Rural & Remote Summit Keynote Speaker scheduled for Fall 2021 Summit

Hays, Kansas: Rural & Remote Director, Kade Wilcox, confirmed today the keynote speaker for a Rural & Remote Summit: The Future of Work. Paul Hill is an Extension Professor for Utah State University where he leads economic development educational programs in rural counties through the Rural Online Initiative program that he founded in 2018. He is a past recipient of the Utah Governor’s Medal for Science Technology as well as 25 other state and national awards for his innovative programs, impacts, research, and publications. Paul and his team are currently implementing a remote work education program and have real world experience of how remote work has impacted rural communities in Utah and other states.

This free event is open to anyone interested in how remote working is impacting rural communities in the northwest region of Kansas. The summit will be in Hays, Kansas on September 23, 2021 from 9:00am-3:00pm.

“Our target audience for the summit includes community leaders, employers, and individuals that are curious if remote work may be a good fit for them. We will have breakout sessions available for those wanting to participate in our program, and those wanting to bring Rural & Remote to their community” says Gretchin Staples, Regional Program Coordinator.

Rural & Remote is an initiative of the NWK Economic Innovation Center, INC and was started in the spring of 2019. For over 2 years, Rural & Remote has helped train and connect northwest Kansas residents to remote job opportunities with customized skills training and job placement support.

Melissa Rickford, Atwood KS, a Rawlins county resident, contacted Rural & Remote through their website and enrolled in the January 2021 Remote Work Certification course. “It has seriously changed my entire life,” she says from the comfort of her home office on a sunny afternoon. “The company I work for makes me feel good about what I’m doing every day and it is challenging work with so much room for growth.”

“Through Rural & Remote, you get the training and you gain that collaboration with the right connections,” she said. “You have to do the work, but they help open the doors to opportunities. Your career is not based on your location. It’s based on your skill. With the right connections and pathways, you can achieve your greatest career goals.” You can read more of Melissa’s story at

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2020 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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