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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

From Mrs. Rebecca Hall :)

Short on History, but long on help. "We serve a purpose."

Hello again!  I have a report from Becky's Wakefield, Kansas trip!  It is always SO AWESOME to see co-ops involve the next generation.  That is part of how we can cultivate future farmers, ranchers, extension agents and so forth.  Great work, Becky!!  I sure appreciate all that you do to help me through this internship.  You're a pretty awesome friend, too :)  I hope you all enjoy her bit! -Billie

Throughout our travels this summer we have hit Farming Co-ops of various sizes from Moundridge with forty facilities to Piqua consisting of only one site.  But each Co-op regardless of size has a story to tell as well as a unique purpose for the farming community in its area.  So that being said this week I was out on my own for one day taking on the Wakefield Co-op.  Though not on the original list that Billie and I had came up, the Co-op is close to my house and it wouldn't seem right to leave it out with it being so close.  Wakefield is just a hop, skip and jump from Fort Riley and the town is home to many military families who make the commute to post.  But even though the town hosts many military families it is also in the middle of farm country.  John Boley, the General Manager of the Wakefield Co-op was kind enough to sit down with me during an extremely busy part of the season and talk about the co-op, its location and also to offer some much needed assistance.  Wakefield sits in a unique area; with Clay Center less than twenty miles to its north and Lake Milford and Fort Riley to its east; its area of service is obviously not large at all.  But what the little Co-op lacks in area makes up in service.  While In addition to providing a style of service that keeps the loyalty of customers returning, every fall the Co-op hosts the Wakefield Elementary Second graders.  The kiddos are given a tour of the facilities and information on the in's and outs of farming.  In the last few minutes of our interview, John began to question me about the other Co-ops we would be visiting.  As I told him of our plans, the General Manager handed me the 2013 Directory of all the Co-ops in Kansas regardless of size.  I could never thank John enough for that book; it has made the life of two Kansas State interns much easier.
-Rebecca S. Hall

-Go State!  

Monday, July 15, 2013

The North Western Adventure!

"We have a great excuse to get excited about our collection again and again!"
-Karen Anderson

So, our trip to South West and South Central Kansas was postponed for a few weeks.  We rearranged our schedules so we could finish the Northern sections of the state, and I believe it worked swimmingly!  I hope you'll enjoy this blog post as much as we enjoyed our trips!!

The week before Rebecca and I went out by the Colorado border together, I went to Colby solo.  Why, I'm not sure, but I'm sure it's because I was itching for a mini road trip.  Oh!  And because Becky went out to Wakefield solo.  Had to even the score, right Becky?  :)
Once in Colby, I met with Mr. John Strecker, General Manager.  We had a great, yet not so great conversation about this years wheat harvest.  I told him that almost every co-op we've been to has had about only half the crop that they had the year before, and the year before wasn't even what you would consider a normal crop.  Darn drought!  It's really taken a toll on farmers and the co-ops.  What I found to be different about Colby, is that they have been out of the crop production business for 10+ years.  They found that it wasn't worth the dollar to keep it as part of their services.  Co-ops have to make certain sacrifices in order to be successful.  I had just never been to a co-op that didn't offer crop production services.  Kind of cool to see these differences!

A week later,  Becky and I met up in the big city of Hays, Kansas to begin our trip out to Goodland, Kansas.  After what felt like a long drive, a few cups of coffee, and lots of crazy tunes from my iPhone, we made it to the Frontier Ag Administrative Office in Goodland.  We spoke with Mr. Brad Cowan, the General Manager.  He gave us a great interview and let us in on some of the happenings around the co-op.  After leaving the co-op, we found a little museum in town and thought we'd stop in.  We love museums and historical landmarks in Kansas!  Turns out, we met the wonderful Karen Anderson, who is the museum director.  We explained what we were after, and she provided us with more photos than we could ever ask for, as well as a mini history!  We had a blast looking around the museum as well!

That night we camped out at a Comfort Inn in Goodland, where we enjoyed a pool and a hot tub, and Becky used the ironing board for her desk.  After working on write-ups and enjoying a swim, we fell asleep with the Golden Girls playing on the television.  That's why Becky and I are friends!  :)

The next morning, we left for St. Francis, Kansas.  We were literally about 10 minutes from the Colorado border, which absolutely fascinated me, since I haven't been out-of-state in years!  Once we walked into the St. Francis Mercantile Equity Exchange, we were greeted by Mrs. Karol Lohman.  I tell you what.  She was the kindest soul, and was very helpful.  She even gave us a driven tour around not only the co-op, but parts of the town!  She showed us many of the changes they had to make to be up to code with the government.  As pricey as it all was, it was pretty fancy, and gave the 100-year-old co-op a great look!  After an officer worker loaded Becky and I down with Twizzlers from the old office, we drove back to the new office with Karol where she sent us off with big hugs.  I was just overwhelmed with the awesome hospitality and cooperation the staff offered us.  It made the trip absolutely amazing.  Thank you all.  :)

Becky and I both made it back to our respective homesteads that same evening.  It's been about a week, and here I am now, sitting in the home of my second mom, Teresa Reimer.  I AM on my next trip, and Becky is waiting for me in Wichita at her sister's home so we can go to our next stops, but you'll have to wait until a later date for that post!  PS-  Teresa makes GREAT goulash!  Thanks for dinner, T!

