3RNet Blog

Thanks for visiting the 3RNet blog! Blog posts are written by members, staff, and partners. If you have an idea for a blog post, or are interested in writing one, please contact Kristine Morin, Director of Communications and Marketing, at Morin@3RNet.org.


We spent last week in Denver, Colorado for our 19th annual conference with many 3RNet members, partners, sponsors, and others interested in recruitment and retention efforts for rural and underserved areas across the country. 

To recap this wonderful event, we’ve put together a list of “Six of our Favorite Things from our 2014 Annual Conference”:

1. Our Award Recipients

In 2013, we added a special piece to our Annual Conference by presenting the first-ever Fred Moskol leadership award to Tom Tucker. You can learn more about Fred Moskol and the Moskol award here. This year, our Board of Directors (who is responsible for choosing the recipient of this award) chose Mary Amundson from the University of North Dakota as the Moskol award recipient. Congratulations, Mary, and thank you for your years of dedication to rural health, recruitment and retention, and 3RNet.

In addition to the Moskol award, we were a bit sneaky this year. Our executive director, Mike Shimmens, felt it was important to recognize Nikki Kennedy-Kafer and Jerry Kafer’s years of service, tireless dedication, and most important – their retirement (!) at this year’s conference, but knew that the legacy Nikki and Jerry will leave 3RNet was worth celebrati years to come. What better way to recognize Nikki and Jerry than by giving an award to someone who shares their commitment to 3RNet and their passion for service? So, we surprised Nikki and Jerry and the inaugural recipient of the “Kennedy-Kafer Service Award”, Melissa Candelaria from New Mexico. Congrats, Melissa, and thank you for encompassing so many of the “Kennedy-Kafer” characteristics that, like Nikki and Jerry, make you so valuable to our organization and such a joy to be around!

2. Our Keynote, Dr. Bowen White

A health care-related presentation entitled “Why Normal Isn’t Healthy” could include a lot of different things. Bowen White captured our crowd with his creativity, quick wit, and positive message. Although we don’t want to give too much away about his presentation, we hope our attendees enjoyed it as much as we did. Many (if not all) of our members wear many hats and face many challenges in their work. Dr. White’s uplifting message was a great way to start our conference and was (we hope) a solid boost in moral, which is why we had to include him in our list of ‘conference favorites’!

3. Warm Hellos and Bittersweet Farewells

This year’s conference was the first one for our new staff members, Mark Barclay and Kristine Morin, and we are very excited they were able to meet many of the members they work with everyday in person, and share some resources, tools, and tips throughout the conference. 

We also welcomed many new members, and were so glad they were able to participate and learn more about 3RNet’s network in person. 

We use our conference each year to transition out any outgoing board of directors and welcome any new board members who were just voted in. This year we welcome Melissa Candelaria (New Mexico), Joyce Grayson (Kansas), and David Raines (Veterans Administration) to our board of directors and we also welcome a new board president: Keith Clark (Nevada). Finally, we said ‘goodbye’ to outgoing board president Steve Shotwell (Michigan), and outgoing board member Randy Munson (Wisconsin). Thank you, Steve and Randy, for your continuous hard work and support toward 3RNet’s mission.

Most importantly, we used this time to say goodbye (although we know they will always be a part of our 3RNet family) to Nikki and Jerry, who retired in March but kindly stayed on board to help coordinate many conference details. We could never fully say farewell to these two, but we are so glad we were able to use some time to recognize them in person!

4. Speakers

How could we make a list of our favorite things from this year’s annual conference without giving some serious recognition to all of our amazing speakers!? We feel very fortunate that so many talented people were willing (and able) to take time from their busy schedules to share important information with us. 

5. Our 3RNet Promotional Video

We were able to unveil a promotional video we have been working on for several months. This project was no small undertaking, and we could not have put it together without the extraordinary amount of assistance we received from many of our members. You can watch our video here (or below) to learn more about 3RNet: who we are, what we do, and how we work as a national association.

6. Sponsors

Last, but certainly not least, we are so grateful to all of our amazing sponsors! We work hard to make sure we have a good mix of folks who have goods or information that is so important for our members (in many different ways). We feel very fortunate that we have such great people and organizations who support this event and share their good information with our attendees. We appreciate your support and thank you so much for helping make 2014 a truly great conference!

We had such a great time in Denver, and we are very excited to see everyone in Portland, Oregon for our 20th annual conference next year, which will be a joint-effort conference with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) and the National Cooperative of Health Networks (NCHN). Look for more information about next year’s Rural Health Summit soon.

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