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Salina area’s premier Magazine on People, Places & Style

Who loves you, Peterson bros?

13.5 WILD million


(and counting) that’s who.

CONNECTIONS RHZ Keepers and their Animals

farm food

redux 3


Cooper’s Updated Home Cooking



Meet Clyde

He likes

Strawberries Late Lunches

iPads Climbing

Sweet Potatoes . . and his keeper




volume 04 / issue 02




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Kathy Malm Linda Saenger Christy Underwood


Publisher Olaf Frandsen Advertising Director Dave Gilchrist advertising sales managers


(785) 822-1449

Sales executives Sue Austin Debbie Nelson Tina Campbell Natalie Brooks Brian Green Erica Green Mary Walker Jenny Unruh Heather Phillips Laura Fisher Jeanna Pohlman Natosha Batzler

Ad designers Jamie Jeffries Annette Klein Aaron Johnson Kristin Scheele

photographers Lisa Eastman Larry Harwood Bill Stephens

Contributing writers Patricia E. Ackerman Cecilia Harris Karilea Rilling Jungel Judy Lilly Meta Newell West

Production and editorial services for Sunflower Living provided by: Editor Nathan Pettengill art director Shelly Bryant Head graphic designer Jenni Leiste Chief Photographer Jason Dailey General Manager Bert Hull e-mail Comments to


Keeper Ties

Feeding after feeding, shovel-load after shovel-load, keepers at the Rolling Hills Zoo develop deep ties to the animals under their care



The House of Four ‘R’s

Couple cares for a home that evokes memories of a Californian retreat and an Abilene patriarch


‘Just How it Was’

Dance videos propel Peterson brothers— and their daily farm chores—to fame • a division of The World Company

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Sunflower living summer 2013


Crash. Smash. Combine Bash.

Combine harvesters are super-expensive, highly developed pieces of farm machinery … so of course they are perfect for monstersized mayhem


Farm Fresh Redux Connie Cooper updates the rural dishes that fueled her family’s work on the farm


‘All the Way to the Top’

Ultra-modern, geometric and stylish, the United Life Building is Salina’s pinnacle monument to the last boom years of the Roaring ’20s


Photo contest

This round’s winner and our next theme

summer 2013




What Birding Brings

By waiting for birds to drop in, devotees gain a new respect for wildlife, nature and even grape jelly


Sunflower living summer 2013


from the editor

PHOTOS Behind the Lens …

iApe Here’s one way to measure the success of the ape iPad training program at Rolling Hills Zoo: This column is guest-authored by Rusa the orangutan on her touchpad tablet. Well, not really. For now, Rusa and her mate Clyde prefer spending their screen time on apps with bright colors and sounds: Thumb Piano, Fish Farm and Paint Sparkles. (Then again, so do many humans.) Christine Ashcraft, the zoo’s primate keeper with Rusa in the photograph above, says it is difficult to measure exactly what her orangutans are learning in their iPad sessions. Who knows where it could lead? If chimpanzees can talk in sign language, why couldn’t an orangutan learn to update her Facebook status? Ashcraft says what she definitely observes is this: Rusa and Clyde are intrigued by their interactions with the electronic screen. And that process of fascination and discovery is one of Ashcraft’s primary goals as a keeper dedicated to ensuring the well-being and stimulation of the animals in her care. I think the orangutans’ experiments hold a lesson for on the us as well. After all, if a middle-aged ape can start up cover: a Fish Farm, then what are we capable of doing in our Clyde, a own lives—online or in the wild? Sooner or later, there 37-year-old orangutan, will be an ape who can Google that answer for us. looks out from his enclosure at Rolling Hills Zoo. Photograph Bill Stephens


Sunflower living summer 2013

nathan pettengill editor

Photographing animals at Rolling Hills Zoo was a homecoming of sorts for Bill Stephens. The Topekabased photographer first visited Rolling Hills for an assignment with the state tourism department shortly after the facility opened to the public in 1999. “I had heard about the zoo and was pleased to see that everything was in the open-air and the animals were outside in natural habitats,” recalls Stephens. More than 10 years after his first visit, Stephens says what struck him most was how much the landscape at the zoo has developed. “The museum building wasn’t built yet, the road leading into the park was gravel, the landscaping was only one-tenth of what it is now,” says Stephens. But working with animals was much the same as it was a decade ago. “With the chimpanzees, I approached them like I would children—you want to get down to their level, first so you don’t intimidate them and also so that you can use a short lens to allow you to get nice and close. That makes a big difference in getting an intimate, close portrait.” Being near the animals, says Stephens, allowed him to study the relationship between them and their keepers. With the chimps, for example, “you could see how the keeper looked directly into their eyes and how they looked directly at her, how they talked and connected with one another. You could tell the keeper thought of these animals as creatures, not things that were on display … and that was what I wanted to show.”

summer 2013

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r magazine on

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rick Frisbie’s Art

RolF Potts’ Base

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FAllIng STAr A Made-for-Magazine Mystery Play



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While working on this issue’s cover story on the animal keepers of Rolling Hills Zoo, we unexpectedly ran into some old friends— ostriches from Stan Barenberg’s ranch, featured as the cover story for our fall 2012 edition. Peter Burvenich, head curator for Rolling Hills Zoo, notes the zoo has had a long relationship with Barenberg and they renewed that in September 2011 when Rolling Hills decided to fill the current enclosure with one male and two female ostriches. Barenberg helped staff review a crop of young birds before Rolling Hills chose their three. Burvenich says they’ve been pleased with the birds in terms of their health and ability to learn. “And personalitywise,” adds Burvenich, “these are good birds.”

HealtHful trend of Heritage farming frank reese & tHe sorells

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Abilene Accolades

Stories from Abilene have appeared frequently in Sunflower Living, and we were pleased to see a national publication, Smithsonian magazine, tout the town. The monthly, associated with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., named Abilene as one of “The 20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2013,” praised the town for being “a cultural oasis” and singled out the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum as an absolute must-see. Recognition like this helps “almost immediately” says Glenda Purkis, director of the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Especially with gas prices being so high, people are looking for trips around the area.”

SaLina area’S premier magazine on peopLe, pLaceS & StyLe

RolF Potts’ Base The Vagabond on home

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Lindsborg Chess sChooL introduCes and Champions the game of Kings

S oStricheS Stan BarenBerg’ prairie Settle onto the

Old Friends

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Stan BarenBerg’S oStricheS Settle onto the prairie

Magazine Prize

Sunflower Living was tapped as a finalist in the “Great Plains Magazine of the Year” category at the annual Great Plains Journalism Awards in May. The competition, sponsored by the Tulsa Press Club and Benevolent Association, seeks to promote “the highest standards of journalism” for an eight-state region across the Midwest. Sunflower Living competed for the first time and was judged in an open category against magazine publications covering entire states and large metro regions. Sunflower Publishing, which releases Sunflower Living in partnership with Salina Journal, took home several finalist mentions as well as two first-place wins in the categories of best magazine cover and best magazine portrait.

Sound of Success

Hip-hop artist James Curtis, who performs music as “cash hollistah,” has put together a new batch of music since he appeared in our spring edition. This summer, the Salina-based musician will release his new album, #savednotsoft. It’s a collection of solo and collaboration songs touching on recurring themes in Curtis’ work: faith and toughness.


If you have something to share about this edition of Sunflower Living, please send an email to or write to us at Sunflower Living / PO Box 740 / Salina, KS 67402. We are always eager to hear from you.

