2018 Rural Dakota Pride Honorees Recognized Today During South Dakota State Fair

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Each year, during the State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognizes individuals for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. 

 Today, individuals from rural communities across South Dakota were recognized. The honorees are pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President. Honorees include (left to right): Joe Schnell, Lake Preston; Diana Runge, Wessington; Tim Holzer, Arlington; Amy Hofer, Doland; Roger Deiter, Faulkton and Marie and John Condon, Millboro.

Each year, during the State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognizes individuals for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award.  Today, individuals from rural communities across South Dakota were recognized. The honorees include: Joe Schnell, Lake Preston; Diana Runge, Wessington; Tim Holzer, Arlington; Amy Hofer, Doland; Roger Deiter, Faulkton and Marie and John Condon, Millboro.

 As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Farmers Union understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota's number one industry and their rural communities.

 "One cannot survive without the other," says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of S.D. Farmers Union. "Without thriving communities, it's difficult to encourage young people to return to their family's farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota's agriculture industry, which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive." 

Amy Hofer, Doland

Like most working moms, daycare is essential. But in Doland, the closest daycare was 20 miles away. So, Amy Hofer, mother of two sons, 5 years and younger, decided to do something about it.

 She garnered community support and wrote a grant to the Governor's House program for a building, which the community received. Today, her sons are among the 75 youth enrolled in the city-owned daycare.

 "In a rural community the size of Doland, everyone needs to play their part. This was the part I could play," says Hofer, who grew up in Sioux Falls, but moved to Doland nine years ago, after marrying a local farmer. "I really like giving back. Volunteering connects me to my community. It is heartwarming to be able to walk down the street and know everyone I meet."

 Not out to change the community of 200, Hofer is focused on volunteering to help enhance local opportunities for families like hers. Currently, she is working to revitalize the city park of which the first phase is a splash park and public restrooms.

 "I attended a conference on rural communities in June and a speaker said that communities like ours need to focus on thriving instead of growing. We need to focus on retaining the people we have and improving their quality of life by building on what currently exists in the community," she says.

Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized Amy Hofer of Doland for her selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. She one of seven South Dakotans honored with the award.

Hofer is pictured here with Doug Sombke (left), SDFU President.

Diana Runge, Wessington

The line between family and community members is quite blurry for Diana Runge. "I have family, but my community is my family, too. I can't distinguish between family and friends."

 She explains that her community has stood by her family in good times and the worst of times. As a young mother, her oldest son, Ryan was diagnosed with cancer. Within seven months, she was burying her 14-year-old. Her youngest child was only 1.

 "The community was here for us. You can't die with him, so I chose to survive," explains Runge, who now that her children are grown, pours her time into serving her community.

 She is an EMT, president of the American Legion Women's Auxiliary, organizes a group to plant flowers in the park and recently, when their local church was closed, she founded St. Joseph's Angels.

 "It's a way to keep the church name alive and stay connected to church members," she explains of the group that helps organize funeral meals and raise money to give to community members in need.

 Recently, the group made and sold 200 Indian tacos during Wessington Fun Days. "We have fun together. I don't do this stuff alone. I may be the instigator - or the one with the biggest mouth - but my friends all help," she explains. "We are helping keep the community going for the next generation."

Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized Diana Runge of  Wessington for her selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. She was one of seven South Dakotans honored with the award. Runge is pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President.

Joe Schnell, Lake Preston

A volunteer EMT for more than 35 years, Joe Schnell has helped Lake Preston citizens at times when they are most in need.

 Schnell recalls one particular emergency where a man's heart stopped. He and the ambulance crew had to conduct CPR and shock a patient six times on the way to the hospital. "By the time we arrived, he was up and talking to us. I get a good feeling every time I see him walking around - knowing that I had the privilege of being there to make that big of a difference."

 Schnell grew up on a farm in Lake Preston. After high school he became a welder and opened his own welding shop, Joe Schnell Welding Machine Company. Not long after, he joined the volunteer fire department and then, "I saw our ambulance crew needed help, so I took EMT classes. I'm happiest when I can help others out."

 Today, he is an EMT trainer, sharing what he's learned with others in his community who want to give back by serving on the volunteer ambulance crew.

 "I enjoy sharing the knowledge of what I've learned and being able to see other people achieve their dream of becoming an EMT," explains Schnell, who took 2,000 hours of training to become a paramedic. "It's rewarding when you find out that someone you trained, helped save someone."

 In addition to serving as a paramedic and EMT trainer, Schnell has served as president of the South Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association. He has been a Lake Preston volunteer fireman since 1975 and served as chief and assistant chief. He has served on the Lake Preston City Council for more than 20 years and is a member of the Lake Preston Development Corporation.


Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized Joe Schnell of  Lake Preston for his selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. He was one of seven South Dakotans honored with the award. Schnell is pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President.

John & Marie Condon, Winner

John and Marie Condon have been 4-H volunteers for more than two decades. Their son, KC, likes to tease them about their dedication.