Thank you, also, to John, Brad, Karen, Karol, and the Comfort Inn for putting up with us, and providing us with everything thing we needed!  It was a great trip and we hope to return again!  More photographs to come!  Until next time...

-Go State!


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Hello, Eastern/Southeastern Kansas!

"One can always ask, does a legacy breed success or does success, over time, create a legacy?"--Dave Christiansen

It feels like it's been AGES since I've updated everyone on the internship.  There have been a few personal days logged in the books as it has been super hot, and Becky and I both have had some family events.  We still managed to have some fantastic days driving to a few small towns the past 2 weeks :)

First, though, we needed to finish Delphos, Kansas.  We met up at the co-op to visit with Mr. Zeb Larson.  He is fairly new to the co-op, but was so helpful.  He let us look through many, MANY photographs, and gave a very moving interview.  It is very rare to see a young person move to a hole-in-the-wall town to be a general manager of a co-op.  He is very passionate about what he does, and has a very solid understanding of the industries his co-op supports.  Needless to say, it was a great way to start off the trip out to Eastern Kansas!

I drove out to Becky's house to stay with her and Ivan, the dog so we could visit the co-op outside of Manhattan, Kansas.  We met with Darin Marti, the General Manager.  Fun Fact:  Many people my age may not know that the original co-op once stood where the mall in Manhattan is now!  Kind of strange to think, huh?  It was a VERY big deal moving the co-op, as they were able to utilize the urban business, and sold pet food, bird seed and yard supplies while standing IN the town.  Since they were such a diverse operation, it would be impossible to relocate to a single site.  This led to the City of Manhattan v. Farmers Co-op.  I'll leave this little hanger for you.  Look it up.  It was an interesting case!

After visiting Manhattan, I had the chance to spend some time at my NEW HOUSE in Manhattan!  Talk about excited! I also used the rest of the day to visit with a few long lost friends (actually, I hadn't seen them since May, but it felt way longer!).  Shout out to Theresa Jardine, My favorite Ag Ed student and plant guru, and Nicole Armbrister, my second favorite Animal Science student (next to me!)!  Becky and I also met with Dr. MJ Morgan, who is our supervisor during our trips.  We had lunch at Houlihans (yum), discussed our work, and told some stories about past experiences.  We alway seem to have a great time with Dr. Morgan.  I then spent the weekend at my sister's to get out of Becky's hair for a while!  The next Monday, we took off for Wichita to stay with her sister, Anita and her boys Brandon and Tucker so we could visit a few co-ops in the SE region of the state.

We woke up bright and early to visit Moundridge and and their co-op, Mid Kansas Cooperative Association, otherwise known as MKC.  Mr. Dave Christiansen, President and CEO, and Ms. Kerry Watson, Communications Director, met with us to discuss the co-ops history.  Moundridge encompasses 40 locations, which makes it the largest, most wide-spread co-op we've covered!  We had a blast looking through photographs, and newsletters, as well as getting a wonderful interview from 2 very helpful people!

The next day, we got up early (again! Ugh!) to head to Fredonia and Piqua (pronounced Pick-way), Kansas.  Driving in the SE region of Kansas, we were saddened to see wheat damage in multiple fields.  Regardless, when we arrived in Fredonia, harvest was in full swing.  We were able to speak with Ken Manson, general manager, for a while, but like most managers during harvest, he had a job to do, so we didn't keep him long.  He did allow us to take photographs and video footage of the elevator and storage units.  This is the part where Billie was put into the back of Becky's pickup while Becky drove around the property.  It was HOT, but I survived the heat and got some GREAT footage!

After Fredonia, we made our way to Piqua to meet with Kenneth Smail, the general manager.  He is only the THIRD general manager, as the co-op was started in 1957.  Kind of cool to think about, huh?  Like Mr. Manson, Mr. Smail had a business to run, so we asked our few questions, I jumped in the back of the truck, and I took some photos and video footage!  We went to lunch at Silverado's, where the cook told us we could find some more information at the chamber's office in Iola.  So we loaded up and went to Iola where met with Ms. Sheila, who turned us on to looking for town Facebook pages.  Who would've thunk it, huh? :)

Piqua Feed Mill!

Becky and I have both made it back to our homesteads.  We've taken some time due to the 4th of July being this Thursday.  It's nice to stay home after driving for what seemed like FOREVER.  Becky will soon be visiting Hiawatha, and I will be visiting Colby.  SOLO! :)  We would like to send out a HUGE THANK YOU to Dr. Morgan, Dave, Kerry, Ken, and Kenneth for all of their help while visiting with them.  Another BIG BIG Thank you to Anita, Brandon, and Tucker for putting Rebecca and I up for a few nights, as well as my sister, Robyn, for allowing me to stay at her house with my niece Halle for a few days!  So many thank you's!  We are so grateful for the cooperation and hospitality!

Join us next time for our travels deep into Western Kansas!

--Go State!