KRC Adds New Board Members
At its March 2nd, 2019 board meeting the Kansas Rural Center (KRC) welcomed four new board members at the Spring board meeting held in Salina, Kansas.The new members, include Luke Mahin, Courtland; Brenda Gutierrez, Salina; Angela Anderson, Allen; and Nina Isley, Bird City.
The following board members were also re-elected to the board: Barry Barber, Winfield; Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview; Jackie Keller, Topeka; Linda Pechin-Long, Beaumont; Zack Pistora, Linwood; and Karen Wiley, Baldwin City. All will serve three-year terms.
Officers elected for 2019 are: Stu Shafer, Oskaloosa, President; Jennifer Kongs, Vice-President; Jackie Keller, Topeka, Secretary; and Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview, Treasurer. Officers make up the Executive Committee which meets quarterly to provide oversight and direction to staff. Three additional board members were appointed as at large representatives to the Executive Committee: Zack Pistora, Troy Schroeder, and Wayne White.
KRC also thanked outgoing board members Spencer Wood, Manhattan, and Lisa French, Partridge, at the board meeting. “We extend our sincere thanks and appreciation to our “retiring” board members for their hard-work and dedication to the organization. Like most boards, ours is a volunteer board and we rely on these folks from all across the state and from all ends of the farm and food community for information, direction and guidance as we develop goals and programs,” stated Mary Fund, KRC Executive Director.
New board members will add new perspectives and energy, and include a watershed restoration coordinator, an economic development director, an organic farmer, and a community program director/advocate. Brief descriptions of each follow below.
Angela Anderson of rural Allen, Kansas is the Twin Lakes Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy Coordinator for the Morris County Conservation District. In that capacity, she works with producers to implement best management practices to address phosphorus and sediment issues in the Twin Lakes Watershed. She provides demonstration workshops and other educational opportunities for conservationists of all ages including the Twin Lakes Water Festival. She represents the WRAPS group in her capacity as Chair of the Neosho Regional Advisory Committee under the Kansas Water Authority. She presently is the Regent of the Emporia Chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, Vice President of the USD #251 School Board, and is the Immediate Past-President & Advisor for the Kansas Wildlife Federation.
Luke Mahin is a native of Courtland, Kansas and a 2010 graduate of Fort Hays State University with a BA degree in Communication Studies. Luke is a partner with JenRus Freelance, a marketing firm based in Courtland. JenRus Freelance was hired to direct the Republic County Economic Development office in 2010 and Luke has served as the RCED director since 2013. Luke is a board member on the North Central Kansas Food Council and an active participant in the Kansas PowerUp movement. Locally Luke serves on the Courtland Fun Day Committee, Art Council, Pride Club, and Fermentation Club. Professionally he serves on North Central Regional Planning Commission board of directors, North Central Kansas Food Council representative, Republic County Community Foundation board member, and North Central Kansas Rural Development Council president. Luke believes the KRC mission aligns with the work of Republic County Economic Development in diversifying our rural economy.
Nina Isely of Y Knot Farm in Bird City, along with her husband Jeter and family moved to Kansas after pursuing careers and moving around the country with their family from Nevada to Idaho to Chicago and Philadelphia. When Jeter retired in 2004, they bought a boat and spent three years sailing up and down the east coast, until they purchased a farm near Bird City in 2006 and sold the boat in 2008. They rebuilt the homestead, while the two youngest children pursued their equine passion. In their interest and drive for higher value crops, healthier eating, and wanting to produce higher quality foods, the Isleys transitioned the farm to organic starting in 2007.
In 2014, they built their first hoop house, followed by a second one in 2018. The surprising outcome of their organic specialty crop production is they have sold out year after year while seeking to satiate the local market. The Isleys want to provide hope to younger farmers that it is possible to make a smaller acreage farm work through diversification. They believe in good stewardship to the land and animals, and want to help represent KRC in the local foods movement in Northwest Kansas.
Brenda Gutierrez and her husband Michael live and work in Salina but most weekends they are at home in Downs in Osborne County where her family farms. Brenda and her two brothers are a third-generation farm family. Brenda works as the Salina Area United Way director and leads in the areas of program development, partner, and community relations. She has experience in both the non-profit and for-profit settings. Brenda draws on a strong background of marketing and public relations as she works to improve communication while increasing interest and participation, leadership and development. Brenda serves on several steering committees and leadership teams including North Central Kansas Food Council, Live Well Saline County, Salina Area Local Food Task Force, Salina Area Community Services Council, Salina’s Summer Meals Coalition, Kansas Hunger Roundtable, Saline County Back to School Fair, and the Kansas Storytelling Festival.