On January 11, 1988 a baby boy was born to Terry and Nancy Smith. They didn’t know it at the time, but this young man was destined to make the world a better place.
In January of 2018 Barrett Smith was diagnosed with kidney failure, and he needs a transplant.
The following is a brief story so that you have a picture of the kind of man we are trying to help. He has given so much to us; now it is our turn to pay a small part of it back.
Barrett Smith grew up on the family farm near Hopewell, Kansas, population 17 people, 6 dogs, and 600 sheep. Growing up, he was involved in 4-H, church, sports, and other school activities. After graduation from Macksville High School, Barrett headed to Manhattan, Kansas, for college at Kansas State University. He graduated with a dual major in Agricultural Technology Management and Animal Science. His sisters, Shelbie and Savannah, and his brother Nathan eventually followed his example, completing their educations at K State.
After college Barrett went to work for Osborne Industries, designing, servicing, and installing automated feeding equipment for the pork industry. This work took him all over the US and Canada. He also spent time in Korea doing installation work and training local people to operate the systems he put in place. While he enjoyed the new places and new things working for Osborne Industries allowed him to experience, Barrett wanted to find a way to work closer to home. This is how he ended up in Kiowa County, Kansas, in August of 2012 starting on a new adventure as our Kansas State University Agricultural Extension agent.
For those of you not familiar with the job of an Ag Extension Agent, here is a brief outline: You need to have a working knowledge of trees, corn, cows, parents, soybeans, alfalfa, farmers, grass, tomatoes, ranchers, irrigation, kids, goats, bugs, fair boards, wheat, economic development, farm equipment, feed, dogs, chemicals, cats, and about 300 other things that make up a good extension agent’s day. If done well, the job is orchestrated chaos, and Barrett Smith thrived on that chaos.
Barrett’s contributions to our local communities are too numerous to list, so I will highlight what we feel are some of his greatest successes. When he arrived, the 4-H clubs were struggling to maintain membership. Through programs Barrett started, such as his kindergarten and fourth grade Day on the Farm activities, local 4-H clubs grew by over 20 new members, and they continue to grow today. Kiowa County 4-H had the largest group in the state participating in the Wild Horse 4-H camp at Scott Lake in 2016 and 2017. Barrett has worked with local producers and K State to set up the second Technology Farm in the state. This farm is an experiment to determine the potential irrigation water savings of mobile drip irrigation. This project is going into its third year, and it wouldn’t have been possible without Barrett’s help. County and city governments relied heavily on Barrett to help evaluate economic opportunities and work on infrastructure projects.
The county fair was the culmination of Barrett’s efforts every year. It was a week without rest for him, but through it all he seldom missed an opportunity to help a kid or parent who was struggling. Barrett took great pride in every project one of “his kids” showed at the fair. It was an affirmation that his time had been invested wisely.
Serving his fellow man is something that Barrett feels a calling to do. He worked on relief efforts for the Moore, Oklahoma, tornado victims and spent countless hours of his own time coordinating deliveries of hay, fencing materials, and volunteer labor to the families affected by the Starbucks and Anderson Creek fires the past two years.
Barrett left the KC Extension Office in 2017 to pursue an opportunity to teach at Pratt Community College. We were sad to lose him, but we knew he was simply following his calling. At present, he is on dialysis and arrives at Pratt Regional Medical Center at 5:30 AM three days a week so that he can be on time to teach his 8:00 AM class. He continues to help wherever he sees a need, and he teaches not only from textbooks but also from his life experiences. There is not a person who knows Barrett who would hesitate to call him today with a question. We all know that he will answer the call.
On April 14, 2018 in Greensburg, Kansas, the people to whom Barrett has given so much are organizing a day in his honor. The day will be called “Barrettpalooza”. There will be a 5K color run, youth trap shoot, matinee movie, and an evening meal with a silent auction, and other activities. All proceeds from Barrettpalooza will be donated directly to Barrett. If you are able to join us, please, do so. If not, please, donate to help cover Barrett’s medical expenses.
Sincere and heartfelt thanks,
The Barrettpalooza Committee
- Sydney Menees
- Matt & Mariah Roberts & family
- Billy Brown
- Jake Butterbaugh
Organizer and beneficiary
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