Supplies for animals and hay for livestock will be headed to Nebraska soon, courtesy of a current Skyline students and a former Skyline student, both with hearts for service.
The recent massive flooding in Nebraska and the damage to agriculture have touched the lives of many including a high school student at Skyline and a former student who now farms in Oklahoma and Kansas.
Skyline freshman Cali Newdigger, historian for the Skyline FFA, has seized on this disaster as an opportunity to pay forward the help her family received when they were recovering from the tornado that hit their farm near Macksville almost 12 years ago.
“I remember the support we got after the tornado. People helped us clean up,” Newdigger said.
Newdigger saw that flooding was hitting an agriculture community. She saw powerful images from the flood including new born calves covered in mud and she decided to do something about it.
“I feel called to do this. I’m passionate about it. I can collect and give back. I was willing to do what we had to do,” Newdigger said.
With encouragement from Skyline FFA sponsor Anita DeWeese, Newdigger organized the Skyline FFA group to help serve as a collection point for items for cats, dogs and livestock to take to Nebraska and help families in need. The response from the community has been overwhelming.
“We have gotten many donations,” Newdigger said.
Newdigger said the Inman FFA is doing the same thing and she looked at their list of items to help determine what Skyline FFA needed to collect to send to Nebraska. Besides livestock items, the list also has items for cats and dogs, items that people don’t necessarily think of for disaster supplies.
Skyline FFA is collecting items until April 17 at their Ag Shop. Items most needed include bagged cat and dog food, canned cat and dog food, bags of all types of livestock feed, milk replacer for all animals, scour medicine, mineral/salt bagged and blocks, calf nipples and bottles, lead ropes, halters, fencing supplies, leather gloves, vet wrap, gauze, wound care medication, cloth and paper towels, brushes, cat and dog beds, cat and dog collars, pet carriers, five gallon buckets, trash bags and trash cans, plastic storage containers.
The plan is to take the donations to Nebraska about a week later. For now, everyone is trying to get schedules worked out for the trip to Nebraska, Newdigger said.
The Newdigger family has an enclosed trailer that will be used to transport the items to a designated drop off point in Nebraska. They hope to get the supplies to some of the smaller areas that have been hit by the flooding.
Besides supplies, Newdigger is trying to work out using a Skyline van to take a load of students to Nebraska for a weekend to help with cleanup efforts.
Newdigger said her role in this activity could help her get a job later on in life. When potential employers see that she was willing to step up and take charge, they will see that she will step up at a job and take a leadership role.
Newdigger is the daughter of Glenn and Carrie Newdigger.
For Skyline alumni Ben Foster, it wasn’t a tornado but a massive fire that was the connection for him to take action and help farmers in Nebraska. The flood was almost exactly three years after the massive fire in Barber County that burned 400,000 acres in the Anderson Creek fire. Several farmers in the area, including Foster who lives just over the state line in Oklahoma but farms in Barber County around Medicine Lodge, were inspired to take action to help and send hay to farmers in need. They remembered all the truck loads of hay other farmers sent to them after the fire burned up all the grass. Those farmers didn’t let the fact that they were a couple of states away prevent them from helping in Kansas.
“I know a lot of guys from Nebraska, Iowa and even Michigan brought us hay,” Foster said. “It hit me all at once that the flood was much worse than the fire. People had lost their farms, homes and everything else. It was time to help out get the ball rolling.”
Foster’s friend, John Coggins who lives in the city of Kiowa, has a small cow herd and had extra hay but didn’t have a way to get it to Nebraska. Foster had the truck and could haul the bales. Then another farmer and another and another said they had hay and trucks and wanted to help too.
“We’ve got to get the ball rolling. We took it on our selves to make it happen,” Foster said. “But it turned into a heck of a bigger deal than we first expected.”
Helping out are people like Chris Boyd who lives north of Medicine Lodge and ramrodded the hay coming from Nebraska to Medicine Lodge after the fire. He handled over 400 phone calls to make it happen.
Dallas Arndt’s home burned in the Barber County fire. He has had some good hay crops the last couple of years and will be sending hay.
Other families have come together and raised money to purchase fencing supplies.
“It’s amazing how families have jumped into help out,” Foster said.
Foster had a bit of a concern with his trailer making the long trip to Nebraska and back. His dad, Dave Foster, works at Xtra Factors in Pratt and arranged for Foster to borrow one of their trailers to make the trip.
The project grew and grew and now a caravan of 10 semi loads of 300 round bales of hay and two pickup loads of fencing supplies will head to Nebraska on the morning of Sunday, March 31. They plan to leave Medicine Lodge about 6:30 a.m. and hit the city limits of Pratt about 7 a.m. Law enforcement in Barber County will provide an escort to the Pratt/Barber County line.
As of Thursday, the exact details of the route were not worked out. Because of the substantial damage to infrastructure in Nebraska, the journey to Norfolk and Pierce that would normally take about 6.5 hours will take from 8 to 8.5 hours because of all the detours. Bigger towns are getting a lot of help so the group decided to help out smaller towns.
That will be a long drive for those drivers but some are going to turn around and head back immediately so it will be a very long day, Foster said.
The 300 bales isn’t much when compared to the devastation but it will help feed cattle a lot, Foster said.
While he lives in Oklahoma, Foster is originally from Pratt and is still a Kansan at heart. Foster is the son of Dave and Sandy Foster.
Foster said helping each other out has been instilled in his life and he is inspired by a scripture from 1 Peter 4:10.
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” NIV