master farmer and homemaker
Jim and Eilene Minnix have been named a Master Farmer and Homemaker by Kansas State University Extension.
By Rod Haxton, editor
gaining a new perspective
Minnixes share a commitment of service to their community
When you spend 24 months recovering from major burns over 70 percent of your body it gives you a lot of time to think.
“That changed my perspective on life,” says Jim Minnix.
The tragic event that nearly took his life when he was just 24-years-old gave Minnix an opportunity to appreciate the support of a community that aided his family through that difficult time and it fostered a desire to return that support.
Community involvement has been an important part of the lives of Jim and Eilene Minnix for more than three decades - through their church, 4-H, the Scott Community Foundation and other organizations.
The desire to give back contributed to the couple being selected to the 90th class of Master Farmers/Homemakers by Kansas State University Extension.
Minnix was involved in a near-death experience while working for a glass company in Manhattan. While attending graduate school at Kansas State University, Minnix was doing a repair job when an explosion and fire consumed his body, the worst of it from the waist up. He suffered third-degree burns over 20 percent of his body and second degree burns over 50 percent of his body.
“If I hadn’t dropped down immediately to extinguish the fire, and if it hadn’t been for a couple of young guys in the back shop who were right there to smother the flames, I wouldn’t have made it out of there alive,” Minnix said.
The extensive time he spent at the KU Medical Center, followed by additional recovery on the family farm south of Scott City, allowed Minnix to reflect.
“A lot of people helped us out during that time and I thought about how I could be a better citizen . . . and a better Christian,” Minnix says. “You evaluate what is worthwhile in life and what isn’t.”
Not that a solid foundation for life wasn’t already in place.
William Lenihan, Jim’s great-grandfather, homesteaded in Scott County in the 1890s. His grandfather, Prosper Minnix, and father, Berl, continued the family farming tradition in the southwest part of the county where they grow dryland wheat, sorghum and corn.
Minnix says his father was an innovative farmer and cattleman, unafraid to try new ideas.
He was among the first to try fence-line feed bunks in the early 1960s and in the 1970s he adopted no-till techniques in wheat stubble.
“And we’ve been very proactive in how we treat background stocker calves,” he says.
Jim, however, didn’t plan to follow his father’s footsteps . . . at least not immediately. Following graduation from SCHS in 1972, Minnix earned a BS degree in ag economics (1977), followed by a BS in business finance (1978).
Upon earning his second degree, Minnix was greeted by a farm economy in crisis because of low commodity prices, declining land values and high interest rates. Tractorcades and the American Ag Movement were in the headlines.
Minnix’s original plan was to become an agriculture loan officer with a bank for a few years, learn about different operations and apply that knowledge when he returned to the family farm.
Banks, however, weren’t hiring so Minnix decided to remain in Manhattan and pursue his Master’s degree. The glass factory accident in September 1978 put those plans on hold, though he was still able to graduate with a Master’s of Business Administration degree in 1980.
Minnix is a strong advocate for value-added opportunities in agriculture. He sees that in feedlot operations as well as with his involvement in selling sorghum that meets the high standards demanded by Nu-Life Market in Scott City.
“What Nu-Life is doing to add value to a product we grow and put that extra money into the pockets of local producers is a great concept,” says Minnix, who has been selling grain to the local company for about four years. “We need more of that in Western Kansas.”
He’s served as a county commissioner for 22 years in addition to numerous commissions and boards at the regional and state levels.
Despite the many organizations that he has been involved with for more than three decades, Minnix continues to think back to a giving and caring community that opened its hearts to him and his family nearly 40 years ago.
“I haven’t begun to repay - and I couldn’t begin to - all that’s been done for me,” he adds.
--See Homemaker story in this week's paper---
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