The Goodland Identity Project: June – October, 2014
A western Kansas landscape by Jennifer Milnes
An art student with a love of landscape photography, an agricultural business major, a graduate student in women’s studies and public history, and a GIS grad student specialist from the geography department: these talented students have tackled the far western town of Goodland, county seat of Sherman County. Since early June, they have worked hard to create materials for a Town Hall Meeting at Goodland on October 18. Funded by the Kansas Humanities Council, the Town Hall Meeting is a collaboration with the High Plains Museum in Goodland. It will bring townspeople together to learn about Goodland identity, historic and present-day, and to create an action plan for the future. As the humanities representative for the grant, M.J. Morgan, Research Director here, decided to invite talented KSU students to assist over the summer.
Jennifer Milnes and Will Lienberger grew up in western and north-central Kansas. Their feel for rural Kansas — its people, culture, agriculture, and landscape — brought a depth and reality to this project. Jennifer created a photo essay of Goodland on June 21, the summer solstice. Her images of the town, bathed in the high, lasting light of a western dusk, celebrate Goodland’s evolving identity, 1887 – 2014. One of the few western Kansas places that is gaining population, Goodland is part of the High Plains culture region, so far west it’s on Mountain Time, just miles from the Colorado border. Short grass prairie, buffalo, sod houses and homesteaders created the stories of its past: but what of the future? Imagining the future is part of the Town Hall Meeting as well. Chapman Center is proud to have contributed research and photography to this project.
Jennifer Milnes, Norton County, Kansas
“I was born and raised in the community of Norton, Kansas. I’ve been serving in the Kansas Army National Guard since 2002 and am also a non-traditional student at KSU majoring in art. As a first generation Kansan, I thought taking Lost Kansas Communities with Dr. MJ Morgan in the fall of 2013 would be a great way to learn more about my home state! Growing up in western Kansas, I wanted to be involved in the Goodland Project. Because of my love of landscape photography and American history, I thought this internship was the perfect fit.”
Will Lienberger, Jewell County, Kansas
“I am a senior at Kansas State University, majoring in Agricultural Business. After graduating, I plan on returning to my family’s farm in north central Kansas. I will be the fourth generation to work on our farm, and my family is very involved with it. We farm around 3000 acres, mostly of wheat, but also use corn, soybeans and sorghum. My main emphasis on this project is to assist in the agricultural research on Sherman County tracts of land and property ownership, and also to look at crops, water sources, and soil types. I look forward to traveling to Goodland after studying the terrain and also to be part of the presentation.”
Katie helps the interns settle on a method for the best presentation of Goodland’s history.
Graduate students Katie Goerl (history), a former Chapman intern, and Tyler Link, a GIS specialist (geography), have also worked with us this fall in imaginative ways. They’ve assisted in image interpretation, caption wording, and map creation. Here, Katie works with fall interns in designing the photography exhibit. Our new interns also joined in, interested to learn about a place in Kansas they had never been.
All told, eight diverse and talented KSU students worked on the Goodland Town Hall Meeting Project! They brought their training in art, history, agriculture, public relations, geography, and women’s studies. Most of all, they brought their curiosity… and a passionate commitment to Kansas.
“As a Kansan and history lover, I am so happy to get this opportunity.”
— Tyler Link, geography graduate student, GIS specialist