Outdoorsman Living Life to the Fullest

Outdoorsman Photographer Advocate

Sam at WorkSam Soholt, 30, has lived out of duffle bags and totes since early 2014. He travels 95% of the year working as a professional photographer and videographer in the hunting and outdoor industry. His images allow clients to tell their story visually.

The only material things Sam really needs are a camera and a toothbrush- “one to make a living and the other so clients will want to talk to me.”

For a guy with no formal photography training, Sam has landed world-wide assignments and magazine covers through hard work and networking. He’s traveled across New Zealand, Patagonia, British Columbia, Central Montana, South Dakota and other places taking images and creating lifetime memories. “Every photo puts me back into a specific moment. It’s a great way to keep memories and emotions fresh.”

Becoming an Outdoorsman

A native of Sioux Falls, South Dakota and current Montana resident, Sam spent the majority of his time in nature being adventurous. He grew up hunting with father and brother. “There was almost never a question I’d end up doing something in the hunting industry.”

Combining his two passions-hunting and photography-while making a living is the purest form of cultivating a life for himself.

Sam’s is well-educated and disciplined. He earned both bachelors and master’s degrees in business from North Dakota State University in Fargo, ND. And, he’s a high school and collegiate award-winning track and field athlete.

He’s willing to take career risks and enter new areas with a “trial by fire” approach.

Right Place. Right Time.

Sam learned the basics as a graduate school intern with an Iowa hunting show. He’s watched YouTube videos and dissected photographic images trying to understand how the photographer shot the photo.

He’s met the right people at the right time. His first big break in the industry was shooting for Coast Guard Alaska in Kodiak. “I had $56 to my name when I hopped on the plane. But, I’ve had the support and encouragement to take risks.” He also had the confidence to know he could get a “regular job” if things didn’t work out.

They do work out though. Sam met the editor of Wildfowl Magazine in an Idaho bear camp. He happened to show him a few photos of duck hunting from the previous fall. That meeting landed him a magazine cover shot-a huge deal for photographers.

Not all Bliss Being Outdoorsman

Sam fights the misperception that “life is one big dream” for him. He admits to living an exciting and adventurous lifestyle. However, there are times where he doesn’t care for the more mundane tasks. “I spend more time behind a computer and on the phone than in the field.” This is a job. It’s work.

Outdoorsman with a Cause

For the next year Sam’s living in a bus-one he bought and retrofitted for a cause. It’s his hunting cabin and means to travel to public lands where he spends time hunting, fishing and recreating while capturing and sharing what those lands have to offer.

He’s partnered with like-minded organizations Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (BHA), Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and Outdoor Life to capture people’s attention and gain maximum exposure for his cause.

He’s been a bit surprised, however, with how long it takes while driving a bus from Point A to Point B. Yet, he’s committed to the year’s work.

Save Public Land

He’s out to educate citizens on the need to protect public lands. This land is owned by the people of the USA but managed at a state or federal level. “These lands are a free way to connect to nature and spend time in wild places.” Also, losing public lands would be losing his way of life. “I find adventure and relaxation in the wild. I don’t have to ask permission to spend time on those lands.”

Sam says he’s received overwhelming positive support for “what I am up to. People from all over the country and world have reached out in support.” His strongest supporters are sportsmen and women ages 30-60. “This group has done so much to protect wildlife and hunting heritage in the country. It’d be hard to see any of this work being thrown to the wayside.”

Predictably, the loudest opposition stems from resource extraction companies like oil, gas and electric. “These people would like to be the ones to buy up all this land and increase the amount of resources they pull from it.”

Call to Action

If you’re interested in supporting his mission, you can do so by:

  • Following along on Instagram @samsoholt
  • Purchasing a t-shirt. $5 from every sales goes to Backcountry Hunters and Anglers publictees.com.
  • Joining a conservation group like BHA, RMEF, Mule Deer Foundation, etc.

 

Sam Soholt is chasing his dreams and ambitions. He’s comfortable taking risks on things that may or may not work out. And he’s living up to the quote, “Don’t get so busy making a living that you forget to live a life.”

ARE YOU?

SHARE Sam’s story. Tell me yours below.

©Copyright. October 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buffalo Round Up: Everything You Need to Know

Annual Buffalo Roundup Up: Custer, South Dakota

Is  a Buffalo Roundup on your bucket list?  It’s worth seeing the Buffalo Roundup at least once in your lifetime.

If you grew up herding cattle, this Roundup will seem familiar, only with larger animals and a super-sized crowd.

