K-State Research and Extension News
Kansas Profile is a weekly radio feature hosted by Ron Wilson, Director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development.
Each week the program describes the ideas and achievements of a local leader or entrepreneur in a rural community. By providing positive recognition to such leaders and sharing their ideas, we hope to encourage these and other Kansans to build on their examples. In doing so, rural Kansas can be made an even better place to live and work.
We know there are many more excellent and interesting examples across the state of Kansas. We encourage the public to provide us with suggestions of Kansas people, businesses or communities which would make an interesting profile. Below are the most recent editions of Kansas Profile in mp3 format.
Kansas Profile
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An organization that began as an orphanage to care for children from the great flu epidemic of the early 1900s, has altered its mission through the years to give disadvantaged young people an opportunity at a better life. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, details how this organization is serving some four-to-five thousand kids each year through a variety of programs.
 

Getting the mix just right is vital – especially in business. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for rural development at Kansas State University, says a company with deep roots in rural Kansas has become a national leader in making mixers for livestock feed and more.
 

Do you know what a hang-up is? Most people would probably say they’re pet peeves, and although that’s correct, a hang-up is also a type of hardware that’s useful in hanging items from acoustical ceilings. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says that’s one example of an item produce by an innovative company in Kansas which now manufactures carts and other products for the workplace.
 

An interest in woodworking and the purchase of a hinge machine being sold at auction were the building blocks for a successful woodworking business in rural Kansas. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says a book inside the hinge machine is what really jump-started the business.
 

Many stores offer customers free samples as a way to introduce them to new products. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says there’s a special event where people can get a sample of attractions, foods, communities and entertainment from across the state – and it’s happening in rural Kansas.
 

”Down at the Emma Chase” is a song by Australian guitarist Nick Charles that refers to a remarkable small town café – a café where he has performed several times. But what is so special about this small town café? Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the success of the café has spawned other entrepreneurial ventures, including the Emma Chase Country Store and the Emma Chase Music Hall.

Typically, being completely nuts isn’t a good thing. However, when it’s the name of your business – and your business is nuts – it makes perfect sense. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has the story of a young entrepreneur from southeast Kansas who sold delicious cinnamon-roasted nuts as far west as Las Vegas and up and down the eastern seaboard before returning to Kansas to start a family.
 
 

An American competing in an event called the skeleton at the Winter Olympics in Russia isn’t just representing America, she’s representing rural Kansas. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says she overcame the loss of her father and a serious injury to represent her country and the people of rural Kansas.
 
 

The co-authors of a new book point to leadership – not from an elite few, but from all of us as the answer to achieving the common good. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the co-authors might be considered an odd couple. One is older, the other relatively old. One is a democrat, the other a Republican. One grew up in a rural area, the other in a city. However, both are Kansans and committed to the concept of civic leadership.
 
 

In 2010, seven Kansas educational institutions joined a program called TRAC-7 – Technical Retraining to Achieve Credentials – to help build a more skilled workforce. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, explains how this program is making a difference across Kansas.
 
 

A multi-million dollar purchase helped catapult a rural Kansas company into the machine shop of choice for major manufacturers. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, traces the roots of this business that started out as a husband and wife operation and now includes their entire family and more than 50 employees.
 
 

The mother of an 11-year-old daughter who was exhibiting major  symptoms of illness – dizziness, vomiting, daily migraines, lethargy and imbalance, discovered the cause of the illness while reading a medical journal article about eating gluten-free while sitting in the doctor’s waiting room. The symptoms of gluten-intolerance sounded a lot like her daughter’s symptoms. The gluten-free diet improved her condition, but Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says finding gluten-free food she wanted to eat was tough, leading her mom to open a bake shop in rural Kansas that features gluten-free products.
 
 

More businesses are going “green” and a rural Kansas company is helping. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the company uses products that wouldn’t have otherwise been used to make a broad range of bio-based and compostable plastics to make durable goods such as toys, pet supplies, cell phone cases and wood-related products for furniture.
 
 

The Western Music Association is an organization of performers and fans of western music and cowboy poetry. During a meeting of the Kansas Chapter of WMA to discuss ways to promote this particular genre of musical performance, the group decided to produce a CD which would include a compilation of samples of work, primarily songs, produced by its members. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the release of the “double-barreled CD” called Kansas Cowboy is being celebrated with a debut event in Cottonwood Falls on January 19th.
 

Two key players on this year’s Kansas State University football team also played together at Abilene High School. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has more on how these players from rural Kansas are making a difference at a Big 12 Conference school.
 

Getting a prescription filled generally means a trip to the local pharmacy. However, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says there’s also a prescription for the type of agricultural treatment needed to growing a crop in a field – and that prescription is being filled by the owner and founder of a company in rural Kansas.
 

The loss of the local grocery store, which is becoming a common occurrence in many rural communities, leaves residents with no other choice than to shop in nearby towns. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has the story of a rural community that lost its only grocery store, but was able to get it back through its community foundation by launching an Access to Healthy Food initiative and operating the store as a non-profit enterprise.

Many communities have Christmas parades, but is there any town of fewer than 100 people which has conducted a Christmas parade annually for 40 years? In this holiday edition of Kansas Profile, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says a small Kansas town has a tradition of holding a Christmas parade on the first Saturday of December.
 

When someone suffers a tragic loss, they’re faced with two choices: they can grieve or they can grieve and act. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the parents of a victim of domestic violence chose to grieve and act – creating a remarkable campaign based on her life.

