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Rural Pride Award winners showcase selfless service

Slideshow: South Dakota Farmers Union has announced five recipients of the 2019 Rural Pride Award.

It’s always interesting to see who South Dakota Farmers Union’s annual Rural Pride Awards are and what they are doing to make their cities and small towns better places to live.

This year’s winners started a girls running club, coached a high school robotics team, volunteered at a domestic abuse center, built a community gas station and served community and industry boards for the past 65 years.

The 2019 winners, who will be recognized Aug. 31 at the South Dakota State Fair, are:

Angie Mueller, Ethan, S.D. Mueller co-founded the Be{YOU}tiful Strides Running Club in 2015 for third- to sixth-grade girls. “We wanted to help girls realize that with a little work, encouragement, practice and belief in self, they could do something big,” she says.

Each October, the club ends its season by hosting a Sparkle Run where they put their training to the test and raise money for a cause, such as NHim Orphanages or a community member in need.

Jim Lane, Groton. Lane is the robotics team coach in Groton. When he hears people make negative comments about “kids these days,” Lane is always quick to disagree.

“I get to work with kids who put an incredible amount of work into their projects,” he says. “Their work ethic, fortitude and personal drive are why I like volunteering as the robotics coach.”

To learn more about the Robotics Education & Competition Foundation, visit roboticseducation.org.

Rich Bakeberg, Frederick, S.D. Bakeberg is the volunteer chairman of the Frederick Development Corp. When the Cenex station in Frederick closed, the closest fueling option was 12 miles away in Ellendale, N.D. The corporation built a self-service fuel station and leased the facility to Agtegra.

“After going without a local gas station for quite a while, this was a big success for us and our community,” he says.

Jeanine Hofer, Huron, S.D. Hofer is a volunteer with the Manolis Family Safe Center, a volunteer organization for victims of domestic abuse.

Along with providing victims with a safe place to live, Hofer and other volunteers take turns buying groceries, cleaning and doing home maintenance, driving family members to counseling and doctor appointments, and anything else necessary to “help them feel empowered and in control of their own life,” she says.

“We give them a new avenue to follow so they don’t have to fall back into the same domestic situation,” Hofer says. “We can give them guidance to help them make better choices.”

Hofer’s focus is typically the children. “When it comes to domestic violence, children don’t have a choice. Parents do. The children need someone there for them,” Hofer says.

Franklin Olson, Pierpont, S.D. Olson has served on many different organizations in his community for the past 65 years including South Dakota Farmers Union, Farmers Union Oil, Brown-Day-Marshall Rural Water Service, Farm Service Agency and the Strand Kjorsvig Living Center.

“It’s always easy to work hard for something you thoroughly believe in,” Olson says. Olson had to fit board meetings and service activities into his already busy farm and dairy schedule.

“Some mornings I got up early, and some nights I worked late. JoAnne (his spouse) was always a great support,” he says.

He rarely missed a meeting or was late for a meeting.

“People who milk cows do things on time,” he says.

SDFU provided the information about the winners.
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