We Kan!

Connecting for grassroots success.

Wednesday, March 23  -   Meridian Center, Newton 

9:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. 

$80 Registration deadline March 14.  No refunds after this date. 

p.s. We love working with Michael and staff at the Meridian Center!


Please email  wendee@kansassampler.org  to put your name on a waiting list.


  • Morning keynote:  Beth Barlow, from A Bolder Humboldt, will share retail and recreational successes in Humboldt that landed the town a story in the New York Times.
  • Afternoon keynote:  Ernestor De La Rosa, assistant city manager/legislative affairs in Dodge City, will share his experience as an immigrant in Kansas.


Hear about Communities of the Future as written about in the Kansas PowerUp & Go Report  and hear inspiring community reports from around the state!


Breakout sessions confirmed to date (there will be two 45-minute breakout sessions, 5 choices in each) 

  • Beehive Quilt Shop. Hear about the magic sauce to create this successful fabric and toy business. Annarose White, Wellington 
  • Community foundations can provide solutions to a menagerie of local challenges. Whether you have a community foundation, have a fund with an affiliate, or are interested in the concept, come here to learn more. Tara Vance, Norton County Community Foundation.

  • Gravel Cycling is hot! Come learn how your community can get involved and capture gravel cycling tourists. LeLan Dains, Director, Visit Emporia, WenDee Rowe, Kansas Sampler Foundation

  • Community ideas with spark! Sara Bloom, Director, Downtown Hays Corporation, and others 

  • Best Legal Practices for Starting and Growing Businesses in Small, Rural Communities. Attorney Daniel Coughlin and Patent Agent Stuart Aller, Sabetha, will share their experience working with businesses to start well and use the legal toolbox to compete at the national and international levels.

  • Fight for Kansas Kids and our economy. Join the Zero to Thrive rural statewide coalition: Child care is vital to our local economies and families, especially in rural Kansas where the need for improved child care access and supporting programs is clear. Come visit with us to learn more about local and statewide actions you can take to advance early childhood development and childcare access in your community. Logan Stenseng, Thrive Allen County, Iola.

  • Trail Talk for Beginners and Beyond. Building a community trail with little money and zero experience isn’t easy – but it CAN be done! Hear from those who tapped into their small town’s resourcefulness to create a special place. Also learn from case studies of how community trails are being showcased through events, promotions and programming. Elizabeth Burger (Sunflower Foundation), Mike Goodwin (Kansas Trails Council), Jennifer Huehl (Sylvan Grove), Gwen Hartley (Benton), and maybe more!

  • Easy (And Cheap!) Tips For Taking Your Marketing To the Next Level. Marketing your business or attraction doesn’t have to break the bank! Learn more about affordable marketing with Jordan Roemerman, marketing manager at Kansas Tourism. While these approaches are framed for tourism outreach, many of these basic principles can be leveraged for general marketing purposes. Jordan Roemerman, Kansas Tourism 
  • Diverse communities are stronger together. Learn how to break down barriers and bridge the gap between diverse cultures in your community. LeLan Dains, Founder and Director, Emporia Spanish Speakers
  • Share Community Initiatives that are creating energy in your town!  The women of Great Bend (Sara Hayden, Great Bend Eco. Dev.; Megan Barfield, Great Bend Chamber of Commerce; Christina Hayes, Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau) will share how working together has leveraged resources. Also hear about their new downtown entertainment district. Then, it's sharing time! Two minutes from anyone who has an exciting community effort, little or big.  Main Hall.


(Most rounds will be repeated twice for 20 minutes) 

  • Finding grants, writing grants, finding grant writers. How can we help? Nancy Daniels, Community Vitality Specialist, Kansas State Research and Extension
  • *I've bought a historic building....Yikes, what do I do next?  Lea Ann Seiler, Hodgeman Co. Eco. Dev. and Kelly Gourley, Lincoln Community Economic Development Foundation (*one session only)

  • Main Street to D.C.: Ask about what you need and see if there are federal resources, programs or funding for your community. Katie Sawyer, state director for Senator Roger Marshall 

  • Need help recruiting health care providers? Find help here. Sasha Randolph – Recruitment and Retention Manager for Kansas Recruitment Center

  • Ask your general business legal questions, especially about patents, trademarks. Daniel Coughlin and Stuart Aller, KanPat, Sabetha 

  • What is trending in housing? Mollea Wainscott, Dodge City/Ford County Development Corp 

  • Ask about the Mural Movement and other new energy in Clay County. Natalie Muruato and Shannon Stark, Grow Clay County 

  • Grow the future of your community by exposing your middle school and high school students to entrepreneurship through the Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge. Sarah LaRosh, NetWork Kansas, Western Kansas

  • Connecting farmers to consumers and local institutions. Rick McNary, Shop Kansas Farms

