Teamwork is the backbone of how Ki and Kimberly Gamble go about getting the job done.
Whether the team consists of family members and hired hands working to succeed at the hard work of farming or of an entire community struggling to rebuild from a devastating natural disaster, the Gambles have both the ability to lead the team and the willingness to take on whatever job needs to be done to help the whole team succeed.
That teamwork has enabled them to build on the family farm where Ki grew up, adding irrigation and value-added marketing opportunities to the solid dryland operation his grandfather and father built. With the return of their son, Kasey, to the operation, they are working to expand their livestock operation
Kasey, who graduated from Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in 2013, likes working with livestock, Ki said, and has started building his own Angus cattle herd.
Their daughter, Katelynn is a sophomore at Kansas State University with plans to attend chiropractic school and come home to Greensburg to practice.
The Gambles have been tested -- as have of all their neighbors -- in the years that have followed May 4, 2007, the night that an EF-5 tornado wiped out the town of Greensburg and destroyed or severely damaged every building on their farm, including their historic century-old farm house.
Initially, they nailed plywood over the holes in the roof and the blown-out windows and felt grateful they had a house to live in.
Ki set to work finishing planting corn and getting ready for wheat harvest while starting the monumental job of cleaning up the wreckage of the century-old barn and other farm outbuildings, mangled irrigation systems and farm equipment.
He is proud that, even in 2007, he placed in the top three spots in the annual National Sorghum Producers yield contest. In fact, only once since he started entering in 2003, has he failed to place in the top three and in 2003, 2013 and 2015, he won the National Bin Buster award.
Kim went into town daily, applying her communication and organizing skills to helping her community.
Soon, both the Gambles found themselves assuming ever-increasing leadership roles in rebuilding the town where they had always been active participants.
"Many of the older people who had long been leaders didn't stay," Kim said. "Rebuilding was just too hard for them."
Both Ki and Kim have served on boards, donated properties for new projects, invested in non-profit and for-profit enterprises, shared their knowledge of business and partnership building and served as ambassadors for agriculture and their way of life to visitors from all over the world, many of whom have been drawn to Greensburg by stories of the tornado and its "green" rebuilding effort.
It has been hard, but rewarding, work, Kim says.
"Really, I think it has been harder on the people who moved away," she said. "They have only the bad memories of the loss and the devastation. Those who stayed to rebuild have the satisfaction of seeing what we have accomplished."
Nine years after the tornado, The Gamble farm is just now getting back to where it was. Greensburg, too, is coming back.
"We’re seeing the 20 and 30-somethings either moving back or moving here and getting really involved in the community," Kim said. "It's great. It means more people sharing the work."
True success measured by what you give back, Ki Gamble says
Ki Gamble says that giving back and being involved is one of the most important attributes that a family in a small community can have.
"You can have the most successful farm in the county on paper, but unless you demonstrate some sense of civic responsibility, you are not successful, maybe just profitable. If people believe you genuinely care for them and the community and they see you put that care into action, then you will be a successful and respected leader, businessman and family in your community," he said. "It all goes back to the fact that farming is not our job, or even our way of making a living. It is our way of life and the community we live in is an integral part of that way of life."
Meet the Master Farmers:
Kevin and Barbara Alpers