Life on the Byway
BY DR. DAN WITT
I’m sure a lot of you are not aware that we live on a Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway. That wasn’t true a few years ago-- there wasn’t a byway. Creation of the byway and the potential for tourist revenue as a by-product of our beautiful marshes at the Bottoms and Quivira Refuge was a terrific idea. The KWEC and its relationship with Ft. Hays State provides a precise academically sound basis for legitimate research and management ideas for the wetlands. Karl Grover and his terrific staff are so good and have a long history of good stewardship in wet and dry times-- we are fortunate for their skills and dedication. I am reminding you of these facts in order to continue a thought and make a attempt to engage you in this process. We have a stake in the outcome.
How long has it been since you were in school? I have been invigorated for some weeks now by school kids. I take some pictures and follow the local teams. Mrs.Lamaroux and Feist invited me to present some photographic information to their art and yearbook students here in Hoisington. Do you remember the energy, enthusiasm and joy associated with school? It is a renewal of spirit to engage these kids with their quick minds and ideas. They tested my skills and limits. We are going to arrange some field trips, etc. along the by-way and visit the marsh. Sandhill and Whooping Cranes are enroute, shore birds are leaving, puddle ducks are here and the diving ducks have their bags packed for the journey south. It is a great time to be in the wetlands.
Life along the by-way is as orderly as the weather and seasons allow. Corn is being cut-- these are beautiful machines. Soy beans are being harvested. These are busy times for our farmers. The processes of harvest are always energetic and I still cherish my time in the fields as a young man on a Baldwin/Gleaner. I am impressed at the visitors I see and meet that have never been exposed to the way we live and thrive in a farming community. They are awed by our lives and processes, and they love our wetlands. They stay and eat while they are here. That is good for our community.
My challenge to you is to create new ways to add to the education of our kids and grandkids. Attend school activities. Support our teachers and the administrations that work so hard to mesh federal, state, and local policies and provide a quality education in the process. It is not easy. Parents often get caught in the survival/parenting dilemma that tests the whole system. A lot of people are already involved. Chris Collier and the Byway people have a photo contest open to all photographers with a special category for kids-- what a opportunity to see the wetlands and take some pictures. There are GPS tours and voice-activated sites available at local motels and the visitor office. It is a continuing process that is generating national attention. Lots of hard work is done under the radar. Barton County Community College provides another level of education and attracts students from so many places. I think it requires lots of effort on lots of levels by lots of people to keep our kids going in the right direction with clear minds and goals. I was fortunate to be able to feel the pulse of the school system in Hoisington for a minute-- it was inspirational! Let’s all do our best for our kids. It does make a difference.
Doc Witt is a retired physician and avid outdoorsmen.