  • Kansas PRIDE: Volunteer Education for Successful Communities. Jaime Menon, K-State Research & Extension

  • Putting free public transportation and free safety net transportation into place. John Castellaw, Thrive Allen County, Iola
  • Bridgette Jobe, State Director, and Jordan Roemerman, Marketing Manager, are here to answer questions on all things Kansas Tourism. Learn a little more about what Kansas Tourism is, and what we can do for you, in this informative Q&A session.
  • Are you stuck moving your community forward?  Ask any questions about grassroots efforts that address rural community challenges of the Office of Rural Prosperity and the Dept. of Commerce Community Development Division.
  • An introduction to Canva, a free application to help you with your graphic design projects, WenDee Rowe, Kansas Sampler Foundation
  • *Ask questions about the Gravel KS iconic routes initiative and opportunities to get involved. LeLan Dains, Visit Emporia (*one session only)
  • *Ask LeLan about building bridges with your Latino community through cooperative programming and language learning.  LeLan Dains, Emporia Spanish Speakers (*one session only)
  • Getting views, creating hype, and capitalizing on it. Learn how two film makers and multimedia specialists have created a small empire of Kansas lovers using video and photos through social media and how we can help you grow your audience and further your vision online.  Adam Dreher and Nick Abt, Scenic Kansas 
  • Promoting entrepreneurship among "unlikely" entrepreneurs from rural areas, low-income neighborhoods, and other historically-marginalized groups. Jackson Swearer, StartUp Hutch 
  • Michael Travis, author of "Celebrating Kansas Breweries: The Communities, People & Beer", visited every one of the 59 microbreweries in the state to research for his book. Ask him any question like what makes for a successful microbrewery, how are they good for the community, etc.! 
  • Employee engagement: What is it and what are we doing about it? Tara Morrow, Rural Health Education and Services, KU Medical Center, Wichita

  • Ask here about programs, funding, and services to support cultural and arts initiatives in your community. Kate VanSteenhuyse, Chief Programs Officer, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission.

Conference Bonus 

This session is filled. Let us know if you'd like to be placed on a waiting list.

Tuesday, March 22, 4-7 p.m. $30 


It wasn't easy during the dog-days of the pandemic to have a successful retail business or art gallery, but three entities in Newton managed to do it. We'll hear stories at Main Street Company and Kitchen Store, the Carriage Factory Art Gallery, and Prairy Market. We'll have wine, cheese crackers at one stop and then an evening meal at Prairy Market with Salted Creamery ice cream for dessert. Kendra Burkey, owner of Salted Creamery, will visit with us. There will be time to shop and look around. How did an art gallery do their exhibit openings differently during the pandemic and end up having great sales? Hear how Prairy Market has worked with local producers, sells Kansas products, has their own label, and has found success with grab-and-go meals. Limit of 30 people.  UPDATE: This bonus session is filled.


For lodging in Newton, click here. Get to know Newton here.


You can sign up on the registration form if you'd like to bring something to support the silent auction. It can be a product, a book, a service, or a tourism package. It can be an antique, a dinner, it can be something that you think will have value to someone else! Some great items are coming in!


The Kansas Sampler Foundation is a 501c3 public non-profit located in Inman. Our mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture. We believe in reframing, sharing as peers, the power of networking, and the exceptional efforts of gritty doers.

WHO HAS REGISTERED?  (as of March 15)  

