Nov 25, 2019 3:11 PM

Kansas State ECO results from Hesston

Posted Nov 25, 2019 3:11 PM

HESSTON, Kan. — The 21st annual Kansas ECO-Meet State Finals competition was held at the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains in Hesston earlier this month.


A total of almost $3,000 in scholarship money was awarded to the top high school competitors who participated in a series of quiz bowl-type competitions based on knowledge of Kansas plants and animals. Four events made up the 2019 state competition, including: a test on woodland ecosystems; specific groups of animals; a scavenger hunt where student teams look for plants found in the area and prove their identification skills; and an interpretative event that required teams to put together an informative, yet entertaining skit to relay their knowledge of animal/plant species to a team of judges and their peers.


More than 500 students participated in nine regional competitions in October to see who would be representing their regional meet at the state finals.


A total of 24 teams consisting of 90 students from 17 schools participated at the state level, with an additional six students who qualified as individuals. Schools represented included: Blue Valley North, Crest of Colony, Dodge City, Eisenhower of Goddard, Goddard, Goessel, Goodland, Haven, Inman, Lyons, Manhattan, Palco, Pike Valley, Pratt, Salina Central, Shawnee Mission North, Shawnee Mission South, St. John’s of Beloit, St. Mary’s-Colgan of Pittsburg, Smoky Valley of Lindsborg, Stockton, Tescott and Wilson.


The competition proved to be an exciting, hard-fought contest, with the following results:


Overall Team:


1st– Blue Valley North with members Laura Campbell, Todd Eubanks, Olivia Miller, Liam O’Leary and coach Chris Ollig. Each student received a $300 scholarship.


2nd– Manhattan with members Alex Andresen, Payton Day, Caden Hickel, Dominykus Metlevski and coach Noah Bush. Each student received a $200 scholarship.


3rd– St. Mary’s-Colgan, Team A with members Mary Grace Goetting, Anna Guilfoyle, Julia Kerr and coach Donna Maus. Each student received a $100 scholarship.


Individual Events:


Ornithology


1st –Laura Campbell, Blue Valley North, received a $200 scholarship.


2nd– Todd Eubanks, Blue Valley North, received a $100 scholarship.


Woodlands Ecosystem


1st– Alex Andresen, Manhattan, received a $200 scholarship.


2nd– Carly Leal, Shawnee Mission South, received a $100 scholarship.


The 2019 ECO-Meet State Finals competition would not have been possible without the support of sponsors, which include Kansas Wildscape Foundation, Barton Community College, Chickadee Checkoff program, Friends of Cheyenne Bottoms, Friends of Milford Nature Center, Friends of Great Plains Nature Center, Hesston Convention and Visitors Bureau, Kansas Herpetological Society, Kansas Ornithological Society, Kansas Native Plant Society, Lakewood Discovery Center and City of Salina, Manweiler Chevrolet, Kansas Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, Riley County Conservation District, and Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism Education Section staff in Pratt.


Event assistance came the from K-State Extension, Kansas Forest Service, Great Plains Nature Center, Dillon Nature Center, Lakewood Discovery Center of Salina, Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Southeast Kansas Nature Center, Milford Nature Center, Pratt Education Center, Wilson State Park, and KDWPT Wildlife Division and Education Section staff in Pratt. Many other private citizens also volunteered their time, helping make this event a huge success.

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Nov 25, 2019 3:11 PM
Kan. foster care agency trains social workers to be ‘personal 911’ for kids

Kansas Department for Children and Families' social workers hold up sheets of papers illustrating the story of a 17-year-old boy who they expect in five years to be in prison or dead if they don't find him help. Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


By PEGGY LOWE

Kansas News Service


The foster kid is a 17-year-old boy who was kicked out of his home when he was 10, started using drugs by 13, and in five years is expected to be in prison or dead.


Kansas Department of Children and Families social workers check on him every day and there’s been some progress: He’s now in an independent living facility and he’s not using drugs anymore. But he still has many needs, including a coming heart transplant.


How can he be helped?


About 100 social workers from the Kansas Department for Children and Families considered that question at a bootcamp-stype workshop in Topeka on Friday with Kevin Campbell, creator of a national model called Family Finding.


Campbell said the team assigned to the boy must find relatives or people who care about him and have them intervene in the boy’s life.


“Basically you are building the personal 911 system for this kid,” Campbell said. “We call it a firehouse intervention. Quite literally, he needs a personal fire department ready to help him respond to the life he lives, which is a crisis every day.”


The goal of Family Finding is getting kids connected to someone who loves them in hopes of keeping them out of the foster care system and potentially preventing further trauma. It’s one of several programs DCF has implemented since Gov. Laura Kelly came into office this year aimed at reforming the long-embattled foster care system.


The social workers being trained on Friday came from DCF, the state’s two private contractors, and advocates from the community, said Tanya Keys, deputy DCF secretary. A strategic plan will be formed next month, while training is being implemented across the state, she said.


“The idea is that (social workers) go back and start planting these seeds, talking about these concepts and we'll get materials out to them so we can start that readiness for implementation,” Keys said.

Kevin Campbell, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness, trains about 100 Kansas social workers Friday in a national model called "Family Finding." Credit Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


Campbell, founder of the Center for Family Finding and Youth Connectedness and a former foster parent, began his research in 2000 after years of hearing “This kid’s got nobody.”


He found that most foster children actually have a large family and that if they could be connected with five to eight adults who would make a “permanent relational commitment” to the child, it could change outcomes.


“The training is really about, how do you heal children who have had such harm done to them?” he said. “And importantly, how do you heal the whole family? Because this kind of generational experience has to stop somewhere.”


The training was sponsored by the Casey Foundation and Aetna Better Health of Kansas, which provides health care services for the state foster care system. Kellie Hans Reid, foster care coordinator with Aetna Better Health of Kansas, said research shows that traumatic experiences affect children’s health. 

Groups of Kansas Department for Children and Families' social workers at a 'Family Finding' boot camp on Friday at the Topeka Capital Plaza Hotel. Credit Evert Nelson / The Topeka Capital-Journal


“That, in turn, will affect their life course and their mortality, their metabolic issues, their cardiac issues,” she said. “What we know is that trauma affects the body.”


After the training this week, the team of social workers went back to the 17-year-old boy they’d been working with. He had told them he didn’t have anyone in his life to help, but through talking with him about people from his past, social workers found some — including a former school principal and a former foster father who taught him jujitsu, a sport he loves.


The social worker, who could not be identified because she works undercover to find missing foster kids, said she was trying to “give him a family, like it doesn’t have to be blood, just someone who cares about him.”


“He went from having two of us,” she said, “to having 26 of us in this week.” 


Peggy Lowe is a reporter at KCUR and is on Twitter at @peggyllowe.