Hamilton believes in living, celebrating, and promoting. He also believes in public service, both in civic life and in the military.
Brad Hamilton is an educator and entertainer in northeast Kansas. His family came from Jewell County originally. Part of his ancestry is Native American Indian. Brad’s father played football, ran track, and was on the wrestling team at Kansas State. Brad’s dad went on to become the superintendent at Lovewell Reservoir.
Brad grew up with a love of music and of cowboy life. His grandfather had a farm and Brad rode whenever he could. “I grew up in the Roy Rogers era and those good guys were your heroes,” Brad said. He learned to spin guns and do rope tricks. His grandfather also loved the song “Wings of a Dove” and he asked Brad to sing along with it every chance he could.
Brad’s father served in the National Guard and then was transferred to Salina when Brad was nine.
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.