x = Will attend Tuesday bonus session

  • Nick Abt, Scenic Kansas, Seldom Heard Film Festival, Wichita  
  • Stuart Aller, Coughlin Law Office LLC, Sabetha 
  • xRob Atchison, Arvonia Historic Preservation Society, Arvonia
  • xSusan Atchison, Arvonia Historic Preservation Society, Arvonia
  • Lacie Austin, Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce, Lucas 
  • xMegan Barfield, Chamber of Commerce, Great Bend
  • Beth Barlow, A Bolder Humbolt, Humboldt
  • x+Stacy Barnes, City of Greensburg, Greensburg 
  • Virginia Barnes, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Topeka
  • Fern Bartel, Mennonite Heritage and Agriculture Museum, Goessel
  • Karen Befort, City of Harper, Harper
  • Emily Benedick, Solomon Valley Economic Development, Beloit
  • Kylee Bergstrom, Seneca Chamber and Downtown, Seneca 
  • Sara Bloom, Downtown Hays Development Corporation, Hays 
  • Heidi Boone, Main Street Board, Eureka
  • Kari Bradley, Osawatomie Chamber of Commerce, Osawatomie
  • Rayna Brandt, Travel and Tourism intern, Eureka
  • Elizabeth Burger, Sunflower Foundation: Health Care for Kansans, Topeka
  • Kaily Carson, National Orphan Train Museum, Concordia 
  • John Castellaw, Thrive Allen County, Iola 
  • Stacy Clark, Rice County Economic Development, Lyons 
  • Lauren Clary, Kansas Gas Service, Wichita 
  • Randy Collett, Marion 
  • xAshley Comeau, Brant's Market, Plainville 
  • Daniel Coughlin, Coughlin Law Office LLC, Sabetha
  • xHeather Coyne, City of Greensburg Tourism, Greensburg 
  • LeLan Dains, Visit Emporia, Emporia 
  • xNancy Daniels, K-State Research & Extension, Manhattan
  • Melinda Davis, Norton County Community Foundation, Norton
  • Ernestor DeLaRosa, City of Dodge CIty, Dodge City 
  • Connie Dougherty, Lucas Area Chamber of Commerce, Lucas 
  • Adam Dreher, Scenic Kansas, Seldom Heard Film Festival, Buffalo Roam Supply, Sedgwick 
  • Megan Embers, Winter School, Lawrence 
  • xKerri Falletti, Office of Rural Prosperity, Winfield
  • Alex Freund, Miami County Economic Development, Paola
  • Heather Fuesz, City of Eureka!, Eureka
  • Dawn Gabel, "You Got This" Fundraising, Hays
  • Dustin Gale, Kansas Department of Commerce, Topeka
  • Pam Gerber, City of Harper, Harper 
  • Cheryl Gibson, Trego County Economic Development, WaKeene
  • Lisa Goodheart, Jewell County Community Development, Glen Elder 
  • Kelly Gourley, Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, Lincoln 
  • Joyce Grayson, Rural Health Education Services, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita  
  • Sarah Green, Prairie Meadowlark, LLC, Wichita 
  • Caryl Hale, Norton County Hospital, Norton
  • xJosey Hammer, Project WeKan, Courtland 
  • Shelly Hansel, Harper County, Anthony 
  • xKelli Hansen, Plainville Community Foundation, Plainville
  • Gwen Hartley, Benton Two Angels Trail, Benton
  • DeAnn Hauser, Chamber of Commerce, Humboldt
  • Susie Haver, Cloud County Tourism, Concordia 
  • xSara Hayden, Great Bend Economic Development, Great Bend 
  • Christina Hayes, City of Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau, Great Bend 
  • Kris Heinze, Lincoln County Economic Development Foundation, Lincoln 
  • Lucille Heller, Mitchell County Convention & Tourism, Beloit 
  • Emma Herman, National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia
  • Kris Hix, City of Garnett
  • Carlie Houchen, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas, Topeka
  • Joy Jensen Howell, Greenwood County Preservation Society, Eureka
  • xJennifer Huehl, City of Sylvan Grove, Sylvan Grove
  • Linda Hunsicker, Kansas Department of Commerce
  • xSvetlana Hutfles, Kansas Association of Community Foundations, Washington 
  • Bridgette Jobe, Kansas Tourism, Topeka 
  • Greg Jordan, Kansas Small Business Development Center 
  • Sarah Kleopfer, Hiawatha Chamber and Visitors Bureau, Hiawatha
  • Jeannie Kline, Kansas Post Rock Limestone Coalition, Ellsworth
  • Amara Kniep, NetWork Kansas, Andove
  • Bonnie Kopper, City of Garden Plain
  • Tyler Krenzin, McPherson County Community Foundation, McPherson
  •  xToby Kuhn, Kinfolk Creative, Basehor
  • Don Lampe, Lampe Heritage Farm, LLC, Piqua
  • Kyra Lampe, Jewell County Community Development, Mankato
  • Sheila Lampe, Lampe Heritage Farm LLC, Piqua
  • Sarah LaRosh, NetWork Kansas, Osborne
  • Ann Leppke, Peabody
  • xBryan Lisbona, Kinfolk Creative, Basehor 
  • Holly Lofton, Convention & Visitors Bureau, Lindsborg 
  • Julie Lyon, Kiowa County Economic Development, Greensburg 
  • Kaitlyn Mahin, A Little Hometown Shirt, Courtland
  • xLuke Mahin, Republic County Economic Development, Courtland
  • Andres Mata, Kansas Civic Network, Salina
  • Kimberly McCormick, City of Garden Plain
