Category Archives: Alumni

Wichita Farm Bill meeting videos now available online at – 4 meetings left to attend

Coverage from the 2014 Farm Bill meeting held in Wichita (Jan. 12, 2015), is now available online at

There are 4 videos that include Art Barnaby’s presentation, 1 video including Jody Campiche’s cotton presentation (Oklahoma State University Agricultural Economics), 1 video of Mykel Taylor’s presentation, and 1 video of Wichita’s FSA representative, Sean Rafferty.

On this page, click the link in the “download” column to view these videos in a new window.  When in the new video window, select the “info” button in the video browser to show links to more information. If you have questions about these videos or need assistance, please contact Rich Llewelyn at

Remaining meetings occur:
Feb. 10 – Phillipsburg
Feb. 11 – Hays
Feb. 12 – Frankfort
Feb. 13 – Atchison
These events are free, however have been full at every location.  Reserve your seat by contacting the local county extension agent for each location, details can be found here.


I Had to Go to Guatemala to Learn to Listen: Grunewald to give Last Lecture

Grunewald lightenedIn 1978, Orlen Grunewald joined the Kansas State University Department of Agricultural Economics.

An expert in agribusiness, Grunewald will deliver his last lecture, “I had to go to Guatemala to learn to listen” on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at 3:30 p.m. in room 328 Waters Hall. Refreshments will be served.

The lecture is one of several planned as part of a “Last Lecture” series in which several K-State Department of Agricultural Economics faculty members will give one last lecture for the campus community and the public shortly after retiring.

“Dr. Grunewald had an outstanding career at Kansas State University and in the agribusiness area,” said Allen Featherstone, professor and head of the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics. “One of his lasting legacies is the initiation of the commodities trading course where students take actual market positions.

Through his career, he has studied and contributed to our understanding of commodity markets.  He and the other retiring professors that are a part of this Last Lecture series have had a great impact on thousands of students and agriculture in the state of Kansas. The Department of Agricultural Economics, College of Agriculture and the university are very grateful for their contributions and dedication to Kansas State University and agricultural economics. It is always inspirational to hear from one’s colleagues as they reflect upon their careers.  We encourage everyone to attend this series so they can reflect on their career.”

Grunewald, professor emeritus in the agricultural economics department, taught many undergraduate courses in agribusiness management, agribusiness marketing, and computer applications. He authored a textbook on food and agribusiness management for beginning students. His research activities focus on investigating the impacts of identity-preserved crops and livestock on supply chain management and agribusiness structures.

Grunewald earned his bachelor’s degree in regional planning at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay in 1973.  He earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of Kentucky in 1975 and 1980, respectively.

His research included investigating the structural efficiency of agricultural producers and agribusinesses in the supply chain; learning about entrepreneurship and integration in agri-food supply chains to understand the innovation processes that shape the supply chains; identifying key success factors in value-added enterprises; creating a series of educational modules based in applied research on value-added agriculture; and developing commercialization protocols to facilitate producer participation in wealth-creation value-adding initiatives.

He belonged to the American Agricultural Economics Association; Southern Agricultural Economics Association, serving on the editorial board for four years; and the Food Distribution Research Society.  He also served on the International Committee for the American Council on Consumer Interests in 1990.

Grunewald also was a Kansas State University Presidential Lecturer in 1986.

More information about his lecture or any in the “Last Lecture” series is available by contacting Judy Maberry at or 785-532-4493.


Story by:
Elaine Edwards
K-State Research and Extension,

Sharon Benz presented Animal Health Industry Insights at Master of Agribusiness Olathe session

Sharon Benz presented information at K-State animal health industry seminar

Significant changes on the horizon for the animal health industry are reflected in three new documents now available, according to Sharon Benz, director of the Division of Animal Feeds within the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

cattle on prairieBenz, who spoke Oct. 22 at the Animal Health Industry Insights seminar hosted by the Kansas State University’s Master of Agribusiness program, said the new documents will govern the use of antibiotics and will affect those working in the animal health and companion animal industry. They are (1) Guidance 209 Judicious Use of Medically Important Antimicrobial Drugs in Food Producing Animals; (2) Guidance 213 Implementation Principles for Guidance 209; and (3) the Veterinary Feed Directive Proposed Regulations.

