INMAN, Kan. — Makayla Schroeder was saddened as she scrolled through Facebook and saw pictures of homes, ranches and livestock surrounded by water. She wanted to head straight to Nebraska and help, but she had school at Inman Junior/Senior High School.
She didn’t let class stop her from helping, though. Schroeder recruited her fellow FFA officers and staff to start Operation Feed the Critters.
“Seeing all the stuff on Facebook and the cattle, I said if I didn’t have school I’d be driving up there,” Schroeder said. “Then my stepmom said ‘let’s do what we did for Hurricane Harvey again.’”
Schroeder spoke to Inman FFA and Vocational Agriculture Instructor Daniel Knapp about starting a donation drive for feed, hay, supplies and more for farmers and ranchers affected by flooding in Nebraska. She and Knapp ran the idea up the flagpole and began accepting donations March 19. They had a pallet of feed and supplies by the end of the day.
Earlier this month, a massive storm system brought heavy snow, rain and wind to Nebraska. Over a week later, states of emergency have been declared in 74 counties and 85 cities, the state’s major rivers have seen record crests and an estimated $400 million in potential cow-calf losses, $440 million in crop losses have occurred, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
As quickly as Schroeder rallied her classmates to seek donations, she began looking for transport to get the supplies to Nebraska. An Inman FFA Alumnus, Alex Ropp, pledged his tractor trailer to take a load, and Schroeder says she has others in the works.
“I’m a member of the Cowboy 911 Facebook group and found a vet clinic in Elkhorn, Nebraska,” she said. “Chance Ridge Veterinary Clinic is one of the few distribution centers set up to handle this size of donation.”
The single pallet of supplies from the first Tuesday grew quickly in one week. The Inman FFA shop now includes several pallets stacked full of feed bags, stacks of hay bales and supplies ranging from mud boots, buckets and more. Buhler and other Kansas FFA chapters have also joined in.
Kansas Ethanol in Lyons, Kansas has pledged 18,000 pounds of feed to the cause, and Central Prairie Coop in Hutchinson has pledged 2,000 pounds of feed.
“I think it’s great what they’re doing,” Central Prairie Coop Feed Department Manager Verton Miller said. “It’s good to see them get involved helping with something like that.”
Knapp agreed, saying he’s proud to see his students taking charge.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “It’s probably one of the best parts of my job, seeing students give up their time to help others, and this is not the first time they’ve done this.”
Schroeder, who is now a senior, and her classmates have organized supply drives after the Anderson Creek Fire in 2016, the Starbuck Fire in 2017 and Hurricane Harvey last year.
The effort has also received over $1,000 in cash donations from around the state and beyond.
The supply drive is open through Friday. Trailers will be loaded Friday night and the supplies will set out to their destination early Saturday morning.
Tractor Supply locations in Hutchinson and McPherson are also accepting a 10 percent discount coupon, which can be found on the Inman Voag Facebook page, for the purchase of supplies to be donated. A jar for monetary donations is located at Cornerstone Market in Inman.
Anyone wishing to donate can find information on the Inman Voag Facebook page, or simply call Inman Junior/Senior High School at (620) 585-6441 to be put in touch with Knapp.