Tjeerdsma to lead Extension food and families program

Courtesy photo: Michelle Tjeerdsma

BROOKINGS – The educational outreach arm of South Dakota State University, SDSU Extension, welcomes Michelle Tjeerdsma as the new Food and Families Program director. A Chamberlain native, Tjeerdsma brings broad work experience in health and public administration to the position.

“I am delighted to have Michelle join SDSU Extension and the Food and Families Capstone,” said Karla Trautman, SDSU Extension director. “Her enthusiasm and passion for working with others will serve her well in her administrative role. SDSU Extension will benefit from her previous professional experiences, especially as she provides guidance to our Extension professionals as they prioritize relevant and impactful educational programs, information and resource development in support of individuals and families across the state.”

Tjeerdsma, who most recently served as a project manager in marketing for Sanford Health, has an extensive background in healthcare and project management, as well as marketing and team leadership. She worked in project management at The Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Society and before that in early childhood assessment for the Sanford School of Medicine Center for Disabilities.

A graduate of the University of South Dakota, Tjeerdsma has a bachelor’s in business administration with an emphasis in health care administration and a master’s in public administration. While Tjeerdsma says she always leaned toward a future in healthcare, it wasn’t until her summer breaks working admissions in the Chamberlain emergency room and during school at a local pharmacy in Vermillion that her ambition was solidified.

“I was just drawn to it because of the change,” Tjeerdsma said. “There’s always a need for it, and there’s the ability to always help people. I just loved doing something that had an impact on others.”

In her new role, Tjeerdsma says her first objective is to help the SDSU Extension Food and Families team and its educational programming become top-of-mind for South Dakotans.

“I hope to help our team elevate our programming and to be a household name when people are looking for a resource or looking for a program or for assistance,” Tjeerdsma said. “Our team is so diverse in the things that we offer within the food and families realm, and we just have so many different resources that can help so many people that I just really want to work on making that more well-known across the state.”

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