The tallest building in the world is located in the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emeritus. A long-time architect who grew up halfway around the globe from Dubai, in the middle of rural Kansas, played a lead role in managing the design team for this amazing building. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, looks at his career and some of the challenges that had to be overcome to build a structure that stands 2,722 feet tall.

All too often, young people are not asked to be involved in the leadership of rural communities or are invited as a token voice of youth. However, some don’t wait to be asked, they volunteer to serve on boards and community organizations. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, profiles a woman who is the manager of a small business and is also involved, professionally and as a volunteer, with several organizations working to sustain rural Kansas.

Billboards – large advertisements strategically placed along highways and on top of city buildings – are still a popular way to target customers. However, another type of advertising is now targeting motorists and pedestrians: vinyl wrap. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says there’s a custom graphic design and vinyl application company in rural Kansas that produces designs to imprint or cover everything from automobiles to apparel.

A visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City was the inspiration a Kansas artist needed to focus his work on cowboy and western art. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says this self-taught artist has produced cover artwork for Cowboy magazine and his artwork has been part of art shows from Kentucky to California.

As video boards continue to increase in size and clarity, part of the fun of going to live sporting events is to see the animated graphics during the game. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says a young man from Kansas is producing and directing eye-catching video graphics for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association.

Although many of us associate horsepower with the size of a car’s engine, that’s not the case for a rural Kansas couple. They use horse power to provide wagon rides at a variety of special events, including Symphony in the Flint Hills. In addition to providing wagon rides, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says they also build and restore wagons of various kinds.

A bed and breakfast in western Kansas is attracting guests from all over the world. The bed and breakfast, just two miles from the Colorado border, was once a saloon. After the cattle drives ended, the saloon was moved from the now non-existent town of Trail City, Colorado to Coolidge, Kansas. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says there’s a lot of history associated with the saloon and Trail City.

There are six subspecies of wild turkeys in the world. Four of those are found in the United States and two are found in Mexico.  For a turkey hunter, an ultimate goal is to bag one bird from each subspecies. Such a feat is called a World Slam. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says perhaps 300 people have achieved a World Slam in turkey hunting, but only 10 of those have done so with a bow – and one of them lives in Kansas.

A love for the outdoors and hunting that began as a young child has turned into a business for a man who grew up in Mexico and moved to Kansas City after visiting one his childhood American “cousins” when he was 21.  According to Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, after working as a medical interpreter at the KU Medical Center in Kansas City for 13 years, this man is now operating a hunter’s outfitting service on 10,000 acres of privately owned land in the heart of the Flint Hills – ideal for deer and turkey hunting.

When a business has operated under the same name for nearly seven decades, it’s typically because it’s a family-owned business that’s been passed down from generation to generation. Kistner’s Flowers in Manhattan has had three owners since it opened in 1946 – and while none of them were related, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says a bond that developed between the current owners and one of the original owners makes it feel like a “family” business.

Have you lost your marbles? That’s typically a question we would rather not answer. However, in this case, the question really is about marbles! Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, explains how these marbles are being turned into vintage toys and games by a Kansas company that specializes in marbles and more.

We all have things around the house that just seem to multiply. In one woman’s case it was rope. Her husband competes in team calf-roping events so they had lots of rope. But, what can you do with old lariat ropes? Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says those old ropes have been transformed into elegant and rustic decorative such items such as baskets of various sizes, coaster sets, salt and pepper holders, napkin holders, crosses, lamps, and more. And, many of the items she creates have a sentimental value that’s priceless.

The League of Kansas Municipalities, the statewide association of city governments, was founded in 1910. The president of the organization is a city clerk from rural Kansas. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the real story is that this president is one of only eight women to have held that position and the first female city clerk ever to be elected president.

Before American astronauts blasted off into space, a chimpanzee trained by a scientist who ended up in Kansas, made the first space journey. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, explains how a professor of psychology taught chimpanzees before teaching thousands of students at K-State.
 

School is back in session across Kansas and students are gearing up for fall sports and other school-sanctioned activities. Have you ever wondered who is responsible for oversight of all these sports and activities? Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says it’s the Kansas State High School Activities Association – and that its executive director, with ties to rural Kansas, was elected to serve on the Board of Directors of the National Federation of State High School Associations based in Indianapolis.
 

All athletes look for an advantage over the competition. Some are finding an advantage from products made in rural Kansas. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says this company is using natural honey to make energy food that’s providing athletes from coast-to-coast with an energy boost.

A communications company in Kansas uses an innovative ownership model where all certified employees are also owners. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, explains the model and how it’s been part of the success of this growing communications company.

From play-by-play announcer to disc jockey to manager and CEO, a small-town Kansas broadcaster has seen many changes in the communications industry since getting his first job at a local radio station in 1949. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says this man’s success is tied to his ability to embrace all forms of communications.

The quest to do things better has motivated many entrepreneurs. According to Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, that’s what helped one company – now a commercial tenant at the K-State-Olathe campus – find a better way to deliver pest control for livestock producers and more.

What can you do when your young son can’t consume store-bought dairy formula? One couple turned to goats’ milk as an alternative. Not only did the couple use goat milk, they began raising dairy goats of their own.  At one point, they were milking 40 goats per day. The question then became what are we going to do with all this milk? Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says one outlet for the goats’ dairy products was to make goat milk soaps – and eventually – lotions, herbs, and little hand-knitted gnomes.

One of the longest running bed and breakfasts in Kansas may not even exist if a friend hadn’t invited the owner to go with them to a bed and breakfast meeting in Topeka. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says the average lifespan of a bed and breakfast is five to six years, but this B&B has been in operation for more than 20 years – and they now have a twin next door.

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