Sunflower living summer 2013


about the


Patricia e. Ackerman

Known as the Emerson E. Coulson House, the Scholl’s home in Abilene was built in 1904.


Sunflower living summer 2013

Patricia E. Ackerman is an Abilene-based writer and associate professor at Kansas State-Salina.


n May 1987, the United States Army brought newlyweds Bill and Nanc Scholl from Anchorage, Alaska, to Fort Riley, Kansas. When they first arrived in the Sunflower State, the couple rented the parsonage of the Alida Upland Church, and every Sunday morning they drove in to Abilene to share breakfast at Old Abilene Town’s Hitchin’ Post Restaurant. It was during these weekly visits that they fell in love with Abilene’s friendly people and well-preserved Victorian homes. The Scholls began to dream about owning their own home in historic Abilene, particularly a Dutch Colonial Revival on the corner of Ninth and Olive that was placed on the market along with its charming front porch, featuring a circular seating area and conical roof. “We say we bought the porch and the house just happened to come with it,” says Nanc, who first developed a love for vintage homes while growing up 30 miles north of Ferndale, a popular California tourist destination full of Victorian homes. Nostalgically, Nanc recalls she “always wanted to live in a Ferndale house, but they were much too expensive. This house reminded me of a Ferndale house, and I was bound and determined that we were going to live here.” On January 1, 1989, they moved into their dream home. But a historic house, whether in Ferndale or Abilene, is not just for living. “I read somewhere that people who buy older homes typically do one of 4 R’s: replace, remuddle, remodel or restore,” says Nanc. “Our goal has always been to restore this house back the way it might have been in 1904.” The Scholls say their restoration began the moment they carried their first box into the kitchen … “and ripped an out-of-place cabinet off of the wall.” Then the work began in earnest. TOP: The Scholls have spent nearly 15 years working on their home. BOTTOM: Ceilings were reinforced throughout the home, but the early 20th-century structure remains largely original.

Sunflower living summer 2013


scholl Home

Couple cares for a home that evokes memories of a Californian retreat and an Abilene patriarch

Photography by Lisa Eastman

Four ‘R’s

Story by Patricia E. Ackerman

The House of


ANTIQUE ELEGANCE The interior decorations and wallpaper correspond to the Scholls’ goal for their home: restore to original condition and atmosphere.

“I was in charge of demolition, and Bill did the finish work,” Nanc reports. “We did not borrow a dime. If we couldn’t pay for it, we did not do it. And we tried to do one room at a time.” Restoration included replacing all of the ceilings on the first floor, rewiring the entire house, reinforcing ceilings, gutting the kitchen, refinishing floors and preserving plaster walls. An Amish carpenter in Ohio recreated damaged and missing spindles for the front and back porches. Donald Haynes, a friend and certified electrician in Junction City, provided invaluable expertise and labor during much of the restoration process. And the couple took well-meaning advice to heart. “Our Realtor advised us not to do our


Sunflower living summer 2013

kitchen first, after observing that many people start with their kitchens and end up doing them over at the end of the renovation process. It took us 15 years before the kitchen was finished; deciding how to restore it, make it usable, and have it look like it did when the house was built. The cabinets are recreations, but they reflect what might have been in place when the house was new,” Nanc explains, as she proudly points out features in the kitchen including the back stairway, the butler’s pantry and an original heat register. Another unique feature of the house is the hand-blown Venetian glass chandelier hanging over the dining room table. It is one of 11 chandeliers purchased and shipped from Murano, Italy, to C.L. Brown, an early Abilene entrepreneur and philanthropist.

Brown gifted it to his electrician, who gave it to his son, Howard Stone—also an electrician. Howard, who worked alongside Bill and Nanc in their restoration process, presented the chandelier to them as a gift to hang in a place of honor in their home. The couple have since located a business in Long Island, New York, that sells vintage Venetian art glass, where they have acquired nearly all of the pieces that were missing or broken. Tears well up in Nanc’s eyes as she relays how touched she and Bill were at Howard’s gesture of kindness in giving them such a beautiful historical artifact. In 2012, the home’s most recent largescale project was completed. Bill had long admired the vintage wall paper hung in the Lebold Mansion by restoration experts Gary Yuschalk and Larkin Mayo

scholl Home

SPACES on display old world style This hand-blown chandelier is a gift to the Scholls that came to their home via Italy, an early Abilene businessman, an electrician and a friend.

The Scholls display their own interests in the home, including Nanc’s quilts, Bill’s model cars and recreated or authentic details such as antique door handles.

Sunflower living summer 2013


The Scholl home has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Sunflower living summer 2013

scholl Home


of Victorian Interiors Inc. So the Scholls decided to invest the rest of their restoration dollars where they “spent most of their time.” They hired Yuschalk and Mayo to hang authentic reproduction wallpaper in their home’s entryway, dining room and both downstairs parlors. “At first, the boldness of the paper seemed overwhelming, but once our antique furnishings were in place, the paper finished the rooms like frosting on a cake,” Nanc says. Since moving into the house, Nanc has conducted extensive research on its history. Abilene real estate and automobile entrepreneur Emerson E. Coulson built the home in 1904 for his wife, Alfreda, and their young daughter. During the early 1900s, Coulson’s daughter, Bessie, was featured in local news stories as the “youngest person ever to drive an automobile,” starting at the age of 6. Coulson served on the Abilene City Council and played a key role in establishing the infrastructure for local roadways. As one of Abilene’s elite families, Coulson designed unique Queen Anne style features into his home,

“Our goal has always been to restore this house back the way it might have been in 1904.” Nanc Scholl ever conscious of “keeping up societal appearances.” Original features include yellow pine floors, elaborate woodwork and hand-blown glass windows. But the most conspicuous addition is an upstairs front balcony with no doorway from the interior to access the space—it is purely “just for show.” Since beginning their home restoration, Bill has retired from his career in the U.S. Army in 1991, while Nanc has become an expert on Abilene history while working for the Dickinson County Historical Society and the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau between the years of 1991 and 2002. These days, Bill tinkers in his basement toy room and shows off his restored Volkswagen Bug at area car shows. Nanc passes winter hours stitching on a “Crazy Quilt” she began 10 years ago. “It started with a small crazy square and just kept growing,” she explains. Eventually, the quilt—constructed of velvet squares decorated with elaborate stitching, beading and ribbon designs—will join the list of completed projects and the displays of vintage furnishings in the beautifully restored home of historic Abilene. Sunflower living Summer 2013


about the


Melinda Briscoe

A Salina native, Melinda Briscoe is a freelance writer and poet. She’s a busy mom working on her first novel.

about the


‘Just How

it Was’

Karilea Rilling Jungel

Newly retired, Karilea finds each day chockfull. The Salina-based writer gives workshops and presentations and says she is “always looking forward to another illuminating interview.”


