Wednesday, May 28, 2008

YEDay hopeful...

Talk about youth engagement!!! This young lady needs to be a guest entrepreneur speaker at our next YEDay! If not in person, then maybe clips from this news story that I saw on the Today Show this morning.

American Story: From bad hair day to pay day This American Story with Bob Dotson comes from Williamstown, N. J., where a teenage entrepreneur turned a bad hair day into her first big pay day.

Have a great week,
Tammie Trainham

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Ranch Country Communities YEDay from Tammie

Youth Engagement Day was a huge success. The team challenged students of the Ranch Country Communities to realize the treasures within themselves and within their reach. The students arrived and picked up their packets and picked out their riches from treasure chests. Each bag contained clues that would guide them through the day on the hunt for treasure.

Stacy Henry, Executive VP of Crowell State Bank, presented "Show Me The Gold". In which, he asked the question, "How many of you are ready to leave town? And never come back?" The response from the crowd was the majority, as expected. Mr. Henry could relate because when he was their age he thought he had learned all he could from his small town. Mr. Henry was no stranger to hard work and he shared about a devastating hail storm in his hometown that kept he and his fellow football buddies in the roofing business all summer long. Although he learned about being disciplined and having a strong work ethic, it was after this experience that he knew that a desk job was the dream career for him. He succeeded in finding his treasure and made his dreams come true upon returning to his hometown.

Mr. Tibb Burnett, Cowboy Poet, gave us "Clues From The Past". He uncovered the hidden treasures of the land between the rivers. He uncovered such a rich history of happenings from our past. And even though the physical wonders of our region are out in the wide open for any eye to see, most of those in the audience didn't have a clue that they even existed. If one takes apart the word history you find 'his story'. And Mr. Burnett shared 'his story' through poetry. I'm just glad that he preceded and ended his poems with melody from his harmonica because the way he talked was simply poetic. With such rich words, descriptions and display of raw talent, one cannot imagine any walking away from his presentation without a sense of pride in our home prairie.
Remelle challenged the students to attach the clues from their treasure sacks on one of the four bulliten boards provided at the front of the room. They were directed to choose the subject that was most important to them...excitement, adventure, closeness to family, education, career, etc. When she turned over the pieces from the bulliten board a map was unveiled, revealing the fact that all of their goals and dreams were within reach~smack dap in the middle of their home in the ranch country.
The break-out groups went well with the theme: Diamonds, Sapphires and Rubies! Their tour guides were Barbara Rector, Amy Lowrance and Lorrie Coop. The groups rotated between three workshops:
  • Mining The Riches-A workshop where students learned about preparing for careers and professions that were already on the map. Finding their talents, gifts, abilities and matching them with professions. Friends from Area Health Education & Texas Workforce Commission were present. (Karina & Remelle)
  • Creating Your Own Treasure-A workshop where students learned about designing your own dream jobs that weren't necessarily on the map using entreprenual opportunities. Entrepreneurs shared their success stories. Sylinda Meinzer of Badlands Productions & Santa Fe on the Brazos, Jennifer Shaw of Shaw's Pharmacy & Mule Creek Feed & Supply, and Tammie Trainham of Trainham Ice & Meat and A Place To Stay.
  • Leadership NOW-A workshop where students learned about getting involved, getting ahead, building the dream and discovering treasures through service. Darryl also introduced the Fall 2008 Ranch Country Youth Entrepreneurship Fair. He encouraged the kids to start planning now to enter their business idea and capture the $1,000 cash prize!

Picnic-style sack lunches followed the workshops where the students had the opportunity to 'network' with kids from other schools and the speakers. The finale' was a lot of fun with two brave students who interviewed their peers about the workshops, which revealed the fact that they actually did gain many jewels from the treasure hunt.

A big thank you to Knox City ISD for lunch and the use of your top-notch facilities. Another big thanks to the school administrators that believed in YEDay and allowed their juniors and seniors to participate. Thanks to the sponsors who accompanied these students. Speakers were wonderful, thank you for your time. Kacy the artwork and visual aides were amazing. And for those who made this event happen~thank you: Ogalla Commons, AHEC, and the Knox County Visioning Group.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Meeting from Tammie

KCVG, Knox County Visioning Group, met in a regular meeting on May 1, 2008 in Truscott at their ‘new’ Community Center at 6:00 p.m. Those present were made welcome and introductions were in order due to the fact that there were and are, inevitably, new faces at every meeting. After enjoying a wonderful meal, the meeting was called to order by Judge Floyd.


