State

6-year-old presidential whiz now promoting Kansas tourism

Macey Hensley visits Exploration Place

Six-year-old Macey Hensley from Council Grove investigates being an architect, a scientist, a meteorologist and a pilot through interactive exhibits at Exploration Place in Wichita. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)
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Six-year-old Macey Hensley from Council Grove investigates being an architect, a scientist, a meteorologist and a pilot through interactive exhibits at Exploration Place in Wichita. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

For a little less than a third of her life, Macey Hensley has been an American president expert.

She is 6.

A farmgirl from Council Grove, she has – within the past 18 months – made several appearances on the “Ellen DeGeneres Show,” become an Internet sensation, met President Obama and asked him whether there really was a “book of secrets” and whether aliens are real. She now has her own presidential seal and Hillary Clinton pantsuit.

Six-year-old Macey Hensley from Council Grove investigates being an architect, a scientist, a meteorologist and a pilot through interactive exhibits at Exploration Place in Wichita. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

She also has become the spokesgirl for Kansas tourism, filming online videos and television commercials to promote the state, including a spot at Wichita’s Exploration Place.

On Monday, she was at the George W. Bush Library in Dallas with her mom before grabbing supper at a McDonald’s in the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport and catching a plane back to Manhattan.

On Thursday, she will be in Los Angeles taping another show with DeGeneres, likely to air on Monday.

As many of her followers already know, her favorite U.S. president is Zachary Taylor, the 12th president.

“He drank two full glasses of milk and ate cherries that most people thought were poisoned,” she says of his untimely death in 1850.

Her second favorite is Dwight D. Eisenhower. She likes Ike.

She also likes President Herbert Hoover’s vice president, Charles Curtis.

Like Macey, “he was actually from the Council Grove area,” she says.

This past weekend, she took Facebook by storm. She is featured in three videos and television commercials for Kansas tourism.

Macey Hensley visits Abilene and talks about Kansas native and U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

She has filmed at Abilene’s Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home; Wichita’s Exploration Place; and the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka.

“We’re pretty excited on how viral this is going so far on Facebook,” Kelli Hilliard, travel development manager for the Kansas Travel and Tourism department, wrote in an e-mail to The Eagle on Monday. “In just 5 hours the Eisenhower video has been shared 306 times, viewed over 16,000 times and has reached over 41,000 people.”

Macey Hensley tours the Kansas State Capitol in Topeka. (Courtesy of Kansas Tourism)

Hilliard said the 6-year-old and her mother were reimbursed for travel expenses for filming the state videos.

Macey has brought national recognition to Council Grove and to Kansas. Last year, she was named the first recipient of Kansas’ Finest Junior Award through Kansas magazine, Hilliard said.

“We thought ‘what a great opportunity to get us involved in our promotion of the things of Kansas,’ ” Hilliard said.

Macey’s mom, Nichole, accompanies Macey on all her travels.

“Until her dad learns how to do her hair – and I’m not teaching him anytime soon – I go with her,” Nichole Hensley said.

How it began

Two years ago, Macey’s grandmother Marsha Hensley bought her a set of U.S. presidents flash cards in the dollar bin at a local Target.

Macey became enthralled with the presidents, the vice presidents, their wives and any other presidential information she could glean. Her first appearance as a presidential scholar was at Mary Myers’ eighth-grade history class in Council Grove.

Wearing a George Washington costume, white wig and tricorn hat, she wowed the class for about 17 minutes. She was videotaped, and the video was sent to DeGeneres.

The rest is history.

And as far as the future, Macey already has announced her own intentions to run for president.

Beccy Tanner: 316-268-6336, @beccytanner

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