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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Office of Rural Prosperity Launches Project for Young Rural Professionals

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Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids, and graduated from Valley Heights High School in May of 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications.After stops at KFRM and KCLY radio in Clay Center, he joined KNDY in 2002 as a board operator and play by play announcer. Derek is now responsible for the digital content of Dierking Communications, Inc. six radio stations.In 2005 Derek joined the staff of KCFX radio in Kansas City as a production coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, which airs on over 94 radio stations across 12 Midwest states and growing. In 2018 he became the Studio Coordinator at the Cumulus Kansas City broadcast center for Kansas City Chiefs Football.

TOPEKA – Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers announced today the Office of Rural Prosperity (ORP) will partner with the Kansas Sampler Foundation to develop a framework designed to engage, empower, retain, and recruit young people in rural Kansas.

“Incentivizing younger Kansans to use their talents here at home, will be critical to continuing to build a 21st century economy in our state,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “Our communities, especially rural ones, will benefit greatly if we can find ways to attract a young workforce and keep our children at home.”

The Kansas Sampler Foundation (KSF), led by Executive Director Marci Penner, has been working to support rural communities for almost 30 years. KSF has completed projects in the past focusing on young professionals (21-39 years old).

“It is an asset to be young! Why not round up the ideas, energy, talents, and vision of this age group?” said Penner. “Instead of ignoring the perspective they bring to our state, let’s capitalize on it. If we can make the state more attractive to the under-40 group, it would make Kansas stronger and better for everyone.”

The project will consist of collecting core questions through interviews in targeted regions across the state and digital surveys in all 105 counties. KSF will work with existing young professional and leadership groups to widen the base of information. With the help of data from the Kansas Department of Commerce, KSF will focus on diversity of respondents.

“Out-migration has shrunk rural communities causing them to decline in size and increase in age,” said Lt. Governor Lynn Rogers. “Focusing on the needs of young people, especially young professionals, is key to the future of these communities. Our goal with this project is to identify programs, policies, and investments that would encourage young people to stay in or move to rural communities in Kansas.”

For individuals who are 21-39, identify as rural, and would like to be interviewed, please contact the Kansas Sampler Foundation at marci@kansassampler.org or 620-585-2374.

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About The Office of Rural Prosperity
ORP is a nonpartisan initiative established in part to ensure that rural Kansas is heard and represented in the Statehouse. ORP is an effort to streamline rural policy, create an inventory of existing resources and initiatives while aiding in rural improvement efforts.

About The Kansas Sampler Foundation
KSF is public non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and sustain rural culture by educating Kansas about Kansas and networking and supporting rural communities. Their goal is to keep every town viable that shows the will and spirit to help itself.

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