The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and two U.S. senators enter the room. That sounds like a description of a Washington, D.C. hearing room, but in this case, it refers to what happened recently in the stone barn of a leading farm family in rural Kansas.
Last week we learned about longtime agricultural leaders Jeanne and Harold Mertz of River Creek Farms near Manhattan. Today, River Creek Farms is owned by two of their sons, Joe and Bob, and their wives Kim and Mary, respectively. The Mertz farm recently hosted the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a meeting with Kansas farm leaders.
“1 Kansas farmer feeds more than 155 people + You!” Signs proclaiming this message are frequently seen along the highways and byways of Kansas. These signs demonstrate the passionate advocacy for agriculture which is found in an innovative farm family in rural Kansas.
Jeanne and Harold Mertz were the farm couple who initiated this farm sign project and other projects to benefit agriculture. Harold grew up on a farm southeast of Manhattan. He was a charter member of the Zeandale 4-H Club. During his last year in 4-H, he showed the grand champion steer at the American Royal.
Harold attended K-State where he met Jeanne, who was born in Kansas City, Kansas and had grown up in Oskaloosa. They married and moved back to his family farm, which was named River Creek Farms because it was situated in the Kaw River valley between the Kansas River and Deep Creek.
The Mertzs were grain farmers and producers of cattle and sheep. Harold would feed thousands of lambs in a typical winter. The Mertzs also raised five children: Joe, Tom, Bob, Jane, and Jon.
Let’s go hunting. No, not for deer or turkey. Today we are going hunting for a geocache, a hidden container which we can find with the aid of GPS technology. The practice of finding geocaches is not only attracting visitors to Kansas, it is bringing a major gathering of geocachers to our state in spring 2017.
Last week we met geocaching enthusiast Ryan Semmel. He is a leader of the effort to bring a major geocaching event to Kansas. After serving in the Army overseas and most recently at Fort Riley, he retired in Manhattan. Ryan and his wife have two daughters and a son.
Ryan enjoys geocaching, the practice of finding hidden caches outdoors through the use of GPS technology. The caches are small containers containing a logbook and, in some cases, trinkets for exchange. Someone will hide the cache and then post the location on the geocaching.com website for people to find. When a cache is found, the finder enters his or her user name in the logbook, exchanges gifts if desired, and then posts about it on the website.
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.