All posts by Michael Tisone

Ree Reich of Belle Fourche Named Eminent Leader in Agriculture, Family and Community

Inspired by what they learned through 4-H, when working on a project around the Reich home or ranch, a question the family frequently asked was, “is this fair-worthy?”

“4-H encourages its members to be the best they can be,” Ree Reich explained. “Nobody is the best they can be at something the first time they do it. … You cannot be the best without practice and perseverance. That is what 4-H is about.”

A mother to four, Reich served as a 4-H leader for 40 years and remains an advocate and volunteer fundraiser for the organization. Recognized for her volunteer efforts and service to the community, Reich was named the 2022 Eminent Leader in Agriculture, Family and Community by the SDSU College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the SDSU College of Education and Human Sciences. She will be recognized during an honoree banquet Jan. 28, 2022, and her photograph will go up in the Eminent Leader Hall of Fame Gallery, which can be viewed at It joins more than 350 portraits of Eminent Leaders.

Reich became involved in 4-H when she and her husband, Tim, returned to her hometown of Belle Fourche in 1978. Shortly after they moved into Reich’s family home, a childhood friend invited them to join Valley View 4-H Club. Reich quickly signed them up.

“We desired solid friendships for our children – here we were bringing teens and pre-teens to this community for the first time,” said Reich of their now-grown children: Mark Todd Reich (deceased), Heather Heckmann, Angela Reich and Holly Main.

A stay-at-home mom, Reich saw benefits beyond friendship in 4-H involvement. “One day I mentioned to my mother that I should be doing more for the community, and she said, ‘Ree, you are raising citizens for your community.’ I thought about that so many times over the years. As a parent, you don’t just raise children, you raise citizens. 4-H raises citizens through various ways, such as public speaking, service to community and learning by doing,” Reich said.

Reflecting on this and many conversations with her parents, Ruth and David Richards, Reich credits them with instilling in her integrity and a desire to give back. “I had great examples in my wonderful parents,” she said. “They taught me to be a volunteer. You have to be taught to give back. That’s what my parents did. That’s what 4-H does.”

In addition to serving as a 4-H leader of Valley View 4-H Club, Reich also served as a 4-H county and state judge and still serves the board of the Western Family Consumer Science Show.

Even after retiring as a 4-H leader, Reich remains an active advocate. In 2017, she helped launch the Redwater Youth Leadership Fund. One hundred percent of donated dollars go to fund 4-H youth scholarships to cover expenses so Butte and Lawrence County youth can participate in national leadership opportunities. The organization’s main fundraiser is a pitchfork fondu hosted during the Butte Lawrence County Fair.

“In her youth, our daughter, Holly, qualified to go on several national trips. Those opportunities changed her perception of where she could go in life. They gave her so much insight,” Reich explained. “This fund helps provide similar experiences to other youth.”

In addition to 4-H, music is another way Reich gives back to her community.

“Growing up, there wasn’t anything I ever wanted to do but teach music, and I was spoiled enough to get do that,” Reich said.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of Wyoming, but becoming a homemaker was her career of choice.

For more than 40 years she has helped with church services at the Belle Fourche long-term care facility, played French horn in the Belle Fourche Cowboy Band, shared a weekly Bible study in their home and has given many gallons of blood. For many years she sang with a volunteer group called Mixed Company, and now she directs a senior choir in Spearfish.

“Volunteerism is a bit of selfish act,” Reich said. “We all know that when we volunteer, we receive more than we give.”

To purchase tickets to attend the 2022 Eminent Leader Banquet held on the campus of SDSU, Jan. 28, 2022, contact the Office of the Dean of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences at 605-688-4148 or email

Gov. Noem Announces Two Pro-Life Bills

Governor Kristi Noem announced the text of two pro-life bills to protect unborn lives. The first will ban abortions once a child’s heartbeat can be protected; the second will ban telemedicine abortions in South Dakota.

“Every human life is unique and beautiful from the moment it is conceived. Every life is worthy of our protection, worthy of the right to live,” said Governor Kristi Noem. “We hope that this year’s March for Life will be the last and that the Supreme Court will finally protect every unborn life. But until that comes to pass, these bills will ensure that both unborn children and their mothers are protected in South Dakota.”

Governor Noem previewed her heartbeat legislation last year when she directed her Unborn Child Advocate to review South Dakota laws and ensure that we have the strongest pro-life laws on the books in South Dakota.

Governor Noem blocked telemedicine abortions via executive order last year. This procedure happens when a woman is prescribed a pill to perform a chemical abortion over the phone or internet. Chemical abortions are a dangerous procedure that are four times more likely to cause the woman getting the abortion to end up in the emergency room.

