School Science Programs Benefit from KDA’s Ag Lab Event

High school educators from across the state came to the Kansas Department of Agriculture’s laboratory facility on Thursday afternoon for an open house giveaway of lab equipment for use in their science and ag ed programs.
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MANHATTAN, Kan. — Science plays a key role in agriculture, and Thursday afternoon the Kansas Department of Agriculture was able to help support science programs in dozens of Kansas high schools by providing them with lab equipment. Schools from across the state — as far away as Hays — came to the agricultural laboratory in Topeka to take advantage of a unique opportunity to acquire science materials for their schools.

The KDA laboratory, which is preparing for a move from Topeka to a brand-new facility in Manhattan, had been looking for a new home for some older lab equipment which was no longer going to be needed in the new facility. They reached out to agricultural education teachers across the state to find out if their schools might have use for the equipment. The response was overwhelming, so the agricultural lab invited them to an open house giveaway.

More than 20 schools sent ag ed teachers, science teachers and administrators to Topeka on Thursday, and they walked away with a wide scope of equipment, from water baths and hot plates to mercury thermometers and microscopes. And don’t forget glassware: flasks, test tubes, and graduated cylinders lined the counters as the educators arrived to make their selections.

“We were thrilled to see this lab equipment going to such a great cause,” said Sarah DeDonder, manager of the KDA agricultural laboratory. “It was really a win-win for us, because it helped us with our preparation for the move, while at the same time providing supplies to Kansas schools for their science and ag ed programs.”

Perhaps the best unexpected result from the event came as the teachers engaged in conversation with the staff of the ag lab, and talked about possible tours for high school students in the new, state-of-the-art lab facility in Manhattan.

“Today has given us an opportunity to develop relationships with these teachers and promote the many science-based careers in agriculture that are available,” said DeDonder. “Ag includes jobs for chemists, microbiologists, engineers, and other scientists, and we’re pleased to support a science-based curriculum which prepares students for these careers.”

For more information about the agricultural laboratory at the Kansas Department of Agriculture, go to

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Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.