Alumni explore the globe with Traveling Wildcats

K-State Alumni Communications 

Traveling Wildcats strike the K-S-U pose during an expedition to Antarctica in January. (Photo: Noel Schulz)

Through their travels, Kansas State University alumna Sherry Lynch Conrad '87 and her husband, Dale, have learned about agricultural operations all over the world — from a sheep farm in New Zealand, to a feedlot in Brazil, to a hydroponic farm in Sweden where plants were grown without soil. They experienced these trips through the K-State Alumni Association’s Traveling Wildcats program, which offers organized tours across the globe for alumni and friends. 

The Conrads have been to Alaska, Australia, the Mediterranean and beyond and said the Traveling Wildcats program is their preferred way to travel.

“There are a number of reasons we enjoy traveling with the K-State Alumni Association, including getting to know other K-State alumni during the trip, catching up with them each day, seeing familiar faces around the ship, and participating in the special K-State events that are planned during our trip,” Sherry Conrad said. “We also really enjoy seeing our new K-State friends at dinner each evening. Seeing some of the same K-Staters on different trips and renewing our friendship from the previous trip has also been wonderful.”

 About the program

The Traveling Wildcats program started in 1969 with the goal of providing Wildcat fans a stress-free travel experience and an opportunity to have fun, learn about different cultures and network with other K-Staters. The program continues to grow and saw its highest number of travelers — more than 500 — in 2014, said Terin Walters, director of development programs and travel for the Alumni Association. 

Italy, the Mediterranean and Alaska have proven to be popular destinations throughout the years. About 25 to 30 trips are planned each year to U.S. and international destinations, and many travelers become repeat customers. 

“The Kansas State Alumni Association offers only the best travel experiences,” said Pam Widener '71, who lists some of her favorite Traveling Wildcats memories as going on safaris in South Africa and watching dancers tango in a small street in Buenos Aires. “The trip packages offered are well planned down to the tiniest detail, which helps to take the hassle out of traveling. I like the feeling of comfort and safety knowing that everything is well planned.”

Eleven K-Staters visit the Inca ruins during a past Traveling Wildcats trip to Cuenca, Ecuador. (Courtesy photo)

 Making memories

Lynn '67, '69, and Donna Willard '67 said their favorite Traveling Wildcats experience was a safari trip, and they would recommend the program to others.

“The camaraderie of K-State alumni, sharing our youthful memories of Kansas State University and being with persons of similar values and traditions makes the travel more rewarding than a normal excursion,” Lynn Willard said. “It is a positive experience and we have yet to meet a traveling Wildcat that we didn't like. Having someone from the alumni office accompany us helps build our relationship even more to the university.”

That sense of camaraderie translates to fun memories, such as Dale and Sherry Conrad eagerly listening for basketball scores during a trip to Melbourne, Australia.

Although the travelers had to board the bus to return to port before the game was over, the guide made sure someone from his office found out the final score, which turned out to be a victory over the University of Kansas. 

Alumni Association member Barry Flinchbaugh — who went on an agriculture-focused Mississippi riverboat cruise in May — said Traveling Wildcats trips are a "family experience" and a good opportunity for learning.

"This is unique. You're out there on that river and you learn quickly the importance of that river," Flinchbaugh said. "You get to see some of the towns along the way."

Herb and Mary Sue Whitney, both class of 1963, said, "The best part is sharing travel experiences with old and new K-State friends. Our wave of purple attire is noticed wherever in the world we are. Without reservation we are quick to recommend the Traveling Wildcats trips to our K-State friends, because each of our  numerous experiences has met and in most cases exceeded our expectations." 

Walters added, “People make friends. K-Staters are all over the nation. People from all over the place choose to travel. We’re doing these trips to facilitate connections between alumni.”

Planned 2016 destinations include Central America, Ecuador, the Mediterranean, the Scottish Highlands and more. Visit the Traveling Wildcats page for more information. 


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