In May, Kansas Rural Center (KRC) Executive Director Dan Nagengast made public his plans to leave KRC by June 30. Nagengast has been Executive Director since 1992.
"After nearly 20 years as Executive Director, I've decided it is time to step back and turn over the reins to new leadership and for a new chapter in my life," stated Nagengast. "I have been thoroughly engaged in the KRC's work of preserving opportunities in farming for Kansans for almost 20 years. I think the key to healthy ecosystems and thriving rural communities is creating the structures that allow many more people to farm. Our reliance on fossil fuel, or chemically based technologies coupled with genetic manipulation, clearly assists agricultural concentration, while ignoring the needs of future generations."
"This was not a decision I made hastily; I let the board and staff know late last year, and the board immediately began to plan for a transition," he continued. "We have a talented and capable staff who will continue to do good work. We have a committed board of directors who will be deeply involved in promoting sustainable agriculture in Kansas and making decisions for the organization's future."
2011 KRC board co-presidents, Marjorie Van Buren, Topeka, and Laura Fortmeyer, Fairview, praised Nagengast for his years of developing KRC as a vital voice in sustainable agriculture in Kansas and for expanding KRC's vision to include a local and regional food system. Fortmeyer and Van Buren agreed, "We are very sorry to see Dan leave, but we understand that he needs to pursue new challenges and opportunities. KRC and all who farm and eat in Kansas owe him a great deal. We wish him and Lynn nothing but the best."
Dan and his wife, Lynn Byczynski, are buying an Italian vegetable seed business or franchise in the U.S., to be run out of Lawrence, Kansas. They spent the month of June traveling and visiting the Italian family who own the company. Dan plans to continue his involvement in many local food efforts and activities in Kansas. Dan and Lynn are also helping a young farm couple in Lawrence get started in farming on their farm, mentoring them in market farming and hoophouse production.
The KRC board has appointed long-time staff person Mary Fund as Interim Director, effective until a replacement is hired. Fund is currently director of KRC's Clean Water Farms-WRAPS Focus Project, editor of KRC's newsletter, Rural Papers, and works on a number of other KRC projects.
The position announcement and application criteria are posted on KRC's website at www.kansasruralcenter.org.