Over the last decade, abortions have declined by approximately 80% in South Dakota. Last year, Governor Noem signed eight pro-life bills into law, including a ban on abortions based on a diagnosis of Down syndrome and a bill to protect children born alive, regardless of the circumstances of that child’s birth.

Children’s Day at the Capitol Focuses on Child Advocacy

Children’s Day at the Capitol will give advocates a chance to share information with lawmakers and the public on best practices to help know about, respond to, and prevent childhood maltreatment. CPCM’s sponsors will staff a vendor fair discussing programs that seek to reduce and eliminate instances of child abuse and neglect.
The January 20 event begins at 9:30 a.m., with Children’s Day attendees visiting with lawmakers and sitting in on legislative committee meetings. A vendor fair will begin at 9:30 a.m., in the Capitol Rotunda, with child advocacy organizations providing information on preventing child maltreatment.
At 11:30 a.m., Department of Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill will welcome Children’s Day participants. Sara Sheppick of DSS will then speak on the Stronger Families Together initiative to recruit foster and adoptive families who partner with families to improve parenting and help reunite them with their children.
The public and lawmakers are invited to a lunch at noon in the Capitol Rotunda. At 2 p.m. Children’s Day will be announced in the House and Senate. At 4:30 p.m. lawmakers and the public are invited to a screening of the movie “Starting at Zero” at the Discovery Center in Pierre.
The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, Early Learner SD and Children’s Home Society of South Dakota have partnered to organize the event. Children’s Day at the Capitol is an opportunity to inform the public, lawmakers, government staff and other advocates about work to promote the wellbeing of South Dakota’s children and families.
“Children’s Day provides an opportunity for organizations to educate our legislators and the public on the important work happening in South Dakota communities,” said Carrie Sanderson, director of CPCM. “We can all come together to support our children.”
Media are invited to attend. CPCM Director Carrie Sanderson will be available for interviews.
Sponsors of Children’s Day include Child and Adult Advocacy Centers of South Dakota, Call to Freedom, Child’s Voice (Sanford), Children’s Home Society of South Dakota, Delta Dental, the South Dakota Department of Social Services, Early Learner South Dakota, South Dakota Afterschool Network, South Dakota Head Start Association, the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, and the University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences. More information on these sponsor organizations and links to the resource fair are available here: 2022 Children’s Day at the Capitol – Center for the Prevention of Childhood Maltreatment (
Children’s Day Schedule
  • 9:30 a.m.: Legislative committee meetings and vendor booths open
  • 11:30 a.m.: Welcome by Social Services Secretary Laurie Gill
  • Speaker: Sara Sheppick, Department of Social Services
  • 12:00 p.m.: Lunch in the Rotunda – the public is invited to attend
  • 2 p.m.: Children’s Day Announced in House and Senate Chambers
  • 4:30 p.m.: Movie Screening: “Starting at Zero” at the Discovery Center
The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment works to support and strengthen efforts across South Dakota to identify, respond to and prevent child maltreatment. CPCM is housed at the University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences.
USD’s School of Health Sciences is a national leader in interprofessional health sciences education. South Dakota’s comprehensive School of Health Sciences develops scholars, practitioners and leaders in health and human services, including addiction counselors, dental hygienists, health science practitioners, medical laboratory scientists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, physician assistants, public health practitioners and social workers.

SDSU Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science Welcomes New Faculty

The Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science at South Dakota State University welcomed two new faculty members during the fall 2021 semester. Dr. Gazala Ameen joined the department as an assistant professor and Dr. Shyam Solanki came on board as a research associate III.

Dr. Gazala Ameen

After receiving a bachelor’s degree in horticulture at Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University in India in 2010, Ameen pursued both a master’s and Ph.D. in plant pathology at North Dakota State University. While at NDSU, Ameen carried out applied research on fungicide sensitivity of Sclerotinia sclerotiorum and cloning and characterizing two resistance genes in barley. Graduating with her Ph.D. in 2019, Ameen continued these projects during her postdoctoral research at Washington State University before coming to SDSU.

Ameen’s responsibilities at SDSU will include building an interdisciplinary research program to address the fundamental questions of host-pathogen interaction and how to devise strategies of management of plant pathogens through her research findings. Her position also offers the opportunity to teach a core course on Introductory plant pathology for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Ameen looks forward to building her research program and working with students at SDSU.

“My mentoring and teaching philosophies have the core value to hopefully transfer the thrill of research and passion of plant pathology to the next generation of young students at a land grant university like SDSU,” Ameen said.

Dr. Shyam Solanki

Like Ameen, Solanki also received his bachelor’s degree in horticulture from Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University. He then went on to obtain his master’s degree in biotechnology from South Asian University, India, in 2013 and his Ph.D. in plant pathology from NDSU in 2018. Through his Ph.D. and postdoctoral research, Solanki focused on three pathosystems: barley-wheat stem rust, barley-Fusarium head blight (FHB), and soybean-Sclerotinia stem rot.

