Berg, Klinker win Youth Ally Awards


BROOKINGS – The Brookings Human Rights Commission Youth Ally Award recognizes an adult who has inspired local youth to become involved in human rights activities and initiatives, either locally or abroad. This year, the Human Rights Commission presents Youth Ally Awards to Dan Berg and Gayle Klinker.

The Youth Ally Awards presentation will be held in conjunction with the Butler Human Rights Award, Mayor’s Sustainability Awards, ABLE Awards, Mayor’s Awards for Historic Preservation and the Mayor’s Generational Leadership Award at McCrory Gardens Education & Visitors Center at 631 22nd Avenue,  from 5-7 p.m. Aug. 30, with the program beginning at 6 p.m. 

The public is invited to attend. Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served.

Dan Berg

When some students at Brookings High School expressed interest in getting involved in human rights issues, Dan Berg stepped forward and volunteered to serve as faculty advisor to the new Brookings High School Human Rights Club, which formed in 2015.

“The primary focus of the club is to raise awareness, to understand that each of us is a human being and worthy of respect, dignity, peace, love, and understanding. We as a group create an environment where all are welcomed regardless of one’s skin pigmentation, nation of origin, sexual orientation or identity, and gender; all are welcomed” stated Berg.

The club studies, discusses, and shares ideas regarding the universal picture dealing with how discrimination in any form affects the human condition. 

Guest speakers play an intricate role in providing first-hand information, thoughts and ideas about us as humans. The Jewish Holocaust, the genocide in Darfur, the situation in Syria and so on are but a few areas they have studied. The scope is then narrowed to the local level and how and what we do, even within the halls of the high school, has an impact on the people we come in contact with on a daily basis. 

The purpose of the course of study and the activities are not geared to necessarily convince anyone of anything, but rather, to be aware of how actions can have a positive or negative impact. 

The organization  believes that in order to make the human condition better, it starts with each individual. The future plans for the club are to host a Human Rights Fair and continue collaboration with the Brookings Human Rights Commission and become more involved in whatever capacity they can. 

Originally from Alexandria, Dan Berg returned home to South Dakota in 2013 to serve as the CTI Technology teacher at Brookings High School. Prior to that, Berg taught for 15 years in Louisiana. He has a bachelor of arts from Dakota Wesleyan University in business administration/secondary education and did graduate work at Northwestern State University in Louisiana. 

Berg is the proud father of three grown sons who all live out of state. 

Gayle Klinker

Gayle Klinker has been awarded the 2018 Youth Ally Award. The Brookings Human Rights Commission Youth Ally Award recognizes an adult who has inspired local youth to become involved in human rights activities and initiatives, either locally or abroad.

Klinker is an English teacher at Brookings High School and taught freshman English and junior English (American literature). 

She perceived the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Essay Contest integrated with her courses, and the theme gave her students an opportunity to research and write for an audience other than her. She also saw this essay as a form of public service. If the community of Brookings gave the students an opportunity to write, research, and share ideas; they should take it. 

Public service is important to Klinker and to Brookings High School as well. All juniors are required to perform at least eight hours of volunteer time to a nonprofit in the area. She informs her students that communities cannot survive without the volunteers, and it is a lifelong skill.

Although she retired this year, Klinker has been teaching for 42 years. She began her teaching career in Iowa and after four years moved to Nebraska and taught for 14 years. At that time, she moved to Brookings and was the coordinator at SElect High, an alternative school for at-risk youth, for 13 years. She has taught at Brookings High School for the past 11 years. In each state and school, she also directed plays and musicals and performed other forms of coaching or directing.

She is married to Jim Klinker for almost 42 years, has two grown children, Diana and Eric, and has three grandchildren. 

She enjoys many things including outdoor activities (gardening, golfing, fishing, bicycling, hunting) as well as reading, canning her garden items, and seeing her grandchildren. She and Jim are both avid followers of SDSU sports and theater.

Courtesy photos

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