If you have never herded cattle, this Annual Roundup will be an amazing event for you.

Each year about 1300 buffalo are rounded up as part of this event.

Here’s everything you need to know for an outstanding experience. Included are suggested side trips from  Custer, South Dakota. Go Explore South Dakota and all of its great places.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Friday, September 27, 2019

Annual Buffalo Round Up and Arts Festival in Custer State Park in Custer, South Dakota, south of Mt. Rushmore. Click on bold links for additional helpful information.

 

12 Roundup Tips

  1. Parking lots open at 6:15 AM & close at 9:00 AM. A park entrance license is not required on Friday-the day of the annual Buffalo Roundup.
  2. Handicapped parking is available in both the North and South lots. These spots are closest to the viewing area. This means, last out after the Roundup. It can take an hour to get out of the parking lot. Restrooms are available near the parking lots.
  3. Roundup begins at 9:30 AM. Depending on where you sit and view, it could be between 10:30-11:00 AM before you get a glimpse of the buffalo.
  4. Arrive early; there is a lot of traffic and it moves slowly.
  5. Pack a chair or blanket, rain gear and/or sun screen and a light jacket for early morning temperatures. Bring binoculars, a camera and bug spray. If you’re not a people watcher, bring cards or games. There’s a lot of wait time. Interact with fellow viewers; many from all over the USA.
  6. Pack a cooler of light snacks and water, or non-alcoholic beverages.
  7. Respect fellow viewers. If you arrive late, don’t expect premium seating. And certainly don’t stand in front of guests who’ve been there hours ahead of you.
  8. Breakfast for a fee is served at 6:15 AM and lunch at 2 PM. Be prepared for long lines. Have cash ready.
  9. Plan your travel route in advance. The roadways are pitch black in the early morning hours. If you’d rather leave the driving to professionals, book a shuttle ride. Check with your lodging accommodations for shuttle referrals. There are many options.
  10. Pets not allowed. If you bring one, it must be kept in the vehicle.
  11. Keep it mind that while this is a public viewing, the buffalo are actually herded into the area and placed into corrals for the annual testing, branding and sorting. This activity starts at 1 PM and goes until about 3 PM. You are invited to view this.
  12. Make sure your gas tank is full. There is a lot of slow-moving traffic both in and out of the viewing areas.

Arts Festival

The Arts Festival is part of the Annual Buffalo Roundup. 2017 dates are: September 28-30.

Fine arts and crafts are on display. Entertainers perform under a big tent.

Food, including buffalo meat, is served. Have plenty of cash available.

All events and vendors are across from the Peter Norbeck Outdoor Education Center located along US Highway 16A near the Historic State Game Lodge.

Side Trips

One can spend a week or more in the Black Hills and Badlands of South Dakota. There’s plenty to see and do. Add these side trips to your visit. If you prefer to use a guide, contact Golden Circle Tours in Custer or Affordable Adventures in Rapid City. [I’ve used both companies with great success.]

Drive through Custer State Park & Take in:

Sylvan Lake

Hike around the lake. Kayak. Stare at it. Arrive early in the morning and watch the sunrise. It’s a must-see spot while in the area.

 

Needles Highway: South Dakota Highway 87

The Needles of the Black Hills of South Dakota are a region of eroded granite pillars, towers, and spires within Custer State Park. This National Scenic Byway was completed in 1922 and includes 14 miles of sharp turns, low tunnels and impressive granite spires. The road lies within the 73,000 acre Custer State Park, just 30 miles south of Rapid City.

 

The Wildlife

A herd of 1,300 bison roams freely throughout the park, often stopping traffic along the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road. The herd is one of the largest publicly owned herds in the world.

Besides bison, the park is home to wildlife such as pronghorn antelope, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, deer, elk, wild turkeys, and a band of friendly burros.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Address for GPS:

13000 Highway 244
Building 31, Suite 1

Keystone, SD 57751

Mountain Time Hours are:

8:00AM-5:00 PM October-May. 8:00AM-10:00 PM June-mid-August. 8:00AM-9:00 PM mid-August-September.

There is NO entrance fee but parking is currently $11 per vehicle.

Spearfish Canyon

Spearfish is in the northern area of the Hills. And the Canyon on US Highway 14 A is the #1 attraction there. Bridal Veil Falls, Roughlock Falls and Spearfish Falls are must-see when driving through this wooded area.

 

Hill City

Hill City is known as the “Heart of the Black Hills.” It is found between two of the world’s largest and most famous sculptures: Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse.