The seminar was held at the K-State Olathe campus.

“With the changing environment surrounding animal health, it is vital that we are knowledgeable and engaged with the agencies that provide guidance and oversight to our industry. Dr. Benz provided the opportunity for Master of Agribusiness students to become familiar with the influence that the FDA has on our business decisions,” said Justin Smith, MAB student and deputy animal health commissioner for the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

Benz gave an overview of the CVM and its responsibilities, which she said works to ensure animal drugs are safe and effective before giving approval; monitors the safety and effectiveness of current animal drugs on the market; reviews animal and pet food for safety and labeling; ensures pet food additives are safe and have utility before approval; conducts research; and helps make more animal drugs legally available for minor species, such as fish and hamsters.

“Dr. Benz was very knowledgeable with an extensive background. Since canine nutrition is my passion, it was an extremely interesting presentation for me. I learned about FDA policies and procedures I did not know about and Dr. Benz was nice enough to answer questions afterward, said Melissa Vogt, MAB student and distance learning veterinary technology Instructor at Colby Community College.

“Dr. Benz brought a wealth of knowledge to the forum by providing insight regarding the changes that the animal health industry will be experiencing when the implementation of the judicious use of antibiotics guidance 209 and guidance 213 begin,” said David Yandell, MAB student and senior associate for regulatory, surveillance and compliance with Elanco Animal Health. “Dr. Benz highlighted the need for the judicious use of antibiotics in the industry and that the FDA-CVM, an agency dedicated to the health and safety of humans and animals, is helping to ensure they are available for use in the future.”

Benz is responsible for providing direction and oversight to the division, which monitors and sets standards for contaminants, approves food additives and oversees medicated feed and pet food programs. Prior to her appointment to director in 2004, she served as the team leader for the Nutrition and Labeling Team. In preparation for her work with the FDA, she was employed by the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture as the program officer for the Nutrient Requirement series bulletins on animal nutrient requirements.

Benz earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University and a Master’s and Ph.D. degrees from Virginia Tech. Her training is in ruminant nutrition and mineral metabolism and requirements.

K-State’s Master of Agribusiness ( is an award-winning, distance-education degree program that focuses on food, animal health and agribusiness management. Students and alumni work in every sector of the food, animal health and agribusiness industry and are located in 40 states within the United States and in more than 30 countries.

Guidance 209
· Limit the use of medically important antimicrobial drugs to those uses considered necessary for assuring animal health
· Use includes veterinary involvement/consultation

Guidance 213
· Provides guidance for industry on the implementation of judicious use
· Process for updating labels to remove growth/production uses
· New therapeutic uses may be pursue

  •  Have a defined dosing duration
  • Effective therapeutic dose level
  • Be targeted as much as possible to the at-risk population
  • Include veterinary oversight

Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)
· VFD is an order by a veterinarian that allows the feeding of approved VFD drugs to animals
· Medically necessary antimicrobial drugs will be converted from over-the-counter (OTC) to VFD drugs
· VFD regulations are being revised to improve the efficiency of the VFD process


CONTACT: Mary Bowen – 785.532.4435-

Alumnus Matt Wolters to speak at New Student Convocation on Aug. 24

The second New Student Convocation is from 5:45-6:45 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24, at Bramlage Coliseum.

This ceremonial beginning of the new academic year will feature the Kansas State University Faculty Brass Quintet, President Schulz and Provost Mason and a short video on K-State’s land-grant history.