Sunflower living summer 2013

Dance videos propel Peterson brothers—and their daily farm chores—to fame


orporate farming is a term. A family farm is big enough; it would fit the definition of a corporate farm. I think that definition is a little skewed in a lot of people’s minds. I don’t think there is anything wrong with a big farm—that is what we’re being forced to

Photography by Lisa Eastman

PROFILE PROFILEPeterson cash brothers Hollistah do with the increase in population and decreasing farmland. There’s no stopping some farms from getting bigger. It’s just going to happen. I think people who are against corporate farming don’t understand that there’s a population that needs to be fed. People have to have food. You can’t feed the world with a bunch of small farms on less and less land. Technology has to happen.” As he rattles off these words, you can sense that Greg Peterson has thought or said them before. In fact, the recent Kansas State graduate from a fourth-generation cattle/crop farm near Assaria goes through his spiel with the ease and familiarity of an official industry spokesman, which he has become, in effect, over the course of the past year since posting a series of agricultural-themed dance hits to the

internet. In late June 2012, Greg and his brothers, Nathan and Kendal, released “I’m Farming and I Grow It” on the video site YouTube. A parody of group LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” (in itself a dance-hit parody of California beach and club culture), the Peterson version shows the boys going about chores on their parent’s cattle farm—technically a “corporate” and a “family” entity—as they deadpan lyrics such as: “When I step up to the bunk/This is what I see/All the hungry cattle staring at me.” Six months later, the brothers lampooned South Korean dance sensation PSY, putting out “Farmer Style” as a parody of the globalhit “Gangnam Style” with another round of clever aggie-themed lyrics and a dance video that replaced nubile, bleach-haired dancers with Kansas-beef cheeseburgers

as the objects of affection. The videos are among thousands of homemade farm-themed productions on the internet, but the difference is that the Peterson brothers’ low-budget dance numbers became sensations. As this article goes to press, YouTube viewing numbers for “I’m Farming and I Grow It” are at nearly 8.5 million and “Farmer Style” has hit nearly 13.5 million, or roughly the entire population of Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Missouri combined. That’s a number any professional performer would envy. And the Peterson brothers have been treated like stars on the Future Farmers of America and agriculturalindustry circuit, with weekends full of trips to at least a dozen states and an appearance on the Fox television network in Manhattan—the “other” Manhattan Sunflower living summer 2013

Story by Karilea Rilling Jungel

Kendal, Nathan and Greg Peterson, previous page from left, brought Kansas farm life to the world with their internet dance-parody videos. Despite finding internet fame, the brothers continue to help out with chores such as feeding cattle at their parents’ ranch/ farm near Assaria.


Generational (non)Divide

The pre-internet generation of Petersons, parents David and Marla, say they are proud of their children’s online stardom. “I think it is good that they have become spokespersons for agriculture,” says Marla. “I think of seeing them grow up as little boys playing out in the sand pile with the toy farm trucks and equipment and farming the carpets inside with all their little toys. It’s fun to see them grow up and do it in real life and then sing about it and act in a video about it and reach a lot of people that way. It’s really fun to see them get along well together while they’re doing it. I would have never imagined that we would be sitting here doing this a year ago, but you know, we were not prepared. When everybody started coming for interviews and giving us all this attention, they had to take us the way we were.” Of course, there is the wish that the attention doesn’t distract the younger Persons from their main message—farming. “I hope all my boys become involved in some way, but that remains to be seen,” says David about his children’s future connection to the family farm. “I hope that someone would keep it going, I think that would have been my dad’s hope too.”


Sunflower living summer 2013

(which, of course, resulted in them releasing a video “The Peterson Farm Bros’ trip to New York City!”). With that amount of exposure, came the curse and joy of the internet: viewer reactions. “We’ve had a few people put up a bad comment, but more people come to our aid and helped us out, explaining things to other people,” says Nathan, 19, a sophomore at Kansas State University. “You can’t fight YouTube comments; it is hard to change negative minds.” If you scroll through the Petersons’ online videos, you will quickly see what Nathan is describing: a few sour evaluations heavily outweighed by an eruption of farmer pride and the occasional bizarre request (such as the Italian viewer who chided the Peterson boys for not ripping off their shirts and dancing around in Stars-and-Stripes Speedos). “It starts a lot of conversations,” says Kendal, 17, a high school senior. “A lot of people want to talk to us about what we’ve done, about what the different videos are. When the second video came out and I went to high school, it was fun watching everyone watch the video. A lot of people are happy. They say they live in the same state, or that they know us, and a lot of them connect with us.” Greg insists he wasn’t playing to the hometown crowd when he thought up the videos. “My original audience was city kids, as much as I wanted to inform people. I knew just making a video on farming on YouTube wasn’t going to do anything more than reach farmers. You have to have some sort of bridge to cover the gap between city kids and farming and this urban style of music is what I found to be that bridge.” Without the urban-style music videos, that bridge seems harder to create. The Peterson brothers also release several mini-documentary videos of daily farm operations. But while these videos hit more-than-respectable viewing numbers of 13,000 to 40,000, they are not international sensations. Having found their recipe for viral success, Greg, Kendal, Nathan and Laura (the brothers’ 13-year-old sister and sometimes-camera-operator), plan more dance videos. And if the next video is pure entertainment, then that’s OK with them. Greg says even the silliest of concepts serves its purpose: No matter what the tune or how ridiculous the parody, there’s a lot more going on than faux-farming. “We didn’t try to sugarcoat anything, we were literally filming while working, in our real clothes. It’s not like we were dressing up, the realness factor was huge,” explains Greg. “Also, it looked very homemade; I think people understood that it wasn’t some agricultural portrayal and no one was paying for this video to happen. It was just of our own free will. Everything was just how it was.”

Who’s the Most

Viral of them All? Just how popular are the Peterson brothers’ videos? Extremely popular. Here are comparisons of the viewing numbers for their Gangnam Style parody video with similar parodies from across the globe.

“Gangnam Style”

The original dance video lampooning modern, upscale South Korean society

1.6 billion* PSY


“Mitt Romney Style” 48.2 million


College Humor


“ganga style” 34.9 million



Don Cheto


You remember him, right? Now the former presidential candidate lives on in this lampoon of his White House bid.

What PSY can do, a chubby Mexican television star can do just as well, in Spanish.

“Kim Jong Style”

What’s almost as good as a dancing South Korean pop sensation? A dancing North Korean dictator, of course.

33.4 million





Barely Political

“Umma Gangnam Style”

A hipster and his senior-age mom deadpan dance moves. PSY called this his favorite parody. Appearance on daytime’s Ellen tripled the views for this video.

25.8 million MikeoSong

“Farmer Style” 13.5 million





Hometown favorites with a global following.

Peterson Brothers

“Gandalf Style” 11.6 million


“Obama Style” 8.9 million



What’s Trending

*Viewing numbers rounded and as recorded by YouTube in June 2013

“You shall not pass, but you can dance!” Perhaps lampooning PSY, J.R.R. Tolkien and Hollywood was just asking for trouble. The original video was challenged and removed, but even the re-posted version with country-western music is still a sensation

Popularity rating Who knew “Hope and Changin’” also made for catchy dance lyrics?

farm-tastic rating YO! witty YO! wording

about the


Cecilia harris

Cecilia Harris is a professional freelance writer who focuses on writing about Kansas people and places in her blog posts and magazine articles.


Sunflower living summer 2013

Demolition combines prepare for battle at the Tri-Rivers Stadium.

