Category: Success Stories
Ever since Abby was a high school freshman at Pierce, Nebraska, she’s known that she wanted to be a drafter. “I went to Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Nebraska,” she shared. “I picked Northeast Community College, because of their drafting program, since I couldn’t manage to take any CAD classes in high school. It also helped that I only lived about 2 miles away from Northeast.”
While she was at Northeast Community College, she met her boyfriend, Ethan, a Yankton native. “I was involved in concert band and jazz band. I played trombone in the band for the two years I went to school there. I happened to sit right next to Ethan in Jazz band.”
Her teachers showcased opportunities for design drafters. “Our teachers talked about different places where we could get jobs, and during my first year of school, we toured Kolberg-Pioneer. While we were in Yankton, we also toured Eisenbraun Engineering (Now Stockwell Engineering), to see what was out there and what kind of work environment we would have.”
When she graduated, she found a career opportunity in Yankton, “Getting the design drafting position at Kolberg-Pioneer brought me to Yankton. I enjoy being challenged and also working on different products and designs all the time. I hardly ever work on the same conveyor. It’s always something different, whether it’s a 35’ conveyor or a 1000’ conveyor. And you learn new things every day. I also enjoy the people I work with if I ever need help with something they are there to help me or explain it.”
Abby’s dedication to learning has prompted her to continue her education while working. “I became a certified welder this summer,” she shared about the classes she took at RTEC. “When I was in Norfolk, I wanted to take a welding course but never did. When I found out that I had the opportunity to continue my education through Kolberg-Pioneer, I took them up on their offer.”
Outside of work, Abby combined visits home to Norfolk with a course at Northeast Community College. “I took an auto body class with my Dad on Saturdays this summer.”
Abby and Ethan love Lewis & Clark Lake and the Missouri Recreational River. “We go fishing a lot. We have gone fishing on the river, the lake, the James River, and Lake Yankton. We went boating this summer, too.” They enjoy exploring area events, “In the summer time, we also go to car shows, most of the time with my parents. We went to Bragging Rights on Thursday Nights down by the Meridian Bridge.”
Through Greater Yankton Living’s summer intern network, Abby discovered a few new activities to enjoy in Yankton. “I went to every activity that Greater Yankton Leadership offered,” she explained. “We went kayaking and did archery – that was the first time I have been to the Dakota Archery Center since I moved here. I also enjoyed playing disc golf and learning about Yankton’s history.”
We asked Abby what she would say to someone thinking about moving to Yankton to start their career. She said: “It’s a great town and you can make a lot of new friends here. If you like to live near the river and enjoy outdoor activities or just like to hang around the town, it’s the perfect place for you!”
Category: Success Stories
Ever since her sister went to college at the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Amanda knew that she wanted to pursue a career in manufacturing. “The University of Nebraska – Kearney has one of the best programs for Industrial Distribution and that is what I got my degree in,” Amanda shared, “They have 100% placement for graduates and I worked for Crescent Electric out of Omaha for five years. I fell in love, and my husband farms outside of Fordyce, so the week we got married, I moved to Fordyce.”
Just a few months later, Alcoa (now Hydro) hired Amanda as a Traffic Manager. “I managed the fleet of trucks and also the mobile equipment maintenance team and dispatcher.” A year later, Amanda took on the additional role of Purchasing Manager. Around 2014 then Sapa disbanded their trucking fleet. “Until about two months ago, I was the Purchasing Manager. During that time I had marketing roles, and I was also a regional Purchasing Manager for Sapa for the Midwest region.” Following upon Hydro’s acquisition of Sapa in 2017, Amanda’s role changed again and she became the new HR. “It’s been exciting and hectic,” Amanda shared, “I’ve enjoyed getting to know the employees better.”
Amanda loves music and played the trumpet in college, now, she shared, “I’m the choir director at the church in Fordyce and I’ve been able to continue to use my musical education.” She’s active in her children’s education, “they’re in the Catholic school system. We’re on the development committee so we do a lot of events to help raise money to support the schools.”
After hours, Amanda likes to golf, “I’m on a women’s league in Hartington in the summer.” Her whole family enjoys outdoor recreation, “I love the availability of camping and fishing, and the outdoors. We got a camper a few years back and it’s awesome to pull the camper out and find a good spot, whether it’s on the Nebraska side or the South Dakota side.”
“We love to fish. We like to go snagging and archery fishing for paddlefish. Last year I got my paddlefish and this year my husband got his,” Amanda said, “it’s fun. Then you can have a fish fry and invite the neighbors over. We’ve done that a few times now with the paddlefish, invite everyone over and we eat in our driveway.”
Working for Alcoa, then Sapa, and now Hydro, gave Amanda a chance to grow in her career, “I’ve been very, very lucky with my employer. Hydro has wonderful benefits and we have a lot of advancement opportunities. If you want to work hard, Hydro will recognize you. Hydro has a wide variety of schedules –a schedule that will fit your lifestyle.”
“We have a lot of departments – we have the paint line – we have extrusion – we have packing – we have fabrication – we have a casthouse – the jobs in those areas are very different. If you like one, great! If not, there are other departments to try out to see if one of them works for you!”
We asked Amanda what she would say to someone considering moving back to our region and pursuing a similar path. She shared, “there’s a lot of opportunities in Yankton. There’s a lot of opportunities for women. And there are different careers that you can choose whether it’s manufacturing or another area of the community. It’s been a great place for me to grow my career.”
Category: Success Stories
Brittany is joining the City of Yankton as its Events and Promotions Coordinator. Though this position is new to Yankton, Brittany is not. “I’ve been in Yankton my whole life. I was born here and though I left to go to USD, I still worked in Yankton. Yankton has been a part of me forever!” Her studies will be helpful as she begins the new position. “I graduated with a Public Relations and Advertising degree, and a minor in Spanish.”
