Week 6 – Where the Buffalos Roam

Mansfield Foundation Fellow in Social Psychology (In memory of Merlin "Pat" Dreibelbis '39)

Ft. Hays State University | Hays, Kansas

July 16, 2017

It’s been another slow week here in Hays, but nonetheless, an exciting one. Dr. Bonds-Rackee has left for the rest of July so sadly I won’t be working with her anymore while I’m here, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet and work with her this summer. It’s good to know that we will be keeping in touch in the future.

I completed my IRB forms, but I’m not sure if my study has been approved or not yet. Dr. Hill and Dr. Jeter both believe that it shouldn’t take too long for the review board to get back to us. So with the time I have left, I will be working with Dr. Hill and Dr. Jeter on setting up fake Facebook profiles and creating the actual study.

Dr. Hill showed me this program Amazon uses called Mechanical Turk™ where people can complete simple tasks, such as surveys, for tiny payments. I’ve never heard of this program until now, but apparently, it is becoming a very popular way to make some pocket change on the side. This program is perfect though because this means that I won’t have to physically be present for people to participate in my study. It also means that I can gather data from a larger sample size.

Last week I was determined to find some hidden treasures in Hays. I had remembered before my roommate left for the summer he had mentioned something about buffalo in Hays. I’ve been in Hays for six weeks now, and I haven’t seen any buffalo (or bison if you prefer) anywhere. I made sure to add “finding the buffalo” to my Hays to-do list.

In the meantime, I decided to visit another Historic Museum in Hays. This museum was small and included exhibits about the history of Hays. I was kind of surprised to learn that small town Hays use to be lawless back in its heyday. There were a lot of gruesome stories about shootouts in brothels and bars as well as stories about an area called Boot Hill where people would be improperly buried after they were killed.

Guns used to hunt buffalo

I also learned about buffalo hunters in Hays. Apparently back when Hays was being established, railroad companies hired men to hunt herds of buffalo because they would occasionally gather on the train tracks and well, you can see how that would be a problem. Still, it was sad to read about how hunting buffalo became a sport and almost wiped the species out.

The skull of a buffalo

While I was walking through the displays, I stopped to ask one of the workers where Hays was hiding the buffalo. To my surprise, they were just a few miles away from campus. The worker I spoke with also mentioned that there were two recently born buffalo as well as a new white buffalo. I immediately set off to go find them. I spent about 15 to 20 minutes just observing the herd roam around open fields.

A female buffalo roaming the fields

The white buffalo stood out the most, and not just because of its white fur. It kind of looked like it had been shaved, which kind of made it look more like a cow than a buffalo. Still, I was glad that I got to cross off seeing the buffalo from my list. Who knows what exciting things Hays has to offer me in my remaining two weeks.

The great white buffalo. I’m sure she looks different with fur.




Nealy professional headshot

Aaron Nealy '17

Aaron Nealy is a psychology major from Chicago, Illinois.