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A feel of home


RUSSELL -- It was a toss-up who had more fun, the students or the volunteers, at the Home on the Range Kansas Day event Thursday at Deines Cultural Center.

Approximately 40 volunteers, many of them former teachers, were involved, said Susan Krug.

Krug, Anne Coady and Chris Bourland coordinated the event.

"Susie had this vision," Coady said. "It's Susie's brainchild."

Coady said she helped with scheduling to move the students attending through the demonstration stations.

"People are nice to take time out of their life to do it," said Linda Applebee, a retired teacher acting as a timekeeper for the day.

Russell USD 407 students from preschool to grade five, Wilson USD 112 fourth-graders and Natoma USD 399 second-grade students got a hands-on history lesson.

"It gives them a glimpse of the history of Kansas," said Susan Thieland, Wilson fourth-grade teacher. "It lets them participate and brings history to life. This is awesome."

This is the second year for the event, Coady said.

"Last year, we had (demonstrations of) all the grains grown in Kansas. This year, we're concentrating on wheat."

The wheat demonstrations included threshing, grinding, sifting, bread making and wheat weaving.

Galen Niedenthal from Russell County Farm Bureau said he participated to show kids the importance of wheat in Russell County.

It explains the crops, said Barbara Anschutz, another volunteer.

"If we didn't have Kansas (wheat), we wouldn't have bread."

"They need to know Kansas history," said Denise VanDegrift, Bickerdyke Elementary School special-education teacher.

The youngsters also learned about churning butter.

After trying their hand kneading bread dough and churning butter, the students sampled slices of bread and butter.

"We've made all of the butter we are using," said volunteer Donna Albrecht.

Students made a stop around the simulated campfire learning about a buffalo drum, mandolin, concerina and fiddle from Peg Anschutz while Joe Bogan strummed the guitar.

Will Rogers, portrayed by Ernie Masden, demonstrated rope tricks for some students.

Others heard a presentation by Steve Burns as Abraham Lincoln.

It was laundry day on the lowest level of the center where volunteers and youngsters used a washboard, clothes wringer and clothes line.

"The kids love it," Applebee said of the demonstration.

One child saw the clothesline and thought it was a zip line, she said.

"We're having fun with them," Barbara Stinchcomb said. "It's hands-on. The older kids especially want to try."

After talking at the Tuesday event, Stinchcomb said she lost her voice.

"I'm not a teacher; I'm just a grandma having fun," she said.

"We're the grandparent generation," Krug said of many of the volunteers.

The two-day event was sponsored by Beta Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, women educators. Grants were received from Russell County Area Community Foundation and Russell Drug Fund.