  • First on the agenda were committee reports. Dwayne Bearden chairs a committee devoted to training and education. He reported that two CNA classes, EMT training and welding classes had been provided by the KCVG. Other subjects discussed for the future were heating and a/c, plumbing, carpentry, food handler licensing and GED classes. And finally, it was mentioned the economical benefit of Double Mountain Coach for a transportation option in a time when fuel is skyrocketing.
  • Barbara Rector chairs another committee which focuses on retaining businesses in our county and helping them in any way possible. It was reported that the business surveys are being returned and will be beneficial in assessing the needs of our businesses. Preliminary assessments discussed include: computer skills, accounting skills and banking. It was noted that the local grocery stores were seeing a positive impact in regards to high fuel prices. Folks were more willing to shop at home.

2. DIRECTOR’S REPORT: THE SCOOP, by Remelle Farrar

  • Youth Engagement Day: YEDay is scheduled for May 13th (8:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m.) at Knox City ISD with students from Benjamin, Crowell, Knox City/Obrien, Munday/Goree and Seymour to attend. The purpose of YEDay is to instill pride, sense of place and history in our youth, to engage their opinions and place them in leadership and finally to emphasize that they have the tools, education and cultural advantages to accomplish their limitless career dreams. Those at the meeting were challenged to donate their time for registration, guide, etc.
  • Tourism Symposium: The symposium (June 26th-28th) was discussed. The challenge of lodging guests in our county during this event was mentioned. One of the goals of the symposium will be to identify our strengths in regards to tourism and then develop means of showcasing those strengths. Remelle suggested the development of a Tour Committee which would be primarily responsible for setting up and conducting a tour of our county to the places of interest that may be possible drawing cards. She also suggested that a Coordination Committee be constructed to deal with the logistics of the event.
  • Ag Diversification: Ag Diversification Day slated for July 31st
  • Housing: The subject of housing will be discussed further at the next meeting. “Practical Solutions to Housing Challenges” will be presented by Joe Franco of the Texas Rural Development Association.
  • Regional Youth Summer Health Camps: Remelle emphasized that anyone who knew of students interested in pursuing careers in the health industry or the pharmaceutical field needs to share camp information with those students. Scholarships are available.

For more detailed information about the above topics and more search:


Durwood Thigpen invited everyone to attend the 1st Ranch Rodeo in Munday.


Scheduled for June 5th in Benjamin at 5:30 p.m.


Upon leaving the meeting, everyone was invited by Jerry Bob Daniel to tour the points of interest in Truscott. The group walked to the former Baptist church which is being renovated into a hunting lodge with five rooms located in the basement. Then, the next place on the tour was the completely renovated bank building which serves as an office space on the first floor and lodging on the second floor. The history was so interesting and anyone would enjoy spending more time in this corner of the prairie.


Above and Beyond, visiting at home

by Remelle

A major component of my spring routine the last few years has been hosting visitors, mostly of the urban type, to our prairie plains. Seeing the rebirth of this country every year through their eyes reignites my own appreciation for the splendor that surrounds us.

I will always remember my first experiences with these city guests and how we fretted and fussed and pondered and planned. What would they want to see? What did we have to offer that was “important” enough? What kind of accommodations would they expect? Where do you feed vegetarians in a town where hamburgers and chicken fry reign supreme? Would they expect fine wine with dinner? And, what is “fine wine” anyway?

Little did we realize, the good Lord had already prepared a feast for their eyes and souls and after a long day in the outdoors, they pronounced almost any meal a gastronomical feast. Even more surprising, to those of us who take our setting and lifestyle for granted, was their appreciation of the simplest of experiences, content just to soak in the sense of place, history and culture surrounding us, prepared to be amazed by the wonders of nature.

Our very first guests called to inquire about reservations, after reading in the Dallas Morning News about a group of ranchers who were opening their homes and hearts in an effort to preserve their family places for another generation. These two little old ladies (their self-description, not mine) from Dallas who’d spent summers and holidays on their grandparents farm “years and years ago” knew exactly what their dream vacation activity was. They wanted “to ride around the ranch in the pickup with the farmer while he feeds his cows.” Their satisfaction was guaranteed, and their excitement tangible, when one of the heifers actually presented them with a new baby on the cold spring morning of their pickup tour. Sleeping under soft old quilts and frying “real” chicken transported them back to Grandma’s and rounded out a weekend they pronounced “above and beyond.”

