The Board of Trustees have a sincere interest in preserving the strength of FreeState’s operations and maintaining productive relationships with members. Trustees keep open lines of communication with the districts they serve and work together to ensure equal treatment to all members of the system. Each trustee strives to be knowledgeable about trends and circumstances that may affect the members and rural areas and communities that FreeState serves. Trustees make decisions that impact everyone, including themselves. They are tasked with making decisions that ensure the stability and sustainability of the cooperative for future generations.
Jeanine Murphy, President
Jeanine Murphy has been a lifetime cooperative member.
She has served on the board for the past 15 years, serving as the FreeState board president for the past two years.
She currently serves as the Director of Curriculum for USD No. 449.
She has completed the course to become Director Gold Certified by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, and has completed education requirements for Credentialed Cooperative Director and also has completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Board Leadership Certification.
Murphy lives in rural Leavenworth; has one son and four grandchildren. She says she is proud of the Youth Program because she feels like it will pay dividends in the future to help educate our youngest members.
Mark Wulfkuhle, VP
Mark Wulfkuhle has been a cooperative member since 1980 and a trustee for the past 12 years.
Wulfkuhle has completed management, analysis and strategic think programs, as well as the Premier Governance Series for Farm Credit Services. He also earned Credentialed Cooperative Director status by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
As a Berryton native, and area farmer and rancher, Wulfkuhle knows the members he serves.
“As a member of the cooperative the decisions I help make impact not only my neighbors, but my own family,” said Wulfkuhle. “This is why the board of trustees is diligent and considers options and best practices. We want the decisions we make to make sense.”
Wulfkuhle is involved in many organizations in Douglas County, as well as a 4-H leader. He has served in various leadership positions for Frontier Farm Credit, Kansas Farm Bureau, Farm Credit Services of America, Douglas County Farm Bureau, Douglas County Livestock Association, Douglas County Planning Commission, and the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce Agribusiness Development.
Don Montgomery, Secretary
Don Montgomery, Burlingame, has been a cooperative member for 30 years. He has served on the FreeState board as secretary for the past 4 years.
Montgomery is a retired vocational agriculture teacher and is currently a farmer and rancher.
Montgomery has seen many changes and believes we are better and stronger than ever before. His goal is to represent all members and will continue making himself available to members when any questions arise.
Montgomery serves on the Southeast Kansas State Farm Management Association Board and the Burlingame Cemetery Board. In the past, he has served the Kansas State Extension State Advisory Board and was President of the Osage County Extension Board. He is currently a Credentialed Cooperative Director, holding Director Gold Certification, and Board Leadership Credentials.
Larry Butel, Treasurer
Larry Butel, Overbrook, has been a member since 1989, and has served on the board since 2004, serving as treasurer of the FreeState board for the past two years. Butel is a farmer and rancher, raising cattle, row crops, wheat and hay under Butel Farm, Inc.
He has completed the course to become Director Gold Certified by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Butel is a member of the Overbrook Rotary Club; Cornerstone Family Schools Track and Field Coordinator; Graduate of Osage County Leadership; Sunday School teacher for Overbrook and Worden United Methodist Church. He has served in leadership roles for Kansas State Bank of Overbrook Board; Cornerstone Family Schools; Wakarusa. In Osage County, the Watershed Joint #35; Gideons Int’l; Farmer’s Cooperative Association; Farm Service Agency; Extension Council; Overbrook United Methodist Church; Osage County Livestock Association; Wilshire Investment Club; Kansas Livestock Association, County Director.
William (Bill) Conley has served the cooperative as a second-generation trustee.
As a farmer and stockman, Conley believes it is important to stay involved to advocate for members.
As a trustee, Conley’s goals are to promote reliable, safe, and economical service to all by striving to implement new and cutting-edge technology and continued education to the cooperative membership. Conley is also involved with the Jackson County Soil Conservation Board, as well as the Rossville United Methodist Church. He has also served on the Kaw Valley USD 321 strategic planning committee.
Karol Lohman, Leavenworth As a retired K-State Research and Extension agent, Karol understands the needs of the area in a unique way. Lohman is a firm believer in community service as a way to improve the quality of life. Her approach to educating and serving members is to be available and visible.
“The privilege of having rural electricity is something that I understand is more than just a service, it is a lifeline to our way of life,” said Lohman. “It gives us a quality of life that is priceless, and it is a product we have to protect for years to come.”
Lohman understands representing constituents requires serving them in ways that involve more than just attending meetings, and that being active in the community is an important way to connect and engage with fellow members.
Lohman currently serves on the board for Rural Water District No. 9 in Leavenworth County. She is also active with the Leavenworth County Fair Board, livestock committee, Master Gardner program, and is an active volunteer for Leavenworth County 4-H. She has experience with the Leavenworth County Extension Council as a former agent, and also a former general manager of an equity cooperative, and the Leavenworth County Cooperative.
Ralph Phillips has been cooperative member for 46 years; 34 of those he has also served as a trustee. He owns and operates Phillips Dairy.
Phillips has served on numerous boards including Mid-Am Diary Coop, the DFA area council and the Jackson County Farm Bureau Board. He has also served as the president of the Kansas Electrical Cooperative Board.
During his service on the Board, Phillips has witnessed many changes. He enjoys working with the other board members to make decisions that benefit the member-owners of the cooperative and continues to make FreeState one of the most progressive boards in the state.
He and wife Phyllis live in rural Mayetta. They have 5 children who have blessed them with 15 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Robert Sage has served the cooperative as a second-generation trustee, and a member-owner of the cooperative for more than 30 years.
As a farmer and Farm Bureau insurance agent, Sage is involved within the communities of FreeState’s West District. He is also involved in the Dover Community Foundation, was a past USD 330 School Board president, and has served as a volunteer fireman for Shawnee County, District No. 4. Being open and accessible to all members is vital to the success of the board, and being involved within the community to work together for a common goal is important to Sage.
Matthew Turecek, Valley Falls, has been a member of the cooperative for more than four years. As a farmer and rancher, he understands business ventures and how cooperatives are the lifeblood of rural Kansas. He knows first-hand the role cooperatives play in rural areas.
As a former vice-president of a rural fire district board in Colorado, Turecek understands what rural communities need and the resources it takes to thrive. As a board member, Turecek would work to educate member-owners on the inner workings of the cooperative at a higher level that would lead to better engagement and understanding for all.