Remarks for the benefit of new undergraduate students will be given by Greg Eiselein, director of K-State First; Katie Noll, Le’Andre Carthen and Anallely Dominguez, current students; 2014 Distinguished Young Alumni Award recipients Molly Hamm and Matt Wolters; and Ali Malekzadeh, dean of the College of Business Administration.

The picnic and pep rally at Bill Snyder Family Stadium will begin around 7:30 p.m. after the conclusion of the New Student Convocation. All students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend both events.

Written by Steve Dandaneau

K-State Announces New Agricultural Economics Department Head

Allen Featherstone July 2014The College of Agriculture at Kansas State University has announced Allen Featherstone as the new head of the Department of Agricultural Economics. He began his official appointment June 30.

“Dr. Featherstone brings prudent leadership, and a wealth of ideas, energy and experience to the position,” said John Floros, dean of K-State’s College of Agriculture. “The administrative team and I are happy that Dr. Featherstone accepted our offer, and we welcome him into our College’s Leadership Team. I am looking forward to working with him as he settles into his new role, and as he provides visionary leadership for our Department of Agricultural Economics.”

“The department has experienced 40 percent growth in its undergraduate programs in the last two years,” Featherstone said. “Certainly meeting student needs will be an important aspect to work on. In addition, the department is having several faculty with many years of service retiring, and hiring individuals to continue their legacy will also be very important.”

Featherstone joined K-State as a faculty member in 1986 and has since taken on several roles, including serving as the department’s interim head on two occasions in the last six years. He grew up on his family’s farm in Walworth, Wisconsin. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls with degrees in agricultural economics and economics, he completed master’s and doctoral degrees in agricultural economics at Purdue University.

A professor of agricultural economics at K-State, Featherstone also currently directs the master of agribusiness (MAB) program and the department’s graduate program. He has advised more than 60 graduate students and has taught many undergraduate and graduate courses, including comparative food and agriculture systems, agricultural finance and risk management, to name a few.

Featherstone has helped bring nearly $1.5 million in research dollars to K-State in the 28 years he’s served as a faculty member. His research has encompassed an array of subjects within the area of agricultural economics, but his main specialty is agricultural finance. He is a renowned expert in land values and agricultural lending, and he serves on the research team for the bi-annual Ag Lender’s Survey, a nationwide survey of agricultural lending institutions that gauges short- and long-term expectations of the future lending environment.

As a leading agricultural finance scholar, Featherstone has conducted research on and provided assistance to the industry on mergers, loan loss severity, the influence of taxes on farm land and alternative federal tax systems. Featherstone has published more than 120 research articles in peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Journal of Productivity Analysis, Journal of Applied Finance and Banking, and International Research Journal of Finance and Economics. He has also served as a co-author on several agricultural economics book chapters and reviews.

Featherstone is a member of many professional organizations such as the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, American Finance Association, International Association of Agricultural Economics, and the Kansas Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers. At Kansas State, he is a current member of Faculty Senate and has served on the K-State Online College Advisory Council, Provost’s Compensation Task Force, Graduate School Grievance Committee, General Grievance Board, Graduate Council and Graduate School Readmission Committee.

Since 1999, he has served as the advisor to K-State’s chapter of Alpha Zeta, the oldest national agricultural honorary society for students and industry professionals. He has been awarded the United States Department of Agriculture Sciences Excellence in Teaching Award, Association for Continuing Higher Education Distinguished Credit Program Award, the K-State College of Agriculture Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award, Commerce Bank Distinguished Graduate Faculty Award, among others.


Story by: Katie Allen, K-State Research and Extension, or 785-532-1162
For more information: Allen Featherstone – or 785-532-4441

Agricultural Economics Distinguished Alumnus in 3 part series of Kansas Profile feature

Steve Irsik

Ron Wilson, director of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development at Kansas State University, has written a 3 part series about Steve Irsik for the “Kansas Profile – Now That’s Rural” features.  The three articles are listed below.

Steve Irsik was honored in 2008 as the Department of Agricultural Economics 2008 Distinguished Alumnus.  For more information about that honor, click here. We hope you will take a few moments to read these articles and learn more about one of our many Distinguished Alumni!

