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K-State Highlights Ongoing Engagement from Two Years of Presidential Community Visits

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By Jennifer Tidball, K-State News and Communications

 

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State University continues its commitment as the university for Kansans.

K-State President Richard Linton and a team of K-State faculty, staff and students spent the past two years engaging with Kansans across the state through the presidential regional community visit initiative. At these intentional visits, the K-State team listened and learned from people in the communities they call home. Learn more about the events from each community visit.

“Through these important community visits, we have painted the whole state purple and engaged with Kansans in all 105 counties,” said K-State President Richard Linton. “But more than that, these visits are showing how we are integrating engagement in all that we do, which is a key priority as we strive to be a next-generation land-grant university.”

Since it began in September 2022, the community visit initiative has involved:

  • 109 events and meaningful conversations.
  • Engaging with more than 4,000 Kansans to learn about current K-State work and future opportunities.
  • 46 Connected ‘Cats student leaders who returned to their hometowns to help lead the community visits.
  • 24 Spirit of K-State awards given to local educators who inspired and influenced the current generation of K-State students.
  • $24,000 in scholarships given to high school students as part of the Spirit of K-State awards.

The work isn’t over. K-State will continue visiting communities and engaging with Kansans across the state. More information will be released in the coming months as future plans are finalized.

“We’re turning these community visits into action,” said Tim Steffensmeier, K-State assistant vice president and director of engagement and outreach. “Our K-State faculty, staff and students are actively engaging in projects with communities across the state. For instance, through the K-State 105 initiative, we’re building economic prosperity in communities by partners and K-State Extension working together.”

Meg Keeten, a K-State Connected ‘Cat student leader and graduate in communications sciences and disorders, Phillipsburg, tells her K-State story at the Norton County community visit open forum in November 2023. (K-State News and Communication Services)

As a result of the community visits, K-State continues building on new partnerships and opportunities across the state. Some of this engagement includes the following examples.

  • In Finney County, K-State Research and Extension programming in Garden City has evolved to include monthly sewing classes with immigrants. Each month, expecting mothers come and hear a health lesson from resources in the community and sew a baby item.
  • In Edwards County, K-State climatologists and computer science faculty members are working to improve evapotranspiration data collection to advance the work of WaterPACK farmers and K-State scientists. K-State also is working to improve calculations in irrigation scheduling tools.
  • In Sedgwick County, K-State connected with the Kansas Health Foundation, and the university is now part of the core team leading a new Hunger Free Kansas initiative in partnership with other state organizations to address food insecurity in Kansas. K-State will be able to connect research and the K-State Research and Extension system to a new statewide initiative.
  • In the Flint Hills region, the College of Architecture, Planning & Design Net Positive Studio signed a consortium agreement with local partners on housing partnerships that includes Manhattan Area Technical College, Habitat for Humanity, Flint Hills Renewable Energy, Flint Hills Job Corps, Home Builders Institute and Fort Riley.

The Office of Engagement has created multiple interactive resources that tell the story of each community visit with photos, data and interactive content. The StoryMap includes photos and interactive content that document the specific events at each community visit. The Regional Community Visits Dashboard uses GIS technology to provide data-driven insight at both the statewide level and for each individual community visit.

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As the nation’s first operational land-grant institution, Kansas State University has served the people of Kansas, the nation and the world since its founding in 1863 — and it continues to set the standard as a next-generation land-grant university. K-State offers an exceptional student experience across three physical campuses and online offerings, meeting students where they are and preparing them to achieve their personal and professional goals. The university is committed to its mission of teaching, research and service through industry-connected programs, impactful research-driven solutions, and a sharp focus on community engagement and economic prosperity.