PROFILE PROFILE combine w.r. chestnut derby

Combine harvesters are super-expensive, highly developed pieces of farm machinery … so of course they are perfect for monster-sized mayhem


he Legend” slowly turns his blue combine around along the outside edge of the slightly muddy arena. A puff of smoke fills the air as he revs the engine and picks up speed, aiming directly for “Papa Smurf.” As the song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” plays over the loudspeakers, the crowd awaits in anticipation, then lets out a collective gasp as the two massive machines collide header-on with a loud impact of crunching metal. The back wheels of both combines lift off the ground, snapping the bodies of the drivers forward, then back. Gears grind, sparks fly and a piece of metal from one of the big machines falls away as the combines separate and circle to smash into other machines. Usually seen peacefully moving through farm fields collecting grain, the ranks of these gigantic farm machines are culled and recruited each year so that a few of them are

brought into the ring where they will continue crashing until only one remains operational and is declared the winner of the Combine Demolition Derby at the Tri-Rivers Fair or the Central Kansas Free Fair in Abilene. Though the local region boasts two such events held in August, combine demolition derbies in other parts of the state and across the nation are less common, if for no other reason than the availability and cost of the machines which range from $100,000 to $500,000. But those who are able to compete, compete with a vengeance. Last year, audience members at both local derbies rooted for about a dozen drivers bearing such names as The Lucky One, Poor Everything and Redneck Ray. “We’ve all got our little handles, our nicknames, on our combines,” says Larry Park, known in the arena as The Legend. He began crashing combines nearly three decades ago when he competed at the first Salina derby with a machine bought at a farm auction.

Catch the Combine Combat Central Kansas Free Fair;

Photography by Larry Harwood

combine bash.

Story by Cecilia Harris

crash. smash.

August 1-6; Eisenhower Park Fairgrounds; Abilene, Kansas Combine Demo derbies on 4-6; Tickets cost $27 for 3-day pass or $12 per night at gate, with reduced prices for children and advance purchases; or call (785) 263-4570

Tri-Rivers Fair; August 7-11; Tri-Rivers Stadium; Salina, Kansas Combine Demo Derby, August 10; tickets cost $10-$11 with reduced prices for children and advance purchases; or call (785) 452-5668 Sunflower living summer 2013


1. 1. Larry Parks

prepares for combine glory ahead of the 2012 Tri-Rivers Fair showdown. The veteran combine gladiator came in second place at the Salina event last year.

2. The driver’s

cage is reinforced with safety bars to protect against the blows of combines that weigh as much 15,000 pounds and crash into one another at speeds of 10-20 mph.

3. Combines are eliminated when their front header is broken off. This means the combine is largely intact, allowing most drivers to re-enter their vehicles for future events ‌ if they dare.


Sunflower living summer 2013


He keeps the events growing by harvesting a crop of drivers from a field of young men with farm backgrounds. “Once they get it in their blood, most of them like it,” he says. “The adrenalin rush out there is amazing.” Kody Chase of Abilene, whom Park recruited and nicknamed Poor Everything, is one of several drivers forming a core group that helps each other with transportation and repairs. “We’ve got a pretty good group of guys we crash with and consider them family,” Chase says, adding they often dine together after the derby. “We’ve made some lifelong friends.” Once inside the arena, however, the friends become enemies who bash one another’s combines to reap the event’s prize money. Chase has a yield of five or six victories in the 20 to 25 derbies he’s entered. To participate in the demolition derby, the combine’s straw chopper, unloading auger and other protruding parts, as well as any glass in the cab, are removed and cages and seat belts are added for the driver’s protection. Park says drivers reinforce certain areas of the combine to better withstand the bone-jarring impacts. “You can brace up the header so it takes hits better and you try to protect the steering on the back.” Drivers use the header to disable the competition by popping tires, rupturing drive belts or tearing off headers; if the header falls off during the competition, the combine is eliminated. “Hit and keep moving,” Park says of his seek-and-destroy strategy. “Don’t sit in there and push and grind because that’s when you get trapped and somebody else hits you. The crowd wants to see action, so that’s why I try to get it up to road gear as much as possible just to get in a better hit because that’s what they pay to watch so they need a little excitement.” To Park, it’s all about providing quality entertainment. The back of his combine sports a sign that reads “Hit Me,” fueling other drivers to make sure the hits just keep on coming.

combine derby



Sunflower living summer 2013


about the


Meta Newell west

Meta Newell West spends a lot of time in her Abilene kitchen. She and husband Barry also team up to teach cooking classes.


Sunflower living summer 2013


rowing up at Council Grove in the 1960s, Connie Cooper remembers looking forward to daily deliveries from her grandfather, the milkman who owned the rural dairy. “As a child, I wanted to be the first to open the bottle so I could pour that top layer of cream over my cereal,” Homogenized milk was not yet the standard and that meant a thick layer of cream topped each bottle of milk. It was truly the era of “farm to table” with fresh churned butter, homemade cottage cheese and ice cream. “Ice cream sodas were an everyday treat in my home and my grandfather often had a big bowl of ice cream before bedtime. I even had a great uncle who poured cream over his nightly bowl of ice cream,” she says. Connie’s mother prepared what were considered “square” meals for her family of six. “I grew up eating mostly red meat as my grandparents also raised beef on their farm,” Connie says. Steak and pot roast were often on the menu, along with potatoes and homemade rolls slathered in butter. The menu was similar at her grandmother’s house, where Connie and her siblings often ate their noon meal during their one-hour break from school. Here, the specialty was fried potatoes, often with fried chicken and sometimes a light and airy angel food cake covered with swirls of seven-minute icing. Connie remembers these heavy meals as the norm for the day, not an overindulgence; this was a time when people made use of what was readily available, and “low-cal” wasn’t in the lexicon. “I don’t recall anyone I knew being concerned about fat and cholesterol,” says Connie. “Plus, back then there was always something to do and most of it involved lots of physical activity.” Connie Cooper prepares an updated version of her grandmother’s enchiladas.

Connie Cooper ‘s Enchiladas

chef’s table

Connie Cooper updates the rural dishes that fueled her family’s work on the farm

Photography by Lisa Eastman


Story by Meta Newell Post

Farm Fresh

Sunflower living summer 2013




Red Onion

Taco Seasoning trimmings & Chicken for Enchiladas & Wyatt’s Guacamole



Jalapeño Pepper

Green Onions


Sour Cream

Black Olives

Connie Cooper ‘s Enchiladas

chef’s table

Mexican Blend Cheese

It wasn’t until Connie was working on her bachelor’s degree in dental hygiene at the University of Missouri-Kansas City that she began to change some of her ideas about nutrition. “We were exposed to the latest research-based information linking excessive amounts of sugar to tooth decay and so I began to cut back on sugar,” she recalls. Then in 1986, her dad had a massive heart attack. “At age 56 he almost died, and that really scared me,” she says. It was a wake up call for her entire family. “My mother, brother, sisters and I all had cholesterol checks after that.” Although Connie was the picture of good health, she discovered her cholesterol was quite high When further tests indicated a genetic disposition to heart disease, Connie immediately made lifestyle changes, including a low-fat diet and daily exercise, which she describes as “probably one of the most important things I do for myself.” Connie compares her life to that of her grandparents. They rose early and worked hard all day long at the dairy. She rises early for a daily workout but then has a “somewhat sedentary workday” as a dental hygienist. To compensate, Connie alters her diet. “I definitely embrace their farm-fresh concept, but now I opt for low-fat versions of dairy, buy lots of fresh vegetables and fruits, and fill my grocery cart with lean meats, poultry and fish.” For Connie, deciding to eat healthy doesn’t mean abandoning favorite recipes. “I have simply learned ways to modify recipes like this one for my grandmother’s enchiladas,” she says. “My goal has always been to help my children, and now my grandchildren, establish healthy exercise and eating habits that will carry them through life.”

see cooking instructions on page 26

Sunflower living summer 2013



Chicken Enchiladas Connie Cooper’s Modified Version Cooking Time: 3 to 4 hours

(in the slow cooker)