Visit the wineries, art galleries, museums, restaurants, retail stores in Hill City.  A favorite is Prairie Berry Winery in Hill City.

 

 

Crazy Horse Memorial

Address for GPS:

Crazy Horse Memorial
12151 Avenue of the Chiefs
Crazy Horse, SD 57730-8900

The Mission of Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation is to protect and preserve the culture, tradition and living heritage of the North American Indians. It does not receive federal or state funding.

The Legends in Light Laser Show here is worth every penny and every minute. Plan to go early to visit the museums and gift shop. You can watch from your vehicle or from benches in an outdoor viewing area.

Additional tours are available. Details are on their website.

Devils Tower National Monument

Devils Tower is an astounding geologic feature that protrudes 867 feet out of the rolling prairie surrounding the Black Hills. It is considered sacred to the Northern Plains Indians and other tribes. Hundreds of parallel cracks make it one of the finest crack climbing areas in North America.

The Monument is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and every day of the year. The visitor center and the Devils Tower Natural History Association Bookstore are open daily from 8AM-7PM, with the exception of December 25th and January 1st.

The 2017 vehicle pass is $15.00.

Badlands National Park

Address for GPS:

25216 Ben Reifel Road
Interior, SD 57750

Open all year, 24 hours a day, except for weather closures.

$20 per automobile-good for 7 days.

The Lakota people were the first to call this place “mako sica” or “land bad.” Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name.

Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park’s typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.

Its dramatic landscapes span layered rock formations, steep canyons and towering spires. Bison, bighorn sheep and prairie dogs inhabit its sprawling grasslands. The Badlands Loop Road (Highway 240) winds past scenic lookouts. Several trails begin near the Ben Reifel Visitor Center. The Fossil Exhibit Trail is a boardwalk with displays on fossils uncovered in the park.

To fully experience most of what the Badlands has to offer, it takes two days. To drive through the park and stop at a few overlooks, it takes about two hours. Here are a few highlights you won’t want to miss & the minimum time needed. Taken from Badlands National Park website FAQs.

• Drive the Highway 240 Badlands Loop Road (60 minutes if you do not stop at any overlooks)
• Stop at a minimum of two scenic overlooks (30 minutes)
• Drive the Sage Creek Rim Road to see animals and additional views (30 to 60 minutes – depending on distance covered)
• Hike a trail or explore the back-country (variable time/distances – 30 minutes to all day)
• Attend a ranger fossil talk (30 min) or guided walk (60 minutes)
• Stop at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center (60 minutes)
• Go to the White River Visitor Center (45 minutes – does not include travel time to the facility)
• Take in a sunset or sunrise (20 minutes)
• Tour the South Unit of the park (45 minutes to all day)

This is just a small sample of the many sites one can see while traveling in western South Dakota. You could also visit Sturgis, home of the annual motorcycle rally. The 78th one being held August 3-12, 2018.  Or, stop in Deadwood, and Keystone, or at other landmarks in the area .

Click on the bold links.

Plan a trip.

Attend the Annual Buffalo Roundup.

Enjoy the many great places in South Dakota.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

If you’d like to have Linda write about your community or event, contact her below:

 

©Copyright. September 2017. Linda Leier Thomason

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SD Attorney Strikes Balance in Life

Jim M. Wiederrich-36 Year South Dakota Attorney

I’m starting a new series of feature interviews. These people have inspired and/or intrigued me for years. I’ve always wanted to know what drives them and how they’ve “hauled rocks” in their own lives to create meaningful personal and professional lives.


jheadshotMy family and I met Jim in 2013 as participants in the South Dakota Technology Center’s Accelerator Program (Today known as Zeal.).  Jim and a team of lawyers presented business law subject matter during a day’s session.  Having just relocated to Sioux Falls, South Dakota from Charleston, South Carolina,  we were instantly drawn to his demeanor and presence, which fondly reminded us of many Southern statesmen. It was clear he was respected by his peers and admired by those in attendance. Driving home from the day’s session, I recall our family talking about the impression Jim made and telling 18-year-old Alex to follow Jim’s approach to life-one of balance and fairness. Both Ken and I knew Jim would be an ideal role model, even if Alex didn’t choose to practice law. The way  Jim navigated life and interacted with others mirrored our wish for Alex.

Introducing Jim…Hard working, Intelligent & Fair

JimJim has been a South Dakota practicing attorney for 36 years. He and his wife, Karri, are the proud parents of three beautiful, grown daughters: Anne, Lynn and Sara, whom he’s always encouraged to “get good grades, find a great job and build guest quarters for their parents.”

