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Source: JohnElla Holmes, 785-532-6496,
Photos available. Contact or 785-532-2535.

Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010


MANHATTAN -- A special camp that brings underrepresented youth to Kansas State University and the Kansas town of Nicodemus is seeking votes from the public through the Pepsi Refresh Grant Project.

The Build a Dorm for Agriculture Camp in Historic Nicodemus project is seeking funds from Pepsi to build a 20-bed dormitory at the campsite in Nicodemus, the oldest and only remaining all African-American town west of the Mississippi River.

If the project is one of the top two vote-getters in October, it will receive a $250,000 grant.

The annual weeklong summer camp, which includes two days at K-State and the rest of the week in Nicodemus, introduces underrepresented youth to agricultural majors and careers. While in Nicodemus, the youth spend time with Veryl Switzer, a former NFL player and K-State football great who also is a former K-State associate athletic director. Switzer is from Nicodemus.

The camp has received a lot of support from the university, said JohnElla Holmes, camp coordinator and an instructor of American ethnic studies at K-State.

"Our camp has been supported for two years with in-kind services from the College of Agriculture and its diversity office," Holmes said. "Dr. Wiley, assistant dean of diversity, and other K-State faculty have provided tours of the farms, milling and grain sciences activities and more for these youth. Coach Bill Snyder has addressed the camp participants, and provided them with a tour of the Vanier Football Complex and football operations.

"We understand that the Shawnee County Master Gardeners program is also up for the Pepsi grant, but we are not in competition with anyone else Kansas," Holmes said. "We are happy that two grants can be awarded, so please go out and vote for both projects. You can vote for up to 10 projects a day, every day, until Oct. 31."

Voting can be done online at; by texting 103470 to 73774; and on Facebook by becoming friends with Pepsi. Online voters will be asked to sign-in; voters must be 13 or older to participate.