Helping women in her community has been Cindy Wilk's calling for more than 30 years. It began when her mother, Jan Manolis, was among a group of women to open a domestic violence shelter in Huron.
"Domestic violence is something that is very dear to my heart. Years ago there was no place for women to go for help. If they didn't have help from family or friends, there was nothing - no shelters or no counseling," explains Wilk, who serves as a volunteer advocate. Today, thanks to the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center and numerous volunteer advocates, not only do victims and their children (the shelter also helps men who are abused) have a safe place to stay if they are in an abusive situation, but they also have an advocate to help them move forward. "We make sure they are not alone," Wilk says. As an advocate, she carries a shelter cell phone for two weeks at a time, answering calls from victims and helping them with anything they need. "We are there to let them know we are on their side."
Like many farmers with deep roots in South Dakota, the Dirty Thirties weren’t kind to David Kayser’s family. His grandpa, Felix Kayser, lost his Emery farm and his grandpa, Art Jarding, had to invest his own money to save the local cooperative he helped establish.
“Those were tough times for agriculture,” says Kayser, 55, who raises corn, soybeans and cattle with his sons near Alexandria.
In the end, both grandpas saw their sacrifices pay off. Felix was able to get a fresh start in 1943 when he purchased a farm near Alexandria and Art saw the local cooperative thrive.
In 1950, Donald and Armella Ries purchased some farmland a few miles southeast of Watertown and began milking four cows. A year later, their son, Mel, was born. Today Mel, his wife Orla, and three of their five grown children continue to milk cows on the farm.
"I was raised with it, so I guess dairying stays in your blood," explains Mel, who began buying his own cows as a teen and farming full-time with his dad right out of high school. In 1990 he purchased the farm from his folks.
His sons, Jason, Deric and Todd, joined the family farm much the same way; first buying cows in high school, then renting farm acres and today operating a 300-head cow/calf herd as well.
Now with families of their own, the brothers continue to slowly expand the farm's diversified operations.
"This is a family farm. Anyone and everyone who wants to be involved, is involved," explains Orla, as she rocks her young grandson, Walker, who is sleeping on her lap. Three years ago, Orla retired from her off-farm job to babysit. She and Mel have 15 grandchildren and three on the way…
Spring fever hasn’t spread among South Dakota’s farmers as expected this planting season. Jeff Kippley attributes the atypical behavior to current commodity prices which are down about 65 percent from the last five-year average.
“Normally, when you see a 70 degree day, guys are chomping at the bit to get into their fields. This spring very few farmers I have talked with are excited to get planting because they’re worried they may not turn a profit on what they grow,” says Kippley, a Brown County grain and livestock farmer who is also the co-owner of H&R Block of Aberdeen…