It's not uncommon for farmers and other community members to work together to support the community, from volunteering with local 4-H and FFA programs to donating to those in need. When interviewing a farmer in Marshall County, Kansas last week, I learned how 42 volunteers helped the Axtell community by constructing Axtell High School's first track, which was finished this spring. "Axtell high school has never had a track for its track team," says Marshall County farmer, Bill Buessing. "It was kind of a win-win for the community and the school."
Before this, the Axtell High School Eagles track team ran on the streets of the town of just over 400 people. Buessing notes in 2011, the boy's 4x100 relay team took first at state. "We never had a track to practice a handoff," he says. "They were practicing on the street trying to make a 90-degree handoff."
So, Ernest "Rocky" Rothfelder, a 1939 graduate of Axtell High now living in Texas, decided it was time for the school to have a track of its own, and donated $25,000 to get it started. Local farmers Arlie Haug, the late Donald Meyer and his wife Marceline Meyer donated the five acres of land used for the track.
Community members volunteer tractors, farm trucks, and time
The 42 volunteers, including local farmers, donated over 3,000 hours of time. Over about ten days, farmers used 15 tractors with pull scrapers and three bulldozers, and about $15,000 worth of diesel fuel to level the area for the track. They used farm trucks to haul over 1,000 tons of rock for the surface of the track.
However, even when all of this was finished, they needed something growing on the bare soil surrounding the track, as it would take too long for the grass to grow. Buessing, a Green Cover Seed representative, had a solution. "We wanted something to grow this past spring so the soil didn't wash away on us right away," he says. They planted a mix of annuals: oats, winter wheat, crimson clover and Hunter forage radishes, in addition to fescue and brome. "This gave us something to make some quick cover and have something growing there this spring."