K-State named 2014 Friend of the Flint Hills

Hannah Hunsinger | The Collegian A couple explores the Flint Hills Discovery Center on March 30, 2014. The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation will recognize Kansas State University as the 2014 Friend of the Flint Hills for its multi-dimensional contributions to the conservation of the Flint Hills and the mission of the Discovery Center through research, education and engagement activities.

The Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation will recognize K-State for its nature conservation work in the Flint Hills Sunday. K-State will be named the 2014 Friend of the Flint Hills during a private dinner and ceremony on Sunday at the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

K-State’s work in conserving the Flint Hills comes from its work in research, public education and public involvement. According to an April 16 K-State press release, more than 31 researchers involved with K-State are studying Flint Hills-related topics ranging from the history of the prairie to grassland ecology.

President Kirk Schulz and first lady Noel Schulz will be at the ceremony to accept the award. Invitations to the private ceremony have also been sent to roughly 120 K-State employees including the deans of eight colleges, administrative officials, staff and faculty who were directly involved with the conservation work. Flint Hills Discovery Center staff and volunteers with connections to K-State have also been invited.

The Friend of the Flint Hills award began in 2012 and recognizes either an individual, a non-government affiliated organization or a public institution that has had a significant impact. This is the first time that K-State has been named a Friend of the Flint Hills, as well as the first time the foundation has awarded the honor to a public institution. The first two were awarded to individuals.

“In the past years, we have recognized Brian Obermeyer and Jane Koger,” said V. Marie Martin, development manager for the foundation.

Obermeyer, who serves as the director of the Nature Conservancy’s Flint Hills Initiative, was awarded the honor for his work helping to preserve the biological integrity of the Flint Hills. Koger, a Flint Hills rancher, was recognized for her vision and leadership in Flint Hills preservation.

The event is being funded by the foundation, which is a nonprofit that obtains its funding from other foundations, grants, private donors and individual and corporate donations. According to the foundation’s mission statement, the main purpose of the foundation is the preservation and management of the Flint Hill region’s tallgrass prairie.

More information on the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation and its projects can be found at flinthillsdiscoverycenterfoundation.org.