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
Gyl (pronounced as /ɡɪl/) has lived in many different places, but the Yankton native’s heart has always remained with his hometown.
“I wanted to explore and experience different locales but none of the places I moved to were able to compare to Yankton. My favorite thing about this community is that everyone is very nice and welcoming which puts me at ease. It is a very safe and peaceful town, one that would be ideal for raising a family.”
Approximately a decade after leaving, Gyl had been seriously thinking about making his return to Yankton and the final push for a comeback came from an unexpected source – Yankton’s Regional Technical Education Center (RTEC).
“I wasn’t happy with my current career situation and a friend from Yankton suggested RTEC’s excellent welding courses. I never would’ve pictured myself as a welder, but I heard the profession was in demand with good wages and job security and decided to try it out”
This turned out to be priceless advice as Gyl has been working as a welder for four years now upon completion of the Welding Basics and Welding Skills Upgrade courses and is a big fan of his current profession. Gyl also interned with Greater Yankton Living while he was taking the welding courses and has been our brand ambassador ever since.
We asked Gyl about community changes he noticed while he had been away and he pointed out Yankton’s ever-increasing diversity:
“When I left Yankton, it did not strike me as being a particularly diverse place. Upon coming back, however, I was pleasantly surprised to see different ethnicities and hear people conversing in a few different languages around town. I joined Connecting Cultures, a community organization that is committed to increasing awareness and acceptance of all cultures. They recently put on a couple of collaborative community events that spotlighted Hispanic music and food. All of the positive feedback we got for these events was inspiring. These kinds of events were unheard of during my first stint in Yankton.”
Some of Gyl’s favorite leisure activities are jet-skiing, biking, hiking, bird watching, soccer and frisbee golf, all of which are readily available in Yankton.
“I’m a huge outdoors enthusiast and The Yankton lake area is probably my favorite part of the Greater Yankton area. I will often bike to the lake area from town and spend hours playing frisbee golf, going out on the water, and just walking around while enjoying the natural beauty of the surroundings. It’s very easy to lose track of time because there is so much to do out there.”
Some other Yankton highlights for Gyl include:
- Going to Charlie's Pizza House for a Marilyn's Mermaid Heaven pie with a West Side IPA on the side from Ben's Brewing Co.
- The Meridian District: Taking walks on the Meridian Bridge and shopping at the many unique retailers
- The Mead Cultural Education Center
- Watching Yankton High School and Mount Marty College sporting events
Stay tuned for more Greater Yankton Living growing stories coming soon!
Category: Success Stories
Joey and Ashleigh Bryan moved to Yankton, South Dakota from North Carolina in 2017 in order to further Ashleigh’s career working for the manufacturing company - Parker Hannifin. With Ashleigh never having lived outside of North Carolina, the decision to move was one the Bryan’s carefully evaluated. After visiting and falling in love with the beautiful natural landscape and charming community, the Bryan’s were confident they would enjoy living and advancing their careers in Yankton.
Ashleigh works in quality for Parker Hannifin so there were clear career opportunities available to her by making the move. Still, when asked about career advancement, the Bryan’s had a unique perspective. “We view “Career” through the holistic lens of life - not just your job, but your personal and social wellbeing. In that sense, being located in Yankton has been unimaginably great. Both Ashleigh and myself are respected members of growing companies, who value our thoughts and actions. In addition, we get to eat lunch together every single day at the house (because zero traffic), which is worth more than money can buy,” said Joey.
Even before realizing these benefits firsthand, Joey Bryan was excited about the opportunity to move, and because he works remotely for a national firm, he was able to do so. “Originally growing up in Stone Mountain, GA outside of Atlanta, I quickly came to despise traffic. I had never had the opportunity to move to a town the size of Yankton. About ten years ago, I went on a 6 month long road trip around America and my favorite place in the USA was camping in the badlands with no tent. The stars changed my life and any opportunity to get closer to that location excited me,” he said.
The Bryan’s were attracted to the area’s natural beauty but it was Rita Nelson, YAPG’s Workforce Development Coordinator, who first got them thinking about a move to Yankton. “Rita originally came down to North Carolina and caught the attention of my wife. They discussed living in Yankton and the community. Once we decided that we were interested, we took a flight to visit South Dakota to what the entire state had to offer. We experienced Deadwood, majestic buffalo, and National Parks with essentially no traffic congestion. We had great conversations with locals everywhere. I spent a day or so driving around and it felt like a great place to start and raise a family. After Doug Walsh, Ashleigh's manager at Parker gave us a tour of the river, the lakes, the campgrounds, and the nature everyone in this city has at their fingertips; we were sold,” said Joey.
Now that they have lived in Yankton for 2.5 years, we wanted to know what they like the most about living in the area.
“We enjoy the four seasons, since there are limited seasons where we are from in the south. After living in the Atlanta heat, where it is 100 degrees on one big parking lot for 6 months a year, I would much rather take the four seasons and steady breeze coming off the Missouri river than sweat in the south. My wife and I also enjoy living in Yankton’s Historic District and giving this area of town the love and attention it deserves. The house we bought and renovated was built by William S. Stockwell who owned the cigar rolling factory in town in the late 1800s. If anyone has not read Yankton: A Pioneers Past by Karolevitz, I highly recommend they do as it highlights what makes Yankton charming - it’s history.
As for leisure, I find walking the Auld-Brokaw trail to be such a delight. One of our favorite activities is to walk to Riverside Park with the dog and a book and enjoy the views. In addition, we are ten minutes away from a beach at Lewis and Clark Lake, which is where we try to spend a lot of time in the warmer months.”
The Bryan’s are also heavily involved in the community. “The old adage: a church isn't the steeple, it is the people. We believe the citizens of Yankton make this city come alive and thrive. Ashleigh and I have been so blessed in meeting so many wonderful and talented people here. They inspire us to get involved and do good for the community in our daily lives. We are both involved with the United Way, where Ashleigh has been a community campaign coordinator for the last 2 years. I enjoy keeping busy as a “Big Friend” in the “Big Friend, Little Friend” program, drive for Meals on Wheels and sit on the Gregorian Board at Mount Marty College.. Driving for Meals on Wheels is just a great service for the community, in not only delivering a hot meal to home-bound seniors, but having a warm conversation with those that need it. Every delivery reminds me of my grandparents, who enriched me with so much love that I enjoy giving back, and because of things like not sitting in traffic, I have time to do so,” said Joey.
Time is something that many of us take for granted. It can easily be taken away by things like sitting for hours in traffic or dealing with bureaucracy. That’s not the case in Yankton. As the Bryan’s have discovered, they were able to free up more of their time by moving, which means that they have more time together during the week, more time to volunteer, time to enjoy nature, and time to travel - a passion of theirs. In a sense, moving to Yankton has opened up a world of opportunities and possibilities.
Discover Life in Yankton
The Bryan’s took a chance moving from the South to Yankton. Having never lived in the Midwest, they were open to trying something new and the experience has been incredibly rewarding. From the ability to eat lunch together every day to never sitting in traffic, to living a quality life that is truly enjoyable - they have found their home and their community in Yankton. We invite you to join them in discovering all that Yankton has to offer.