Friend of the Flint Hills

Mark Nutsch standing outside the Flint Hills Discovery CenterOn Friday, April 28, we recognized Mark Nutsch as our 2023 Friend of the Flint Hills. Nutsch has been an integral part of the evolution of the FHDC Foundation.

Nutsch, who grew up in Washington County, led a 12-member Green Beret- Special Forces ODA-595 unit that used horses to defeat the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. One of the first teams to enter Afghanistan, they didn’t know they would be traveling by horseback. Nutsch’s knowledge of riding, ranching and horsemanship contributed significantly to his team’s success. Nutsch’s mission has been called the most successful, unconventional warfare campaign in modern history.

Nutsch’s “Horse Soldiers” are the design inspiration of the “America’s Response Monument”, located at ground zero in New York City. This is a tribute to Special Operations Forces and the Intelligence Community.   

Portions of this story can be seen in the major Hollywood movie, 12 Strong, where Nutsch is portrayed by actor Chris Hemsworth. Nutsch, along with Bob Pennington and Jim DeFelice, have also written Swords of Lightning which speaks first-hand about their mission. 

Today, Nutsch and several of his “brothers” have banded together after years of service to create Horse Soldier Bourbon Whiskey, their “legacy in a bottle.” 

Along with Nutsch’s unique service to our country, on April 6, 2019, Mark Nutsch became the National Honorary Chairman of the NEXT VISTAS Campaign for the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation. The NEXT VISTAS campaign was a $5 million fund raising effort for the benefit of the Flint Hills Discovery Center. 

“Special Forces Major Mark Nutsch’s stellar career, his dedication to the Flint Hills prairie preservation, deep roots in horsemanship and ranching, are all laudable,” says Foundation President Jack Lindquist. “We greatly appreciate his volunteer focus, helping us surpass our campaign goals and dedication to the Flint Hills Discovery Center over the past three years. This list of qualifications gave us the ideal candidate for 2023’s Friend of the Flint Hills recognition.” 

The FHDC Foundation has given the “Friend of the Flint Hills” award to an individual, couple, non-government organization or public institution each year since 2012. The award honors significant time, effort and resources devoted to the cause of conserving the Flint Hills of Kansas and northern Oklahoma.

To learn more about the Friend of the Flint Hills, please contact Foundation Director, Lesley White at or 785-748-1275.

The FHDC Foundation functions to advance the mission and work of the Flint Hills Discovery Center through dynamic and vibrant development programs which identify, cultivate, solicit and express appreciation to donors of the Foundation. The Foundation seeks capital and programming, along with deferred and endowed gifts in support of the Flint Hills Discovery Center.

Thank you to the following sponsors:

Premier Underwriter

Richard Porter

Porter logo

Event Sponsor

Frank and Jan Lyons

Oval Lyons Ranch Logo


Mitch and Susan Adams
Dan and Beth Bird
Joseph and Sherry Doweny
Ron and Dawn Dutton - Sundance Ranch
Jim Hoy
The Trust CompanyTrust Company logo

Bruce Sneed with the Flint Hills Discovery Center Foundation