 "He says he graduated from 4-H in 11 years, but John and I must have flunked because it's 22 years later and we are still involved," Marie says.

 Asked to become club leaders during their first meeting, John and Marie didn't hesitate.

Of all the 4-H projects he participated in, shooting sports was the area that KC enjoyed most. So, when there was a need for volunteers, John and Marie became certified shooting sports instructors.

 "We saw that it was so good for the kids and that they needed volunteers," Marie says.

John adds,. "It teaches kids safety. They have to learn safety before they can participate. I know firearms are dangerous. But, if they are handled right, they aren't."

 From the beginning, KC excelled, qualifying for state and national competitions. Marie and John did more than tag along. They saw a need for judges, so they became certified instructors. They were asked to run the muzzle loader competition when South Dakota hosted the national shooting sports competition - and again they said, "yes."

 Since 2006, they have served as range officers for the national muzzle loader event.

"If instructors aren't there, you don't have a program," Marie says. "It is fun to see kids succeed, accomplish something and achieve their goals."

 In addition to supporting their son and Tripp County youth, the couple says they have also gained a lot of friends from across the nation through their volunteer work with 4-H shooting sports.

 In addition to shooting sports, the couple is involved in the annual 4-H Rocket Launch, securing judges for local 4-H achievement days, transporting 4-H'ers to camp, coaching the 4-H quiz bowl, judging the state 4-H horse quiz bowl and volunteering at the Black Hills Stock Show horse quiz bowl. John served many years on the board of directors for Bob Marshall 4-H Camp.

 

Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized John & Marie Condon of Winner for their selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. They are among seven South Dakotans honored with the award. John and Marie are pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President.

Roger Deiter, Faulkton

When his adult daughters, Shauna Remily and Chelsea Odden, decided to return to Faulkton to raise their families, Roger Deiter decided it was time to become even more involved in his community.

 "It hit me, how important it is to have a community for my daughters to come back to. I give back to try to make Faulkton a place that accommodates everyone - from people who want to retire here to those who are raising young families," he explains. "A place that makes people want to come home."

 A fourth-generation farmer, Deiter spent most of his life raising registered cattle and crops. About a decade ago, the family got out of the cattle business, and Deiter poured his extra time into his community. He had previously served as board chairman and helped fundraise for a new Lutheran church building, began serving as a county commissioner, currently serves as chairman of the hospital foundation board and served as chairman of the Economic Development Corporation during the construction of a new housing development and industrial park. In a two-year period, the Economic Development Corp. secured in excess of $400,000 in grant money that brought new opportunities to the community.

 "I believe in leading by example," Deiter explains.

 When the community needed to provide more housing opportunities, the Deiter family gifted farmland for the housing development. When the local golf course and football field needed work, Deiter donated his time and equipment. A new park/playground "Hopes Park and Playground" is currently under construction south of the hospital and being spearheaded by Roger's wife, Beth.

 "If you are willing to put your time and effort where your mouth is, it sets a different tone," he says.

Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized Roger Deiterof Faulkton for his selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. He was one of seven South Dakotans honored with the award. Deiter is pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President.

Tim Holzer, Arlington

Nearly 40 years ago, when Tim Holzer moved to Arlington, he and his wife, Tammy, didn't know anyone. Today, there isn't anyone Tim doesn't know.

 "I made an effort to get involved in the community and just plain make this our home," Holzer explains.

 First, he joined the local bowling league. Then, he joined the volunteer fire department. He helped establish Dollars for Scholars Scholarship fund. He is a volunteer driver for the Arlington Ambulance, served on the Arlington City Council and is an active member of the Arlington Sons of the Legion.

 "Someone has to get involved. In these small communities, there are so few of us, that if we don't do it, these communities won't survive," says Holzer.

 Early in his career, volunteering was about the only way he could get to know people. During the workweek he was out of town working as an insurance claims adjuster. He looked forward to the monthly volunteer firefighter trainings as a way to reconnect with community members.

 "There are so many guys I have gotten to know through the fire department. It's almost like family," explains Holzer, who has served as a volunteer firefighter for 32 years.

Today, he continues to work in the insurance industry, but in his current role, he gets to stay in town.

 This just gives him more time to volunteer.

 "Right now I have three rolls of raffle tickets on my desk for three different raffles I'm helping with," he says.

 In addition to community involvement mentioned above, Holzer is also an active member of the St. John's Catholic Church and serves on the Church Council; he has served as a member and officer of the Community Club and the Arlington Chamber of Commerce; he served eight years on the Arlington City Council; serves on the Arlington Community Development Corporation and after the Arlington High School was condemned, he served on the Arlington School District Committee Building Project focused on reconstruction of a new high school building and gym

Today, during the S.D. State Fair, South Dakota Farmers Union recognized Tim Holzer  of Arlington for his selfless contributions to rural communities across the state with the Rural Dakota Pride Award. He was one of seven South Dakotans honored with the award. Holzer is pictured here with Doug Sombke, SDFU President.


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