My name is Joscelyn Nittler and I am running for Barber County Commissioner, District 3, in the General Election in November. I already know many of you through various connections, but thought I would share a bit more about myself and how I intend to use the knowledge and experiences I have gained over the years to effectively serve and represent the citizens of Barber County.
Barber County has been my home since my parents brought me into this world at Medicine Lodge Memorial Hospital a few decades ago. I was raised in a community where it seemed that just about everyone knew and cared about one another. It was small enough for me to grow up riding my bike with friends from one end of town to the other nearly every day of the summer. We would stop along the way for snacks at Grandma’s, treats at the donut shop, and breaks from the heat in the downtown grocery store as we traversed to and from the city swimming pool. During my adolescent years I was blessed with a vibrant church family and some of the greatest teachers. I still have fond memories of, and great respect for, those who taught me in grade school, intermediate school, and high school. I graduated from Medicine Lodge High School with one of the largest, and surely one of the best, classes to walk those halls.
Because of the wonderful educational experience I received, when it came time for college I felt prepared and was ready to fly. With guidance from my parents, teachers, and coaches, I was able to earn scholarships in academics, cheer and golf to attend Baker University. During my college years I took every opportunity to expand my world. I studied abroad at Harlaxton College, England, and participated in courses and internships for federal agencies that took me to Illinois, California, and Alabama. I started graduate school in Oklahoma but soon found myself moving to New York City with my husband Chad, who is also a Barber County native. A former Medicine Lodge High School teacher helped me get a job immediately, working for her sister who also lived in New York state; I continued to work for her and began teaching at Queensborough Community College. Our time in the city was memorable and rich with learning experiences; it also made us realize how blessed we were in our upbringing. It was not long before we decided to move back to Barber County and start a family of our own.
We now have three children: Alexavier will be entering high school this year, Durham will finish up Junior high, and Breeze will continue with preschool. Our children are the fourth generation of Nittlers to live on the farm and ranch just outside of Lake City where Chad grew up. Chad will tell you *we* farm and raise Red Angus cattle, but he is the one who puts in the long hours and hard work, while still finding time to be involved in our rural community. Our oldest boy truly enjoys farming with his dad and working cattle for his grandpa, our younger son is learning the ropes—his latest project is raising laying hens—and our daughter loves helping in the vegetable and flower gardens. All of the kids also enjoy sports and we spend a good amount of time in the surrounding communities enjoying this pastime. Our circle of friends has broadened due to our children being part of regional ball teams and participating in the area recreation leagues. We are very fortunate to live near both sets of grandparents who are a prominent part of our children’s lives.
Since moving back home, I have taught various levels of science education at high schools and colleges in the area, most recently at Medicine Lodge High School. I also began accounting in the family oil and gas business in 2005. With its roots in the supply and service side of oil and gas, my father laid the foundation for our business. Transitioning to operations and actively drilling throughout the last decade, my brother and I now manage the day to day operations. I have acquired a great deal of business experience as the company has managed through industry ups and downs. As a business owner I have learned the importance of maintaining assets, replacing depleted reserves, adjusting to the market, and creating a positive environment so that we are surrounded with good, hardworking people. The trust I have in my co-workers is part of what gives me the flexibility to invest time into other endeavors.
I have always enjoyed participating in my community and have been involved with numerous projects and organizations over the years including Relay for Life, 5K fundraisers, chamber events, Boy Scouts, Kicking Bear, and United Methodist Youth Fellowship. Since 2012 I have served on the board of the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Association, a group of citizens whose purpose is to commemorate the history of our area, educate youth about historical events, and to promote the community through economic development.
This past year I was one of three people who had the honor of representing Barber County in the inaugural class of the Southcentral Kansas Leadership League. This effort was coordinated in Pratt and is based on the principals of the Kansas Leadership Center: “Leadership is an activity, not a position, and anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.” Each month I have had the opportunity to meet with a diverse group of leaders from Barber, Kiowa, Pratt, and Stafford Counties. Half of our time was spent on learning and practicing community leadership skills and the other half has presented us with a chance to visit and learn about the varying struggles, solutions, and opportunities in each of these neighboring counties. We also travelled to Topeka where we toured the Capitol, observed committee meetings, and met with the Secretary of Commerce. Our multi-county group has established a local network with a strong positive rapport. This experience has afforded me relationships with public servants in neighboring counties who have inspired me with ideas on how we can help our community continue to thrive in Barber County.
This exposure to leadership at other local and state levels plays a large part as to why I have decided to run for Barber County Commissioner. With the knowledge and life experience I now have, I see that the friendly and bustling community I knew as a child only existed because industrious citizens have worked together for decades to ensure our area prospers in every sense of the word. This amazing community that we live in did not appear because people were complacent. Each era brings new challenges that must be met with both wisdom and strength. The infrastructure, businesses, and people that make up our community exist because a group of people cared enough to make it happen. As a region, we have managed through many booms and busts in our commodities-based local economy; our prominent industries include agriculture, energy, and gypsum, as well as a retail sector that experiences these ups and downs alongside its neighbors. Current events have put the world in an unprecedented situation. Difficult decisions are being made that will impact our health and economy. It will be up to local leaders to ensure that our way of life thrives for the next generation, and it can only be done with the support of our citizens.
I would like to ask for your support as I run for Barber County Commissioner, District 3. I hope that you will put your trust in me to build on my experience as a business owner, mother, civic volunteer, and a member of the farming and ranching community to guide decisions that impact our county. I look forward to hearing your ideas and advocating for our future.