Jack Lindquist believes in the virtues of rural Kansas.

So, the president of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership (KARL) program gets pretty excited when he sees donations to his group rising, in the face of widespread declines in contributions to other non-profit organizations.

Lindquist has announced that the Kansas Bank Corp. has contributed $5,000, marking the 12th straight year that group has donated to KARL. The Kansas Bank Corp. is the holding company of the First National Banks of Liberal, Elkhart and Syracuse.

Since 1990, KARL has helped 180 Kansans improve their leadership skills. Each two-year KARL class includes 650 hours of training for participants, including state, national and international study tours. The two-year cost per student is $11,000--$8,500 of which is supported by donations.

"The gift from the Kansas Bank Corporation is obviously important to the program budget," Lindquist said. "But our small and large donors, including our graduates, are all needed to keep the program operating. This fall has been tough (on many groups) and end-of-the-year contributions from individuals, organizations and small businesses really make a difference in our efforts to improve the opportunities for rural Kansas."

Lindquist noted that other key contributors to the program last year--all contributing $2,500 or more--include IBP; the Finnup and Hansen Foundations; Cenex Harvest States; Land O' Lakes; Philip Morris Cos./Kraft Foods; Kansas Farm Bureau; Farm Credit Services; Kansas Corn Commission; Kennedy and Coe; and the Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

KARL also has received donations from more than 100 financial institutions, most from rural communities, that collectively contributed an average of $250 per bank.

"In 2002, alumni contributed over $20,000 to the program," Lindquist said. "Our alumni believe so strongly in what the program has done for them, they look forward to giving back what they can, to make the experience possible for someone else."

KARL's offices are located at Kansas State University. For more information, interested persons may call Lindquist, at 785-532-6300, or contributions can be sent to KARL, 216 Call Hall, Manhattan, KS 66506.

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