For countless ages, the Flint Hills have sustained life as an inland sea, as grazing and hunting grounds teeming with bison, and as agricultural lands that feed millions. Formed with the purpose of continuing this legacy of connection to life-giving land is the Prairiewood Connect Foundation.
Kail and Becky Katzenmeier fell in love with the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie when they each came to Manhattan to attend Kansas State University. Now, over 25 years later after graduating, they have made the Flint Hills their home – and Prairiewood Retreat & Preserve their labor of love. Their newest project however, is to open up their labor of love to the community.. to the public.
Located just outside of Manhattan, Kansas, the founders of Prairiewood Retreat & Preserve have worked vigorously for over 10 years to assemble nearly 500 acres of native tallgrass prairie. Now, portions of this preserved land will become open for programming and events developed by the Prairiewood Connect Foundation.
The Prairiewood Connect Foundation is under development and seeks to create connection to place, people and soul by providing compelling experiences through public programming, centered around the resources of Prairiewood Retreat & Preserve.
“We believe that meaningful connection can happen when we offer what we have with open hearts.
As we began assembling contiguous parcels of land, we became more and more compelled by the idea of sharing this remarkable place in a way that fosters the values of the land finding their way into the hearts and souls of visitors.
A place where the senses are awakened, perspective is renewed, and imagination is inspired.” said the Katzenmeiers.
The Connect Foundation will fulfill its mission by developing public programming that offers participants different levels of engagement.
Events & Activities – Fun, engaging, accessible events — often with a focus on arts and creative expression — set amongst, and inspired by, the tallgrass prairie. Little to no knowledge of Prairiewood or the tallgrass prairie required.
Educational courses & Programs – Programming geared towards learning about a particular topic or skill relevant to the Prairiewood Connect Foundation mission. These events could range from a public presentation to a day-long, hands-on workshop to a multi-session course. Cost will depend on the nature, duration and instructor of the program.
Husbandry & Volunteerism – A fully-engaged expression of the three tiers of connection, as previously defined. A husbandry team is a core group of volunteers that helps enact the Prairiewood Connect Foundation mission, especially through care of the land. Such a team understands the responsibility of stewardship as a natural consequence of deep connection to place, people and soul.
Inspired by the “folk school” model of place-based education, Prairiewood Connect will foster experiential learning and creative expression for multi-generational audiences using the resources of Prairiewood Retreat and the greater Manhattan, Kansas community.
Because Prairiewood is uniquely positioned with its resources of land, event space, and experienced hospitality support, as well as its capacity to be a hub of collaboration for existing community efforts, the Prairiewood Connect Foundation is poised to make a significant impact in the cultural landscape and travel tourism economy of the Manhattan community, as well as the Flint Hills region.
The executive director of the Prairiewood Connect Foundation, Kelly Yarbrough-Frasier, is looking forward to serving the Manhattan community and welcomes conversations about how Prairiewood Connect can best do that. She’s available to present the new project to groups, give tours of Prairiewood, or simply discuss a project/partnership idea over coffee.
If you’d like to contact Kelly, firstname.lastname@example.org
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