Source: David Lambert, 785-532-6702, lambertd@k-state.edu
News release prepared by: Megan Molitor, 785-532-3452, molitor@k-state.edu

Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011

SERVING A NEED: AGRICULTURAL ECONOMICS DISTINGUISHED ALUMNA WILL PRESENT WORK ON HELPING AFRICAN ORPHANS

MANHATTAN -- The Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics will welcome a graduate with more than 50 years of service to others as its 2011 Distinguished Alumna, Friday, Oct. 7.

At 1:30 p.m. in the K-State Student Union's Little Theater, Sister Mary Frances Kobets will discuss her experiences of applying the skills she gained while earning her two degrees from K-State to improving the lives of the thousands of people with whom she has worked. The presentation is open to the public.

Kobets, a Kansas City native, entered the Maryknoll Sisters novitiate in Valley Park, Mo., in 1959, and then became one of the first two women to graduate from the university's department of agricultural economics with her bachelor's degree in 1969.

After working in agricultural education and animal production at the Nyegezi Agriculture Training Institute in Tanzania for 10 years, Kobets returned to K-State to earn her master's degree in applied animal sciences and industry in 1980.

Since then, she has specialized in agricultural production, agricultural teacher education and farm management by serving in Tanzania and Zimbabwe for 40 years, said David Lambert, head of the department of agricultural economics.

"Although needs can be immediate and often require immediate relief, Sister Mary Frances Kobets' teaching has emphasized the importance of teaching sustainable life skills," he said. "We are so pleased that the skills we bring to our students have provided Sister Fran with the foundation to improve the lives of people in her years of African service."

For the last 10 years, Kobets has served as the director of Orphans' Education and Agriculture Support Services in Gweru, Zimbabwe. Lambert said her work has taught children orphaned by AIDS and HIV to grow their own vegetables and crops, as well as teaching the skills required to improve the children's health, hygiene and nutrition.

Despite the economic, political and social issues plaguing Zimbabwe, young adults leaving the orphanage are finding positions in their society as teachers, mechanics, agriculturalists, veterinary assistants, clerks and assistants to church leaders.

"Sister Fran has distinguished herself through her deeds, and his been a positive force for the thousands of people benefiting from her devotion," Lambert said. "Kansas State University can count many graduates who have made strong and lasting impacts on their communities. Sister Fran certainly belongs to this select group of outstanding K-State graduates."