May 2023 DFCU Independence Magazine

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Financial Freedom the Credit Union Way Join Us for Member Fest & Annual Meeting
Calendar of Events Page 1
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Mike and Kara Grayson |
Local Control • Multiple Loan Options • Local Payments PUT YOUR PLANS IN OUR HANDS *annual percentage rate 3.99% apr* CONSTRUCTION LOAN rates as low as As of Jan.1st, 2023, based on the stated rate, term of up to 12 months, and an interest only payment, the calculation would be $1.66/month per $1,000 borrowed. The *annual percentage rate (APR) is the credit union’s standard rate. The rate may vary depending on each individuals’ credit history and underwriting factors. All Credit Union loan programs, rates, terms and conditions are subject to change at any time without notice. NMLS # 657864
Independence | 1 CREDITS & CONTACTS Dakotaland Federal Credit Union | 1371 Dakota Avenue S. | Huron, SD 57350 | 800.440.6573 PUBLISHER/EDITOR: Dawn Mutchelknaus | Emily Kuehl | PRINTING: Brad McGirr/Creative Printing | • | 12 | Independence MAY 22 – 23 | Madison Blood Drive Challenge Montgomery’s Furniture | 747 S. Washington Ave 29 | CLOSED In Observance of Memorial Day JUNE 1 | Madison’s Member Fest 5PM — 7PM 1004 S. Washington Ave. | Madison 8 | De Smet’s Member Fest 5PM — 7PM 108 US Hwy 14 W | De Smet 13 | Redfield’s Member Fest 11:30AM — 1:30PM 509 N Main St | Redfield 14 | Huron’s Member Fest | Annual Meeting 5PM — 7PM (6:00 – 6:15 Meeting) 2297 Kansas Ave. S.E. | Huron 19 | CLOSED In Observance of Juneteenth 20 | Brookings’ Member Fest 11:30AM — 1:30PM 2423 6th St | Brookings 21 | Watertown Branch 5th Anniversary 1101 9th Ave SE | Watertown 22 | Volga’s Member Fest 5PM — 7PM 99 Caspian Avenue | Volga JULY 4 | CLOSED In observance of 4th of July AUGUST 3 | Family Night in the Park 7PM Campbell Park | Huron 9 | Mitchell’s Summerfest 11:30AM — 1:30PM 301 S. Ohlman Street | Mitchell 16 | Watertown’s Rockin’ the Block 5PM — 7PM 1101 9th Ave SE | Watertown SEPTEMBER 4 | CLOSED In observance of Labor Day 4 | Dakota Star Competition Finals 5PM Freedom Stage at the SD State Fairgrounds | Huron BECKIE BOETEL Phone Member Service Rep. | Satellite Office More than 19 Years of Service Congratulations! on your anniversary BARB BAUS Consumer Loan Officer Redfield Branch 30 Years of Service LISA SNEDEKER Branch Manager Training Coordinator Woonsocket Branch 20 Years of Service CHANTEL HALPERIN Teller Supervisor Huron Branch 20 Years of Service CHAR MCDONALD VP of Teller Services Huron Branch 25 Years of Service MARY LUCKLUM Real Estate Servicing Specialist Huron Branch 20 Years of Service Happy Retirement JODI NELSON Loan Officer Volga Branch 20 Years of Service Independence | 1


Dakotaland Federal Credit Union is governed by a seven member Board of Directors. Directors are Credit Union members who are unpaid volunteers elected by the membership. These dedicated individuals set the direction of the Credit Union and set policies the Credit Union’s management and staff follow in achieving our mission and vision. This year two board members will be running for re-election. Take a look and get to know our candidates.

Bonnie Geyer has dedicated her career teaching youth and adults statewide about the value and importance of Credit Unions and other types of cooperative businesses. Ms. Geyer grew up on a farm in the Manchester area and graduated from Iroquois High School. She has a business degree from Northern State University and a business education degree from Huron University. Bonnie currently serves as the Secretary of the Dakotaland Federal Credit Union Board of Directors. Prior to that, she served on the Supervisory Committee from March 1998 until her election to the board in 2004. Bonnie is a 2002–2003 Leadership Huron Graduate. She is also a member of the American Legion Auxiliary, Association of Cooperative Educators and PEO.

Mr. Pearson was born and raised in Huron, South Dakota and graduated from Huron High School in 1994. Brett hit the ground running after high school taking a position on the warehouse level at Northwest Pipe Fittings Inc. in 1995. He quickly moved to Sales in 1997 and has been the Vice President of Northwest Pipe since 2007.

Taking a serious interest in supporting his hometown, Brett served as a Volunteer Firefighter for the Huron Fire Department for 13 ½ years. He was also a past board member and President of Huron Junior Athletics. In addition, Pearson is an active member on the Ravine Lake and Riverfront Board of Directors.

A member for more than 25 years, Brett has expressed how honored he is to be considered for a position to serve a reputable credit union and his fellow members. “Dakotaland has always treated me and my family with respect and the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome each time you walk through the door,” stated Pearson.