At SDSU, Solanki’s research focuses on plant-microbe interactions and soybean and cereal crop diseases, including the investigation of Diaporthe, a fungal pathogen of soybean causing the stem canker disease, and the deadly fungal pathogen, stem rust, which impacts cereal crops.

“Through my cutting-edge research work at SDSU, I am hoping to make an impact on our growers and stakeholders,” Solanki said. “Utilizing my specialization on functional genomics aspects of plant-microbe interaction, I aim to devise innovative plant pathogen control strategies, a crucial aspect of precision agriculture.”

South Dakota Grassland Coalition to Host a Solutions-Focused Regenerative Agriculture Event in February

The South Dakota Grassland Coalition (SDGC) sees the many challenges that Ag producers are currently facing.  That’s why they are excited to announce a solutions-focused event in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota: Tuesday, February 15 through Thursday, February 17.  They extend a personal invitation for you to join Joshua and Tara Dukart of Seek First Ranch in western North Dakota along with other area Ag producers and professionals who are interested in creating a more profitable agriculture business and a more desirable lifestyle through Regenerative and Holistic Management practices.  All family or team members ages 14 and up are encouraged to attend.

The Dukarts teach and speak throughout the US and internationally. The Soil & Water Conservation Society selected Joshua as their Harold & Kay Scholl Excellence in Conservation Award recipient in 2017. Cattle Business Weekly presented Joshua with a Top 10 National Industry Leaders award in 2015, and Joshua was recognized as one of North Dakota’s Top 40 Professionals Under the Age of 40 in 2012.  As educators and practitioners, Joshua and Tara aspire to not just conserve, but regenerate landscapes and ranching businesses.  They believe wealth can be strategically generated in a variety of ways: biologically, financially, and socially.

Typically, the 3-day session costs $400 per participant. However, a National Resource Conservation Service partnership allows the SDGC to offer the 3-day course to members for just $150 to include tuition, materials, lunches, and refreshments.  [If you are not currently a SDGC member, your investment of $185 will also include a one-year membership to the SDGC.] Because they see tremendous value in all members of your operation participating, the cost for each additional family or business member is reduced to $50.

Location:  Drifters Grill in Ft. Pierre, South Dakota

Date & Time: Tuesday, February 15–Thursday, February 17 from 9:30AM – 5:00 PM.

Doors open at 9 AM. Seating is limited.  Contact Dan Rasmussen today to hold your spots: 605-685-3315 or

Flyer and additional information available at and

SDSU Crops Judging Team Receives High Honors at National Contests

The South Dakota State University Crops Judging Team finished third and fourth at the two national finals collegiate crops competitions held last fall. The team placed fourth at the Kansas City Royal Contest held on Nov. 16 and third at the National Collegiate Crops Contest held in Ames, Iowa, on Nov. 19.

Collegiate crops competitions consist of three parts: grain grading, seed and plant identification and seed analysis. These components require students to grade grain samples, identify 200 seed and plant samples and analyze seed samples for contaminants, which they also must identify and classify.

The 2021 team members include: Miranda Smidt, agronomy student from Brookings, South Dakota; Aubrey Weishaar, agronomy student from Lemmon, South Dakota; Dalton Howe, agronomy student from Redfield, South Dakota; Jackson Cramer, agronomy student from Warner, South Dakota; and Miguel Mena, agronomy student from Harlan, Iowa. The team is coached by Dr. Brent Turnipseed and assisted by Rachel Geary, plant science master’s student from Elk Point, South Dakota, and Johnna Jorgensen, plant science master’s student from Mount Vernon, South Dakota.

Individual results from the contests include:

  • Kansas City Royal Contest
  • Smidt: 10th overall and in grain grading and seed and plant identification, fifth in seed analysis
  • Weishaar: 11th overall and in seed analysis, ninth in grain grading and seed and plant identification
  • Howe: 12th overall and in seed and plant identification, 11th in grain grading, 13th in seed analysis
  • Ames Contest
  • Smidt: seventh overall, first in seed analysis, eighth in seed and plant identification, 10th in grain grading
  • Weishaar: ninth overall, sixth in seed and plant identification, eighth in grain grading and seed analysis
  • Howe: 12th overall, sixth in grain grading, 11th in seed analysis, 13th in seed and plant identification

In addition to competing, team members had the chance to tour agricultural facilities near Kansas City and Ames.

“My favorite part about being on the crops judging team is that we are all competitive people,” said Smidt. “It pushed me to further my knowledge in areas where I wasn’t as strong suited. Not only that, but then being able to take that competitiveness nationally and even take home first place individually in seed analysis made all the hours of studying worth it.”

