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K-State Today

November 17, 2023

K-State provides recap, photos of successful community visit to Barton, Ellis, Norton, Phillips and Smith counties

Submitted by Division of Communications and Marketing

Tim Steffensmeier, K-State assistant vice president and director of engagement and outreach, engages with community members during the Norton County open forum. 

Kansas State University engaged with more than 405 community members during the recent community visit to Barton, Ellis, Norton, Phillips and Smith counties.

K-State Connected 'Cats students and a team of faculty, staff and extension professionals visited each of the counties from Nov. 7-9. The multiday 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 community visit to Barton, Ellis, Norton, Phillips and Smith counties. More photos will be added in the coming days.

The three-day community visit started on Nov. 7 with a community open forum in Great Bend, where the K-State team highlighted university connections in the Barton County and Ellis County regions. The K-State team held another community open forum on Nov. 8 in Norton to highlight university connections in the Norton County, Phillips County and Smith County regions.

Several K-State leaders presented at the different forums, including Tim Steffensmeier, K-State assistant vice president and director of engagement and outreach; Adam Walker, president and CEO of the K-State Alumni Association; Jessica Gnad, K-State 105 director; Gregg Hadley, K-State assistant vice president and director for extension; Mirna Bonilla, K-State program manager in the Office of Engagement, and Jennifer Tidball, K-State 105 communications director.

Other events throughout the multiday visit included:  

  • A conversation with local Barton County entities about safe water management.
  • A panel discussion in Ellis County about how industry partnerships can make countywide progress on child care.
  • A Calling All 'Cats recruitment event in Hays.
  • A Phillips County conversation with Amber Wave, K-State and other organizations on cultivating production agriculture partnerships.
  • A panel discussion in Smith County focused on how child care support can lead to community growth.

The next K-State community visit will be Feb. 6-7, 2024, in Jackson County and the Holton region. Check out K-State's Instagram and Facebook stories on Feb. 6 and 7 to follow the community visit events.

Nora Rhoades, K-State Research and Extension Post Rock District director, left, moderates a panel discussion on child care in Smith Center.

University recognizes 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.

Rachel Sebesta, junior in agricultural education and global food systems leadership, Wilson, chose to recognize Karl Dawn Stover, career and technical education coordinator at Ellsworth High School.

"The Spirit of K-State Award was an amazing surprise that truly brightened my day," Stover said. "It reminded me of the positive impact that one person can have on a student's life. The best part of being a teacher and administrator is seeing students blossom into driven young adults who can be the innovator in their career field. I am blessed to have worked with a multitude of students who have made it their mission to make our world a better place. K-State is my alma mater, and I am a proud Wildcat, so this honor means the world to me."

Jocelyn Rigler, sophomore in biology, Hays, recognized Luke Lundmark, social science teacher at Hays High School.

"This award means that I was able to build a connection with a student and that student used her connections to further her life at K-State," Lundmark said. "I did not realize the lasting impact that I have on the students I see day to day."

Meg Keeten, senior in communications sciences and disorders, Phillipsburg, chose to recognize Robin Sides, English and journalism educator at Phillipsburg High School.

"I think that the highest honor that you can receive as a teacher is for your students to acknowledge an impact you have had on them," Sides said. "As a teacher, you hope that you are improving your students' lives and that you are teaching them not only content, but how to be productive members of society. To receive this award from Meg means a great deal to me, as the relationship I had with her as a student was valuable to me and I am so proud of the commitment she has made to her postsecondary education and future career."

Kagan Keeten, senior in agribusiness, Glade, recognized Conrad Corman, industrial arts educator at Phillipsburg High School.

"This award means a lot to me, just knowing I had an impact on a former student that has stayed with them," Corman said.

Meg Keeten, K-State senior in communications sciences and disorders, recognizes Robin Sides, English and journalism educator at Phillipsburg High School, with the Connected 'Cats Spirit of K-State award.

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.

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.