About Marci

About Marci Penner

Marci Penner and her father, Milferd Penner, co-authored three Kansas guidebooks in the early 1990s and then founded the Kansas Sampler Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to help preserve and sustain rural culture. Marci is currently the executive director of the Foundation. 

 In 2002 and 2003 Marci went to every one of the 627 incorporated cities in Kansas to research for "The Kansas Guidebook for Explorers." The observations, conversations, and fact-finding not only resulted in a popular 432-page guidebook but also provided excellent information for the Kansas Explorers Club and We Kan! newsletters that Marci writes. 

 Marci presents dozens of speeches, slide shows, game shows, and seminars in Kansas and beyond each year. She consults daily with Kansas communities and often with other states interested in the concepts of the Kansas Sampler Foundation. The Foundation hosts the annual Kansas Sampler Festival, a Retreat for Rural Leaders and a biannual We Kan! Conference. She is a tireless advocate for rural communities and promoter of what there is to see and do in the state.

Marci, a graduate of Kansas University and a double-sport letterwinner, received her Master's degree in Counseling and Guidance from the University of Wisconsin. She spent five years in the Philadelphia area as an elementary guidance counselor before returning to Kansas in 1990 to work with her father. The offices of the Kansas Sampler Foundation are located in the Kansas Sampler Center on the family farm near Inman. Marci is dedicated to helping Kansans see Kansas with new eyes and to keeping our communities alive and vibrant.

Marci's Resume

Marci Penner

978 Arapaho Road, Inman, KS 67546

Executive Director,
Kansas Sampler Foundation
Duties include:
  • Researching every city in Kansas and writing a Kansas guidebook
  • Educating the public about the 8 Wonders of Kansas 
  • Writing the Explorer newsletter
  • Directing the Kansas Explorers Club
  • Communicating about Kansas through social media
  • Speaking on a variety of Kansas topics
  • Presenting Kansas programs
  • Providing story leads for the media
  • Overseeing special projects
  • Consulting daily with rural communities

Current outside affiliations
  • Board member of Kansas Association of Community Foundations
  • Advisor to Sunflower Foundation, Topeka
  • Convener for Kansas Dialogue

Publications and positions
        Co-authored the Kansas Guidebook 2 for Explorers with WenDee Rowe.
Authored the 8 Wonders of Kansas Guidebook.  The book has won gold from the North American Travel Journalists Association for Travel Guide.

Authored the Kansas Guidebook for Explorers.

Appointed co-chair of Governor's Rural Life Task Force

Founded the Kansas Sampler Foundation with father, Mil Penner.

1990 - 1993
Co-authored Kansas guidebooks with father, Mil Penner
  • Kansas Weekend Guide
  • Kansas Event Guide
  • Kansas Weekend Guide II
Elementary guidance counselor in and around the Philadelphia area.

Received Masters degree in Counseling & Guidance from the University of Wisconsin.

Received Bachelors degree in Radio, TV, Film from the University of Kansas.
Professional Awards
  • 2019 - Paul & Pat Phillips Award Distinguished Service to Geography from Kansas Geographic Alliance.
  • 2018 - Literary Contribution Award from the Mountain Plains Library Association.
  • 2018 - Leader of the Year for Tourism Development Award from the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
  • 2016   KU Pioneer Award from the Emily Taylor Center for Women and Gender Equity
  • 2007 - Leader of the Year for Tourism Development Award from the Huck Boyd National Institute for Rural Development
  • 2005 - Grassroots Community Education Award from the UFM Community Learning Center, Manhattan
  • 2005 - Distinguished Kansan of the Year from the Kansas Native Sons and Daughters
  • 2005 - Momentous Achievement Award from Osborne County Tourism
  • 2003 - Tourism Award of Merit for Individual Achievement from the KDOC State Travel and Tourism Division
  • 2003 - Rural Leadership Award presented by the National Rural Economic Developers Association.
  • 2002 - Brass Ring Award from Kinsley
  • 2001 - U.S. Small Business Administration Plains Spirit of the Year award
  • 2000 - Governor's Tourism Award presented by the Kansas Association of Broadcasters
  • 1996 - TIAK (Travel Industry Association of Kansas) Distinguished Service Award