“I have truly enjoyed my career as an Extension educator. The relationships/friends I have made from the classes and workshops I have led are what I will miss the most.”
– Donna Krug
From a farm in northeast Kansas to a storied three-decade-plus career with Kansas State University Extension, Donna Krug will retire as the Cottonwood Extension District consumer science agent come February. Although looking forward to retirement, she said she’ll miss the work and relationships she’s developed.
“I was a farm girl, born and raised in Washington, Kan. I was the middle of three girls (no brothers) so we all learned to drive a tractor so that we could help out on the farm,” she said. “After graduation from Washington High School I headed to Kansas State University where my sociology class had more students than my entire high school.”
She adjusted though and developed close friendships from her college years living at Clovia, a cooperative house for former 4-H’ers. Her educational background includes a B.S. degree in Home Economics Education. She has also taken graduate hours in Adult Education at the University of Houston and K-State.
“I met John (her future husband) during my freshman year and he had grown up in Hoisington,” she said. “When we graduated from K-State in 1977, John made plans to attend chiropractic college in Pasadena, Texas, and I got an Extension job on the other side of Houston, in Fort Bend County.
They married in December of 1977.
In May, 1981, John graduated, so their family of three moved to Great Bend. “With family in the area it was the perfect place to raise our family,” she said.
She and John have three grown kids: Kristen (Art) Baker and their children, Calyn, Camdyn, and Boland; Adam (Aubrey) Krug and their son, Bob; and Matt (Jane) Krug who is getting married Dec. 29.
A long career
“When I retire Feb. 3, 2023, I will have completed 37 years in Extension,” she said proudly. This includes three and half years as a 4-H Agent in Fort Bend County, Texas, and 33 and a half years in Barton County/Cottonwood District.
“My position in Barton County as a family and consumer science agent allowed me the opportunity to impact families in the areas of health, nutrition, parenting, housing, and budgeting,” she said. In 2017, she added district director to her title when the Cottonwood Extension District formed, so besides programming, she added administrative responsibilities to her plate.
A highlight of her career was to have a fact sheet she wrote titled “Action Plan for Healthy Living” awarded first place publication in the nation for her professional association in 2015. And, “receiving the K-State Research and Extension Diversity Award in 2014 was special because I enjoyed providing educational programs from the Migrant Parent Program and students at Barton County Academy,” she said.
“I am proud of the 10 fact sheets/leaders guides I wrote and published during my career. Even though I am retiring, I am happy that my publications can continue to be used by Extension educators and impact families,” she said.
One of her recent publications, titled “Taking a New Look at Fermented Foods,” has been especially well received. “A year ago, I shared the information from the fact sheet at my professional association national meeting. A few months later, I was invited to present an in-person workshop for Iowa State Extension Educators at their professional development meeting. My Extension career has given me a growing number of friends from all parts of the country.”
Nothing stays the same
Her job now is much different than it was when she started.
“There have been so many changes in the way I do my job during my 33-plus years in Barton County,” Krug said. “The biggest one is how we share information with our clientele.”
When she started her job July 1, 1989, she had a typewriter at her desk. “When I typed my weekly column, I would walk it down to the (Great Bend) Tribune newsroom, which was on the second floor, and give it to Linda, the Local Life editor.
“Any correspondence was done through letters or phone calls,” she said. “Now, with email and so much information available on the internet, Extension has evolved to meet the needs of those we serve. Even though Zoom meetings have become more common, I still prefer face-to-face programming and office visits.”
It has been a good run, she said.
“I have truly enjoyed my career as an Extension educator,” she said. “The relationships/friends I have made from the classes and workshops I have led are what I will miss that the most.”
She shared a inquiry she received several years ago. “A gentleman, who is well known in our community, called with a question. He had befriended a young lady who would be having a baby soon. She was going to be challenged as a single mother so he wanted to help.”
He thought about offering to pay for the baby’s diapers from birth through potty training. Before he made the offer, he thought maybe he should check out what kind of investment that would be.
“My sources showed the cost to be between $2,000 and $2,400 at that time. I’m not sure what he decided to do but I thought that was so thoughtful.”
As for leaving her job, “I look forward to spending time with my hobbies when I retire. I love to sew (especially quilting), playing the piano, and the most obvious one – riding on the back of a tandem bike with my husband John,” she said. “We have ridden our tandem in the lower 48 states and all 105 Kansas counties. We have met so many wonderful people as a result of our bike adventures. I’m actually thinking about writing a book highlighting them.”
The couple loves to travel and they look forward to catching more of their grandkids’ activities.
In addition to her work, Donna volunteers through her church, Trinity Lutheran. She and John are also active in helping to develop the campground for cross-country cyclists behind Central Baptist Church.
Community Connections is a regular feature of the Great Bend Tribune, showcasing people who live in the Golden Belt. We welcome readers to submit names of individuals they would like to see featured in a future story. Send suggestions to email@example.com and explain their “community connections.”