Feeds 8

ingredients 4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts with any excess fat removed 4 tablespoons taco seasoning (see Connie’s homemade version below or use a purchased mix) – add more or less according to personal preference 2 cups (16 oz.) fresh salsa or pico de gallo (fresh salsa is available in the produce section of some grocery stores or make your own) 1 to 2 (14 oz.) cans enchilada sauce (amount depends on personal preference) 1 pkg. (14 oz. / 8 count) 96% fat free whole-wheat flour tortillas (sometimes referred to as soft taco shells) – 8-inch diameter 1 (8 oz.) pkg. 2% milk, reduced fat Mexican blend cheese 1 (6 oz.) can pitted and sliced black olives, drained and rinsed Toppings of your choice such as: additional sliced black olives (drained & rinsed), chopped green onions, slices of avocado or guacamole and fat-free or reduced fat sour cream

Cooking Instructions 1. Add chicken breasts to a slow cooker and cover with taco seasoning and fresh salsa. Cook for 3 to 4 hours on HIGH or 8 to 10 hours on LOW. Let chicken cool slightly and shred. 2. Spritz a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with non-fat cooking spray. Spread a thin layer of enchilada sauce over the bottom of the dish. 3. Dump 1 can of enchilada sauce in a low, flat dish. Dip both sides of each tortilla into sauce and then fill with a combination of shredded chicken mixture, 1½ cups cheese and olives, dividing those ingredients among the 8 shells. Roll each filled tortilla and place seam side down in sauce-lined dish. 4. Cover rolled tortillas with thin layer of leftover enchilada sauce (or open an additional can if desired) and sprinkle remaining ½ cup of shredded cheese over the top of the shells. 5. Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes or until hot and bubbly. 6. Remove from oven and add topping of your choice or serve toppings on the side.


Sunflower living summer 2013

Another Healthy Addition:

Add a can of drained and rinsed black beans to the filling.

Homemade Taco

Seasoning Cooper Style

ingredients: 1½ tablespoons chili powder ½ teaspoon garlic powder ½ teaspoon onion powder ½ teaspoon dried oregano 1 teaspoon paprika 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1½ teaspoons sea salt 1½ teaspoons black pepper

Connie Cooper ‘s Enchiladas chef’s chef’s tabletable Kamila Kostolna Dandu


Cooking Instructions Combine all ingredients.

Wyatt’s Guacamole ingredients: 2 large ripe avocados Juice from ½ of a medium-sized lime 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion 1 tablespoon finely minced garlic 2 finely chopped jalapeño peppers Salt & pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions

Connie Cooper’s son, Wyatt, came up

1. Place the avocado pulp in a large bowl; add some of the lime juice – enough to coat the avocados and prevent them from browning. 2. Add remaining ingredients and the rest of the lime juice. 3. Let set at room temperature for 1 hour and then serve.

with this homemade version of the quintessential Mexican side dish.

Sunflower living summer 2013


about the


judy lilly

‘All the Way

Lifelong Kansan Judy Lilly is the former Kansas history librarian at the Salina Public Library. Retired, she attends writing groups, reads, researches fam Ultra-modern, geometric and stylish, the United Life Building is Salina’s ily stories and travels with her pinnacle monument to the last boom years of the Roaring ’20s husband, Dennis.

to the Top’


Sunflower living summer 2013


United Life Building Sunflower living summer 2013

Photography by Bill Stephens

additional stories for a paint room, a chimes room (for future installation of remote-controlled, electrically operated cathedral chimes), and a penthouse for the elevator machinery. More than 90 percent of the office space was under lease even before the structure was complete. After the building opened, an estimated 700 to 1,000 people worked there, representing 73 tenants and a variety of businesses, including insurance, real estate, law and construction. Thirty offices of medical professionals brought in a steady stream of patients each day. But Salina’s foremost industry—flour milling— provided the most colorful occupants. Early on, the ninth and tenth floors of the new building quickly earned the nickname “Grainmen’s Heaven” since they accommodated some 17 businesses associated with flour milling, businesses such as Lee Flour Mill, J. Lynch & Company, Robinson & Wyatt Grain Company and Smoot Grain Company, as well as related groups like the Salina Board of Trade, the Kansas State Grain Inspection Department and the Farmers Union Jobbing Association. For many years Salina ranked in the top five flourproducing cities in the nation. Hovering above the heart of the city, Grainmen’s Heaven emanated a ceaseless hum of activity from the sound of tickers to the constant babble of milling lingo, creating an atmosphere of fellowship and competition. But it was not only the grainmen buzzing about the building. Nearly all of Salina was thrilled. According to a special 32-page section of the Salina Journal on January 1, 1930, the United Life Building was an “achievement of modern progress” and would lift Salina “into the class of metropolis.”

Story by Judy Lilly


he elevator girls—pleasant and prompt for their 25 cents an hour—stand ready for business, smartly dressed in tailored frocks of blue silk crepe tailored with red ties and buttons. Down the hall, several Boy Scouts hover near the cigar and ice cream fountain that is doing a thriving business selling fountain cokes and orangeades, bottles of soft drinks, candy, cigars, tobacco, magazines and newspapers. The boys wait to escort guests throughout “Salina’s skyscraper.” The date is January 2, 1930, and the United Life Building on the southeast corner of Iron Avenue and Seventh Street has opened its doors to the public for a three-day “house warming.” Designed by Salina architect Charles Shaver and constructed by Bushboom & Rauh, the city’s tallest building stands dazzling in art deco styling and ornate terra cotta trim, a reward to the people of Salina. The building’s three-day opening is a gala affair, resembling a flower show with complimentary baskets of flowers adorning every suite of offices on all ten floors. Crowds stream in and out of wide main entrances trimmed in rose-toned marble and spires of terra cotta. Corridors in Carthage marble and gleaming terrazzo floors have been swept, mopped and buffed by a crew of 10 janitors. A businessman maneuvering the busy hallway hurries toward the elevator. One of the young women steps to her place. “Going to grainmen’s heaven, Mr. Smoot?” she asks, levering closed the heavy gate and door. “Tenth floor, Irene,” B. K. Smoot replies. “All the way to the top.” The story of what today is called the United Building began several years before its grand opening. The Chamber of Commerce was looking around for a life insurance company that would locate its home office in Salina. Chamber

representatives met with C.L. Brown, who was head of the United Life Insurance Company, and promised the Abilene businessman that if he would bring his company to town, Salina would be good for $1 million in sales. Brown agreed and opened temporary offices in a 50-year-old building on West Iron that was originally the Salina Opera House. Soon, chamber members secured their pledges, prompting Brown to agree to erect a modern and elegant office building at the corner of Iron Avenue and Seventh Street. A building company was formed in the fall of 1928, and the old opera house building was razed. Fred Coulson, named general manager of the project, traveled to Chicago and New York to gather the latest ideas in office building and convinced his associates that a structure less than ten stories high would not be a paying proposition. Meanwhile, Charles Shaver also conducted extensive research to determine what style, construction materials, and floor space arrangment would be most effective. Work began on March 1, 1929, with the excavation of a basement enclosure 25 feet and 6 inches deep. Along the north and west sides, the hole was dug to extend under future concrete sidewalks, the intent being to insure heat sufficient to keep these walkways free of ice. Anticipation among Salina residents ran high. During the day, people stood around blockades that circled the site, watching by the hour as the framework went up. Sometimes activity stretched into the night under the glare of powerful lighting. Over a period of eight and a half months, work progressed toward Coulson’s vision of a modern building towering 138 feet. By October 1929, the building was complete and tenants began moving in. The United Life Building stood ten stories with the equivalent of two


features 32. Keeper Ties


what birding brings Sunflower living summer 2013


ti es Keeper

an Story by Patricia E. Ack erm s hen Step Bill by hy rap tog Pho

the d after shovel -load, keepe rs at Feeding after feeding, shovel -loa to the animals under the ir care Rolling Hills Zoo develop deep ties

