Blog | 2020 We Kan! Award Winners Announced

2020 We Kan! Award Winners Announced

The Kansas Sampler Foundation announced the recipients of the 28th annual We Kan! Awards which are presented as appreciation for dedicated work in helping preserve and sustain rural culture.

Marci Penner, director of the Inman-based non-profit, said, "These award winners aren't chosen from an application process. These are people we notice because of their good work over time or for how they impact their community or state in a unique manner."

Given at the Kansas Sampler Festival for many years, the awards are now handed-out in surprise fashion, often with a flash-mob of local supporters in attendance.  

The recipients for the 2020 awards are: Bennington Community Library, Bennington (You did it!); Elizabeth Stewart Burger, Sunflower Foundation, Topeka (Giving her all for Kansas); Andrea Etzel, KANSAS! Magazine editor, state tourism staff, Topeka (Best at curating Kansas); Heather Fuesz, Eureka (Community champion); Julie Lyon, Stafford (Visionary doer); Lynn Smith, executive director, Pioneer Bluffs, Matfield Green (Doing it all impressively); Shirley Higgins, McCracken (You’re my touchstone); Tim Rues, Constitution Hall, Lecompton (More than a curator); Tara Vance, Norton County Community Foundation, Norton (Spirited Force for Progress); and Connie Werner, Horton (Community champion).

Penner said, "This list includes a range of skills and talents from community doers who operate without a title as well as people at the state level who have made a significant difference in rural communities. Kansas is stronger because of the consistent and earnest efforts of each of these citizens and we are proud to recognize them.”

Due to the pandemic, some of the 2020 awards weren’t given until 2021. The awards plates are made by Elk Falls Pottery.

To see a list of all We Kan! award winners go to