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Rural Community Leaders meet in Mitchell for South Dakota Change Network Cohort Meeting

Brookings, S.D. - South Dakota change agents will gather in Mitchell June 19-21, 2018 to celebrate the positive change they are making in communities across the state as a result of a projects inspired and developed during a year-long fellowship, through the South Dakota Change Network Cohort, a project funded by the Bush Foundation and advised by SDSU Extension Community Vitality Field Specialist, Kari O'Neill.

"South Dakota Change Network Cohort is designed for South Dakotans working to lead change in their organizations and communities," explained O'Neill.

Over this last year, members of the first South Dakota Change Network Cohort have met several times in person and online to learn about and apply principles of inclusion, diversity and equity to a project of their choice.

They followed curriculum developed by National Art Strategies out of Washington, D.C. who received funding for organizing and providing content from the Bush Foundation.

During the Mitchell meeting, Cohort members will learn about Leadership as a Verb, Competing Values, and Creating High Quality Programs from nationally-known speaker, Dr. Valerie Myers, University of Michigan. They will also glean more knowledge about Intercultural Conflict from Minneapolis trainer Janice Downing.

Meet the cohort members:

To participate in the South Dakota Change Network Cohort, members underwent an application and selection process. They were selected based on their desire to become change agents in their regions.

All participants have outlined projects they will be completing to improve either an organization or community that they represent. Through the South Dakota Change Network Cohort, these change agents received small grants to help them complete their projects.

Individuals selected champions they work with to mentor and encourage them as they work on their projects and apply what they have learned in the cohort to their lives.

Current cohort members from around the state, and their project issues include:

  • Jill Baker, Sioux Falls - developing a community of care for veterans and military families
  • Stacey Berry, Madison - inclusive higher education student organizations
  • Jared Hybertson, Centerville - welcoming new ethnic groups to small towns
  • Kelsey Kenzy Sutton, Burke - building stronger rural community engagement
  • Billy Mawhiney, Sioux Falls - bringing Boys & Girls Clubs to Public Housing
  • Patti Martinson, Rapid City - highlighting art in equality around GLBT programming in Rapid City
  • Carla Miller, Sioux Falls - providing training for parents and educators on preschool social and emotional development
  • Alli Moran, Eagle Butte - increasing higher education enrollment of high school youth on Cheyenne River Reservation
  • Andrea Powers, Hot Springs - attracting young people to the region
  • Traci Smith, Sioux Falls - developing a revolving bail fund for offenders dealing with behavioral health disorders
  • Adam Strenge, Sioux Falls - working on inclusive student organizations at SE Tech
  • Peter Strong, Rapid City - building capacity in Native American artists in the region to expand their work
  • Viola Wahn, Parmelee - introducing students to native plants and their uses in health and wellness
  • Ernest Weston, Porcupine - developing a higher education Native student board

More about the Bush Foundation

The Bush Foundation's mission is to "invest in great ideas and the people who power them." They fund programs in the 3-state region (SD, ND, MN) around create solutions to problems, and building opportunities for all people. Funding for the Change Network was geared toward finding local individuals ready to make positive change in their organizations and communities as leaders.

For more information

Media is invited to interview participants on June 21 at 3 p.m. Media should RSVP to O'Neill by email.

For more information about the South Dakota Change Network Cohort, contact O'Neill by email. The application deadline is closed and the selection is currently underway for the 2018-2019 South Dakota Change Network Cohort.

2017-2018 South Dakota Change Network Cohort group

Courtesy of iGrow. The 2017-2018 South Dakota Change Network Cohort includes the following South Dakotans: (left to right) Carla Miller, Sioux Falls; Jill Baker, Sioux Falls; Viola Wahn, Parmelee; Jared Hybertson, Centerville; Stacey Berry, Madison; Kelsea Sutton, Burke; Alli Moran, Eagle Butte; Ernest Weston, Porcupine; Billy Mawhiney, Sioux Falls; Adam Strenge, Sioux Falls; Patti Martinson, Rapid City; Traci Smith, Sioux Falls; Andrea Powers, Hot Springs and Peter Strong, Rapid City.