Educational Interests Led to Law School

Jim was raised on a farm south of Tripp, SD and for eight years attended a Bon Homme County one-room country school without running water or indoor plumbing. His favorite elementary school subject was South Dakota history.

Jim enjoyed high school accounting classes and participating on the debate team. As a Tripp High School junior he decided to become a lawyer.

With the encouragement of his parents, he attended the University of South Dakota and earned a BS in accounting (1977), followed by an MBA (1980) and then a Juris Doctorate (1980). He treasures memories of collegiate apartment life, living with three other business majors. And from his college years, he developed a deep appreciation for professors who brought real-life experience to their classrooms. When thinking back on his pre-law-practice days, he remembers them with “a whole lot less responsibility than one carries as an attorney looking out for the best interests of one’s clients.”

After his 1980 graduation, Jim became an associate at Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith®, P.C. in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Three years later, he became a shareholder and Board of Directors member of the same firm, where he remains today.

 Practice of Law Over Time

For more than three decades, Jim’s greatest joy as an attorney comes when a client successfully completes creation of a new company or the acquisition of one. “Either way, new jobs are created, and hopefully profits for the owners.”

His most valued career accomplishment was the organization of all of the  POET ethanol plants and operating companies. This included the purchase of real estate, development of construction contracts and marketing and licensing arrangements for 27 operating plants and a dozen operating companies. “These entities have provided thousands of jobs, lessened our dependence on foreign oil and created great wealth for investors.”

As one who wishes to be remembered as an outstanding business practitioner who understood how to negotiate a fair deal and provide great advice to clients on how to manage legal risks, Jim gets frustrated by lawyers not skilled in areas in which they are practicing. “As a result, they take positions that are unreasonable because they don’t have the background and experience to negotiate a fair and reasonable result for their client and mine.”

Jim’s seen plenty of changes in 36 years of practicing law but none greater than the government’s over-regulation of business. “Millions of new laws, ordinances and regulations have been enacted that drive up the cost of doing business beyond what is necessary to protect the public.” Regarding new law school graduates and changes over time, Jim says new graduates are more technologically proficient, which is great for efficiency. However, he cautions that reliance on the Internet, texting and social media can be misleading. “Nothing beats establishing long-term personal relationships through face-to-face interaction.”

Active Community Participant

One of the many benefits of Jim’s career is being able to be actively involved in the growth and development of the Sioux Falls community and surrounding region. Knowing he’s making a difference in the lives of people in the community matters to him. Currently, he’s concerned about the lack of affordable housing in Sioux Falls and providing adequate support to education and access to affordable health care in South Dakota.

Jim strongly believes every member of the Sioux Falls community should be involved in the local United Way and other volunteer activities. He holds the belief that community is made best when businesses, non-profits and governmental agencies coordinate and participate together.

As a man committed to his God, his family, his country and his firm, Jim serves on numerous boards within his church, his church denomination, a local hospital, Chamber of Commerce, United Way and non-profit social service agencies. He’s chosen to make time for these organizations because they provide spiritual care, help local individuals provide for their families and become self-sufficient, and grow the economic base which provides jobs for all in the work force.

In 2014 Jim was awarded the prestigious David Birkeland Memorial award for his community involvement.

Role Model

Jim understands the value of mentorship and role models for young professionals. Just as we tagged him as a role model or mentor for our son, Alex, Jim’s also had a mentor in his life: Judge Stuart Tiede who practiced at Woods Fuller prior to his 2001 appointment to the Second Judicial Circuit Court in South Dakota. “Stuart was truly a student of the law and did not settle for an adequate answer, but always the right answer to the problem at hand.”

Balance in Life + Final Thoughts

Mound of colorJim strives to achieve balance in his life between work and play. It’s likely most don’t know his favorite free time activity is flower gardening, that his favorite place today is vacationing on Maui, Hawaii or that he’s eager to visit Australia.

He’d like his legacy for his girls to be that he put his family’s needs first, had great judgement and compassion and was always available to listen or provide advice when asked. And, he’d like to thank his wife for managing the household while he spent considerable time devoted to the practice of law and volunteering in the community.

In spite of his busy career and heavy volunteer schedule, he never missed his children’s activities or time with his spouse. Remarkable priorities and balance.

Great Father. Devoted Husband. Outstanding Citizen. Accomplished Attorney. Role Model and Mentor: Jim Wiederrich.

