Independent gubernatorial candidate Rick Kloos' introduction to Kansas was a Future Farmers of America class outlining the finer points of hog castration.
After settling in rural Kansas as a child, he's woven himself deeper into the fabric of the state through decades in the ministry as well as work in real estate and counseling. He also helped start God's Storehouse. It's a combination thrift store and coffee shop in Topeka employing about 40 people.
Kloos, of Berryton, launched a long-shot campaign for Kansas governor by spurning the influence, organization and financing of a political party.
"I tell people I'm the pro-life moderate, the frustrated Republican who went independent because I really want to be about the people. I'm not out to bash the parties, but to find middle ground and balance," he said.
Kloos, interviewed for The Topeka Capital-Journal's podcast Capitol Insider, is competing in the Nov. 6 general election.
Others in the race: Sen. Laura Kelly, the Democratic nominee; Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the GOP nominee; independent candidate Greg Orman; and Libertarian nominee Jeff Caldwell.
Kloos, who involved his children in public, private and home schooling, said the state's K-12 education system had become an unfortunate political football. It's essential to the economic future of Kansas that education be viewed as an investment rather than a financial liability, he said.
Students need a clear path to colleges providing vocational training as well as programs at traditional four-year universities, he aid.
"If we're really going to grow Kansas we've got to see the school system succeed," he said.
He said tax policy should be shaped like a three-leg stool with equivalent revenue drawn from income, sales and property taxes. Kansas slashed income taxes in 2012, leading to state budget problems. Increases in sales taxes in 2015 and income taxes in 2017 helped stabilize revenue.
"I'm for cutting taxes when necessary," Kloos said. "People are more than willing to do their share."
Kloos is among proponents of making industrial hemp a part of Kansas agriculture. It's a plant used in about 25,000 products and doesn't require the water resources of some row crops, he said.
He's not a fan of recreational marijuana, but would sign legislation to allow medicinal use of pot, especially to ease suffering of people at the end of life.
The state ought to require thorough background checks on individuals who want to carry concealed firearms, Kloos said. The conceal-and-carry age limit ought to stay at 21, he said.
He's not keen to arm public school teachers, but that decision was the domain of local school districts.
Kloos said abortion should be prohibited except to save the life of a mother. There should be no exceptions in state law for incest or rape, he said.
"I'm an advocate of life. I believe we need to protect life from conception to natural death. That's one of my deep-rooted values that I have," he said.