In March, we attended the annual recognition banquet in Junction City to welcome the six farm couples selected as the 2007 Master Farmer-Master Farm Homemakers of Kansas.
The Kansas Master Farmer Association and Master Farm Homemaker Guild formed in the late 1920s to publicly recognize excellence in farming, homemaking, farm living and rural citizenship. In the beginning, the program was sponsored by Kansas Farmer magazine, and recognition was given to individuals rather than couples.
In 1953, Kansas State University, through the cooperative Extension service, assumed the responsibility for handling the details of selecting master farming couples and planning the recognition banquet.
Selection of the master farmer-master farm homemaker couples is accomplished by nominations made by county Extension boards across the state. The farm couple fills out the paperwork, and these applications are looked over by the Extension associate director. Six couples are picked -- one couple from each area of Kansas plus two couples at-large.
We have enjoyed meeting the MF/MFH couples each year since we were selected for the class of 1999, representing the northwest district of Kansas and Ellis County.
This year, the following couples were honored as the class of 2007: Mark and Ann Baus, Alexander; Darrell and Deb Brobst, Stockton; William (Darrel) and Laura George, Uniontown; Lester and Delores Goyen, Cunningham; Robert and Mary Mertz, Manhattan; and Bob and Vangie Wendelburg, Stafford.
We were asked to serve as hosts to the Goyens. When I called Delores to get acquainted, I asked her how to pronounce their last name, she said, "Oh, it's just like comin' and a goin.' " That really made it easy to remember.
Tours are planned each year at Kansas State University for the couples able to come a day early.
This year, they visited the Sensory Analysis Center. The center's wide range of testing services have been performed for flavor, texture and appearance, all the way from foods, over the counter pharmaceuticals to textiles and more. Looks like we missed a really interesting tour, but we haven't been able to figure out how to be at two places at the same time.
On March 21, registration began at noon. The women's and men's meetings were both at Courtyard by Marriott during the afternoon. The banquet honoring the class of 2007 began at 6 p.m., a fabulous affair. Following the meal, the special of the day was presented -- a video of each couple's interview, farm, home and family was shown. They were given award plaques and the chance to introduce their families.
During the afternoon, meeting plans were made for the fourth-annual summer social May 3 at Rock Springs 4-H Center near Junction City. The state fair meeting will be Sept. 9, and we received an invite to the Guild National Convention Aug. 8 to 10 in Longmont, Colo.
Looking further ahead, plans are being made for the 2009 National MFH Guild Convention in Junction City Aug. 20 to 22, 2009. The Kansas Guild will host the 2009 convention.
On May 3, we headed for Rock Springs to spend the day with MF/MFH friends and rediscover the 4-H camp. Our memories go back many years, our children came to Rock Springs many years as 4-H'ers and teen leaders. Jim attended 4-H leadership meetings, and I had helped with a conservation class during an annual 4-H Day Camp; that was probably in the 1970s.
The area is beautiful -- trees, flowers, well-kept lawns, walking trails and easy-to-follow roadways. You can't really get lost. The camp is designed in a circle fashion. Wherever you start, keep going and you will end up at the beginning. It has changed a lot -- improvements have been made, new buildings added -- but it seemed all was the same but different. The water wheel was still turning. It was so quiet, no city noise, but full of sound -- birds singing and trees rustling -- cool shady spots mixed in with bright sunshine ... beautiful.
Cleon and Anita Davis of the MF/MFH class of 1992 came. She planned a fun day for the couples attending the annual summer social. When we arrived at the registration table, we had to turn in our adult health and participation forms, just like all campers have to do. We didn't need our parents' signature. Most of us supplied the name of one of our kids on the "in-case-of" call line.
We were welcomed with hugs and handshakes, coffee, juice and scrumptious cinnamon rolls, and sat around tables decorated with a bowl of fresh flowers with a near-empty toilet paper roll with an outhouse picture among the flowers. Interesting?
Gordon Hibbard has been with the Kansas 4-H Foundation for 56 years. He told us many interesting stories how Rock Springs used to be, how it got where it is now and what is planned for the future. Hibbard explained all that has been done is from the generous help of people donating to the 4-H club and center. The center is used year round for many things, ranging from youth camps, leadership training, family reunions, schools, churches and organizations.
Hibbard took us on a tour before lunch. We were served a delicious walk-through buffet, ate in the large dining hall (it can serve 500) carried our plates back to kitchen, just like the old days, disposed of trash, and the process was complete.
After that big meal, we seniors were ready for a nap, but Anita had other plans. Veterinarian Joe Jeffrey, Lexington, Neb., gave the program "How the Red Wiped Out the WPA." Jeffrey took us on a nostalgic, humorous, somewhat historical trip of the outdoor toilet. He was super funny. We would still be laughing at a joke and he'd tell another one. They say laughter's good for us. We certainly had a dose of good. Many stories were shared by master farmers and master farm homemakers.
Recent scholarship winners Heather Baumberger and Janelle Cox told of their experiences and spent the day with us.
Davis closed the get-together with our singing the birthday song (to the tune "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain") with a verse for each month. Example for June: "You know June is the vacation month, that's best. But the stork didn't get any rest, and he moaned, I can't help wishin' that instead I'd gone a fishin', but he will be a good person bye and bye."
Great fun was had by all. We found out you don't have to be kids to enjoy Rock Springs. Seniors can too.
Jim and Opal Flinn, Ellis, are members of the Generations Advisory Group.