2018 ESP National Conference

October 1 - 4, 2018

Hilton Garden Inn

Available Tours

Three optional tours are available for Monday, October 1st.  Space is limited, so please register for your selection as soon as possible.

On Tuesday, during the first concurrent session, there will be a Life Members tour of KSU campus.  The Life Member Tour on Tuesday includes some of the Uniquely K-State Tour. So you may wish to pick a different tour on Monday.

We like IKE Tour - $35.00

Join us as we travel west from Manhattan on the Eisenhower Interstate system to Abilene, a town made famous as a Cowtown in the 1880’s and placed on the international map by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.  "The proudest thing I can claim is that I am from Abilene." Dwight D. Eisenhower 

Named one of the top 20 “Best Small Towns to Visit” by Smithsonian Magazine, we invite Epsilon Sigma Phi members to visit Abilene and enjoy our five-star attractions, businesses and community. We will tour one of Abilene’s most iconic attractions, the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home. The complex attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Whether you’re a WWII and history enthusiast or simply exploring Kansas, the Dwight D. Eisenhower campus will leave you in awe. Although Ike lived on the “other side of the tracks” in the south-end of Abilene, he forever changed his country and his world with his courage and common sense rooted firmly in his modest, small-town America upbringing.

On this tour we will dine in style at the First Lady Tea Room. Visit with ESP members from across the nation as you enjoy a bottomless cup of tea, fruit kabob, fresh scone served with Devonshire, a seasonal salad, a variety of Tea Room Sandwiches, fruit sorbet, and a variety of Tea Room Desserts.

No trip to Abilene would be complete without a stop at the Russell Stover Candy Factory.  Get a behind the scenes look at how these tasty chocolate candies are made.  Satisfy your own sweet tooth or purchase that sweet treat to take home to family and co-workers so share with them a bit of your trip to Kansas.

As time allows, tour participants may slip across the street from the Eisenhower museum to the Greyhound Hall of Fame and learn of the rich history of Greyhound racing or travel back in time and explore the development of communication at the nearby Telephone Museum.

 Tour departs the Conference Hotel at 10:15 a.m. and returns at 4:30 p.m.


10:15 a.m.  Load vehicles and drive to Abilene (45-minute drive)

11:15 a.m.  Russell Stover Candy Factory

12:00 noon Lunch at the First Lady Tea Room

1:00 p.m.    Tour Eisenhower Presidential Library & Boyhood home (Other attractions within walking distance)

3:45 p.m.    Depart for Manhattan

4:30 p.m.    Return to hotel

Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Tour -  $35.00

This tour is sold out

Kansas is known for its amber waves of grain and a rich history of some of the best grazing in the world in the tallgrass prairies of the Flint Hills region that stretches from north central and eastern Kansas down into north central Oklahoma.  The Flint Hills Ecoregion is designated as a distinct region because it has the most dense coverage of intact tallgrass prairie in North America. Due to its rocky soil, the early settlers were unable to plow the area, resulting in the predominance of cattle ranches, which are in turn largely benefited by the tallgrass prairie. There are four tallgrass prairie preserves in the Flint Hills, the largest of which, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, (the former Barnard Ranch) in the Osage Hills near Pawhuska, Oklahoma, also boasts a large population of bison and is an important refuge for other wildlife such as the Greater prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido). The other preserves, all located in Kansas, are the 17-square-mile Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in northern Chase County, Kansas near Strong City, the Flint Hills Tallgrass Prairie Preserve east of Cassoday, "the Prairie Chicken Capital of the World", and the Konza Prairie which is managed as a tallgrass prairie biological research station by Kansas State University.

We will start our day with a hike through the Konza Prairie Biological Station (http://kpbs.konza.k-state.edu/mission.html) operated by Kansas State University. KPBS is primarily a research facility and is private land, so most of the site is off limits to the public.  However, because K-State and The Nature Conservancy (the land owner) feel that it is important to provide a venue for the public to learn about the endangered tallgrass ecosystem, KPBS does have hiking trails available from dawn to dusk, weather and trail conditions permitting.  Also, because the land is privately owned, there are rules for use of the hiking trails that are in place to preserve the landscape, wildlife, and ecological value of the site.

Tour guides will share information about the region as we continue our journey to Council Grove, the site of the historic Council Oak where the treaty was signed giving Americans and Mexicans safe passage along the Santa Fe Trail.  It is also the home of the Hays House Restaurant, a National Register Historic Landmark where tour participants will enjoy an early lunch.

We continue our journey through the history of the region with a tour of the Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve in the heart of the Flint Hills near Strong City, Kansas. Tallgrass prairie once covered 170 million acres of North America. Within a generation the vast majority was developed and plowed under. Today less than 4% remains, mostly here in the Kansas Flint Hills. The preserve protects a nationally significant remnant of the once vast tallgrass prairie and its cultural resources. Here the tallgrass prairie takes its last stand.

We complete our day with a tour of the Chase County Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls, Kansas.  The Chase County Courthouse was completed in 1873 and is constructed of walnut and limestone, which was quarried on the town site. It is the oldest Kansas Courthouse still in use. The courthouse was designed in French Renaissance style by John G. Haskell, who was also the first architect of the statehouse in Topeka.