I’ve spent several days over the last few weeks scouting out those “above and beyond” experiences and locations in Knox County. Just like the little old ladies from Dallas, the places and their stories that I’ve found awe inspiring may be seen as mundane to the locals. Mundane because we see them everyday and have therefore overlooked or forgotten their magic.

Let me share just one with you today. As mysterious and beautiful as any movie location you may remember from Dances with Wolves or other Western epic, and as environmentally significant as any African documentary setting, “The Narrows” is a natural phenomenon separating and distinguishing the flow of the Brazos to the Gulf of Mexico from the Wichita which winds up in the Mississippi River. Long before cattlemen discovered this lush oasis surrounded by canyons and ravines, Comanche, Wichita, Kiowa, Apache, Seminole, and Tonkawa tribes wintered here. From the beginning of mankind, every one at some time based their camps here between the rivers, while hunting the bison that grazed the clumps of “buffalo” grass, drinking and bathing from the natural springs and capturing and taming the herds of wild mustangs. Check it out 6 miles east of Benjamin on Hwy 82 and let your imagination run wild for your own experience “above and beyond.”


Just for YOU!

Benjamin, Crowell, Knox City, Munday and Seymour High School Students

The Ranch Country Communities present:

Youth Engagement Day

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008
Knox City High School

Find out how YOU can pursue all your dreams, discover your dream job, prepare for an awesome career and LIVE right here in your hometown !

Don’t be late! The day starts at 8:45 am and ends at 1:30 pm. Transportation from your High School campus is provided by your school, leaving as soon as the first bell rings.

A partnership program of your hometown, your local school district, the Ogallala Commons & the Knox County Visioning Team.

Youth Engagement Day
Searching for Treasure
Past, Present & Future
Tuesday, May 13th
Knox City High School

All programs start and end in the Auditorium:
  • 8:45 am Welcome & Introductions: What is Youth Engagement?
    Why it’s important in the Ranch Country? Why do you care?
    Darryl Birkenfeld Remelle Farrar
  • 8:55 am Show me the money! Why they came, Why they stayed!
    A picture in time, history of our home region
    Surprise Guest Speaker
  • 9:15 am Show me the money! Where it is now!
    Guest entrepreneurs share their maps & clues
  • 9:45 am Show me the money! Treasure Hunting, finding your
    hidden treasure, futures of solid gold
  • 10:00 am Show me the money! 4 road maps for locating treasures

    Finding Ways to Come Back Home, You only Better
    Remelle Farrar

    Youth Leaders: You involved in Community
    Development & Future Planning
    Darryl Birkenfeld

    Building it Better: Discovering Treasures through Service
    Benjamin High School

    Developing the silver & gold, Entrepreneurial Skills
    Tammie Trainham & panel
  • 11:30 am Lunch with your guides
  • 12:30 pm Reports from Treasure Hunts
  • 1:00 pm Opportunities to develop
  • 1:30 pm Adjourn, buses go back home

Red River Cluster Leadership Summit

“Planning Community Development
Opportunities for our Neck of the Woods”
Tuesday, May 27th 10am-2pm in Nazareth, TX

The school year is about to end, and though we are almost half way through 2008, it is an opportune time to assess and prioritize for our Red River Regional Cluster of communities and counties, as we work collaboratively to build our key capacities.

Several events were very successful for our Regional Cluster in the past 8 months (the Sept. Youth Engagement Day in Hart, the Youth Entrepreneur Fair in Nazareth, Business Fairs in Tulia and Nazareth, and LIFT Leadership Training in Castro and Swisher Counties).

How can we build on those successes, and plan events over the next 8-12 months that will create greater participation and buy-in…in ways that will meet the greatest needs we see in our communities…and that will build on the strengths that we already have? Let’s bring together core leaders from our hometowns, so that we can plan together to “get more of our arrows moving in the same direction”!

Where: Home Mercantile Building in Nazareth (corner of Leo & Second Streets
  • 10am Opening Discussion: What Do We Need Now in our Communities?

  • 10:30 Rationale of our Regional Cluster: Utilizing the Six Fence Posts to Harness and Build Up our Foundational Commonwealths
  • 11am Ogallala Commons Best Practices…
    What has Worked Well in these 6 Areas in 2007-08?
    - Assessing & Prioritizing
    - Engaging Youth
    - Supporting Entrepreneurs
    - Growing Leaders
    - Harvesting Wealth
    - Conserving Natural Resources

  • 11:45 Finding the Sweet Spots…Where Can We Make Our Biggest
    Breakthroughs and Impacts in the next 6-12 months?