Steve Irsik – Part 1

Pioneers. They were the brave men and women who came west and settled the state of Kansas. Today we honor those pioneers, but we also honor the modern-day entrepreneurs who have pioneered modern approaches to agribusiness. One such entrepreneur has built a remarkable agribusiness enterprise in southwest Kansas.

Steve Irsik is an agricultural entrepreneur whose family has built a remarkable ag enterprise. His family has deep roots in western Kansas. In fact, it is a true story of pioneers.

“My grandmother came to Dodge City in 1880 on a stagecoach,” Steve Irsik said. It sounds like a western movie, but it’s true. The Irsik side of the family came west to Kansas in the 1920s. These pioneers settled in southwest Kansas and built homes and farms.

Steve Irsik’s father served in the south Pacific during World War II and came back to the farm. Steve was born and raised near Garden City. He went to K-State, studied agricultural economics, and served in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam era.

When Steve came back to join his family in the farming operation, the irrigation and feedlot industries were beginning to be developed. The Irsiks were pioneers in this type of agribusiness.

“My dad bought a farm which had the second irrigation well in western Kansas,” Steve said. “My father and two brothers started feeding cattle in 1961. That was just the second or third feedyard in southwest Kansas.”

Before that time, farmer-feeders had been raising a few head individually to be butchered or sold. Feedyards became a more efficient way to produce finished cattle. Then beef packing plants were built in western Kansas so as to be close to the source of production.  The agribusiness complex boomed.

The Irsik family was a leading part of the agribusiness growth. Their first feedyard built in 1961 had a capacity of 2,000 head. Today that feedyard’s capacity is 40,000 head.

Irsik Farms is now a dryland and irrigated farming and ranching operation with ranches in Kansas and Nebraska, including a 1,800 head cowherd. Irsik & Doll is a related business with feedyards and grain elevators across southwest Kansas. Irsik & Doll elevators are located in communities from Hutchinson to Sublette. The feedyards are in rural locations in southwest Kansas, near towns such as Garden City, Scott City, Cimarron, Hugoton, and Pierceville. Pierceville has a population of perhaps 300 people.  Now, that’s rural.

Part of the success of the Irsik family farming operation has been to integrate the various elements of the beef value chain.

“We go all the way from beef cattle genetic development clear to the meat cooler,” Steve said.

Steve was also part of pioneering initiatives to market agricultural products such as the 21st Century Alliance grain processing cooperative and U.S. Premium Beef. These farmer-investors bought a flour mill in Texas and an oat-milling company in Nebraska.  “If you ate granola, you probably ate some of our oats,” Steve said. “If you ate a tortilla in New Mexico or west Texas, the flour probably came from our flour mill.”

In the process of building these businesses, Steve got to know private equity investors in Dallas and elsewhere. He joined them in other investments such as a steel pipe company in Vermont, a food manufacturer in Massachusetts, and a wholesale vegetable distributor in Florida. The food manufacturing company, for example, produces products that are marketed under major brand names such as Hersheys and Nestle.

“These companies want to market their brand, but they don’t want to do the manufacturing,” Steve said. So, this company produces the powdered chocolate drink, but it is sold under the Hersheys brand. These are innovative ways of marketing.

Pioneers. Those brave men and women came west and built the state of Kansas. Now modern pioneers such as the Irsik family are leading the way in innovations of modern production agriculture. We commend Steve Irsik and family for making a difference as pioneers of today.

And there’s more. Steve Irsik was also a pioneer in another form of the cattle business – but not beef. We’ll learn about that next week.

Steve Irsik – Part 2

Beef. That’s the four-letter word which has been at the heart of a growing economy in southwest Kansas for decades, as beef cattle production and processing have expanded.  But now there’s another kind of cattle production going on in southwest Kansas that centers on a different four-letter word: Milk.