Though she was born in Yankton, Brittany did not plan on staying in Yankton. “I wasn’t confident that I would be able to have a career in the field that I wanted to go in. As a high schooler, as a young person, you really don’t know what Yankton has to offer.” Brittany worked for Ben’s, encountering Ben Hanten, who was then coordinating Think29. Brittany helped him, expanding her career options, “working for Ben, I’ve been able to make connections and grow my career!”
Think29 was “fun, but it was tough, putting on events in other cities. So we decided that we should focus on Yankton because we felt that it was more beneficial since we live here. We switched to Yankton and I helped start One Million Cups and Startup Weekend.”
"I just accepted the position as the Yankton Events and Promotions Coordinator. I think one thing that's helped me become successful in Yankton are the connections and relationships I've established. It’s really about the networking!” Brittany shared, “and it’s a small community, so it’s easier to make those connections.” Brittany’s new position will help her grow her career, “I’m going to expand my qualifications and my skills; I’m also going to be tested, and that’s something that I want because that’s the only way to grow.”
As Brittany started a family that influenced her decision to stay in the area. “As you get older you figure out what’s important and Yankton does have a lot to offer!” Brittany shared that although she and her family live in Scotland, “I’ve grown to appreciate the stores and the bigger community in Yankton.”
The recreation opportunities are another thing that keep Brittany here. “I can’t imagine a summer without camping. Last summer I didn’t get to go camping and I felt kind of empty. I would say that I really, really love the lake. It is a great asset to Yankton. I love the lake and I love the camping.”
“I’d say in the last year, I’ve gotten involved,” Brittany said. “Now I’m part of the Big Friend - Little Friend program. I’m part of One Million Cups and Startup Weekend. I’m helping with the theatrical gala, for the community theater. And I’m sure now, working for the city, I’m going to be even more involved, which is great!”
As our conversation drew to a close we asked how others could follow a similar path in our Greater Yankton region. Brittany shared, “I would say, ‘get out and network!’ People don’t know how they can contribute to an organization or a meeting, and it’s not about what you can contribute, it’s just about going and what you can soak up. You might not have anything to say the first ten times you go, but then you might have an opinion or you might have something to offer. I would say get out and get networking because that’s the key in this field!”
Category: Success Stories
The Yankton High School Internship Program is nearing the completion of its second semester. High school seniors have had the opportunity to work for area employers and receive credit through the new internship program.
Alex, Machining Manager at Applied Engineering, explores some of the advantages they have seen from having two interns each semester. “It’s always promising to get into the high schools and create interest in manufacturing as a whole, not to mention what we specifically do in aerospace and military defense. Many people come into this building and say, ‘Wow, I never knew this was here!’”
"To get into high schools and spread that word, and gain some interest is always nice while building the workforce of the future," Alex explains. "There’s a lot of stigma around two-year schools and trade schools, but I think being a part of this internship program helps break that stigma.”
Alex continues, “They benefit us just from the production standpoint. That’s the basics, but even the other employees support it and are happy that we’re in the high schools in the community. We want to give the interns the best chance to succeed.”
Laura is the Controller at Applied Engineering and works with their IT intern, “I see him asking a lot of questions that are valid for what he’s doing and really wanting to be more involved. He’s inquisitive about the learning, and the process, and getting engaged with the manufacturing side of it.” She says that Applied Engineering using lots of computers and advanced technologies. “Everything we do here involves computers - the machines run on computers - so the IT, even though it’s administrative, is still part of the manufacturing experience.”
The students have enjoyed the experience as well. “It has helped me determine that IT is definitely a potential career for me,” shares high-schooler, Christian, “My experience with the internship has been positive so far. It has opened my eyes to what manufacturing can offer.”
Fellow intern, Riley echoes the sentiment, “it helps you get more of an idea of what you want to do and will help you figure out what you want to do later on. My experience with the internship is very helpful to me. I also love learning how to do new things, so this was a great thing for me to do.”
Alex has a few words of advice for other employers considering whether they should take interns. “The biggest requirement is having structure, you’re not dealing with a lot of work history or experience. If you think about the interns’ everyday lives, they’re still pretty structured. Try to mimic that or play to that in their training. I would say that the structure is important to them. I really cannot put enough emphasis on who you have them training with and working with. The engagement level of that person will make or break their experience.”
Laura emphasized the importance of the internships for helping students understand manufacturing, “I think that manufacturing is not glorified enough. It is the life source of this country and this community, and I don’t think that kids think about being successful and having a career in manufacturing.” Through their internships, students are realizing that they can have fulfilling careers in manufacturing, and have an advantage as they plan their futures.
Category: Success Stories
We are Jeremiah and Kami.
We live on a small acreage west of Meckling where we enjoy “life in the country.” Our son enjoys taking care of the chickens and making tree forts in the grove. Every summer, Kami tends the family garden and somehow finds time to get all the produce into the freezer or pantry.
Jeremiah and their son will often take the boat down to Myron Grove or up to Marindahl Lake and maybe come home with some fish for supper!
Jeremiah teaches science at Gayville-Volin School and fulfills some coaching duties there. Kami teaches German and English at Vermillion High School. We attend Grace Baptist Church in Vermillion and have made many friends through our activities there. Our lives are filled with the activities of our schools and church; we wouldn’t have it any other way!
We love to shop in Yankton, eat out in Vermillion, and participate in the small town activities of Gayville-Volin such as Cub Scouts and school events. We feel very blessed to work and play in this area and couldn’t imagine home anywhere else!