Originally authored by Kenneth Sherin, former SDSU Extension Community Vitality Program Director.
BROOKINGS, S.D. - SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist, Peggy Schlechter was recently recognized with the Friend of Economic Development Award by the Wall Economic Development Corporation.
"As a new organization, we wanted to find a way to give back and thank those who have helped us, supported us and encouraged us along the way. Peggy has done so much for our community, it was a pleasure to give her this award," said Liliya Stone, Executive Director of the Wall Economic Development Corporation which was founded in 2016.
As a member of the SDSU Extension Community Vitality Team, Schlechter first began working with the community of Wall six years ago when she helped facilitate the Stronger Economies Together program, a regional economic development effort in which Wall participates. She began working directly with Wall Economic Development Corporation in 2016 as Wall made plans to participate in the Marketing Hometown America program.
SDSU Extension's Marketing Hometown America program is designed to train community leaders to organize citizens to change the dialogue and make strategic changes to benefit their community.
Engaging with rural South Dakota citizens is what Schlechter enjoys about her role with SDSU Extension. "We have the friendliest, smartest and nicest people in South Dakota - especially when they are working for their community's future," said Schlechter who grew up on a ranch near a rural community.
Through her work with SDSU Extension, Schlechter says she is always impressed by the fact that it does not take many community members to impact positive change.
"It's amazing what people can accomplish when they say, 'we have control over what our community can look like in the future. And, we want to use our abilities to make great things happen,'" Schlechter said.
And, like many of the communities she works with, when she worked with the Wall community, Schlechter says she was impressed by the work ethic and creativity she found among the citizens who she worked with.
"My role was really to guide them as they developed their strategic plan, serve as an encourager and help connect them to resources," Schlechter explained.