“Hard work and perseverance” are the recurring, collective words of advice from keepers at Rolling Hills Zoo (RHZ) to people who express interest in their careers. And it’s advice they follow in their own routines. A typical keeper’s day begins with several hours of intensive shoveling, cleaning and feeding. Once these chores are completed, keepers dedicate a few hours to training, interaction and enrichment of the animals’ lives. And then, the round of chores begins again. “All 14 of our keepers work really hard in all variations of weather to care for their animals every day of the year, even holidays. During

winter months they must work extra hard to keep the animals warm and in the summer they come up with creative ways to keep their animals cool,” explains Head Keeper Vicki Musselman. During summer heat, keepers rotate five-gallon buckets in and out of RHZ freezers to keep the animal enclosures supplied with ice blocks critical to the creatures’ comfort and even survival. And after this physical labor comes the daily paperwork—a time-consuming but essential task. Of course, keepers are also on-call in case one of their animals becomes ill or behaves strangely. In spite of the hard physical labor, long

hours and inclement weather, RHZ keepers concur that the rewards are obvious: helping people understand exotic and endangered animals. And because of their hard work, the RHZ keepers witness all aspects of their animals’ daily lives and develop a deep appreciation of the needs, quirks and personalities of the creatures under their care. Carnivore Keeper Lanae Rench loves working with lions, tigers and snow leopards. She has trained male lions to position themselves next to the side of their cages, sitting calmly so that blood can be drawn or vaccinations administered, eliminating dangers as-



Rolling Hills Zoo works to provide optimal diets for the animals under their care. That means fresh food tailored to specific needs, whether that’s a sippy cup of fresh beef blood for the lions or some delectable ants for the aardvarks. The highly intelligent primates benefit from food that is nutritional and, well, new and interesting. The staff will occasionally prepare fruit and vegetables with fresh Cajun spices for variety and hide the food in various locations. Of course, each animal has its own particular food preferences. Here’s a rundown of chimpanzee Shudak’s and Ali’s five favorite fruits:

5. Grapes 4. Strawberries 3. Bananas 2. Mangoes 1. Pomegranates Peter Burvenich with Carolos the camel

adding Animals General Curator Peter Burvenich arrived from Florida in May of 2011 and assumed responsibility for Rolling Hill Zoo’s entire collection of more than 300 animals, including 120 different species. He oversees the work of animal keepers and works in partnership with staff veterinarian Dr. Danelle Okeson to ensure all RHZ animals receive proper care, feeding, and enrichment while meeting all requirements set forth by professional associations, such as the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program. Burvenich hopes to tap RHZ’s open spaces for future expansions, conservation efforts and educational programs, such as a meet-andgreet event for the zoo’s aardvarks that debuts this summer. “I would love to see large crocodilians here and a gorilla exhibit,” says Burvenich of his long-term goals for RHZ. “I also envision more mixed species exhibits, placing some of the animals in large savannah type situations. These types of open exhibits can be very impressive and are not possible for many zoos where space is limited. The RHZ Board of Directors and staff have done an extraordinary job of designing Rolling Hills with an eye to future growth and conservation efforts.”

sociated with sedation. “This is one of the ways I can make the cats’ lives better, through training and trust” she says. Rench proudly speaks of researching the Snow Leopard SSP (Species Survival Plan) and discovering that there are only a handful of snow leopards known to be as old as Sari, RHZ’s 21-year-old female leopard. Most snow leopards live only into their mid teens, so Sari has had a long, full life at RHZ. With Sari and all other cats, safety re-


Sunflower living summer 2013

mains at the forefront of animal care. “Our safety protocol is taken very seriously,” she says. “We work in teams of two and always look to see where the cats are before we enter any of their spaces, constantly double-checking gates. And there is always a locked door between the cats and the keepers.” After working with elephants in her previous position, Ashley Mills, Hoof Stock Keeper, feels confident working rhinos and giraffes. She says though daily clean-up

chores prove to be labor intensive and “quite smelly,” the opportunity to interact with and train these spectacular creatures provides endless rewards. She particularly enjoys “enrichment” activities—actions initiated by the keeper to provide variety in animals’ lives. “Our five rhinos love to play with boxes,” says Mills. “We put a sweet potato inside of a box, cover it up with hay and watch the rhinos rip it apart trying to find their treat.” As with big cats, hoof stock safety pro-

tocols include working in teams and never going into rhino enclosures unless the animals are lying down. This is when keepers quickly and quietly inspect the bottoms of the rhinos’ feet. Working with a range of animals, Mills must know their individual needs, including diet and climate conditions. She monitors outdoor temperature and ensures her animals have ready access to shelter. After a recent February snowstorm, Mills arrived at the hoof stock barn to find the exterior door frozen shut. She chopped away the ice and opened the door to discover that a new baby addax had been born during the night. “This was the mother’s third baby, she was very protective and knew exactly what to do,” Mills reports. Primates Keeper Christine Ashcraft worked as an RHZ volunteer for nearly two years before being hired on staff. At first she worked with Kids Country and North American animals, moving on to kangaroos and muttonjack deer. In 2003, she began working with RHZ’s primates. “I love them all,” Ashcraft smiles. “After working part of my day with the more volatile chimps, it is calming to spend quiet time working with ring-tailed lemurs.” According to Aschcraft, the biggest challenge in working with primates is to “make sure that they have enough stimulation in their lives.” Her newest approach to provide this stimulation is to work with the orangutans using iPads. Keepers also provide a range of enrichment objects including boomer balls, cardboard boxes and raisin boards. The keepers also place the apes’ food in unusual and challenging locations. “Choice is a big thing for apes, the more choices we can give them the happier they will be,” says Ashcraft. “If they are not given enough choices, they become unhappy and they will not cooperate with us.” Because RHZ is accredited through the national Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Progam, the staff must at times follow recommendations that one of their animals be relocated to help foster diversity. In 2011, this meant that one of Ashcraft’s favorite animals, Robbie the orangutan, was transferred to the St. Louis Zoo. “Losing Robbie was pretty tough, but I traveled with him to his new home and it is beautiful,” says Ashcraft. “He is very happy there. I tell visitors Robbie has gone off to college to make babies. We still have two older orangutans, Clyde and Rusa, who love each other very much.” Of all RHZ animals, the primates seem to form the closet connections to people, but safety barriers still must be placed between them, the public and their keepers.“We interact with apes through small holes in the mesh fence and we only touch the tops of their hands so that they cannot grab hold of us,” says Ashcraft. “They are so strong, they can hurt people even if they don’t want to. We train them to present body parts so we can inspect their condition. We have many locks and a lot of doors controlled by closely monitored protocol.” These are procedures that apply in working with all animals at RHZ. In spite of relationships that form, RHZ keepers remain ever conscious of the fact that they are caring for wild animals. “They tolerate us, they do not love us,” Musselman emphasizes. But that doesn’t keep the keepers—many of whom move from across the United States for their jobs—from loving what they do. “We have a great keeper team,” continues Musselman. “I admire these people who move here where they have no family or friends to make a living doing work that they truly believe in.”


