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K-State Research and Extension

Keeping it moving: Proactive public discussion

What we are doing

In communities across the state, Kansans come together to discuss topics on everything from proposed new libraries to water shortages to attracting new businesses. But what if the meeting goes off the rails? What happens when one person dominates the conversation? What if too much time is spent on one topic, leaving no time for others? And what about the people who attend but are reluctant to speak up? With educators in every Kansas county who know the local lay of the land, K-State Research and Extension has increasingly been tapped to facilitate meetings important to the future of the state’s communities.

Our impact

  • At the 2018 Ogallala Aquifer Summit April 9-10, K-State Research and Extension provided 15 agents and specialists to focus discussions preserving groundwater. The meeting in Garden City, co-hosted by the Kansas Water Office, Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University and Colorado State University, drew more than 200 people.
    The facilitators managed discussions, took notes and helped identify key points to take back to the larger group. From there, a report will be released summarizing the discussion and outlining next steps needed.
  • When a major poultry processor was considering building a large plant in southeast Kansas, eight K-State Research and Extension agents and local extension directors worked with 65 homeowners, business owners and others during public meetings organized by the Montgomery County Action Committee.
    Those facilitators outlined the meeting format, moderated the discussion and helped draw people into the conversation. An informational web page, including a fact sheet about potential impacts on the water supply was developed for community members who were unable to attend.



“I had several stakeholders tell me that it was the best meeting they had ever attended and it was because of the discussions.”

- Dan Devlin, K-State agronomy professor and director of the Kansas Center for Agricultural Resources and the Environment (KCARE) and the Kansas Water Resources Institute; state program leader for community development