By Jamie Lancaster
What does a Hutterite colony, a tour bus full of people and De Smet have in common? Leadership South Dakota!
Rita Anderson and Jamie Lancaster of the De Smet Development Corporation partnered with Dakota Resources on Jan. 12 to host the group, which focuses on building the next generation of South Dakota Leaders. The organization, helmed by Dr. Rick Melmer, exists to inspire leaders for a stronger South Dakota by connecting leaders who will invest in themselves, engage communities and elevate South Dakota.
The cohort, which is joined through an application process, has several gatherings throughout the term, one of which focuses on rural leadership. The day began with Anderson and Lancaster meeting the group at Collins Colony north of Manchester for a homemade lunch and an informative and interesting tour of business operations and life in a Hutterite Brethren colony.
George Wipf led the group through the inner workings of their largest endeavor, an immense precast concrete manufacturing plant in which are created the wall segments, structural beams and more for buildings that are then assembled all over the upper Midwest.
Many in the group were impressed and awed by the level of sophistication and complexity being seen, which led to one of the most poignant leadership lessons of the day.
While standing under a 60-ton indoor crane looking at immense reusable forms a hundred yards long, one participant asked, “These technical skills, how did you learn this stuff?”
George Wipf’s short, but impactful, response was simply, “By making mistakes.”
After a view of the day-to-day happenings of colony members and an informative question and answer session, the group of nearly 50 people from all corners of South Dakota continued to De Smet.
Anderson gave the assembly a bus tour of De Smet’s booming industrial park, engaging attractions and quaint main street, ending at the De Smet Event Center to hear from a panel on rural leadership. The group filled the room, enjoying cookies from Ward’s Store, while hearing from regional leaders.
The panel, led by Mike Knutson of Dakota Resources, consisted of Lindsey Kimber, Caleb Fink, Joel Price and Anderson. A wonderful discussion of the challenges and glories of leading in rural communities ensued, with many of De Smet’s accomplishments being brought to the forefront.
De Smet’s progressive, can-do attitude with a push toward excellence continues to be noticed throughout the state. The De Smet Development Corporation is thankful for the city and all its engaged residents for making days like this possible. It is an honor to represent this community around the region and beyond.