More than 130 other community-doers and rural advocates met at the Webster Conference Center near Salina recently for the 2011 We Kan! Conference. Organized by the Kansas Sampler Foundation, the one-day conference featured the launch of the PowerUp Movement and breakout sessions presented by Kansas rural experts.
In the opening session, Foundation director Marci Penner explained the need for engaging, empowering, and connecting young adults statewide as a way to help sustain rural communities. The term PowerUps refers to those who are 21-39 and are rural by choice. Penner introduced the PowerUp steering committee of Abby Amick, Alma; Jennifer Arnold, Clearwater; Ashley Bogle, Eureka; Erika Nelson, Lucas; Julie Roller, Wamego; and Liz Sosa, Garden City. Not in attendance were Christy Hopkins, Tribune; Sarah Werner, Winfield; and Kristy Rupe, Claflin.
Ashley Bogle then asked all PowerUps in the crowd to come forward and state their name, profession, and what their passion is. More than 25 rose from the audience and came on stage. Each one ended their statement with the phrase, "…and I’m rural by choice."
Breakout sessions featured topics about social networking, Constant Contact, incubator kitchens, high tunnels, retail options, promoting your area, community murals, putting fun into festivals, RVers, talking to PowerUps, and getting involved in the Rural Kansas: Come and Get It program.
Attendees came from Goodland to Leavenworth and Liberal to Erie. Among those joining the community-doers were bankers, architects, small business development practitioners, editors, school superintendents, independent telephone company representatives, and three women from Maine.