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Entrepreneurship and service recognized by Huck Boyd Institute

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Released: April 19, 2016                                   

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Can tourism enhancements be found up a tree? Can stem cells benefit damaged human joints? Can entrepreneurs convert innovative ideas into commercial businesses? Can adversity create opportunity? Yes, based on the experience of the entrepreneurs and community leaders recognized by Kansas State University’s Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development as Leaders of the Year for 2016.

“We commend these Kansans for their innovative ideas and service to rural communities,” said Mike James of Phillipsburg, chair of the board of directors of the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development. 

This year’s award categories and winners are:

  • Agribusiness - Seed Research Equipment Solutions, South Hutchinson;

  • Business Development  - Ethan Eck and Ralph Lagergren, Entrepreneurial Development, Kingman/Wichita;

  • Community Service - Matt Deighton, Molly and the Tornado, Greensburg;

  • Entrepreneurship - Chad May, Meltpoint Environmental, Caldwell; 

  • Technology - Kansas Regenerative Medicine Center, Manhattan;

  • Tourism - Martin and Cheryl Rude, Treehouse at Barns@Timber Creek B&B, Winfield; and 

  • Value-Added Agriculture - Shane Tiffany, Tiffany Cattle Company, Herington.

The winners received their awards at a luncheon in Manhattan on April 14, 2016.

Feeding the world is a worthy goal, but it won’t happen without significant commitment to agricultural research. Seed Research Equipment Solutions in South Hutchinson developed a specialized planting machine to help advance such research. These planters use specialized controls and data systems to enable precise measurements of research results. The company created a field layout system using GPS data which is credited with changing the industry. SRES planters have been used by universities such as K-State and by private research facilities as far away as South Africa, China, Australia, India, Egypt, and Thailand. For more information, go to SRES

Ethan Eck of Kingman is the most recent young entrepreneur assisted by business development specialist Ralph Lagergren. In the 1990s, Ralph helped his cousin develop the innovative bi-rotor harvesting system, and he has continued to work on development of business ideas ever since.  Ralph is now working with Ethan Eck on a product called Chem-Blade which enables an agricultural sprayer operator to empty and rinse plastic jugs of spray material in a safe, quick, and more efficient manner than before, while protecting the environment. Ralph Lagergren has helped lead Ethan through the process of commercializing the product and connecting with a major manufacturer for distribution. Ralph is now working on a totally different project. He is developing a game called Rageball 5, with the proceeds to benefit kids in need of surgery.

Matt Deighton was taking shelter in his neighbor’s basement in Greensburg when the tornado hit on May 4, 2007. “I came out of that basement with five things,” Matt said:  “The clothes on my back, my mother, love of the neighbors, Molly the Dalmatian, and my faith in God.” His Dalmatian dog Molly became a comfort to the survivors of the disaster, and Matt became the city’s volunteer coordinator during the recovery period. He wrote a children’s book about Molly’s role in helping people during the recovery. The book includes colorful illustrations as well as storm safety tips. Matt has taken his message of disaster recovery and resilience across the nation and as far away as Japan. For more information, see Molly and the Tornado.

Recycling is good for the environment and the community, and it may create entrepreneurial opportunities as well. Chad May of Great Plains Environmental and Recycling in Caldwell created a new business called Meltpoint, which uses heat and compaction to compress and recycle surgical blue wrap waste from hospitals. This idea was selected as the grand prize winner in the Launch A Business initiative of the Center for Entrepreneurship in the K-State College of Business. For more information, see Great Plains Environmental and Recycling.

Stem cell therapy is an emerging field of medicine where stem cells from the patient’s own fat tissue can be harvested, isolated, and deployed back into the body using various techniques, to treat a number of degenerative conditions and diseases. After seeing (and experiencing) the benefit of such treatment in California, three businessmen wanted to bring those benefits to Kansas. Ken Woods, John Farley and Pat Farley launched the Kansas Regenerative Medicine Center in Manhattan in March 2014. Doctors Frank Lyons, Andrew Pope, and Steve Peloquin are the leaders of their medical team. Their physicians and entire surgical staff are efficient and experienced, as evidenced by their high rate of success. For more information, see Kansas Regenerative Medicine Center.

Martin and Cheryl Rude bought a rural property along Timber Creek near Winfield in 1995.  They developed the property into a bed and breakfast and event venue by saving and remodelling two old barns. The Barns @Timber Creek now hosts residential guests as well as weddings and special events in the barns and a nearby stone quarry.  The most recent addition for lodging is a climate-controlled cabin with fully equipped bathroom and kitchenette, built 12 feet high in the spreading branches of a nearby hedge tree.  It is believed to be the only B&B guest room in a tree in the state of Kansas. For more information, see The Barns @ Timber Creek.   

Agriculture is about people, not just steers and statistics. That’s the philosophy of Shane Tiffany, co-owner of Tiffany Cattle Company. In 2007, Shane and his brother Shawn purchased a feedyard which their father happened to have managed years before. It is located on an abandoned Air Force base near Herington. When the brothers assumed control, there were only 3,000 head of cattle on feed, but currently the 15,000-head feedyard stays full virtually year-round. Shane credits much of this growth to the people side of the business, such as constructive relationships with customers, positive treatment of employees, and faith and family values. For more information, see Tiffany Cattle Company.

The 2016 Huck Boyd Leaders of the Year winners were selected by entrepreneurship students in K-State’s College of Business. Each year the Huck Boyd Institute selects its leaders of the year from among those featured on its weekly Kansas Profile radio program and column during the previous 12 months. Kansas Profile is distributed by the K-State Radio Network and K-State Research and Extension News Media Services to radio stations and newspapers statewide.

The Huck Boyd Institute is a public/private partnership between K-State Research and Extension and the Huck Boyd Foundation. The foundation office is at the Huck Boyd Community Center in Phillipsburg. The Institute office is at Kansas State University in Manhattan.


K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.

For more information:
Ron Wilson, Huck Boyd Institute Director - 785-532-7690 or rwilson@ksu.edu