The SDSU crops judging team has continually proven the great amount of skill and expertise that lies within the university’s Department of Agronomy, Horticulture and Plant Science on the national level.

“Crops judging was more than just about the competition to me,” said Weishaar. “I learned how important it is to grow with my team and to help each other along the way.”

Gov. Noem speaks at SDREA Annual Meeting in Pierre

Gov. Kristi Noem praised the state’s electric cooperatives for delivering affordable, reliable power to more than 120,00 members across the state while also reducing carbon emissions.
Speaking at the South Dakota Rural Electric Association’s 80th annual membership meeting on Jan. 14-15, Noem noted that the state ranks fifth in the use of renewable energy and third in service reliability. Basin Electric, the primary power supplier for the state’s electric co-op network, has reduced its reliance on coal generation by 20 percent over the past two decades. Roughly 60 percent of the power produced by Basin throughout its nine-state service area comes from resources other than coal.
“I want to let you know how grateful I am for all you do for our communities in South Dakota. We talk about statistics, but the reality is that you make it happen every day…you make sure we have energy that comes from a diversity of sources and is reliable for families and businesses,” Noem said.
She said that as a business owner and an elected official, she understands the necessity of reliable power in achieving financial and economic success and also recognizes the maze of regulatory and legislative rules that power providers must follow.
“As someone who has been in business and who has seen the struggles with regulations at the federal level, I believe you’re a bright spot on the horizon. And it means the world to me that you do what you do,” she said.
The annual meeting was held at the Ramkota Hotel and Conference Center with more than 300 cooperative leaders in attendance. Nearly 100 state lawmakers representing both major parties attended the association’s Legislative reception.
Rep. Dusty Johnson and Sens. Mike Rounds and John Thune also addressed the cooperative group. Johnson echoed the comments of his congressional colleagues when he said the South Dakota delegation has “a great working relationship” with the cooperatives.
He said electric co-op leaders have a long history of successfully collaborating with state and federal lawmakers on a wide range of issues such as environmental regulations, renewable energy, affordability and advancing technology.
“We have some challenges ahead with the reemergence of the Waters of the U.S. initiative, improved reliability and also challenges from a cultural perspective,” he said, pointing out that a minority of federal lawmakers represent rural districts back home.
The two-day event also included business meetings, market and industry reports, the annual Action Committee for Rural Electrification (ACRE) breakfast banquet and other activities.
The association named Steve Reed of Murdo and Ed Anderson of Pierre as winners of the 2022 Legacy of Leadership Award.
Reed served as manager and CEO at West Central Electric in Murdo for 34 years. He was selected to replace the late Fritz Jost as manager in 1985 and held that post until he retired in 2019.
Anderson joined the South Dakota Rural Electric Association in 2000. He became general manager of the organization in 2009 and retired last July. During his career, Anderson represented rural electric cooperatives by also serving as a director for the American Coalition for Ethanol Board, South Dakota One-Call Notification Board and the South Dakota Co-op Hall of Fame Committee.
“I’d like to thank the SDREA Board and your continued commitment to serving all the members of SDREA,” Anderson said. “You understand the importance of that, and I know your job hasn’t gotten any easier over the past 20 years. But I’m confident that if you continue to look at the cooperative principles to guide your daily actions, you will continue to play a very important and positive role for your members and the citizens you serve all across the state.”
Current SDREA General Manager Trevor Jones said the annual gathering is an important time for the state’s electric cooperatives to connect with one another and with lawmakers to discuss current issues facing the electric power industry. Many of those issues, he said, have the potential to impact the pocketbooks of co-op members.
“It’s always a productive time for us to get together and reconnect with one another and learn more about an industry that is rapidly changing,” he said. “There are important issues such as cybersecurity, renewable power and the emergence of electric vehicles that can have a direct impact on our members. We need to make sure we’re able to stay current on these topics so we can have informed discussions with our members and provide them with credible information. And we always look forward to meeting one-on-one with our representatives to begin the session.”

Gov. Noem Responds to SCOTUS Blocking OSHA Vaccine Mandate

Governor Kristi Noem issued the following statement in response to the United States Supreme Court blocking the OSHA vaccine mandate:

“Our nation was built on freedom, on the belief that our rights come from God, not from government. Any infringement on our rights risks breaking the constitutional republic that we hold so dear.

“I am grateful that the Supreme Court has taken this important action to guarantee the rights of employees to make their own personal choice whether or not to get a COVID vaccine. I look forward to working with the legislature to pass protections for private employees, just like we have already done for state workers. And employers can rest assured that they will not lose valuable employees to President Biden’s unconstitutional OSHA mandate.”