Russ Plaschka with the Kansas Department of Agriculture

(Russ Plaschka) About six months ago, Grace Roth, daughter of Duane Roth whose farm we’re on today, approached the Kansas Department of Agriculture about a project that his daughter could participate in, associated with the Kansas FFA Association. Part of that is their supervised Agricultural Experience Program and that project she wanted to base around water and specifically talking about the Ogallala Aquifer in western Kansas. The more she dug into the research and the more that Duane and her traveled the state and talked to experts about water, they soon realized that the water issue is not just centered in western Kansas. We looked at sedimentation in eastern Kansas as well. They approached our department and myself on how we could partner and how we could expand the program across the state of Kansas. We put the call out to the Kansas Ag Teachers’ Association. Grace did a presentation to the Kansas Association of Agricultural Educators and we were able to get four other students across the state. Currently we have northwest, southwest, north central, south central and east central Kansas represented with students that would be participating in our first-ever Water Boot Camp at Kansas State University this summer. Today here at Duane’s farm we have three of our students including Grace represented here. As well as we brought along two state FFA officers to help with the process and to help the students get to know the producers and get to know the process of meeting and networking with a lot of people from across the state. The goal this summer is to bring those students together on campus at Kansas State University in conjunction with the Department of Communications and Ag Education and help those students put together a presentation package that they can take back to their communities. Specifically in Grace’s case, she wanted to start to focus on third graders in elementary schools and what we’re hoping for is that after this summer they get done with this Boot Camp that they’re going to take it back, work with those students as well as let’s expand it to their community. Our hope is that they take it to whether it be their County Farm Bureau meetings, whether it be the Rotarians, Lions Club, any type of way we can spread the word about water and water conservation and knowledge of water. This year, like I said, we have five students. What we’re looking at eventually is that we hope to grow this. This will be a three-year Water Boot Camp that we do each summer at Kansas State University. This first year again, five students. Next year we’re hoping to have at least 11 to 15 and the year after that, who knows? There is no cap for it, but we’re hoping to grow it each year. Students who want to be involved, they can contact the Kansas Department of Agriculture. They can contact K-State Department of Communications and Ag Education and they can even contact the Kansas FFA Association. Any of those three entities we’re working together to spread the word to bring those students together.

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