 Share with those blessed to know and work with Jim and those who could learn from his choices in life.

Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. June 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sioux City Stinks: That’s What You Think

 4 Hours Changed My Opinion

snarkyCan I be snarky?
Since relocating to the Midwest seven years ago and commuting regularly between our first home in Sioux Falls, SD and our new home in Omaha, NE, we’ve skirted by Sioux City, Iowa on I-29 endless times. It was hard to do more than just get through there. Roadway construction is ever-present. It used to smell. Then it flooded. More recently the city decided to pick a fight with SD about using speed cameras to capture South Dakotans in a hurry to get past Sioux City. It was hard to love Sioux City, almost impossible to stop.
That all changed recently when our son, who’s attending USD in Vermillion, SD, suggested we meet in Sioux City rather than drive the additional 40 miles to his doorstep. If you read my January post (Parenting tab) “I Spent New Year’s Eve with a New Man”, you’d understand his suggestion. I’m no dummy. I knew it was more about protecting his personal space than saving us an additional 80 miles. But, that’s okay. We were gathering as a family, and that was the point.
Our meeting was decided rather quickly. None of us relished sitting in a chain restaurant looking at one another for half a day, so I did what I do for most family outings. I logged on to the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) website. If you’re unfamiliar with CVBs, you’re missing out on the best local information in any community-large or small. And, much to my surprise, Sioux City appeared rather diverse and quite appealing, at least as portrayed on the CVB website. I was a bit stunned. I was curious.
I went through the “What to Do” and “Attractions” tabs and felt a bit of remorse for neglecting Sioux City all these years, and let’s be quite honest, for also saying some less than flattering things about it. I take it all back. Every single word, well, except the part about the city bullying SD for speeder revenue.

We had a half day to enjoy one another’s company in Sioux City.

Here’s what we did.
4 Hours + 4 Attractions
1.  Trinity Heights
maryThe city was hosting the NAIA Division II Women’s Basketball tournament, thus we avoided the more familiar attractions along I-29. And because it’s Lenten season, we started our day at Trinity Heights, which opens at 9am.
Breathtakingly peaceful is the best descriptor of this place. We were the only visitors, except for flocks of returning birds who serenaded us on this crisp, cool Saturday morning. Though Catholic in theology, this location clearly appeals to all. The grounds are immaculate, the statues massive and outdoor Cathedral areas inviting. Surprisingly, many Sioux City residents we met were unfamiliar with this peaceful place. Admission is free and donations accepted. There also is an adoration chapel onsite.
2. Billy Boy Drive Thru
Billy BoyThis much beloved local hamburger joint did not disappoint. Filled with character and what appeared to be a recent remodel, the half-century old restaurant offers great food at a very fair price. What did not go unnoticed was the Dairy Queen right next door to this locally owned place that had a line of cars in the drive thru all during the lunch hour. There’s a reason it’s been around for over 50 years. Try it out.  Get in line. You’ll be able to read the menu choices easily from the massive menu board. Inside dining is available. Check out the wash basin in the restroom. Super cool!
3.Dorothy Pecaut Nature Center
musicCommuning with nature is my idea of perfection; this despite severe allergies to most insects and plants. So severe indeed that I carry an EpiPen® and visit emergency rooms regularly for allergic reactions. Undeterred by warnings, I never miss visiting natural settings in new locations. And, I’d never miss the chance to stop here again. All of their well-designed marketing materials feature children interacting with the exhibits and enjoying the grounds. We all are considered legal adults yet each of us maximized every moment here. The interactive exhibits are the best I’ve seen. They’re well-designed and constructed and educate in a fun way. We swung on the wooden swing, tried to assemble the tree trunk puzzle, studied turtle anatomy, peered through binoculars and learned much about Loess Hills. We even presented a wind song chimes concert in the play area out back. Admission is free. Go. Be a kid again. Commune with nature. Learn something new.
4. Riverside Park
gameWe passed this park on the way to lunch and decided to stop in after the Nature Center and before leaving town. On such a beautiful early March Saturday, it was well used, but we still found enough space to enjoy a competitive game of Bocce . We also threw football and Frisbee and ended our day with the traditional UNO match, despite the impending rainstorm and increasing winds. Admission is free. This park is easily accessible from I-29.

We’re likely to visit these attractions during our next gathering in Sioux City:

Sioux City Arts Center
Latham Park
Sioux City Public Museum
Sioux City Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center

Fourth Street Historic District

Log on to The Sioux City Convention & Visitors Bureau site. Plan your day or weekend there. Share what you did by listing it in the box below. I’ll add it to our next visit.

