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Connected 'Cats students help lead K-State community visits across Kansas

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024

Connected 'Cat student

Meg Keeten, a Connected 'Cat student leader and senior in communications sciences and disorders, Phillipsburg, tells her K-State story at the community visit open forum in Norton. | Download this photo.



MANHATTAN — A group of students is taking the lead with President Richard Linton as Kansas State University travels the state for the spring 2024 series of presidential community visits.

At each of the regional community visits, Connected 'Cats student leaders share their K-State stories and interact with their hometown communities while gaining valuable applied learning experiences. The regional community visit initiative focuses on the people of Kansas and their communities. K-State is visiting multiple communities throughout the state to listen to and learn from the Kansans who live there.

"The student experience is a central component of our K-State community visits as we engage with all 105 counties across the state," Linton said. "It's also part of our larger university mission. A key imperative of our Next-Gen K-State strategic plan involves providing applied learning experiences for our students, and we are making that a reality with our Connected 'Cats. By helping to lead these community visits, our students not only gain those valuable applied learning experiences, but they do so in a way that also gives back to their hometowns and communities."

The spring 2024 community visit regions and dates include:
• Feb. 6-7: Jackson County/Holton.
• March 5-7: Reno County/Hutchinson and Seward County/Liberal.

Read more about the upcoming K-State community visits. The spring visits are part of the 2023-2024 academic year community visit series, which includes nine county regions during four community visits.

The Connected 'Cats were also involved in the K-State community visits in the fall 2023 semester. Those visits included: Allen County/Humboldt and Iola; Barton County/Great Bend, Ellis County/Hays, Norton County/Norton, Phillips County/Phillipsburg and Smith County/Smith Center.

Connected 'Cats are leading and connecting with Kansas communities in a variety of ways before, during and after the visits. Connected 'Cats have a diverse range of K-State experiences, a meaningful connection to engaged community work and personal ties to the geographic regions for the community visits.

"Witnessing our students fostering connections with the communities that shaped them while showcasing their achievements at K-State exemplifies the unparalleled and impactful student experience that defines Kansas State University," said Jeff Ebeck, master's student in counseling and student development and graduate research assistant in the Office of Engagement, Wellsville. "Each visit is planned around our Connected 'Cats, and this year's cohort is dedicated and enthusiastic to paint the state of Kansas purple."

Ebeck is helping to teach the Staley School of Leadership class that the Connected 'Cats attend throughout the academic year.

The Connected 'Cats serve in one of two roles: student event leaders and interns. For each community visit, student event leaders from that community tell their K-State stories and help to lead events. These students have a personal connection to their assigned sites.

For this year of community visits, the university added Connected 'Cats interns, who play an active role in planning and implementing all of the community visits. They also provide logistical support at the community visits and help with communications.

The 2023-2024 Connected 'Cats interns include: Jaye Hrencher, senior in marketing, Hiawatha; Adelaide Easter, junior in agricultural economics and global food systems leadership, Salina; and Mackenzie Waggoner, senior in agricultural communications and journalism, Topeka.

"K-State strives to uniquely position our students for success through external engagement and learning opportunities," said Mirna Bonilla, program manager in the Office of Engagement. "We saw an opportunity with first-year Connected 'Cats to return and continue growing with us through this unique experience with the community visits. Our interns provide a valuable source of talent and new perspectives in engaging with communities, and they are developing a deeper understanding of K-State's land-grant mission to Kansans."

The following students are the event leaders for the 2023-2024 academic year series of regional community visits. Learn more about each of the Connected 'Cats.

Kagan Keeten, senior in agribusiness, Glade; Jocelyn Rigler, sophomore in biology and pre-medicine, Hays; Kyser Meininger, senior in biology, Hutchinson; Brody Nemecek, senior in animal sciences and industry, Iola; Bryan Symons, senior in secondary education, and Brady Kappelmann, sophomore in marketing, Liberal; Allison Heim, senior in human development and family science, Moran; Meg Keeten, senior in communications sciences and disorders, Phillipsburg; Taylor Hedrick, senior in animal sciences and industry, Pretty Prairie; Jerilyn Nelson, first-year veterinary medicine student, Soldier; and Rachel Sebesta, junior in agricultural education and global food systems leadership, Wilson.

Media contact

Division of Communications and Marketing


Connected 'Cats

News tip

Glade, Hays, Hiawatha, Hutchinson, Holton, Iola, Liberal, Moran, Phillipsburg, Pretty Prairie, Salina, Soldier, Topeka, Wellsville and Wilson.

Written by

Jennifer Tidball

At a glance

K-State will spend Feb. 6-7 in Jackson County and March 5-7 in Reno County and Seward County for the spring 2024 series of presidential community visits. Connected 'Cats student leaders are helping to plan and lead the visits with K-State President Richard Linton.