Last week we learned about Steve Irsik, the entrepreneurial agriculturist whose family has helped build the ag economy in southwest Kansas. For decades, their family operation has centered on the irrigated grain production and beef cattle feedyards which have been the hallmark of agriculture in southwest Kansas.

One day Steve and his banker were on an eastern Kansas agricultural tour which visited a modern dairy. Steve said to his banker, “Do you think I should have one of these?” His banker replied, “You bet.” Steve answered, “Well, call me if somebody comes along who can run one.” Six weeks later, Steve got a call. A man with large dairy experience in Washington State was coming to Kansas.

That led to the creation of Royal Farms Dairy in the year 2000. Today, Royal Farms Dairy milks 6,300 head of dairy cows. Another 7,000 head are in heifer development.

One of the striking things about Royal Farm Dairy is the innovative way that water and nutrients are used in the operation. For example, the dairy cattle generate 30,000 tons of manure per year. The dairy is using that manure as organic fertilizer to fertilize the crops.

“We don’t buy any commercial fertilizer,” Steve Irsik said. “It is a win-win situation.  Yields are increasing, organic matter is increasing in the soil, and we are cutting costs.”

Use of water is another innovative practice at Royal Farms Dairy. At the beginning, the dairy moved 1,000 acre feet of water allocation from crop production to dairy use.

The dairy minimizes water usage by using each gallon multiple times. Water that is used to cool milk is also used to flush pens and holding areas. Ultimately, this nutrient-enhanced water is then stored in a lagoon until it is used to strategically fertilize and irrigate 1,600 acres.

“All the lagoon water comes back to the farm,” Steve said. For its efforts, Royal Farms Dairy has been honored with the Kansas Banker’s Association Environmental Stewardship Award.

“We know a bunch of people in the dairy business around the U.S.,” Steve said. The Irsiks have also added a second dairy, called the Noble dairy, located south of Garden City. “There we are milking 2,400 cows twice a day.”

What are the keys to success in agribusiness today? “It’s really important for ag operations to think multigenerationally,” Steve said. The Irsiks have organized their operations as businesses with family members involved.
“You must keep your capital together, work together to develop a shared vision, and nurture and protect what preceding generations have built,” he said.

Over time, the beef and dairy production businesses in southwest Kansas have led to population growth, in contrast to the general population loss found in most of the rest of rural Kansas. After feedyards began in the 1950s and `60s, major beef packing plants were built in Ford, Finney and Seward counties. Then came large dairies and milk processing. From 1971 to 2007, the population in Ford, Finney and Seward County grew by 64 percent. During that same time, the metropolitan counties of Kansas grew by 48 percent and other rural counties fell by 19 percent.

That’s significant, because Royal Farms Dairy has brought growth to a rural community.  The dairy is located between Garden City and the rural community of Ingalls, population 331 people. Now, that’s rural.

Beef. It’s the four letter word which is at the center of the agribusiness complex in southwest Kansas, which has now been joined by milk. We salute Steve Irsik and all those involved with Royal Farms Dairy for making a difference by building this business while conserving water and resources. Beef and milk have helped create another four letter word: Grow.

And there’s more. The Irsiks have also helped bring about a new way of implementing an old organization. We’ll learn about that next week.

Steve Irsik – Part 3

“Prometo: Mi cabeza para pensar claramente, mi corazon para mayor lealtad, mis manos para mejor servicio…”  No, I don’t speak Spanish, but I have learned that those are the opening words of the 4-H pledge in Spanish. Today we’ll meet an innovative 4-H club which is helping extend the benefits of 4-H to a new dimension of Spanish-speaking families.

This is the last profile in our three-part series about Steve Irsik, an agricultural entrepreneur in southwest Kansas. We have previously learned about how his family developed their farming operation, including the creation of Royal Farms Dairy east of Garden City. Kyle Averhoff was brought in as manager. A key element to the success of such large, modern dairies is the workforce – many of whom are Hispanic.