Share this article with anyone planning a trip, especially a day trip from South Dakota, Iowa or Nebraska. They will thank you, as do I.

©Copyright. March 2016. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

School Shooting In Rural America

First Year Teacher Shares Incident Experience

Sarah is a first year teacher and daughter of a veteran police officer. She knew of crime but never realized she’d be so close to a shooting until a student opened fire inside her school during her 1st month on the job. This is Sarah’s account of September 30, 2015 in rural Harrisburg, South Dakota, population 5000.

I’ll never forget this day. I was supervising a study hall of diligent students when just after 10:00 AM; the intercom came on with static and white noise. Quickly following was the administrative assistant’s voice saying, “We are in lockdown. We are in lockdown.” She did not yell, but panic was heard in her voice. In fact, still today, over and over in my head, I hear how she said those words. Instantly I knew this was not a drill. Instead, a real incident was happening somewhere in the school.

Immediately I instructed my classroom of 25 students to get as close to the back wall as possible so they were not in direct site from the door. As they moved, I ran to shut and lock the door, turn the lights off and close all the shades. The next few minutes of uncertainty felt like an eternity. Students rightfully asked if this was a drill and what was going on. I had no answers. Finally our principal, who I later learned had just been shot, came on the intercom announcing the person causing the lockdown was apprehended and authorities were enroute.

All breathed a sigh of relief knowing with near certainty we were no longer in danger. Then I realized my loved ones, who’d in all likelihood heard about
the shooting, were probably trying to find out if I was okay, only I didn’t
have my cellular phone. For once, I was thankful for social media because I took to Facebook to contact my friends and family, letting them know that my students and I were safe.

I was on the job a month when this incident happened. I never imagined having to follow active shooter procedures ever while teaching, let alone in the first month of my career. The staff had practiced a lockdown drill just two weeks prior to the shooting so I knew what to do in the classroom that day and automatically did as we were taught.

September 30th I became a more confident teacher. Confidence in the classroom and relationship building with students typically come with time and success. Ironically, this experience jump-started both. I know, if faced with a similar incident, I will be confident in my actions. That morning those 25 students and I bonded and I feel closer to them now then I think most teachers in their first month of their first year could wish for.

I will admit that on the day of the shooting I really didn’t have any feelings about it. But the next day, when seeing the students and our principal, who thankfully was only slightly injured, I was overwhelmed by the enormity of what happened and the realization of how it could have been much worse for all.

October 1, 2015 when I got home from school, I learned of the Oregon college campus shooting and what happened the day before at our school really hit me hard. I thought to myself how easily that could have been my school, and my students. Yes, all of us at Harrisburg High School went through a traumatic event but it could have been a tragic event as well.

I was thankful then that I am close to my family. Some of my co-worker’s families live in other states and could only communicate through telephone or text messaging. I was lucky enough to have my family in the same city, offering me support and talking me through this incident.

I believe one of the biggest factors in this situation was that the student doing the shooting was new to the school. No one really had a chance to know him. And it is hard to say why he chose to use this act of violence with the limited background information we had on him.

What I can say is that parents should always be mindful of what their teenagers are doing and who they are hanging out with. As a sister to a brother seven years younger, I know keeping tabs on teenagers can be challenging because they don’t always want to talk to their parents. As a teacher I try to develop relationships right away with my students so they feel comfortable opening up to me about their struggles in and outside of school.

I don’t know if I am really the right person to dispense warning signs indicating a child might be considering an act of violence. I will say parents should try their best to be involved in their children’s lives and to pay attention to how they normally act. If abrupt change is noticed, it would be best for all to sit down right away and talk about it. As a teacher, and also someone who not too long ago was a teenager, I do know students absolutely want their parents to be involved and to talk to them, even though they may appear resistant and non-receptive.

Today I feel safe at Harrisburg High School. How I enter the school and go about my day has not changed. Honestly, being in lockdown was the last thing I ever expected when I decided to be a teacher. Yet, September 30, 2015 changed so many things for me. Teaching is as much about my learning as it is educating my students. That day I both taught and learned and I’m more confident for the experience.
What message would you like to convey to Sarah and all teachers? Leave a comment below.

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

If you’d like to contribute as a guest, contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

An Open Affair With Vermillion

Vermillion, South Dakota you’ve been holding out on me!

