NEWTON — Living in a rural community presents its own unique opportunities and challenges, especially when many efforts must be supported by the work of volunteers.

The Kansas Sampler Foundation's biannual We Kan! Conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. March 7 at Meridian Center, 1420 E. Broadway Ct. in Newton. Organized by Marci Penner and WenDee Rowe, the theme for this year's conference is "What Should Kansas Look Like? Let's Start Shaping It!"

Around 75 percent of towns in Kansas have a population of fewer than 1,500 people, Penner noted.

"Most of those do not have a paid city manager or a paid chamber manager," Penner said. "Anyone who wants to help sustain their town, we will definitely have information for them."

The topics will be discussed in general group sessions, breakout sessions and some speed meeting sessions.

"The pace will be fast and positive and good thinkers will dominate the day as we not only look at issues from new angles but make plans to take action," Penner said.

Sessions for bringing diverse groups together, engaging unique voices and tourism will be led by community leaders and rural advocates involved in agencies or organizations across Kansas. By bringing in their peers, those who strive to make a difference in their town can see the possibilities of success.

"We try to bring functional and relevant information to these folks," Penner said.

Topics discussed at the conference will include