In October 2012, Steve Irsik contacted Debra Bolton, the K-State Research and Extension family and consumer sciences specialist for the southwest area of Kansas.

“We were brainstorming how 4-H could reach more families,” Debra said. Specifically, they discussed how the benefits of 4-H could be applied to the newly immigrated families who had come to work in southwest Kansas.

“Royal Farms Dairy is home to over 14,000 cows and heifers and about 65 employees, many from El Salvador, Guatemala, and many other countries throughout Central America, South America and up through Mexico,” Kyle Averhoff said. “Southwest Kansas is an economic empire in how it’s developed and grown. Without the Hispanic culture and the culture of many other immigrant populations, it wouldn’t have been possible.”

K-State Research and Extension faculty in the southwest area developed a pilot program to reach out to this segment of the population. It was supported by state 4-H leader Barbara Stone and the Kansas 4-H Foundation. Bertha Mendoza is a nutrition specialist in the southwest area of Kansas, and her existing relationship with several Hispanic families was a major help.

These families and those of the workers at the dairies became a target for this innovative 4-H program. Alejandra Romero and Ruddy Yanez were hired as summer interns to assist with the project.

The goal was to create one club of 25 to 30 youth, but the interest grew faster than expected. The end result was four clubs involving 90 youth, with hundreds more on a waiting list. The clubs are located in Finney, Gray, and Kearney counties. These new 4-H members live in or near rural communities such as Garden City, Ingalls, Pierceville, and Deerfield, population 892 people. Now, that’s rural.

The 4-H organization has been around for a long time, but it was new to these immigrant families. Club meetings were implemented bilingually. For example, the 4-H pledge would be said in Spanish and then in English. The club involved youth, parents and even grandparents.

“The concept of 4-H caught on,” Debra Bolton said. “This 4-H club is more than youth development, it is family development. It’s family, it’s education, it’s learning, it’s all the things that integrate a family into a community.”

“They are very family focused,” Kyle Averhoff said of his working Hispanic families.  “We think that 4-H is a nice add-on to that, to help their children have opportunities to develop. We can look at countless stories of how our employees have grown and how their children have grown and become successful members of society.”

“It’s created such a great learning community,” Debra said. “It’s even received national recognition. The National 4-H wants one of our 4-Hers to sing at the national gala.”

“The more we can do for the children, that’s going to lift up the whole family,” Steve said. “It will truly lift up these families.”

“Mi salud para mayor bienestar, para mi club, mi comunidad, mi patria, mi mundo.”  Those are the closing words of the 4-H pledge in Spanish. We salute Steve Irsik, Kyle Averhoff, Barbara Stone, Debra Bolton, Bertha Mendoza, Alejandra Romero, Ruddy Yanez, and all those involved who are making a difference by helping more families experience the benefits of 4-H in a whole new way. I believe this is very good: Muy bueno.




Alumnus featured as Kansas Profile: Matt Wolters – Surefire Ag

June 4, 2014 – The population estimates are in. Census Bureau data show the most recent estimates of population change in Kansas counties, with a pattern of urban growth and rural population loss – except for a few counties which have bucked the trend. For example, the northernmost tier of counties in Kansas all demonstrated population loss, with one exception: Rawlins County. Why is this so? At least one source of the population growth in Rawlins County has been the advent of a private sector, entrepreneurial agribusiness enterprise.

Matt Wolters is a co-founder of Surefire Ag Systems in Rawlins County, the site of unexpected growth. Matt grew up here at Atwood, studied agricultural economics at K-State and came back to northwest Kansas. He went to work for another company but saw an opportunity in the fertilizer industry.

Matt contacted his brother Josh who had been an engineer with larger companies but was ready to leave the big corporate structure. They partnered with their friend Blaine Ginther. Their idea was to create a system of equipment that could attach to a farmer’s existing farm implements and be used to dispense liquid fertilizer.