You finally revealed the depth & beauty of your soul on my third Family Weekend visit. Had I known the secrets you were keeping, I’d have spent much more time with you. You secretive, sly one! These past two years I’ve only seen your dorm rooms, your downtown and your DakotaDome. This year the depth of your character and the beauty of your surroundings were disclosed. You let slip the history of your beginnings and plans for your future. Know I crave more of you and desperately long for our next meeting.

Let’s be open about our affair. The past two years we’ve visited a student. This year we toured with the same student-now a university employee. Together we awed over your Shakespeare Garden, the time capsule and the National Music Museum-all new and exciting parts of your university-only drawing us closer. We drove by the president’s house, saw the burgeoning athletic fields and experienced a football team win with an energy-filled fan base, unlike past years. We traversed your southern bluffs and succumbed to your Missouri River sunset. There was a freshness and a real excitement in our connection this time. So much so that I want to openly hold hands with you in public and announce my joy with each visit. I’ve been enriched getting to know you and want to share all you offer.

Here’s Why-

architecture usdHistory & Architecture

USD was founded in 1862. Campus architecture and well-maintained grounds reveal pride in this rich history as the first post-secondary institution in the Dakotas.

I equally enjoy old and new. Your perfect blend of historical and contemporary buildings delights me.beacom

 

 

National Music Museum

music usdWho’d think a city of 10,000+ would boast a National Music Museum? This hidden gem is fully accredited by the American Association of Museums in Washington, D.C., and is recognized as a “Landmark of American Music” by the National Music Council. Its collections contain more than 15,000 instruments from all cultures and historical periods.

Music moves my soul and this place cements me in the history of music.

Restaurants With Characterwhimps

Just a short drive from Vermillion is the unincorporated Burbank, South Dakota-home of Whimps. Nothing fancy here- just fast, signefficient and friendly service in a nondescript hole-in-the wall building with an overflowing parking lot. Locals know where to eat, and now I do too.

Priceless Views

moonA dead-end gravel road framed in golden fall colors won me over. How dare you have kept this from me for two years? I’m totally smitten with your bluff views and your sandy beaches-all seen with you on a night when the moon was full.

You knew my history of coastal living, yet withheld this natural beauty until you were sure of my commitment. Your mystery intrigues me.

Your academic buildings on a historical campus. Your national museum. Your manicured grounds. Your character-filled eateries. Your picturesque surroundings. Oh, the many layers and textures of your existence.

How can I let you go & leave you behind?sandMy devotion is real.

I will return to you Vermillion, South Dakota.

Surely there is much more to you, yet to be revealed.

The affair continues. Openly.

If you are a Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) staffer or tourism official and you’d like to have your community reviewed and promoted, please contact me at llthomason60@gmail.com.

Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason.

All Rights Reserved.

 

1st Time Grandparents

JOYS AND FEARS

(Guest Contributor-Kelly Weaver)

babyUpdated March 29, 2016

Lennon Elizabeth arrived one week early on Sunday, March 20th at 7:05 pm weighing 5 lbs. 15 oz and measuring 18 ¾ inches long.  She is a beautiful healthy baby and everything is going well.  Kelly said, “I was not prepared for the love in my heart for that little girl and I cried when I held her (as did my mother!).” Adding, “You hear that being a grandparent is the best, but you don’t truly know until you are there.  I look forward to the many moments of joy she will bring to our lives.”

KellyShare your messages of Congratulations with Kelly and her family in the Comments Section below.

 