Sunflower Sunflower living living summer spring 2013 2013

App Like an Ape The use of iPads with primates is a relatively new concept, pioneered largely by large organizations such as Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., but the orangutans at Rolling Hills Zoo, Clyde and Rusa, are not far behind their groundbreaking cousins. Both Clyde and Rusa were introduced to iPads in April 2013 and have had regular sessions with Rolling Hill Zoo’s Primate Keeper Christine Ashcraft exploring various programs. Ashcraft’s long-term goal is for Clyde and Rusa to use the program Skype on iPad to communicate with Robbie, their former habitat-mate who now lives at the St. Louis Zoo. “They would definitely recognize each other,” says Ashcraft. For safety concerns, Ashcraft holds the iPad as the orangutans swipe through the programs, but even this indirect contact has already led to a working knowledge and distinct preferences. “They prefer apps with music and color,” explains Ashcraft. But not too much; Clyde and Rusa do not seem to like apps with extremely fast visuals and movements, such as the game “Mad Monkey.”


Sunflower living summer 2013

Animal Art For a long time, RHZ’s premier artist was Robbie the orangutan who often left a lipprint as his signature. Since Robbie relocated to the St. Louis Zoo, Joya—a greater one-horn rhino— has taken up the position of “artist in residence.” Look for Joya’s painting demonstrations and her framed artwork at the zoo.


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Christine Ashcraft RHZ Primates Keeper Begin at RHZ

Just $15 per year!

2000 volunteer / 2001 full time

Home Kansas Previous Experience

Civil Engineering, Tony’s Pizza supervisor, RHZ Volunteer

RHZ Assignment

Chimpanzees, orangutans, mandrills, ring-tailed lemurs, cotton top tamarins

Favorite Animal

Robbie, an orangutan (now living at St. Louis Zoo)

Favorite Story

“One day while I was at lunch, Robbie managed to pull a garden hose into his cage and tie it around all of the structures. Rather than locking him in another area to retrieve it, I convinced him, through hand gestures, conversation, and food, to untangle the the hose and push it out to me through the wire mesh. When I stopped giving him food, he started pulling the hose back in. Cooperatively, we returned the hose to where it belonged.”

Keeper Message

“There are things that people can do to help conserve endangered species, like limiting their purchase of products containing palm oil. Palm oil comes from trees being harvested in Borneo and Sumatra, which makes up the natural habitat of orangutans. Two young Girl Scouts recently led a successful campaign to eliminate the use of palm oil in Girl Scout cookies. Everyone can help.” Sunflower living summer 2013




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Begin at RHZ November 2009

Lanae Rench RHZ Carnivore Keeper

Tour like a

Keepe r


Sunflower living summer 2013



Previous Experience

Corps of Engineers, Park Ranger; Emporia Zoo, KS; Animal Control Officer

RHZ Assignment

Lions, tigers, snow leopards, flamingo, kuwate, African wild dogs, deer, water fowl, black swan.

Favorite Animal

Sari, a 21-year-old snow leopard

Favorite Story

“The very first animal I bonded with was Bindi, a baby kangaroo whose mother was unable to care for her. I felt privileged to be allowed to take this baby home, and hold her and feed her every 3 hours. Now, she is 4 years old. I even have a tattoo of Bindi on my right calf because that was a special moment in my life.”

Keeper Message

“I love sharing stories about the animals in my care, what they eat, how they behave in the wild, how we enrich their lives, and what people can do to help protect endangered species.”

With just one zoo visit, you will not be able to see all aspects of an animal’s life. But Rolling Hills Zoo Head Curator Peter Burvenich has these recommendations for making the most of your animal observations. 1. Arrive as soon as the zoo opens. Many of the animals are most active during the morning hours 2. Look for signs in the gift shop and throughout the zoo detailing the times for the weekend keeper talks. These are chances to learn more about animals and ask questions about them to the people who care for them. 3. Take your time. Animals do things on their own schedule. Patient observation often pays off with glimpses into the rare, amusing or astounding moments of an animal’s routine.

Ashley Mills RHZ Hoofstock Keeper Begin at RHZ

June 2012

Home Wisconsin Previous Experience

RHZ Animal Assignment

Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, IL; Columbus Zoo, Columbus, OH; Wildlife Safari, Roseberg, OR Rhinos, giraffes, addax, muttonjack deer, kangaroos, wallabies, donkeys.

Favorite Animal

B.T., a male giraffe (and elephants, of course)

Favorite Story

“B.T. had a hangnail on one of his hooves. Over a period of weeks I trained him to walk up and present his hoof to me until he was comfortable enough for me to touch it. Then I introduced a handsaw and eventually, he allowed me to remove the damaged part without the need for sedation.”

Keeper Message

“If being an animal keeper is your passion, keep going, be willing to work for free, and be willing to travel where the job is, even if it is hard being away from family.” Sunflower living summer 2013





By waiting for birds to drop in, devotees gain a new respect for wildlife, nature and even grape jelly Story by Karilea Rilling Jungel • Photography by Lisa Eastman


Sunflower living summer 2013

On a cool, clear morning, the birders arrive—as quick and intense as the creatures they hope to observe. Carrying binoculars, field guides, hats, snacks and water bottles, they settle in for their observations at Salina’s Lakewood Discovery Center. By the end of the day, there will be sightings and photographs. Birds will arrive to deliver their songs and the capricious antics of their young. The birders will note all of this—to the smallest of things. And then they will exchange stories on their backyard observations, their life lists of sightings, as well as other bird-related news and information almost with the same joy as grandparents relate anecdotes of their grandchildren. These birders are friends and members of the Smoky Hills Audubon Society, the local chapter of the national organization dedicated to observing and preserving wild birds and the habitats that protect them. Founded in 1974, the local branch of some 240 members meets regularly, bringing together a group with diverse interests and personal histories that converge on their shared respect for nature and the birds that share the world with them. Sunflower living summer 2013


Smoky Hills Audubon Society

Visitors are welcome to attend regular meetings or birdwatching outings of the Smoky Hills Audubon Society. For updates on upcoming events, see the group’s webpage,, or call the group’s president, Dan Baffa at (620) 271-8891.

Doug Rudick’s

5 top bird sightings

Bald Eagle (Lakewood Park, Salina) Great Blue Heron (Lakewood Park, Salina) American Dipper (Rocky Mountains, Colorado) Black-Bellied Whistling Duck (Red Fox Lane, Salina) Anna’s Hummingbird (Salina) Normally This Bird Is Found In California

Doug Rudick’s

5 top ‘yet-to-spot’ birds

Snowy Owl Tufted Puffin Greater Flamingo Roseate Spoonbill Whooping Crane

Native Evolution Doug Rudick’s history with birding starts in the late 1980s, when he had moved to Salina and was beginning to observe how gardens affected wildlife. “I was a gardener because my grandmother taught me to plant all kinds of stuff; now I find out that it wasn’t the right kind of plants because they were pretty, but not native, and sometimes that’s not very good for our local environment,” he says. Rudick and his wife, Mary Ellen, obtained habitat certification from the National Wildlife Federation for their backyard, a process that ensured they provided food, water, shelter and habitats for bird


Sunflower living summer 2013

populations year-round. By 1995, Rudick was adding bird feeders to his garden and creating native, backyard habitats. “You can certify your yard without using native plants,” explains Doug, “but they evolved with the birds and are a natural fit for them.” By that time Doug and Mary Ellen had opened a store that sold supplies for people interested in supporting and observing wild bird populations. They also continued observing how native plants could support bird populations. “The more variety of native plants added to my yard would bring in more of the native

birds that live in this area,” says Doug. “Local plants help produce food for local bugs, which in turn bring in local birds.” Doug says this connectivity of nature mirrors his interest in it. “So I started out liking flowers to liking flowers and birds, to liking native plants and birds, and of course once you start doing that, then you’ve got the birds and plants. I teach people that you think you’ve got this sterile-type backyard, and you put in some native plants, you begin to attract the birds and bugs and you get a zoo out there.”

