Brookings women nominated for Spirit of Dakota Award

Huron Chamber of Commerce
Posted 9/14/23

HURON — Two Brookings women are among the nominees who will be honored at the Spirit of Dakota’s 37th Anniversary Celebration and Award Banquet in Huron.

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Brookings women nominated for Spirit of Dakota Award


HURON — Two Brookings women are among the nominees who will be honored at the Spirit of Dakota’s 37th Anniversary Celebration and Award Banquet in Huron.

The nominees are Julie Bell, Brookings; Kathy Larsen, Brookings; Juanita Delbridge, Union Center; Mary Lou Gruebele, Eureka; Lynn Hanson, Aberdeen; Jeannie Hofer, Huron; Stephanie Judson, Pierre; Jennifer Luper-Lark, Huron; Wally Matush, Hill City; Amanda (Nolz) Radke, Mitchell; Jamie Lee Seiner, Pierre; and Judy Winegar, Wessington Springs.

South Dakota’s premier woman’s award inspired by Dale Lamphere’s bronze, Spirit of Dakota, will be presented Oct. 7 at the Huron Event Center beginning with an art show at 4 p.m., social at 5:30 p.m. and banquet at 6:30 p.m.

The award is given to a woman who demonstrates leadership, vision, courage and strength of character; and by her example, inspires others to make a difference in their community and state.

The honoree will be chosen by a statewide commission of Tona Rozum, chair, Mitchell; Julie Garreau, Eagle Butte; Jean Hunhoff, Yankton; Carol Johnson, Watertown; Julie M. Johnson, Aberdeen; Suzette Kirby, Sioux Falls; First Gentleman Bryon Noem, Pierre; Jacque Sly, Rapid City; Marsha Sumpter, Kadoka; and Ginger Thomson, Brookings.

Bell is a master gardener of community service. At South Dakota State University, she planted seeds of community service in her education majors and FCCLAers. In training them to implement service, her seeds became an abundant harvest of hundreds of community service projects carried out annually.

During her four-decade career, Julie Bell was the state adviser to the Future Homemakers of America (FHA). When the organization transitioned nationally to Family, Career, Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), Julie worked with its nearly 100 South Dakota chapters to organize leadership training camps and annual state leadership meetings. She also trained state officer teams, developed peer education teams, and led the South Dakota student and advisor delegation to the National Leadership Conferences. When Students Taking Action with Recognition (STAR) competitive events were introduced, Julie helped launch STAR in South Dakota. Competitions focused on leadership, career, and technical education skills. Julie served two terms on the National FCCLA Board of Directors, served as chairperson, and presented workshops in multiple states.

Believing community involvement is integral, Julie leads by example. Her activities include: South Dakota Association of Family and Consumer Science; South Dakotat Association of Career and Technical Education; Meals on Wheels; Habitat for Humanity; Brookings Food Pantry; Project Joy—helping children of low-income families, and Altrusa’s multi-national literacy projects. At Brookings’ First Lutheran Church, her services include Lutheran World Relief, Mission Coffee House, council, and church school.

Julie and Robert Bell live in Brookings. She was nominated by Joan G. Anderson, Kris Brockhoft, Deb DeBates, Jean Clarke and Bev Rieck.

Kathy Larsen is one of South Dakota State University’s most active volunteers. She provides unique services, enhances events, and solves challenges. At SDSU, it is known that if you want something to happen, this organizer/leader will willingly help. Her volunteer projects usually center around sewing.

Since 1997, Kathy has been the force in measuring, ordering, assembling, altering, hemming and repairing uniforms and costumes for SDSU’s instrumental and vocal music departments. This entails working with the 300 members of the Pride of the Dakotas Marching Band, the 250 members of SDSU Music Choral Department’s Women’s Choir, Concert Choir, and the Statesmen, and designing and sewing all costuming for the SDSU Madrigal and Opera Workshops. She also assists the Theatre Department. Kathy’s involvement expanded to include SDSU Athletics when she began designing and sewing the Jackrabbit flags, and repairing the Jack mascot..

In community organizations, Kathy is an active member of PEO and of Eastern Star. She has served Ascension Lutheran Church as the Sunday school superintendent for 25 years and helped initiate their Caring Meals program. A board member of the Brookings Arts Council for 10 years, she co-founded the Tables Beautiful salad luncheon and Festival of Trees fundraising events. Kathy plays clarinet in the Brookings Community Band and is the drum major who leads the Children’s March around Pioneer Park at each concert.

Kathy and her husband Jay Larsen have two daughters, Jennifer Larsen Newburg and Katie Vander Sander, and four grandchildren. She was nominated by Jennifer Larsen Newburg and Sue Knutzen.

Tickets for the banquet may be purchased at the Huron Chamber Office by calling 605-352-0000 or 1-800-487-6673.