Second Governor's Flint Hills Summit builds on the first
A collaborative effort to develop an ongoing strategy for the Kansas Flint Hills gained momentum recently with more than 150 people attending at the Second Governor's Flint Hills Visioning Summit at Maner Conference Center in Topeka.
"We need to keep this going, to keep it real," said Gov. Sam Brownback told the group. "We don't want to lose the authenticity of the Flint Hills experience."
The governor's summit brought together stakeholders and community leaders representing a variety of interests including agriculture, ranching, tourism, natural resources, commerce, the arts and others.
Like the first summit held last May, this meeting focused on growing the Kansas economy and creating jobs. Brownback said his administration and the stakeholders will use the additional input gathered at this summit to continue to strengthen local and regional relationships for the benefit of the Flint Hills region.
At the summit, regional stakeholders and policy makers made presentations to help participants understand the challenges and strategies. During breakout sessions, participants discussed specific issues and offered feedback, recommendations and direction for the future. The topics included rural business development, invasive plants threatening the tallgrass prairie, agricultural marketing, voluntary conservation easements, and successfully communicating with legislators.
Robin Jennison, secretary of the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism, opened the summit by encouraging participants to work together to build a long-term vision for the Flint Hills.
"The governor and state agencies are happy to be a part of making the Flint Hills a vital part of the Kansas, but it will take commitment and cooperation from the people who live and work in the Flint Hills to achieve lasting success."
Jennison pointed to resounding success of the recent Inaugural Governors' Pheasant Hunt in western Kansas as an example of a people pulling together for the benefit of the region.
Linda Craghead, assistant secretary for Parks and Tourism for KDWPT, also emphasized the importance of collaboration.
"All of us who are passionate about the Flint Hills must put aside our differences," she said, "and focus on the areas where we agree to create a vision we can support and build. It is vital to understand that each of us has a role in the Flint Hills picture, like the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, and each piece must be in place for the image to be complete."
Brownback noted that more summits will be held in the future, "to be sure we're getting things accomplished and that we're doing the right things."
Anyone who wants to leave a comment or suggestion for growing the economy in the Kansas Flint Hills can fill out a short form at the Summit website at fhs.ksoutdoors.com.