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New prairie preserve superintendent credits FFA for her career choice

Wendy Lauritzen, a native of Arkansas City, recently was selected as superintendent of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve at Strong City.

Lauritzen claims that her career choice was greatly influenced by her early experiences in FFA.

She and her sister, Cindy, joined the FFA in 1972, when females first were allowed into the organization. One of the state FFA officers at the time was Senator Sam Brownback.

As part of her high school FFA program, Lauritzen volunteered to do trail construction at Rocky Mountain National Park, an internship offered by the Student Conservation Association, a non-profit organization.

She was told by her supervisor from the National Park Service that she was the first person from Kansas to apply to the SCA. The experience led her to a 29-year career within the Department of the Interior.

Currently superintendent of Washita Battlefield National Historic Site in Cheyenne, Okla., Lauritzen will begin the new assignment Nov. 9. She replaces Steve Miller who retired from federal service in August.

In making the selection, Ernest Quintana, director of the Midwest region of the National Park Service, cited Lauritzen’s strong background in resource management, most notably range conservation issues, and her experience in managing developing parks.

“The opportunity to be a part of the management of the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve history would fulfill a lifetime dream that I set my sights on at Arkansas City High School in 1975,” Lauritzen said. “The tallgrass area of Kansas fills my childhood memories from many family outings into the Flint Hills. I look forward with great anticipation to this opportunity to be part of the tallgrass history.”

The Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve is located two miles north of intersection U.S-50 and K-177, west of Strong City.

The preserve offers bus tours, hiking trails, and special weekend activities. It consists of 10,861 acres, of which 32 acres are managed by the National Park Service and include historic buildings of the former Spring Hill Ranch, as well as a one-room schoolhouse.

Last modified Oct. 8, 2008

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