“Who changes one person, changes the world whole.” That quote from the Jewish Talmud was posted in a Kansas classroom where an idea took shape among an inspirational teacher and three high school girls. The idea would develop into a project which would have impact, literally, around the world. It began in rural Kansas.
Norm Conard was a social studies teacher at Uniontown High School. One of his teaching methods was to involve his students in the National History Day competition. Through the years, nearly 200 of his students received state history awards and more than 60 received national awards. One project in particular had global impact. It was chronicled in a 2011 book titled “Life in a Jar.”
Liz Cambers, Megan Stewart, and Sabrina Coons were students of Mr. Conard’s at Uniontown High School in 1999. He told his students to be thinking about a project on which they could do research for National History Day. Liz Cambers picked up a folder of news clippings to leaf through for ideas. She came across a small story from U.S. News and World Report.
In a few paragraphs, the article told about a Polish social worker named Irena Sendler who smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children to safety during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. Liz had never heard of Irena Sendler and neither had Mr. Conard. They figured that perhaps the article had a typo. Maybe she saved 250 children, not 2,500.
Liz decided to look into the history of Irena Sendler. She was joined in the project by two classmates, Megan Stewart and Sabrina Coons. The more they looked into the history, the more amazed they were.
The train emerges from the tunnel and speeds down the mountain track, overlooking a bustling village in the valley below. There aren’t a lot of mountains in Kansas, but this scene features a model train. It is part of a remarkable model railroad museum in rural Kansas.
The C&R Railroad is a model railroad museum, part of the Huck Boyd Community Center in Phillipsburg. The center, named for long-time Kansas journalist and civic leader Huck Boyd, celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2017.
One wing of the community center houses the C&R Railroad, a legacy of local citizen Bill Clarke. The C in the name stands for Clarke. The R stands for his wife’s maiden name, Reiss.
Let’s go to New York City to a high-end restaurant and order a Braveheart steak. The steak is delicious. These steaks are available in high quality restaurants across the country – but there is only one place in the nation where a person can get one of these steaks to cook at home. That place is not Manhattan, New York, but Manhattan, Kansas.
Jake Worcester and his partners are the owners of Manhattan Meat Market in Manhattan, Kansas. Jake and his friends wanted high quality, locally-sourced meat so they started this meat market of their own.
“Giving back.” It is a simple but powerful concept. Today we’ll meet a Kansas entrepreneur with small town roots who created a remarkable marketing organization that assists independent insurance agents and financial advisors across the
nation. They also emphasize the importance of giving back to their community.
Cody Foster is co-founder of Advisors Excel, an industry-leading financial and insurance marketing organization in Topeka. Cody grew up in Stockton. His grandparents owned the café in town, but when he was in the fifth grade his grandma had to run the café by herself. “As the oldest grandchild, I worked with my grandma a lot,” Cody said.
Biloxi, Mississippi. It’s time to announce the Beef Improvement Federation’s national Seedstock Producer of the Year award. And the winner is…a leading farm family from rural Kansas. This family is using modern technology to constantly improve beef cattle production through the development of improved bulls and heifers.
Last week we learned about Tyson and Emily Mullen in western Kansas. Emily McCurry Mullen grew up in south central Kansas as part of this award-winning farm family at the McCurry Angus Ranch. Her brother John McCurry leads the Angus operation today.
The McCurry family has deep roots in Kansas agriculture. Five McCurry brothers started the Angus operation with two heifers in 1928. The oldest of the brothers was A.J. A.J.’s son Andy met and married Mary who came from an Angus cattle-producing family in Tennessee and was getting a master’s degree in meat science at Kansas State University. Andy and Mary moved to south central Kansas and had Emily and John.
Down the main street of town comes the Christmas parade, including a combine covered in Christmas lights. That’s a sure sign that this is happening in rural Kansas. Along the parade route, shops are open late – including a gift shop owned by an innovative young Kansas couple. In small town Kansas, wouldn’t it be nice if we could do our holiday shopping in a local business? For example, right next door? Today we’ll learn about this couple in rural Kansas who has opened a convenient gift shop – and it is literally named Next Door. This is a special holiday edition of Kansas Profile.
“The cutting edge.” Where would one expect to find the cutting edge with the latest in pharmaceutical care? Today we’ll meet a young rural Kansas pharmacist who is combining cutting edge technology with old-fashioned customer service.
Tyson and Emily Mullen own and operate Grant County Drug in Ulysses, Kansas. Tyson came into the pharmacy business naturally. “My great-grandfather opened the first drugstore in Wichita County,” Tyson said. “I grew up hearing stories about how he would compound his own medicines and deliver them on horseback.”
Tyson grew up in the rural community of Leoti, population 1,534 people. Now, that’s rural.
He found he enjoyed science and math, and he had good mentors who encouraged him toward the medical field. As did his ancestor, he gravitated toward pharmacy. “I believe a pharmacist can impact people and help people on a daily basis,” Tyson said.
Whisper. When someone lowers his or her voice to say something in a whisper, do you want to come closer and learn more? Today we’ll meet an executive of an innovative marketing agency named WHISPER. This New York City executive comes from rural Kansas.
Steve Cranford is co-founder of WHISPER. Steve’s father was career Navy so Steve moved a lot as a child. His mother is from Arkansas City, Kansas. When his father retired, the family moved to Arkansas City.
Leaf through the November issue of the national magazine Christianity Today and you will find an excerpt of a new book. The book focuses on the dynamics of the rural church in America today and was written by a young pastor in rural Kansas.
Brad Roth is the pastor of West Zion Mennonite Church in Moundridge, Kansas, where he lives with his wife Lici and their two children. Brad grew up on a farm in Illinois, went to Augustana College and then to Harvard Divinity School.
When asked by a fellow Ivy League student where he came from, Brad replied, “Illinois.” His classmate responded that this was “flyover country.” “Where are you from?” Brad asked. “New York City,” said the classmate. Brad responded, “Don’t you know where your food comes from?” It was a classic example of rural meets urban.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Did your mother tell you that? If so, she was right. First impressions are important, for communities as well as people. Today we’ll learn about a program which can help Kansas towns create their community’s best possible first impression for visitors and prospective residents, while setting the stage for community action.
Nancy Daniels and Nadine Sigle are community vitality specialists with K-State Research and Extension. They use a program called First Impressions to provide helpful feedback for community improvement initiatives across the state.
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.