“Service” would be a common theme among the five Kansans who were recognized at a Feb. 19 luncheon by Kansas State University’s Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development as 2014 Leaders of the Year.
“Whether advocating for agriculture on social media, adding value to honey as an energy food, customizing flower arrangements for families, leading a statewide organization, or attracting hunters to our state from far away, these Kansans have demonstrated outstanding service in diverse ways,” said Clare Gustin, chair of the board of directors of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development.
This year’s award categories, winners and their home communities are:
* Agribusiness: Greg, Nathan and Kendal, the Peterson Brothers, Assaria;
* Business and Entrepreneurship: Jerry and Debbie Brown, RevHoney, Haddam;
* Leadership: Brenda Chance, city clerk, Phillipsburg (past president of League of Kansas Municipalities);
* Local Retail: Matt and Bronwyn Douglas, Kistner’s Flowers, Manhattan
* Tourism: Carlos Navarro, Santa Maria Ranch, Junction City.
As agriculture students from a farm near Assaria, Greg, Nathan and Kendal Peterson depicted agricultural life in a catchy Youtube video and music parody called “I’m Farming and I Grow It.” The video went viral, generating 7.6 million views in five months and paved the way for them to be flown to New York for an interview on Fox News. Another music parody called “Farmer Style” generated 13 million views. Altogether, their videos have generated some 30 million views. The Peterson Brothers see their ongoing efforts as a way to educate urban consumers and others about agriculture. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/PetersonFarmBros
Jerry Brown’s grandfather started beekeeping in north central Kansas in 1948 and his father started Brown Honey Farms in 1963. They grew the business into the largest beekeeping operation in Kansas by the 1980s. In 2006, Jerry, his wife Debbie and son Nate launched an initiative to add value to that honey by using it as an energy food. They founded a company named RevHoney which offers flavored honey snacks and honey-based energy drinks. These products are now sold in more than 500 stores and coast to coast through online sales. For more information, see revhoney.com
Brenda Chance joined the City of Phillipsburg as a waste water treatment facility operator in 1981 and gradually worked her way up through the organization. She was appointed city clerk in 1987 and became active in state municipal organizations. She was named Clerk of the Year in 2008, served as president of the City Clerks/Municipal Finance Officers Association, and president of the League of Kansas Municipalities in 2012-13. She is one of only eight women to have held that position since the organization was founded in 1910, and is the first female city clerk to ever be president of that organization. For more information, go to www.cityofphillipsburg.com
Matt and Bronwyn Douglas both worked at Kistner’s Flowers in Manhattan while students at K-State. The business had been founded by the Kistner family in 1946 and purchased by the Orr family in 1973. In 2006, Matt and Bronwyn came back and purchased the business themselves. Kistner’s Flowers now offers fresh flower arrangements, plants for indoor use, and interior plantscape for business clients. Matt and Bronwyn especially enjoy creating personalized, customized arrangements for weddings and funerals. Kistner’s won the Lux award for best outdoor weddings in northeast Kansas. For more information, go to www.kistnersflowers.com
Carlos Navarro loved hunting as a boy in Mexico and arranged hunting trips with his friends. He moved to Kansas City, became a U.S. citizen, and took up bowhunting. In 2000, he bought the Santa Maria Ranch south of Junction City and began operating a guided hunting business. He now leases 10,000 acres for hunting for his clients. An accomplished hunter himself, he is one of approximately 300 people in the world who have accomplished a World Slam (bagging one bird from each of the six subspecies of wild turkeys) and one of only 10 people who have accomplished this task with a bow. For more information, go to www.santamariaranch.com
The 2014 Huck Boyd Leaders of the Year winners were selected by students in an entrepreneurship class in K-State’s College of Business. Each year the Huck Boyd Institute selects its leaders of the year from among those featured on its weekly Kansas Profile radio program and column during the previous 12 months. Kansas Profile is distributed by the K-State Radio Network and K-State Research and Extension News Media Services to radio stations and newspapers statewide.