    After a short presentation, participants will break into Community Core Teams for their lunch session

  • 12noon Strategizing and Planning Lunch with Core Teams

  • 12:45 Developing our Road Map…Reports from Core Teams

  • 1:15pm Cluster Training & Learning Days…Laying out our 12-month Plan

  • 2:00pm Adjourn

Practical Solutions To Housing Challenges

Seminar in Knox County
June 5, 2008

Joe Franco is president and managing member of Texas Rural Development Associates, a private for-profit limited liability company. TRDA acquires, develops and manages real estate in Texas. Joe Franco is also exectutive director of Azteca Economic Development Corporation. In this capacity Franco has secured over $4 million in government funding for real estate development. With the unique need for housing which individual communities face in rural Texas towns and with government funds becoming more limited, now is the time to seek alternative solutions to our housing challenges. Joe Franco will present "Practical Solutions To Housing Challenges" in Knox County on June 5, 2008. More details to come...

Camps: For students interested in healthcare careers.

Health Careers Exploration Camps
Health Matters Summer Camp

Camp Dates: June 10-13, 2008
Location: Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas
Application Deadline: May 9, 2008

The Big Country AHEC offers a four-day camp experience each summer for high school students who are interested in health careers. Summer camp participants shadow various health professionals for a more intensive look at the day-to-day work of health care. Students also tour area colleges and health care facilities, as well as participate in workshops that include CPR certification, learning about the college application and financial aid process, and learning how to develop a resume and interviewing skills.

Through the Health Matters Summer Camp, students have a chance to learn more about themselves and to see which health career opportunities are a good fit for them. Camp is not all work—students also may have the opportunity to participate in a ropes course, hang out at the swimming pool, and enjoy movies.

Students reside in the dormitory of an area community college for the duration of the camp. Camp costs are $50, and scholarships are available.

The Summer Camp will be held June 10-13, 2008
at Abilene Christian University in Abilene.
Application deadline is May 9, 2008.

Stories Of Place

by Remelle

It’s a well known fact, one of those you learn in grade school, that humans experience life through five senses, taste, touch, smell, hearing, and sight. But, I’ve learned a sixth sense exists, and it is absolutely essential for most folks to value an experience. It’s the sense of story. We are hungry for a connection. No matter how beautiful the sound or awe inspiring the view, our experience is richer, and more likely to leave a lasting impression, if we can also share the story, the experiences, the challenges and triumphs of the people, or even the birds and animals who share this old earth with us . No matter how sensory splendid the place, we humans are drawn to the story. What happened here, who to and why?

It’s this sense of story that transforms barren and desolate places into remote and romantic, changes mundane into exciting adventure and drives people to get up at 4 in the morning to eat a breakfast that tastes like smoke from a chuck wagon, watch a bird in the cold pre-dawn air, buy a ticket to listen to a cowboy poet, or trek through an abandoned copper mine.

Luckily, in Knox County we are blessed with an abundance of stories and story tellers. Whether your ambition is to instill in your own family a sense of pride in this place we call home, entertain guests or to inspire others to make Knox County their home, we’ve an abundance of richness in both storied spots and stories to call on.

I’ve been visiting, and collecting the stories of, a few spots here in Knox County, to share with you, in hopes you’ll pass them on. Here’s one of my personal favorites.

Beauty and an inspiring story of the romance between a people and their beliefs, explains the attraction to Knox County’s most unique building, Saint Joseph’s Catholic Church at Rhineland.
Molding 6 bricks at a time, the parishioners outlasted the depression, the dust bowl and World War II to achieve their dream. Starting in 1927 and persevering until they had fashioned 80,000 bricks by hand, this community of farmers built, over 24 years, the classic European cathedral, on the Texas plains. Finally completed in 1951, the church with its hand carved gothic alter and classic archetecturial details hosts worshipers every week and welcomes guests both during services and for tours. The sun shining through stained glass is physically a thing of beauty and spiritually a testament to the dedication and persistence of people with a purpose. The closeness of the community, almost a 120 years after it was established as a mission colony, is testament to the power of a shared goal. The story of how this small congregation of farmers met the challenges of life as immigrants, endured the split of their population to start the new towns of Windthorst and Nazareth, and still retained the strength, determination and inspiration to envision, much less complete, this massive project renews my faith in our ability to overcome obstacles to our vision for the future in Knox County.

I’d suggest a drive out to Rhineland, and a few minutes contemplation, the next time you feel overwhelmed by your own challenges and impossible schedule of tasks to be completed.