KAFCS turns the spotlight on individuals, their experiences, and how they have benefited from KAFCS membership and/or family and consumer science programs. It offers an opportunity for you to share your story with your colleagues and the greater FCS community, inspire future FCS professionals, and strengthen awareness of the profession and association.
Isn’t it your turn to grab the spotlight? Download a submission form here!
My first love has always been Extension, but my career to this point had always been Education. That's hard for some to believe because, those who know me well, they know I love teaching Family and Consumer Sciences. However, my journey began as a child watching and learning from the work and career of my idol and mentor, my dad. As the Marshall County Agriculture Extension agent’s daughter, I tagged along to a wide variety of meetings, lessons, and farm visits. I planned to graduate with a degree in Extension, but my dad strongly encouraged me to pursue a degree in Home Economics Education because it would afford me more options when I graduated. Fathers know best and the Extension hiring freeze of the late 1980’s helped to set my career path in a different direction towards classroom instruction. I began after college with a short stint (~1 ½ years) at Frito Lay, Inc. as a packaging manager in charge of 40 employees and over $100,000 in product every day. This experience served me well as I later began a teaching position where the CTE department worked together to develop and implement a state and nationally-recognized school based business, The Brave’s Spice Rack. After 22+ great years in the classroom with 14 years at Council Grove High School and 8 rewarding years at Kansas State University in the College of Education, I finally headed back to my original destination - Extension. I have been on board at K-State Research and Extension in Geary County as the FCS Extension agent since July 1, 2013. Just as many of you, I begin my day with e-mails and correspondence, but that’s where "routine" stops and my knowledge, skills, and experience really get to work in my community and county. My role is to provide Family and Consumer Sciences programming to the adults and their children in Geary County. I work with a wide variety of ages and family structures that is very ethnically diverse. I have been working with older adults in the community through the SHICK program to help them make retirement decisions about their health care coverage. I have trained Head Start staff on safe food handling and preparation techniques in the classroom. I write a weekly newspaper article on the subject of my choosing and typically use "hot topics" from the media or conversation with friends for my inspiration. Just recently, I met with one of the JCHS FCS teachers to talk about how we can co-program to work alongside each other in the FCS field.
My two degrees both come from K-State with an undergraduate in Vocational Home Economics (1988) and a Master's in Family Studies and Human Services (1996) and am very proud to be a product of the College of Human Ecology.
I have been a member since I was a freshman in college. Dr. Virginia Moxley and Dr. Jan Wissman made it clear to all the undergraduates that AHEA/SHEA membership was an expectation and part of assuming a professional career. They promised that it would be a decision we wouldn't regret and I can attest that they were right! The knowledge and support I have gleaned from this organization and its members is another story in and of itself.
I have been a student association secretary for the state (back when we had a functioning SHEA chapter at most of the 4-year colleges in the state.) I have held every state executive board officer position except treasurer (don't get any ideas!) and I have served on the AAFCS Leadership Academy planning team for the last 4 years. Additionally, I have presented at 4 national meetings and was recognized in the late 90's as being an AAFCS Top Ten Teacher of the Year. It may seem like a lot but I take occasional "extended vacations" from each of the professional organizations I belong to. I still belong, but I take myself off the radar to regroup, revitalize, and re-vision. I think that is an important lesson taught to me by one of my AAFCS mentors, Joyce Miles.
Collegial support, friendships, and opportunities to grow in both your professional and personal life. That's the beauty of FCS – it's a holistic approach to the people we serve and the people in the profession.
Helping people is the best part about being in FCS and it is also the greatest source of job satisfaction for me. The impact we can have in Extension is direct in nature. We help people where they're at in meeting both their immediate and long term needs. Sure, we also deal with the everyday practical needs and interests, but even those "small things" enrich the lives of the people we work with and for.
Regrouping after my daughter, Jessica's, death has been my greatest challenge. Trying to teach parenting after you've lost your child is a tough thing to do. I didn't handle it alone, though. I had an amazing support group in by high school with an amazing principal, Bob Kiblinger, who walked alongside me, especially in that first year after her death. Additionally, I had phenomenal support from my FCS colleagues and my students in the classroom. Again, we take care of people and my co-members of KAFCS took care of me when I needed the most help. They were amazing and remain dedicated professionals and close friends. And, although this has been my greatest challenge, I now use it as a source of strength to help me through any other challenges I have faced.
My husband, Duane, and I reside on his family's homestead where we raise our three – 6th generation children (Mark, age 10, Joey, age 8, and Zach, age 7.) We have a small cow-calf operation, a couple dozen laying hens, and 4-H goats. I like to read, cook, garden (but never have time for it), and sing or listen to music (usually both at the same time.) As a family, we like to camp, swim, travel and participate in activities centered around our churches. A "bucket list" desire I have is to write historical fiction books and a book about my journey of losing a child and yet gaining so many blessings.