The Voices

of Lemon-Gold Friends

Pearl Jones’

5 top bird sightings

Wild Turkey (in her backyard, Salina) Eastern Bluebird (Indian Rock Park, Salina) Barred Owls (Salina) Belted Kingfisher (River Channel, Salina) Bald Eagles (River Channel, Salina)

Pearl Jones’

5 top ‘yet-to-spot’ birds

Anna’s Hummingbird Snowy Owl Golden Eagle Scarlet Tanager Painted Bunting

Mornings and early evenings, the trees in Pearl Jones’ backyard are alive with goldfinch. Here, as many as 68 goldfinch can grab thistles at one time from the seven goldfinch feeders as others flit back and forth between tree branches, ever-ready to dash away if a larger bird flies overhead. Pearl’s interest in birds began on her family farm where “critters and birds and things were always around. If Dad hit a pheasant nest when mowing hay, he’d bring the birds home, and we five kids would raise them until they could leave. We always had some bird or animal we would try to rehabilitate.” A member of the Smoky Hills Audubon Society for more than 12 years, Pearl frequently walks the trails on the organization’s wildlife sanctuary west of Salina. “They keep the trails mowed, and recently I was walking the Bluebird Trail and was pleased to see a bluebird which flew out of one of the bluebird houses, so I thought: ‘Great, we’re going to have a nesting pair.’” When she goes birding along the river channel, Pearl is joined by her dogs, Jennie and Midge. Together, they have spotted bald eagles and belted kingfishers. Over the course of the year, Pearl will entertain woodpeckers, Baltimore orioles, robins, cardinals, Eurasian collared doves and hummingbirds in her backyard. She treats the orioles to feeders stocked with grape jelly—one of the best foods for their active metabolisms. “The orioles will go through a quart a day,” says Pearl. “When they have their babies, they bring them to the grape jelly feeder as if to say: ‘Here’s where we eat!’” But her favorites remain the goldfinches. “I really miss them when they take off. They have this little chorus they sing, and you get use to their soft little voices, chattering and constant. To me, being outside among the birds and their songs is the best tranquilizer.” Sunflower living summer 2013


‘Become Aware’

Marge Streckfus joined Smoky Hills Audubon Society in 1976, but her love of birding began during her childhood in Fairfield, Connecticut. “My brother was getting a merit badge where he had to identify a certain number of birds in order for him to gain his Eagle Scout badge. I often hung out with him and it was so exciting, the birds were down low, and we could see them, so colorful and their songs were so beautiful. One day I heard this beautiful song from a rosebreasted grosbeak. Later, on a Girl Scout walk, I heard the bird’s song again and identified it. The scout leader thought I was a genius because I knew the bird and its song—but it was actually one of the few birds whose song I knew.” Marge is infectious with laughter as she talks about one of her favorite sightings. “It was the purple Gallinule in Florida. I think I liked it most because I just love to say the name. Their Kansas cousins are the cuckoos.” Marge notes that spending time observing birds has increased her respect for them: “Birds are not as hard-wired as many scientists have declared in the past. I feel birds are much smarter than humans because their senses are much more developed than a human’s. They see ultraviolet and polarized light; they sense magnetic fields for migration. They hear lower and higher sounds than we do. Their sense of smell is highly honed whereas people are desensitized.” And by learning about birds, Marge says, we can learn about ourselves and the world around us. “We need to rely on one another to point out things that we may well miss when it comes not only to birding but all things around us. One of our most important jobs is to be quiet and become aware.”


Sunflower living summer 2013

Marge Streckfus’

5 top bird sightings

Roseate Tern (Sanibel Island, Florida) Virginia Rail (Cheyenne Bottoms, Kansas) Rose-Breasted Grosbeak (Fairfield, Connecticut) White-Tailed Kite (Texas) Purple Gallinule (Sanibel Island, Florida)

Marge Streckfus’

5 top ‘yet-to-spot’ birds

Woodcock Redpoll Blackburnian Warbler Dipper Painted Bunting


Smoky Hills Audubon Harold V. Lear Sanctuary One of the best places for birding in the Salina region is the Smoky Hills Audubon Harold V. Lear Sanctuary, located on Stimmel Road, seven miles west of Salina. Named after a longtime society member and volunteer, the 68-acre preserve is open to the public from sunrise to sunset. Groups are welcome, and guided tours are provided by calling in advance. Contact Smoky Hills Audubon Society president Dan Baffa at (620) 271-8891.

summer 2013

chosen by

Shelly Bryant Larry Harwood jason dailey Photographer, Sunflower Living Chief photographer, Sunflower Publishing Art director, Sunflower Publishing

photo contest

Runner Up

David Walters

“Run, rabbit, run!” chosen by

Jenni Leiste Designer, Sunflower Living

Runner Up

Ranell Ruder “Dog and Frisbee” chosen by

in motion For this issue’s contest, we invited readers to submit their photographic take on the theme “In Motion.” Our panel of five judges awarded first prize to Perry Foutch’s photograph of a child on a merry-go-round.

First Place

Perry Foutch Perry Foutch took this photo with his Canon XSI at a church event held on a farm near Ellsworth. “Everyone knows I’m the guy with the camera,” says Foutch. “I take it with me wherever I go.” Foutch had been reading about and experimenting with different techniques for motion shots before the event. When his fellow church members gathered at the rural home, Foutch joined a group of children at the merry-go-round, positioning himself directly in the center. This image of Eragon Dvorak (printed with parental permission) shows one of the youngest spinners who, according to Foutch, “was holding on for dear life … but he had the biggest smile in the group.”

lisa eastman Photographer, Sunflower Living

Runner Up

Perry Foutch “Hummingbird”

chosen by

our online poll at sunflowerliving

next round We want to feature your photograph in Sunflower Living magazine. We accept photograph submissions from readers with a permanent address within the greater Salina region. Our panel will judge the submitted photographs and select a winning image, which will run on this page in the following edition. The winning photographer will receive a prize of $50.


Sunflower living summer 2013

Submission Guidelines:

A) Email the image to

sunflowerliving@sunflowerpub. com with a heading of “Photo Contest.” Please include contact information and the name of the theme you have chosen. B) Submission must be made before August 15, 2013. C) Only submit the image if you are the photographer and the copyright holder of the image and if you live in the distribution

area of Sunflower Living or Salina Journal. Photographs

showing the image of a person must have that individual’s consent. D) Files should be in digital form, either JPEG or TIFF, that can be printed up to 8X10 at 300 dpi. E) By submitting an image, you consent to having the image published in the magazine and posted online in connection with the magazine.

Theme for the 2013 fall Edition:

Sight and Sound Submission must be made before August 15, 2013

Sunflower Living summer 2013  

Meet Clyde--and other animals at Rolling Hills Zoo--as we explore the relationship and trust that is built between animal and keeper in our...

Sunflower Living summer 2013  

Meet Clyde--and other animals at Rolling Hills Zoo--as we explore the relationship and trust that is built between animal and keeper in our...