Hays Kansas was incorporated in 1885, and is very rich in German heritage. I have lived in Hays for nearly a year, and have really enjoyed it. It’s a town of around 20,000 in population. There are definitely areas that are lacking in our commonwealth, but there are also areas that I think we are excellent at.
Soil and Mineral Cycle: When doing research for this post I found that there is an area compost site. It is open all day from dawn to dust for area residents which gives us easy access to it. Something I know area farmer’s are paying attention to is the soil and how much is affected by traffic on and off the field. Because Kansas is rich in agriculture there is a good knowledge of soil and minerals here for the best stewardship of the land.
Renewable Energy: This is something our area could work on. I know there is a wind farm not farm from Hays, but it’s not in Ellis county. As a city I’m not certain if they are trying to invest in better uses of energy but I know that the university here in town always has articles about wind energy and using it in the near future.
History: There are a few museums and historical sites in Hays. The Sternburg museum is a museum of natural history. You can also visit Fort Hays State Historic Site. The area is rich in history, and there’s easy access for learning about it.
Water Cycle: The city of Hays has been conscious of water and how much we are using. There are new policies for water usage in the city. There are also rebates offered to residents to change their water usage. Something I found interesting was display gardens the city has set up that show residents what their yards could look like with plants that are native to the area and require less water than grass.
Health: Hays Medical Center is one of the best known hospitals in the area. There are also several other health care facilities in the city in addition to Hays Medical Center.
Sense of Place: This was a rather difficult section to address. There are many schools here, so I’m going to venture to say that I know Hays has significance in many people’s lives that have attended schools here. When you go to a school that you enjoy, and you’re learning about a career path you wish to take, I think it’s difficult not to have a sense of place there.
Spirituality: There are around 32 different places of spirituality in Hays, which I think is significant for only having around 20,000 residents.
Foodshed: Hays has a couple different Farmer’s Markets during the summertime. There are also areas businesses that produce products they buy from area farmers and ranchers. This is an area I would like to see grow in Hays, but we have a good base. The university here has also started producing in the Victor E. Garden. The produce from the garden is given to students at the end of the week. Students can also volunteer and help take care of the garden. The gardeners also get grounds from Starbucks located on campus for the garden.
Leisure & Recreation: This is something that has been interesting to me since moving here. The city has put in a biking lane on most roads in Hays. This is exciting to me because as someone who has grown up in Kansas, we usually do not put an emphasis on being outdoors much, simply because of the winter season. Usually spring and fall are mild enough we get back outdoors, but walking and biking trails can be an extra incentive to get outside. There are also constant activities for residents in Hays. They offer Art Walks, but also Frost Fest in winter time. Having events for the community to get together is something I like about Hays.
Education: This is one of my favorite things about Hays! I am a student at Fort Hays State University, but there are a couple other schools here in Hays for higher education, North Central Kansas Technical School, and Hays Academy of Hair Design. There are a four elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school. Additionally Hays is home to Thomas More Prep-Marian which is a Catholic prep school.
Arts & Culture: As mentioned before the city provides areas for people to express themselves. Residents have opportunities to share different culture and arts with each other. There are also area studios, or classes residents can take where they can paint, or sculpt. Additionally there is a studio on campus for students to display their work.
Wildlife & the Natural World: Kansas is very flat and there isn’t much to see, however Hays (in contrast to many Kansas towns) has many trees in town. There are lots of pastures and fields that are kept in good condition for the best harvest, and feeding for cattle.
I think Hays has a variety of strengths, and obviously there is always room to grow, but overall I’ve been impressed with the area. Our biggest weakness I think is lack of sustainability, but there are efforts being made to remedy this.