January 27, 2023
A recap of the successful Shawnee County community visit
Multiple Connected 'Cats students and K-State leaders were involved in the Shawnee County community visit. This photo includes, from left, Jeff Ebeck; Kaleo Vincent; Tyler Burns; Marshall Stewart, senior vice president for executive affairs, university engagement and partnerships, and chief of staff; President Richard Linton; Kady Figge; Mackenzie Waggoner; and Svea Knight.
President Richard Linton and several Connected 'Cats students led a Kansas State University team of faculty, staff and extension professionals who visited Shawnee County on Jan. 23. The events in Topeka and the Shawnee County region were part of the presidential community visit initiative.
The Shawnee County regional community visit engaged with nearly 300 community members throughout the day in events that highlighted community partnerships and K-State Research and Extension relationships.
View photos of the events throughout the Shawnee County area community visit. More photos will be added in the coming days.
The next K-State community visit will be Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Sedgwick County and the Wichita area. Check out K-State's Instagram and Facebook stories on Feb. 21 to follow the community visit events throughout the day.
At the Shawnee County community visit, Linton and the K-State team began the day with a community open forum that highlighted university connections in the Shawnee County and Topeka area. Other events throughout the day included a conversation on how the K-State 105 initiative is helping to advance Kansas communities and businesses; a lunch panel discussion on filling classrooms with quality teachers; a discussion on the Mobile Access Partnership, or MAP, which is taking comprehensive services to the unsheltered homeless through innovative multi-agency collaboration; and a service activity with Harvesters Community Food Network to address food insecurity in the Greater Topeka community. A Calling All 'Cats recruitment event occurred in the evening, too.
For the two Connected 'Cats student event leaders for the Shawnee County community visit, the day provided an opportunity to share their K-State stories with their hometown community of Topeka.
"The Shawnee County Community Visit was such a rewarding experience," said Tyler Burns, junior in accounting. "It was so great to get to go back to my hometown and share my awesome K-State experience with the community that poured so much into me as I was growing up. The best part of the day was being able to go back to my high school and give an award to Coach Cody Miller, my baseball coach, who helped instill in me the values that have pushed me to do more than I ever could have imagined."
"Overall, being able to share my K-State story with the community I grew up in was so exciting," said Mackenzie Waggoner, junior in agricultural communications and journalism with secondary majors in natural resources and environmental sciences and global food systems leadership. "My favorite parts of the day were returning to my high school and presenting the Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State award to the teacher who impacted my leadership journey through high school and helped me get to where I am today. My other favorite part of the day was Calling All 'Cats, where I connected with future K-Staters and their parents. This experience is one that I will never forget, and I am very grateful to be a part of the Connected 'Cats!"
Mackenzie Waggoner, junior in agricultural communications and journalism, left, chose Julie Coulter, language arts teacher at Shawnee Heights High School, second from left, to receive the Connected ‘Cats Spirit of K-State award.
University launches Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State award
At the Shawnee County community visit, K-State launched the Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State award. At every community visit, each Connected 'Cat chooses an educator from their hometown high school to recognize for their inspiration and positive influence in helping the Connected 'Cat get to where they are today.
The educators are recognized in a surprise ceremony at the high school and given a certificate for a $1,000 scholarship to give to a current high school student who plans to attend K-State.
In Shawnee County, Burns chose to recognize Cody Miller, athletic director and head baseball coach at Topeka High School.
"This truly was a surprise for me!" Miller said. "I was very touched to hear Tyler and his dad talk about how I impacted his life because I don't think any coach or teacher intentionally is out to change one person over another. It just happens by the way you interact on a day-to-day basis without true intent. I was honored to receive the award, and I can't thank Tyler enough for thinking of me as a person who impacted his life in a positive way."
Waggoner chose to recognize Julie Coulter, language arts teacher at Shawnee Heights High School.
"This award means so much to me because my opportunities and experiences at K-State helped me grow as a person and to achieve ambitions that once seemed out of reach," Coulter said. "Seeing Mackenzie growing, flourishing and fulfilling her ambition fills me with a pride that is difficult to explain; it's why I have the greatest job in the world. Seeing her continue the tradition of helping others at the place that helped me, and that I truly love so well, is a joyful bonus."
Tyler Burns, junior in accounting and a Connected 'Cats event leader for the Shawnee County community visit, left, recognized Cody Miller, athletic director and head baseball coach at Topeka High School, with the Connected ‘Cats Spirit of K-State award.
About the community visit initiative
K-State continues traveling the state as part of the new presidential community visit initiative that focuses on the people of Kansas and their communities. The initiative consists of nine community visits throughout the state this academic year. See where K-State has been and where the university is going next.
A communications toolkit is available to help K-Staters share a consistent message about the university's relationships, partnerships and contributions throughout the state of Kansas. The toolkit offers a pathway for any university unit to plug in to the initiative and help share stories of engagement across the state.
Access the communications toolkit on the community visit website. Please be prepared to enter your K-State eID and password to access the information.
One of the Shawnee County community visit events involved a conversation on how the K-State 105 initiative is helping to advance Kansas communities and businesses.