The three went to work. They set out to create a company to produce such a product and found they had complementary skills. Josh Wolters is an engineer and Blaine Ginther had worked in management and sales, while Matt specialized in operations and strategic management.

The three entrepreneurs launched a company known as Surefire Ag Systems. The purpose of the company was to deliver customized equipment for application of crop inputs. They began the business in August 2007 on a farmstead north of their hometown of Atwood.

“The foundation of our business is configuring a package of components to make a system that attaches to existing equipment to apply liquid fertilizer, chemicals, or herbicides,” Matt said.

For example, adding their system to a corn planter makes it possible to apply fertilizer also. “Our system can be customized to each specific piece of equipment,” Matt said.

Surefire Ag got started at the time that GPS guidance and tractor autosteer systems were really growing in popularity. Being able to integrate the Surefire Ag systems with those technologies was a key to success. Surefire Ag experienced significant growth and continued to innovate.

“By God’s guiding hand, we hired our first electrical engineer in 2011,” Matt said. This highly-trained engineer, originally from Hoxie, happened to be moving back to the area when he and his wife decided they wanted to raise their kids here. He joined SureFire and his skills enabled the company to do more product development. SureFire Electronics was launched in 2012 and SureFire’s QuickDraw system was introduced in 2013. QuickDraw is an automated, electronically controlled spray tender system which automates batch mixing of crop inputs. The company continues to grow.

“One of our objectives is to be an economic engine for Rawlins County,” Matt said. The company now employs 35 people and has sold products to 47 states, six Canadian provinces and beyond. Such market breadth is remarkable for a young company from rural Atwood, population 1,258 people. Now, that’s rural.

In addition to generating employment, the company created the Dream Big Education Foundation to support Rawlins County schools. SureFire made a $100,000 donation which has been used to put smart boards and iPad carts in the grade schools and significantly upgrade the information technology infrastructure in the high school.

“Our people are our greatest asset,” Matt said. “We’ve been blessed with the most dedicated, committed group of people who have come together to make it happen. They grew up with a work ethic and the moral compass to take care of people.”

For more information about the company, go to

The population estimates are in. Of all the northern tier of counties in Kansas, the only one to experience population gain is Rawlins County, home of SureFire Ag Systems. We salute Matt Wolters, Josh and Lisa Wolters, Blaine and Erin Ginther and all those involved with SureFire Ag for making a difference with agricultural entrepreneurship and dedicated effort. In rural Kansas, hard work is the only surefire solution.

Audio and text files of Kansas Profiles are available at For more information about the Huck Boyd Institute, interested persons can visit


Written by: Ron Wilson

Spring 2014 E-Newsletter of the Department of Agricultural Economics

Dear Friends and Family of the Department of Agricultural Economics,

Greetings!  I hope this e-newsletter finds you in a prosperous spring. We are excited to send you this quarterly e-newsletter to provide you updates of the latest from the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics. You can access it online in various formats from our website at

With this e-newsletter, we will keep you up-to-date on what we are doing and how you can stay active in our Department. Our goal is to keep you connected as a part of the K-State Agricultural Economics family.

Go Cats!

Dr. Allen M. Featherstone
Interim Department Head, Professor and Director of the Master of Agribusiness Program
Department of Agricultural Economics

Spring 2014 Contents:
Greetings and update from Allen Featherstone
Reagan Kays is elected K-State Student Body President: 17th from Agricultural Economics
Herrington and Parman earn Department honors
Spriggs earns award from Alumni Association
Students earn honorary spots for 2014-2015
Department represented by seven students in the College of Agriculture Ambassadors
Harlan and Hopper earn University promotions
Jackie McClaskey earns honor of College of Agriculture Outstanding Young Alumni
Cristina Mansfield honored as K-State Alumni Fellow
Agricultural Economics alumni earn Kansas Master Farmers and Master Farm Homemakers honors
Upcoming events
Congratulations to newly-elected student officers
Gifting opportunities with Agricultural Economics
Let’s get social!

