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Kansas Digest: Range and forage education programs planned; hemp apprenticeships offered.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

February 28, 2024

3 Min Read
Solar panels
NEW FACILITY: A new commercial solar facility is set for Dodge City, Kan. Oleksandr Yakoniuk/Getty Images

The skyline southeast of Dodge City, Kan., may change in 2026.

Sunflower Electric Power Corp. has plans to bring the 150-megawatt Boot Hill Solar Project online during the first half of 2026, making it the largest commercial solar facility in the state, according to the company.

Sunflower, a cooperatively operated wholesale generation and transmission utility, serves seven member distribution utilities in western Kansas, including Victory Electric Cooperative Association Inc. in Dodge City.

The Boot Hill Solar Project will produce on-peak energy during the hottest days of the year, according to the company’s release. This solar project will complement Sunflower’s natural gas, coal and wind energy generation resources already online and in use.

Construction will begin in 2025 and require about 200 workers, according to the company.

“Each energy generation resource type has benefits, so Sunflower supports an all-of-the-above approach to our generation portfolio,” said Steve Epperson, Sunflower interim president and CEO, in a release. “Sunflower’s board of directors has carefully analyzed the factors and variables associated with adding more solar energy to our system and believes the time is right to capitalize on the economic efficiencies and other benefits of this project for our members.”

Grazing and Forage schools set

Kansas State Research and Extension, along with the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition and the Kansas Forage and Grassland Council, is sponsoring two Grazing and Forage schools in southeast Kansas in April and June. Both programs will have something for the seasoned and beginning grazer.

For those with cool-season grasses, the April 6 Grazing and Forage School will help improve forage management and grazing plan design. The program will start at 8:30 a.m. at the Southeast Kansas Research-Extension Center in Parsons.

A June 8 Forage and Grazing School will cover warm-season grasses, equipment and water systems. It will begin at 8 a.m. at the Southeast Kansas Research-Extension Center in Parsons.

Registration is $15 for each session and can be found at kglc.org.

2024 Range Youth Camp scheduled

The Kansas Range Youth Camp will be June 11-14 at Camp Mennoscah in Murdoch, Kan.

This camp is designed for incoming sophomore, junior and senior students in high school, who are interested in learning about range plant identification, plant growth, stocking rate determinations, livestock nutrition, rangeland wildlife management and more. It’s sponsored by the Kansas Section of the Society for Range Management.

Registration is $300, and interested students are encouraged to reach out to their local conservation districts, K-State Research and Extension office or county Farm Bureau for possible scholarship opportunities.

Learn more and register at kglc.org.

Hemp processing apprenticeship program launches

Melissa Nelson-Baldwin, co-founder of South Bend Industrial Hemp, Great Bend, Kan., announced that the company is launching an apprenticeship program for two positions through Kansas Farm Bureau’s Rural Kansas Apprenticeship Program.

RKAP is designed to provide training and technical instruction to employees hired into specific operations positions, according to KFB. South Bend Industrial Hemp will recruit, interview, hire and employ the two apprentices.

KFB will serve as the intermediary sponsor working with the company and the Kansas Office of Registered Apprenticeship in the administration of the opportunities.

Nelson-Baldwin says this is the first certified apprenticeship program in the hemp processing space.

For more information, visit southbendindustrialhemp.com.

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About the Author(s)

Jennifer M. Latzke

Editor, Kansas Farmer

Through all her travels, Jennifer M. Latzke knows that there is no place like Kansas.

Jennifer grew up on her family’s multigenerational registered Angus seedstock ranch and diversified farm just north of Woodbine, Kan., about 30 minutes south of Junction City on the edge of the Kansas Flint Hills. Rock Springs Ranch State 4-H Center was in her family’s backyard.

While at Kansas State University, Jennifer was a member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and a national officer for the Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow. She graduated in May 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural communications and a minor in animal science. In August 2000 Jennifer started her 20-year agricultural writing career in Dodge City, Kan., on the far southwest corner of the state.

She’s traveled across the U.S. writing on wheat, sorghum, corn, cotton, dairy and beef stories as well as breaking news and policy at the local, state and national levels. Latzke has traveled across Mexico and South America with the U.S. Wheat Associates and toured Vietnam as a member of KARL Class X. She’s traveled to Argentina as one of 10 IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Agricultural Journalism. And she was part of a delegation of AAEA: The Ag Communicators Network members invited to Cuba.

Jennifer’s an award-winning writer, columnist, and podcaster, recognized by the Kansas Professional Communicators, Kansas Press Association, the National Federation of Presswomen, Livestock Publications Council, and AAEA. In 2019, Jennifer reached the pinnacle of achievements, earning the title of “Writer of Merit” from AAEA.

Trips and accolades are lovely, but Jennifer says she is happiest on the road talking to farmers and ranchers and gathering stories and photos to share with readers.

“It’s an honor and a great responsibility to be able to tell someone’s story and bring them recognition for their work on the land,” Jennifer says. “But my role is also evolving to help our more urban neighbors understand the issues our Kansas farmers face in bringing the food and fiber to their store shelves.”

She spends her time gardening, crafting, watching K-State football, and cheering on her nephews and niece in their 4-H projects. She can be found on Twitter at @Latzke.

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