The annual meeting of Kansas Farm Bureau (KFB) is in Manhattan is coming the first weekend of December. I truly look forward to this meeting every year, and this one is no different. However, this year’s meeting will be a bit bittersweet as KFB’s President Rich Felts will ride off into the sunset and retirement. Our members will have the tough job of electing his replacement.

President Felts has guided Kansas Farm Bureau for the past eight years with steady hand, a calm demeanor and an artful grace that has led to our organization reaching new heights. I have had the honor and privilege to a front-row seat at the board table. I consider Rich a friend and, more importantly, a mentor. I have watched as he has provided leadership and guidance on issues and made decisions that will affect our organization, our state and all of agriculture for years to come. I believe President Felts has left Kansas Farm Bureau in the best position we have ever been in and laid a foundation to ensure success in the future.

Personally, I have been able to seek Rich’s wisdom and opinion on many things, and he has always been gracious and thoughtful. I have always taken heed of his advice, and I hope I can offer others the same leadership and experience. I am not sure I have ever been around someone as caring, dedicated, gracious or as empathetic as President Felts. He is truly the living example of servant leadership; I wish there were more leaders like him. You will never find anyone who cares more for Kansas Farm Bureau or agriculture.

I wish everyone could know the hours and miles Rich has put into representing Kansas Farm Bureau. He has been the face of the organization; one we were proud to have representing farmers and ranchers. I doubt there is anyone who came in contact with Rich who was not better because of it.

While I understand his decision to step down and spend more time with his wife, Shirley, and the rest of their family, I hope Rich knows how much all of us will miss him both as the head of Kansas Farm Bureau and as a person. I also know he will still be around and always just a phone call away, which is reassuring. I will also miss Shirley equally as much. If a greeting from Shirley can’t brighten your day, you are in bad shape. Her joy and happiness are always contagious.

President Felts will leave a tremendous legacy in the organization and in its future. Generations will be able to make better decisions and advocate for our way of life because of his leadership and for that we will be forever grateful. I know this is not goodbye and we will still see each other, but not nearly enough. I also know that Rich will probably not be comfortable with all of this attention, and that is part of what makes him a truly amazing individual.

Rich and Shirley, I hope you enjoy your well-deserved rest but please also know how much we all appreciate your dedication and sacrifice in the name of Kansas Farm Bureau and agriculture in general. We are all better for knowing you.