Cows, plants, and 15 passenger vans, oh my!!

It’s the end of June. Been traveling for days. Children, lots of children. Must. Find. Sleep. Okay, so that may just a little “Bear Grylls,” but it was a good time!
I started my counselor adventures this summer with the Kansas Animal Science Leadership Academy. KASLA is a camp for high schoolers across Kansas and the nation who are interested in pursuing a degree in Animal Science, hopefully at K-State! We started out touring facilities around K-State, my particular favorite was KABSU, but I might be bias! Our next day, we traveled to Kansas City and had the pleasure of visiting the Merck and Ceva Biomune animal health facilities. The kids were also taken to Bichelmeyer’s meats, a specialty meat store and packer in the heart of KC. Our day wrapped up at the Livestock Marketing Association, where we learned about markets, and how the LMA helps ranchers connect with auctions. The next day we were back in Manhattan hearing from several speakers like, Greg Peterson and Ryan Breiner. On the last day, the students presented their group projects that they had been working on throughout the week. Then, graduation! Everyone’s families came in to see them “walk across the stage!” I see a couple of my kiddos running around campus every now and then! There’s even one of our own, Karley Stockton, was one of those campers!
The next day, yes I said the NEXT day, camp number 2 started! I was a senior mentor for the Veryl Switzer/KSU Agriculture Camp. This camp was very unique, in the fact that the campers were students who had little or no tie to the agriculture community. The students are immersed into agriculture, and are also taught about the history of the Nicodemus and slaves moving across the country. The students were 10-16 and were from as far away as South Carolina! We started out touring K-State facilities as well! The kids loved seeing all the animals running around at the farms! We also went out to Mt. Mitchell, where slaves travelled on the Underground Railroad to a cabin that is at the base of the hill.
We then started our travels! Our first stop was in Osborne where they learned about water erosion and different types of pelts from wildlife. They also got to play with the fish different types of aquatic creatures found in the stream! Next we headed south to Lions where we toured the Ethanol plant. Then headed just outside of town for a delicious homemade meal and horseback riding! Nicodemus was our next stop! But getting there was half the fun! We started our journey from the train stop in Ellis where the Exodusters would have gotten off the train to start the trek to Nicodemus. We drove a similar path to what they would have walked down, seeing some of the landmarks that they used to find their way. Once we arrive in Nicodemus, we learned about the history of the town and its citizens, who were ancestors to some of the campers! The students learned how the read a map and use a compass, which with GPS and cell phones has kind of become a lost art. That night the boys spent the night in tents set up in town, while us girls roughed it in a cabin out at Webster lake! The next morning we got up and had a tasty breakfast and a quick gardening lesson before heading home!
It was a tiring and draining experience, but it was completely worth it! I got to spread my knowledge and love for Agriculture and K-State, and they taught me so much about everything else! I would recommend it to anyone!!

In Sisterhood,
Nicole Armbrister

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