The courthouse is characterized by the distinctive shape of the roof.  Standing 113-feet tall, you can see the courthouse and its red mansard roof from vantage points throughout the county on most days.  Featured within this structure is a three-story spiral staircase made from walnut trees from the Cottonwood River.

Tour departs Monday at 9:45 a.m. from the Conference Hotel and returns at 4:45 p.m. 


9:45 a.m.   Load vans and depart Hilton Garden Inn

10:00 a.m. One-hour hike on the Konza Prairie

11:45 a.m.  Lunch at Hays House in Council Grove

12:40 p.m.  Load and depart for Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve

1:00 p.m.    Tour Tallgrass National Prairie Preserve, Ranch Headquarters and                             Prairie Tour

2:55 p.m.     Load vans and drive to Chase County Courthouse, oldest courthouse in                     Midwest still in daily use

3:10 p.m.     Tour Courthouse in Cottonwood Falls

3:40 p.m.     Depart of Manhattan

4:45 p.m.     Return to hotel  

Uniquely K-State - $15.00 (half day tour)

This tour has been cancelled on Monday.  The K-State tour for Life Members is still open on Tuesday.

See K-State's limestone buildings and tour programs unique to Kansas State University.

The Wheat Innovation Center and the International Grains Program represents K-State’s commitment to feeding the world.

The Kansas Wheat Innovation Center was built by the Kansas Wheat Commission, through the Kansas wheat checkoff, to get improved wheat varieties into the hands of farmers faster. It represents the single largest research investment by Kansas wheat farmers in history. KWIC features 48,000 square feet of space, including 15,000 square feet of research laboratories, 22,750 square feet of greenhouses, and 10,000 square feet of offices. The KWIC is also home to the world renowned Wheat Genetics Resource Center.

Across the street in the complex is the International Grains Program. The IGP Institute provides innovative and relevant education and technical programs to enhance the market preference, consumption and utilization of U.S. cereal grains, oilseeds and their value-added products for the global grain industry. This tour will also include the O.H. Kruse Feed Technology Innovation Center. The $13 million world-class facility is used for teaching the sciences of feed processing, pet food development and grain handling to serve the needs of our students. The principle goal of the facility is to address the urgent needs of the livestock feed industry (particularly related to feed safety and profitability), while providing the vision, flexibility and capacity in looking to the future to realize the next generation of opportunities.  We will wrap up this site with a quick look at the Hal Ross Flour Mill which is a state-of-the-art pilot scale flour mill is used for teaching, research and industry training and contains the same full-scale equipment and control systems found in the commercial flour milling industry today. 

The Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, located in Pat Roberts Hall, is a unique biocontainment research and training facility with capacity to perform multidisciplinary research on multiple pathogens and host species within a single facility. The ability to work with livestock/food animals — cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens — enables studies aimed at developing and testing diagnostics and vaccines related to high-consequence pathogens. The 14 laboratories include BSL-3Ag rooms that are approved for research on livestock species, and BSL-3 rooms for studies on food safety and security, and on exotic plant pathogens such as wheat blast. An ACL/BSL-3 insectary suite is available for arthropod transmission studies. The BRI provides K-State scientists and their collaborators with a safe and secure location to study high consequence pathogens that pose threats to agriculture, the food supply and human health. While traveling to this tour stop we will see construction of NBAF - The National Bio and Agro-defense Facility will be America's foremost animal disease research facility. It's being constructed on the K-State campus by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

A driving tour of campus will highlight the Kansas Department of Agriculture, Kansas State University Farms, Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium, Anderson Hall, the President’s home, and the University Gardens.

Tour departs from the Conference Hotel at 12:30 p.m. and returns to the nearby Tallgrass Tap House at 4:30 p.m.  Those desiring to visit the Tap House may do so with appetizers provided and drinks available at participant expense.  The tour bus will return to the conference hotel for those that may have conference commitments.


12:30-12-40        Load at Hilton Garden Inn

1:00 – 1:25         Tour of Wheat Innovation Center

1:30 – 1:55          (Split in two groups – and switch)

2:00 – 2:45          Visit International Grains Program

3:00 – 4:00          Tour BRI at Pat Roberts Hall

4:00 – 4:30          Driving Tour of Campus – highlight NBAF, KDA, Anderson Hall, Presidents home, Gardens

4:30 – 5:30          Tallgrass Tap House (Appetizer provided – beer sampling at participant expense)

Life Members Tour (available to conference registered life members and their guests) – No Charge – but bring ice cream money! (Must register for the tour to participate)


K-State Campus Tour – America’s First Land Grant University

See K-State's limestone buildings and tour programs unique to Kansas State University. Stops include the Kansas State University Gardens, Insect Zoo, Wheat Innovation Center, and a special stop at the KSU Dairy Bar for delicious K-State Ice Cream. Learn about NBAF - The National Bio and Agro-defense Facility will be America's foremost animal disease research facility. It's being constructed on the K-State campus by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


The tour departs at 1:30 pm and returns to the hotel at 4:30 pm.

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