Dakota Resources Mentors Rural Rock Stars

Posted on January 12, 2017

Paula Jensen
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Kelsey Doom may be the only Economic Development Coordinator around with a zoology degree. But instead of pursuing a career as a veterinarian, she took a little side path that led to a full blown passion.

“I didn’t get into vet school right away, so I came home to Wagner for a few months to figure things out,” she said. “My plan was to apply to vet school again, but in the meantime, I took a job with an insurance company and volunteered with the local Home Address effort.  I started putting together a grant and helped bring in some local investors. I got a high off writing that first grant and just fell in love with this kind of work. It was pretty much game over for vet school.”

After her work with Home Address, Kelsey got a taste of Dakota Rising.

“I was so inspired by those Dakota Rising Fellows,” she remembers. “I also met Joe and Beth from Dakota Resources, and they changed my life.”

Knowing she had found her passion, Kelsey then set out to make a living.

“I actually went to the development corporation and asked Bryan Slaba, the president, if he would have any interest in hiring me. It was a big step for Wagner Area Growth to agree and get the budget to hire me, but they did it! Bryan saw my drive and passion for Wagner,” she said. “I have always loved it here. I think the Wagner community is starting to realize we live in a pretty great place. I am able to go out and see what other communities are doing, and we are right there with them. I would say one of my biggest roles is to just be an advocate and cheerleader for this area.”

While twenty-six-year-old Kelsey admits she lacked training and experience in economic development, she was fortunate to find great mentors who believed in her, and she quickly learned the ropes.

“I am not the same person I was two years ago,” she says. “Beth saw something in me, and she helped me see my own potential. Now I am comfortable reaching out and asking for help. I know how to get things done. I am more down-to-earth and humble in a healthy way. I have incredible optimism and I’m doing what I love. Some days I just cannot believe how lucky I am.”

Dakota Rising Most Recent Fellows Outcomes:

  • Net Profits increased 116%
  • Gross Revenues increased 13%
  • Full-time jobs increased 20%
  • Part-time jobs increased 18%

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