———————————————————————————————-October, 2015

This summer our daughter and son-in-law made an announcement that took my breath away and, somewhat unexpectedly, brought me to tears. They’re pregnant! This will be our first grandchild. While I am excited, I feel a bit unprepared for my new role but I guess I will figure it out along the way. Just like I did as a parent! Like any change in life, embarking on this new journey brings with it both fears and joys.
Fears –
1. My husband’s biggest fear is that the baby won’t be healthy or our daughter will have complications. He had the same fear when I was pregnant with her. Given that she’s been feeling well, as I did during my pregnancy, and extreme complications are rare, this is one fear that doesn’t keep me up at night. I’m more worried about how their puppy will react.
2. I think my biggest fear is not overstepping my bounds and being “that” mother/mother-in-law. Our daughter and her husband only live a couple of miles from us, and we have a great relationship. I have always been the parent that couldn’t wait to share all my knowledge and wisdom with my daughter as she was growing up. I will need to police those tendencies and perhaps bite my lip at times when new methods don’t match up with the ‘way it used to be’.
3. Selfishly, I am embarrassed to admit one of my fears is a possible loss of freedom. My husband and I are just becoming used to being ‘empty nesters’ and taking opportunities to do things we haven’t done for a while or doing things as just the two of us. Will being a Grandma take away from other leisure time activities? I shouldn’t be worried based on what I hear from other grandparents. We’ll likely find that we can choose ‘Grandma and Grandpa time’ over any other activity.
I am blessed that there are many fears I do not have. I don’t worry about family discord, being separated by long distances, or having my grandchild raised in a different faith tradition.
Joys –
1. My daughter and her husband celebrated their first wedding anniversary this fall. While she a_003 - Copyhasn’t lived in our house for a few years, it’s been a transition of separation since the wedding. It’s been wonderful to witness her in her new fully adult role as a wife. The joy of seeing her as a mother will be even greater. That joy will be compounded by the fact that she will be accompanied in that journey by a loving husband ready to take on his role as a new father. What more could a parent ask for?
2. My husband is so looking forward to the things he can do with his grandchild. His first favorite thing will be snuggling up on the couch with a sleeping child reminiscent of the times when our daughter was young. Of course, other activities on his list will be camping, fishing, hunting, snowmobiling, and trips to Storybook Land.
3. I too look forward to activities with our grandchild because it allows us to be a positive influence in their life. To share our faith, to be awed by their outlook on the world, to encourage them to be themselves, and to be their biggest fan. I think one of the joys of grandparenthood comes from being able to ‘be present’ in their world in a way that parents are not always able to be. We have a calm demeanor that comes from life experience and the lack of responsibility for the daily duties of raising a child.
I remember when my daughter was born and my father held her for the first time. He was so in awe of this little being and how everything about her was so tiny. He was particularly enthralled with her delicate fingers. Granted, it had been a long time since his own children were born but it was almost as if he had never seen a baby before. He often said, “If I had known how much fun grandchildren were, I would have had them first! “
With that in mind, I can only hope to approach the birth of my own grandchild with a sense of wonder and joy. (And it will be fun to see my dad’s reaction to his first great-grandchild!)

0_003Kelly Weaver lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota and spends her days helping people in northeast South Dakota realize their small business dreams by providing guidance and business planning services. For the past 9 years, she has coordinated the BIG Idea Competition, a business idea competition for high school students. In her free time she enjoys singing in her church choir and camping and snowmobiling with family and friends throughout the year. She and her husband, Jim, have one daughter and son-in-law and are anxiously and excitingly waiting the arrival of their first grandchild.

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Linda Leier Thomason is a former CEO who writes freelance business and travel stories, along with feature articles. Her work experiences include a Fortune 500 corporation, federal government, entrepreneurship and small business. Find out more about Linda by clicking the “Meet Linda” tab above. Interested in working together? Complete this form below.

 

©Copyright. October 2015. Linda Leier Thomason

All Rights Reserved.

Linda Leier Thomason is best described as a 50+ woman with rich life experiences who wakes up daily seeking both challenge and joy.  She is the wife to Ken and the mother to Alex. Linda grew up the 2nd oldest of  9 children  on a North Dakota diversified farm where her Citizens Band radio (CB) handle was “Chicken Woman.” Linda put herself through undergraduate and graduate school, worked on Capitol Hill for a senator and as a lobbyist for a Fortune 300. She founded, grew and sold multiple businesses  and with her husband raised the world’s greatest son. She’s constantly on the move-traveling or exploring-to satisfy her compulsive curiosity. Linda enjoys the creativity of cooking, compelling characters in books or on stage and swimming in warm waters across the globe.

Supported & Surrounded by the love of Ken & Alex.
Supported & Surrounded by the love of Ken & Alex.

She considers herself a rock hauler…a remover of barriers in life. From picking rocks off her father’s North Dakota farmland to reduce equipment damage and reap greater crops to succeeding in male dominated careers to living with a progressive deformity….Linda has not only hauled rocks but held on to each one of them understanding the value each added to shaping her life. Linda could so easily have become heavy, hard and jaded like the rocks she removed. Instead she chose to celebrate the diversity and challenge of each rock she’s hauled and to create a rock pile she’s darn proud of.

ND Aug 14 124

One of the many rock piles Linda helped create at Hillcrest Diversified Farms in South Central North Dakota. Long, hot summer days were spent walking the fields beside a tractor with a front loader, looking for rocks, picking them up or pushing them onto the loader.