The Ogura and Prokoph families participate in a 2.5-mile hike with Military Wild members Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

The Kansas Chapter of Military Wild completed its latest excursion as Neil Bass, Directorate of Public Works natural resources specialist, led a 2.5-mile hike Oct. 17 through the floodplain trail and to the state champion pecan tree.

Military Wild co-founder Kailey Brown and Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass begin a 2.5-mile hike for Military Wild members Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Bass shared information about the area’s plants and animals with hike participants and pointed out highlights along the route. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Military Wild is a nonprofit organization founded in 2018.


“Our mission is just to get military families outside safely,” said Kailey Brown, Military Wild co-founder. “We take great pride in not only teaching safety in the outdoors, but also sustainability, leaving no trace.


“But overall, community is the foundation of what we do,” she said. “This is what I live for. People that weren’t going to do anything on a Saturday morning and now they’re out exploring post. We advocate really hard for getting out into your community to see what it has to offer rather than jumping on a plane to go to someone else’s community.”

Seven-year-old Elizabeth Prokoph collects pecans at the base of a large pecan tree, near the state champion pecan tree, the destination of a Military Wild hike through the floodplain trail Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Military Wild currently has nearly 5,000 members that span across eight chapters in Alabama, Hawaii, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Guam.


Brown was one of four founders.


“Three of my friends and I, our first (permanent change-of-station move) in the military was to Guam, which is pretty isolating, so we just really wanted to find a way to help others find that sense of community when you find yourself 8,000 miles away from home,” Brown said. “The four of us had a great passion for the outdoors in the beginning so for us it was not only a way to get people out of their comfort zone but learn a little bit and start to find joy in the bases that they’re staying at.


“We wanted to foster that love for the outdoors in our community,” she said. “Now it’s just one of those things that took on a mind of its own and now we’re here (in Kansas). It’s turned into fulfilling a need that we didn’t know was there.”

Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass shares the possible use of a large 140-plus-year-old fallen tree of turning it into a conference table before setting off on a Military Wild hike through the floodplain trail Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


The Kansas Chapter has nearly 700 members across the state, Brown said.

Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass shares the possible use of a large 140-plus-year-old fallen tree of turning it into a conference table as children, including 5-year-old Clara Prokoph, climb on the logs before setting off on a Military Wild hike through the floodplain trail Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


Military spouse Beth Watts has been involved since Brown arrived in June.

Natural Resources Specialist Neil Bass leads a group of Military Wild members on a 2.5-mile hike along the floodplain trail Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


“I’ve always liked hiking and needed an excuse to get out and explore more, and it’s nice to be able to get out with a group,” Watts said. “This is a great organization and program if you’re interested in hiking and exploring the area, and it’s a great way to meet people.”

Nine-year-old Josephine, 5-year-old Jordan and dad Maj. David Ogura, Headquarters, Combined Arms Center, participate in a 2.5-mile hike with Military Wild members Oct. 17 near Sherman Army Airfield. Mom/wife Samantha Ogura also participated in the hike. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


The hike through the floodplains was the first for Katy Morgan, spouse of Col. Shane Morgan, Mission Command Training Program commander, and her 10-year-old son Foster Merrill.
“This particular hike sounded intriguing because of the (state champion) pecan tree and the fact that Lewis and Clark had been here,” Morgan said. “Plus, it was an opportunity to get outside and go on a guided tour and meet some new people.”


Morgan said she looks forward to joining Military Wild for more hikes.


“I will plan around them,” Morgan said. “We’re from the northeast, so we don’t know anything about Kansas, and we’re fascinated by the history here. We just want to take in as much as we can while we’re here.”

Military Wild member Beth Watt’s Mexican hairless dog Harvey carries around a large stick as trail guide Natural Resource Specialist Neil Bass tells hikers about possible snakes in the area during a 2.5-mile hike Oct. 17 by Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp


For more information about Military Wild, visit www.militarywild.com. For upcoming events in the Kansas Chapter, visit the Military Wild Kansas Facebook page.

Ten-year-old Foster Merrill navigates a large fallen tree with miniature Australian shepherd Gracie as Military Wild hikers traipse toward the state champion pecan tree off a trail near the Missouri River Oct. 17 by Sherman Army Airfield. Photo by Prudence Siebert/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

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