  • xRick McNary, Shop Kansas Farms, Potwin
  • Sarah Meitner, Heartland Community Foundation, Hays
  • Lindsey Metcalf, FARMERS UNITE: Planting a Protest for Fair Prices, Concordia
  • xGloria Moore, Washington County Tourism, Washington
  • Tara Morrow, Rural Health Education and Services, KU Medical Center, Wichita
  • Lucas Mullin, City of Eureka, Eureka
  • Natalie Muruato, Grow Clay County, Clay Center
  • Don Musil, Blue Rapids Community Action Team, Blue Rapids
  • Laura Musil, Blue Rapids Community Action Team, Blue Rapids
  • Joan Nech, Smith County Community Foundation, Smith Center
  • Becky Nickel, Central Kansas Community Foundation, Newton
  • Barbara Nowak, Mount Hope Library, Mount Hope
  • xNorm Oeding, Newton Farm & Art Market, Newton
  • Shelley Paasch, Kansas Main Street, Topeka
  • +David Procter, Manhattan
  • Susie Pryor, Kansas Small Business Development Center, Topeka
  • xTrisha Purdon, Office of Rural Prosperity, Independence
  • Julia Rabe, Beloit Area Chamber of Commerce, Beloit
  • Sasha Randolph, Rural Health Education and Services, KU Medical Center, Wichita 
  • Joni Regneir, McPherson Convention & Visitors Bureau, McPherson 
  • Jordan Roemerman, Kansas Tourism, Topeka
  • Rachèll Rowand, Kansas Department of Commerce, Topeka
  • Peggy Ruebke, mayor, City of Nickerson
  • Justin Rupert, Goodwill Industries of Kansas, Wichita 
  • xJenny Russell, JenRus Freelance, Courtland
  • Susan Sankey, KARL (Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership), Manhattan
  • xTami Sauer, Phillipsburg Convention & Visitors Bureau, Phillipsburg
  • Kayla Savage, Kansas Department of Commerce Community Development Division, Topeka
  • Katie Sawyer, state director for Senator Roger Marshall, Salina 
  • Benjamin Schaub, A Little Hometown Shirt, Courtland 
  • Stacie Schmidt, Ellsworth County Economic Development, Ellsworth 
  • xToni Schneider, Chase County Chamber of Commerce, Cottonwood Falls
  • Leslie Schrag, Kingman County Economic Development, Kingman 
  • Harley Schuster, Rural Forward, Courtland 
  • xLea Ann Seiler, Hodgeman County Economic Development, Jetmore
  • Scott Sewell, Kansas Main Street, Topeka
  • Tammy Simons, Marienthal
  • Barbara Shunn, POW Camp Concordia, Concordia 
  • Liz Simpson, The Columbus Project, Columbus
  • Anna Smith, Kansas Alliance of Professional Historical Performers, Carbondale
  • Marci Spaw, Wabaunsee County Historic Society & Museum, Alma
  • XMelody Spurney, Newton Convention & Visitors Bureau, Newton
  • Shannon Stark, Grow Clay County, Clay Center
  • xDon Steeples, Justa Farm, Palco 
  • xTammy Steeples, Justa Farm, Palco
  • Logan Stenseng, Thrive Allen County, Iola 
  • xChristine Stephens, Digital Impressions & Expressions
  • Adam Stewart, Hutchinson Recreation Commission, Hutchinson
  • Karen Sturm, Chamber of Commerce, Caldwell 
  • Susan Sutton, National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia
  • Eli Svaty, Seward County Development Corporation, Liberal
  • Jackson Swearer, StartUpHutch, Hutchinson 
  • Adam Synoground, Kensington HOME Foundation, Kensington 
  • Michael Travis, "Celebrating Microbreweries: The Communities, People & Beer", Lawrence 
  • Fran Trost, National Orphan Train Complex, Concordia
  • Jessica Troyer, Troyer's 1883, Garnett
  • Kate VanSteenhuyse, Kansas Creative Arts Industries Commission, Wichita
  • Tara Vance, Norton County Community Foundation, Norton
  • Brenda Vogts, Canton Township Carnegie Library, Canton
  • xMollea Wainscott, Dodge City/Ford County Development Corporation, Dodge City
  • Jordan Waite, Chamber of Commerce, Ellinwood
  • Marsha Wentz, Concordia
  • +Sarah Werner, Winfield Area Chamber of Commerce, Winfield 
  • Susan Wettstein, Garnett Community Development & Tourism, Garnett
  • Annarose White, Beehive Quilt Shop & Bee Creative Toys, Wellington
  • Ron Wilson, Huck Boyd Institute for Rural Development, KSU, Manhattan
  • Katherine Winter, Winter School, Lawrence
  • Kim Witt, Canton Township Carnegie Library, Canton
  • Jennifer Yuza, Rural Health Education and Services, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita
+ Kansas Sampler Foundation board member



We thank you for believing in Kansas.


Kansas Tourism has the coolest website and we know you'll want to see how they love Kansas. Check it out!


The Community Development Division has an easy to use web page and they want to talk about Kansas! Check it out!


The Office of Rural Prosperity is a champion for rural communities. Find out how they work for you. Check it out!





Rural Health Education and Services, The University of Kansas Medical Center, Wichita


Melody & Blake Spurney, KE# 6459, Newton



  • Prairie Meadowlark, LLC, Wichita