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Kansas Digest: Symphony in the Flint Hills tickets on sale; workshops help rural entrepreneurs; Greener Cattle Initiative funds research.

Jennifer M. Latzke, Editor

March 6, 2024

2 Min Read
Grain silos in Dodge City
KANSAS NEWS: This week around Kansas, get your tickets to the Symphony in the Flint Hills; there’s help for rural entrepreneurs; Kansas awards funds to improve short-line railroads; and the Greener Cattle Initiative is funding research into mitigating enteric methane livestock emissions. JerryBKeane/Getty Images

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly announced $16.5 million has been earmarked for 17 short-line rail expansion and rehabilitation projects in the state. The investments are made through the Kansas Department of Transportation’s Rail Services Improvement Program, and will help the state’s agricultural supply chain, according to the Governor’s Office.

Projects will expand and improve capacity and be used for major track rehabilitation and rail replacement, for greater safety, expanded carload capabilities, and reduce truck traffic on the state’s highways. Each recipient must make a 30% match in funds, for a total rail infrastructure investment of more than $23.5 million.

Among the projects funded were Cimarron Valley Railroad, Ford County, $2.23 million; Summit Sustainable Ingredients, Phillips County, $1.43 million; and The Scoular Co., Sherman County, $230,000.

Symphony in the Flint Hills tickets on sale

The 2024 Symphony in the Flint Hills will be June 8 at Red Ranch in Greenwood County. This year’s signature event will feature Katharine McPhee as the guest vocalist with the Kansas City Symphony. Tickets went on sale March 2.

The Symphony in the Flint Hills signature event is an annual gathering celebrating music, art and the ecology of the Flint Hills that moves to a different site each year.

Gates will open at 1 p.m., with the afternoon featuring a range of experiences — including covered wagon rides, roping with the outriders, guided prairie walks, inspirational talks and more.

The evening will culminate with the symphony concert, followed by a Flint Hills sunset, powwow dancers, stargazing and more. Learn more at symphonyintheflinthIlls.org.

Helping rural entrepreneurs

NXTUS Inc., Wichita, Kan., connects startups to mature businesses and regional partners looking to invest in their technologies. To date, NXTUS — according to Amber Dunn, program manager — has connected more than 1,000 startup businesses with community assets, while building nearly $1.5 million in capital and expanding the customer base for early-stage businesses.

Dunn spoke on the Feb. 2 First Friday e-Call, hosted by K-State Research and Extension. NXTUS and NetWork Kansas both use K-State 105 funding to serve Kansans in all 105 counties.

The company offers no-cost support to entrepreneurs, including an eight-week track with weekly one-on-one coaching and in-person workshops. Learn more at k-state.edu.

Got enteric methane?

The Greener Cattle Initiative, an international consortium created by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy, is helping fund research into scalable technologies that reduce enteric methane emissions from animals.

Reducing the amount of methane cows emit could be beneficial to not only the beef and dairy sectors’ sustainability goals, but also to consumers as well.

Current research focus areas include non-vaccine mitigation technologies, such as boluses, liquids, supplements and more; applying interventions at the calf stage, such as using the calf microbiome, or fetal programming; and long-term studies into the lasting effects of mitigation technologies on animal health and productivity.

Learn more at foundationfar.org.

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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