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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!

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