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K-State Today

October 12, 2023

A recap of the successful Allen County community visit

Submitted by Division of Communications and Marketing and Office of Engagement

Connected 'Cats students Brody Nemecek, senior in animal sciences and industry, left, and Allison Heim, senior in human development and family science, tell their K-State stories at the Allen County community open forum.

Kansas State University engaged with more than 210 community members during the recent community visit to Allen County and the Humboldt and Iola region.

Tim Steffensmeier, assistant vice president and director of engagement and outreach, and several Connected 'Cats students led the K-State team of faculty, staff and extension professionals who visited Allen County on Oct. 4 and 5. The two-day visit included community conversations, recruitment activities and events to highlight university partnerships and K-State Research and Extension relationships.

View photos of the events throughout the Allen County community visit. More photos will be added in the coming days.

The next K-State community visit will be Tuesday, Nov. 7, through Thursday, Nov. 9, in Barton, Ellis, Norton, Phillips and Smith counties. Check out K- State's Instagram and Facebook stories on Nov. 7-9 to follow the community visit events.

At the Allen County community visit, the K-State team began the visit with a community open forum that highlighted university connections in the Humboldt and Iola region.

Other events throughout the visit included an economic development discussion that involved collaborators with A Bolder Humboldt and the K-State 105 communications director and focused on how they are proactively working toward creating sustainable and thriving places in Kansas to learn, work and live. A session at Allen Community College highlighted how engagement and applied learning experiences inspire students to practice and acquire skills needed to succeed in their fields.
An afternoon panel discussion focused on housing challenges in the region. SEK Inc., Thrive Allen County and other partners discussed regional collaborative efforts and new opportunities to address affordable housing.

For the two Connected 'Cats student event leaders for the Allen County visit, the two-day visit provided many opportunities to share their K-State stories with their hometown communities and southeast Kansas. The Connected 'Cats students included Allison Heim, senior in human development and family science, Moran, and Brody Nemecek, senior in animal sciences and industry, Iola.

"I learned so much about my community and K-State through this visit. I feel very grateful that I was able to experience this opportunity and see how the towns have changed and grown since leaving for college," Heim said. "My favorite part of the visit was getting to show my appreciation to the teachers at Marmaton Valley, who helped shape me into the person I am today. I cannot emphasize enough how influential they were and how amazing it was to return and reconnect with them." 

R. Todd Gabbard, K-State associate professor of architecture, second from left, participates in a housing panel discussion with representatives from SEK Inc., Thrive Allen County and other partners. Gabbard leads K-State’s Small Town Studio, which has involved K-State students on housing projects in Allen County.

University recognizes southeast Kansas educators with Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State awards
K-State continues recognizing local educators with the Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State award. At every community visit, the Connected 'Cats choose educators from their hometown high schools to recognize for their inspiration and positive influence in helping the Connected 'Cats get to where they are today.
Educators who receive Spirit of K-State awards are recognized in a surprise ceremony at the high school and they are given a certificate for a $1,000 scholarship to give to a current high school student who plans to attend K-State.

In southeast Kansas, Allison Heim chose to recognize Jacque Gabbert, agriculture teacher at Marmaton Valley High School.

"It is very humbling to receive this award from a former student," Gabbert said. “It is pretty exciting that we’re able to help with future education needs for students with this scholarship here in Allen County." 

Brody Nemecek chose to recognize Amanda Strickler-Holman, agriculture teacher at Iola High School.

"Kansas State University has a special place in my heart as it offered me the best experiences and education," Holman said. "Brody was a great part of our ag program, and it means a lot for him to come back and pick me for this recognition."

About the community visit initiative
The K-State 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. See where K-State has been and where the university is going next.

Watch a video that showcases K-State's engagement in Kansas communities.

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.

The community visits are an important part of the K-State 105 initiative, which is Kansas State University's answer to the call for a comprehensive economic growth and advancement solution for Kansas. The initiative leverages the statewide K-State Research and Extension network to deliver the full breadth of the university's collective knowledge and solution-driven innovation to every Kansan, right where they live and work. Additionally, K-State 105 forges the connections and partnerships that create access to additional expertise within other state institutions and agencies, nonprofits and corporations — all part of an effort to build additional capacities and strengths in each of the 105 counties in the state.