By Rhea Miller
LCLT is pleased to announce Jane Koger as the guest speaker at this year’s annual Harvest Dinner. In 2016, Koger was inducted as a rancher into the Kansas Cowboy Hall of Fame. A fifth-generation rancher in the unplowed Flint Hills of Kansas, she knew she wanted to be a rancher at an early age.
Her never-ending quest to try new things includes “thinking outside the cow.” Over the years, Koger has learned that the key to successful ranching is actually good range management. As a result, her focus has shifted from cattle to grass. “What’s important to me is not the beef production, but the management of the prairie/rangeland. I know we have enough quarter pounders; I’m not sure we have enough greater prairie chickens.”
In the late 1970s, after several years away at college, Koger returned home to fulfill that dream.
Koger and her sister purchased some land that they later discovered had been homesteaded by their great-grandparents. This fact inspired Koger to manage the land in such a way that her great-grandfather would recognize it today. Koger offered a program on her ranch which allowed women to come to take part in the cattle work. With their help, she learned the importance of food safety and animal welfare that is of such concern to today’s consumers. This informed her management practices, not only for her livestock but also for the environment in which her cattle are raised.
By the time she was 35, Koger was featured in William Least-Heat Moon’s classic read “PrairyErth: A Deep Map.” For several years, she hosted Prairie Women Adventures on her ranch. In 1994, she hosted an outdoor, all-women orchestra Symphony on the Prairie. She also received the Society for Range Management Excellence in Grazing Management Award, Water and Energy Project’s Model of Innovation, Chase County Conservation District Grassland Award, and Kansas Wildlife Federation Land and Soil Wildlife Conservationist. She presently is on the board of the Kansas Grazing Lands Coalition. Today she lives off the grid in a hay bale house in the middle of the Flint Hills Prairie.
The Harvest Dinner potluck begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Lopez Center. People are encouraged to bring their favorite potluck dish of local foods. Prizes are awarded for best presentation and best use of local foods. As an earth-friendly event attempt at zero waste, participants are asked to bring their own place settings. For further information, contact LCLT at 360-468-3723 or firstname.lastname@example.org.