As a farm boy coming of age in Hays, Kansas, during the late 1950s and 60s, Roger Kinderknecht loved the prairie. On his family's farm, he learned to think on his feet, value hard work and allow curiosity to root deeply.
He transferred to Kansas State University his junior year and graduated with a bachelor's degree in poultry science from the College of Agriculture before moving to the west coast. He missed walks in the family's pasture to work out his thoughts, and the grandmother who sometimes would accompany him. As a young gay man in rural Kansas, the prairie allowed Roger to catch his breath.
Recently, Roger worked with the KSU Foundation team to establish two endowed funds to help give K-State students and Kansans a place where they, too, can relax and unwind. By including a charitable gift to K-State in his will, he created the Roger Kinderknecht Fund for Innovative Research at the Konza Prairie Biological Research Station and a fund in support of the university's LGBTQ Resource Center currently at home in Holton Hall.
"For students burning candles at both ends, they will have a chance to catch their breath so they can go out into the world and do well in their lives," Roger says. "Without a place to go, these kids burn out and implode. Whatever causes them to be where they cannot catch their breath, creates an individual who cannot reach their potential professionally, spiritually, personally — anything. I want to support them so they have a chance to succeed."
By investing in LGBTQ students and the Konza Prairie, Roger is not only giving to K-State, but through it to help offer resources to people in Kansas and across the world.
"For years, I've read the roadside signs that said, 'one Kansas farmer feeds 25-30 people.' Now, one farmer feeds 180 people. Without the ag research conducted at Kansas State, we are never going to keep up with the need of hungry people across the world," says Roger. "The endowment I've left to the Konza is open-ended. I don't know what kind of problems will face the world at the time K-State receives the endowment, so I want Konza researchers to be able to use those resources and deal with the issues they face at that time."
Among many interests and a sincere desire to provide needed resources to LGBTQ youth, Roger's interest in the Konza Prairie Biological Research Station is both academic and aesthetic.
"Until you truly immerse yourself in 8,000 acres of tallgrass prairie, you have no idea of the immensity or the impact something so grand has on the psyche. Just stepping out of the car and seeing endless grass prairies, the horizon and the sky gets rid of any concern I've carried into the day," he says. "Konza is a place where I can catch my breath, nurture myself and expand my creativity."
Love is in the air!
Show your lasting love for the Purple and White by including K-State in your will or other estate plan. Learn how by contacting the Gift Planning team at 785-775-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.