If you did not receive the e-newsletter via email and wish to receive it in the future, please contact Amanda Erichsen at

Agricultural Economics alumni updates

The following are alumni updates.  To view the latest department e-newsletter for more updates, click here.

Matt Wolters earns Alumni Association’s Distinguished Young Alumnus Award

Matt Wolters, a 2003 graduate in agricultural economics, has earned the Distinguished Young Alumnus award from the K-State Alumni Association.

The Distinguished Young Alumni program recognizes two Kansas State University graduates who are excelling in their professions and contributing to their communities. The program is sponsored by the K-State Alumni Association’s Student Alumni Board and the Board of Directors.

Wolters is co-founder and co-owner of SureFire Ag Systems Inc., a company that designs and manufactures solutions to apply fertilizer and chemicals to crops and fields throughout Kansas, the U.S. and the world. In addition to SureFire Ag Systems, Matt and his partners founded the Dream Big Foundation, which promotes and provides resources to enhance science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math education in the Rawlins County USD 105 school district.

He also helped reorganize the Kansas FFA Foundation and serves as a member of the Rawlins County Hospital Board and the Kansas Agricultural Rural Leadership Program.

While at K-State, Matt served as a College of Agriculture ambassador as well as a member of Blue Key Honor Society and Student Governing Association, among other roles.

Wolters will be on campus in late February to speak to students.

Jake Worcester selected as assistant secretary for Kansas Department of Agriculture

Acting Secretary of Agriculture, Jackie McClaskey has announced Jake Worcester has been hired as an assistant secretary.

Worcester, a native of Hill City, Kan., has a diverse business background and is a skilled relationship builder with a solid understanding of agriculture.

“We are excited to have Jake join the Kansas Department of Agriculture team,” said McClaskey. “He brings extensive knowledge of agriculture to the agency and is an innovative thinker when it comes to working through challenges. He will be an asset as we work together with our farm and ranch families and agribusiness to grow the state’s largest industry,” she said.

Worcester is a graduate of Kansas State University with a degree in agricultural economics. He was active in student government, serving as KSU student body president. He has close ties to agriculture having worked on his family farm as a youngster and was an active member of 4-H, FFA and served as a State FFA officer.

Most recently he worked as vice president for Peak Solutions USA, a leadership and management consulting firm with specializations in agriculture and manufacturing industries. He also served as the first full-time executive director for the Kansas FFA Foundation and the director of development for the K-State School of Leadership Studies.

Worcester and his wife Hilary currently live in Fort Collins, Colo. and will be moving to Manhattan, Kan. in the spring.

From the Kansas Department of Agriculture News Service

Click here to view these and other news items on the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics news page.  For more information, contact Amanda Erichsen at

December 2013 Agricultural Economics E-Newsletter

Dear Agricultural Economics Alumni and Friends,

Happy Holidays!  I hope this e-newsletter finds you with a bountiful Thanksgiving celebration behind you and you are continuing to enjoy your holiday celebrations. We are excited to send you the first quarterly e-newsletter to provide you updates of the latest from the K-State Department of Agricultural Economics. This can be accessed  online at

With this e-newsletter, we will keep you up-to-date on what we are doing and how you can stay active in our Department. Our goal is to keep you connected as a part of the K-State Agricultural Economics family.

December 2013 Contents:
Greetings and update from Allen Featherstone
Craig Jagger earns 2013 Distinguished Alumnus Award
Did you know our students blog?!
New Student Fellows of the Center for Risk Management Education and Research
Flinchbaugh moderates six past U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture at Landon Lecture
Alumni achievements
Gifting Grain to Agricultural Economics

Go State!

Dr. Allen M. Featherstone
Interim Department Head, Professor and Director of the Master of Agribusiness
Department of Agricultural Economics
Department of Agricultural Economics:
Twitter:  @kstateagecon

If you did not receive the e-newsletter via email and wish to receive it in the future, please contact Amanda Erichsen at