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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Because of his passion for small-town radio over several decades, one highly-decorated broadcaster has become an invaluable pillar of his north-central Kansas community.  The director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development, Ron Wilson, tells the first of his two-part story on this week’s program.
 

- 7/18/2014
On the last edition of “Kansas Profile,” we met a rising star in the country music scene, who got his start in rural Kansas.  Today, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, introduces us to his wife, who’s making her own mark on the music scene.

- 7/11/2014
The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism has a new Official Kansas Tourism Ambassador:  a singer/songwriter who’s appeared on national television, toured overseas, and opened for some of the biggest names in country music.  Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, introduces us to this star of the big stage, with roots in rural Kansas.  SPECIAL NOTE FOR THIS WEEK’S PROGRAM: This “special edition” of the program features music by a country music artist.  The usual outcue, “Kansas Profile,” occurs at @ 4:19, followed by another 10 seconds of music.  This week’s program is also in stereo, rather than mono—the file is a bit bigger.

Sometimes, the “Next Big Thing” really is something big.  It might even be the “World’s Largest” thing.  In the final installment of his series on grassroots art, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has the story of an artist with an interesting specialty in “The World’s Largest Things.”

The Grassroots Art Center in Lucas, Kansas, is known for its distinctive, offbeat, unique works of art that populate every room in the center—every room, including the center’s public restrooms.   In the second part of his series on grassroots art, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, describes the community’s effort to construct what has been described as the world’s most artsy public bathroom.

It might be pieced together from old car parts and scrap metal… broken glass and used chewing gum… food containers and plastic flowers.  Whether you call it “folk art,” “recycled art,” or even “outsider art,” you’ll probably find it in Lucas, Kansas.  Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has the story about a unique art center, and the wheat farmer’s wife who put it on the map.

City girl…published author… enthusiastic runner.  June Hilbert is all of these—but it’s her role as a farm wife that prompted her to write a book about her experiences.  Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, tells us how this multi-talented woman’s career began with a rather unusual bouquet.

A new business Rawlins County has spurred some unexpected growth there, bucking the trend of urban growth and rural population loss that was found in the most recent census results.  . Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, relays the story of one entrepreneur whose work has been the advent of private sector, agribusiness enterprise.

Sunrise, sunsets, and serenity—three ingredients that formulate one family’s bed and breakfast near Medicine Lodge.

Needing just one ingredient to finish a baking project wouldn’t be a problem for many people. They’d jump in the car and head to the store. However, when you live 25 miles from a store, it’s a huge problem. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says running out of powdered sugar while doing some Christmas baking, prompted a woman to open a local store that’s now full of forgotten items.
 

Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd national Institute for Rural development at Kansas State University, concludes his series on Steve Irsik, an agricultural entrepreneur in southwest Kansas. This week, he profiles an innovative 4-H club which is helping extend the benefits of 4-H to Spanish-speaking families.
 

Beef has been at the heart of a growing economy in southwest Kansas for decades, as beef cattle production and processing have expanded. But, now there’s another kind of cattle production in that area – milk. In the second of his three-part series on entrepreneurial agriculturist Steve Irsik, Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, focuses on the innovative way that water and nutrients are used in this large-scale dairy operation.
 

Pioneers were the brave men and women who came west and settled the state of Kansas.  According to Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, pioneers still exist today – in the form of entrepreneurs who have pioneered modern approaches to agribusiness.  In the first of three-part series, he profiles an entrepreneur who has built a remarkable agribusiness enterprise in southwest Kansas.
 

Today, we wouldn’t think twice about driving from Concordia to Frankfort or Atchison to Frankfort. But, what about 100 years ago when there were no highways? Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, says visionary leaders led the effort to create better roads, including one known as the Kansas White Way, by organizing a car run. Now another set of visionary leaders is honoring that heritage with – what else? – a road trip.
 

A special event to educate grade school children and bring local history to life in a rural community is marking its 30th anniversary. Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, details the annual spring tradition which is helping hundreds of school children celebrate and learn about our state’s rich history.
 

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.

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