Brett and his wife of 24 years, Tina, are the proud parents of son, Boston. The Pearson family share their life with two family cats and two black lab hunting dogs. Brett has a passion for the outdoors and his two favorite times of the year are when pheasant hunting season starts and when the fish are biting.

BONNIE GEYER Secretary of the Board
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Carnival Games • Bouncy House • Balloon Man • Sno Cones • Prizes Walking Tacos Cookie Choice of Beverage JUNE 14 $1 per plate donation requested. All proceeds directed to The Heartland United Way MENU: MEETING 6PM No Ticket Required | Located at the Administration Building | 2297 Kansas Ave. S.E. | Huron Annual Meeting 6:00–6:15 | Childcare and Games Will Be Provided FESTIVITIES 5–7PM There ’ s No Place like Hom e You are Invited to Member Fest & Annual Meeting


Puts Toes In The Sand

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No one saw the future of Kara Grayson’s business idea. As a matter of fact, more than one person told her she was wasting her time as she set up a workspace in a basement closet of her home and began to design jewelry. It was 2014 and Kara was scanning Pinterest to fuel her creativity in hopes of formulating her own original designs. “I was looking for a way to make some extra money to pay for a vacation and the jewelry was just a hobby that I enjoyed,” stated Grayson. Being a self–proclaimed travel junkie, Kara was motivated to create a side hustle that would give her a chance to occasionally put her toes in the sand.

At that time, Kara was the business manager at the South Dakota Truck Center, which she and her husband, Mike, operate in Brookings, SD. “I admit I didn’t have the vision Kara had and I’m not big on travel, so I didn’t get too involved in the idea in the beginning,” shared Mike. It wasn’t long before Kara took her basement creations to the world wide web and her online sales quickly took hold. Within a couple of years, Mike became Kara’s number one handyman and biggest supporter as he expanded space at the auto shop to accommodate the growing business. The Grayson duo comically claim she is the brains, and he is the brawn behind their success.

Kara also discovered early on, she was not completely happy with the outside vendors supplying her business, so she set up her own online supply shop created to sell parts and pieces to other jewelry makers.

Formally named, Designs by Kara Marie, the business initially debuted on Etsy, but soon expanded to online sites such as and Kara’s unique handmade styles included rings, necklaces, bracelets and more. She found a niche market for customized fingerprint and handwriting pieces, which were embraced by those who wanted to honor or remember loved ones. “I truly enjoy customizing jewelry. So much so that I spend 70% of my time designing signature pieces for my customers,” declared Kara. Staying focused on design work and growing the business, Grayson is grateful for the family support she has received from her sister–in–law, Michelle, filling orders and from her husband, Mike, getting product shipped out the door. Even though her 16 year old son, Ryan, and seven year old son, Easton, have busy lives, they can both be found helping out with the family business.

To take some of the pressure off family and the Brookings location, Kara utilizes two warehouse locations in Ohio and Nevada. Product is sent and stored there until they are shipped, which has proven to be more efficient and maintains Kara’s one to three day turn around on her orders.

By 2019, Designs by Kara Marie had outgrown their space at the truck center. The Graysons turned to their local Dakotaland Federal Credit Union for assistance with a large construction project. “I became a credit union member when I was 14 years old, and Mike had utilized Dakotaland for the ongoing needs of the auto business. We were confident in bringing this new venture to the credit union,” shared Kara. The new facility was designed to create an expanded warehouse space for the jewelry business, but also provided an opportunity to rollout a home décor line and boutique clothing line catering to walk–in traffic of all ages, called Dakota Soul. “The boutique fills a shopping need in the community of Brookings, as well as provides a local outlet for my other creations,” claims Kara.

What’s next for the Graysons? Well, Kara continually looks for ways to automate her processes, while still maintaining the personal touch she is so proud of. In addition, she is diligently working on her very own handmade scented candles, which compliment her existing business lines. When asked if she could share some words of wisdom when starting a business from scratch, she replied, “Even when no one else believes in your idea, don’t give up. Persistence does pay.” Kara also takes time to remind herself why she started the business in the first place and books a trip to the Caribbean to put her toes in the sand.

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“I was looking for a way to make some extra money to pay for a vacation and the jewelry was just a hobby that I enjoyed.”

Debt Management Certified

Dakotaland’s Consumer Lending Department is proud to congratulate seven staff members on their recent Financial Counseling Certification. The FiCEP Program is designed to provide us with the skills and knowledge to guide our members to sound financial decisions.

A free financial review with one of our Certified Financial Counselors could reduce your payments, eliminate debt and strengthen your bottom line. Reach out today to take advantage of this free service through your credit union.

on Schedule for a 2023 Opening
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Aberdeen Branch Construction
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Independence | 7
Alex Vogel Aberdeen Jodi Hanson Huron Jennifer Peskey Huron Angie Reyna Watertown Natasha Melton Huron Amy Hofer Huron
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8 | Independence (800) 440–6573 Apply Today Our Home Improvement Loan Covers It All and More New Appliances, Kitchen Remodels, Bathroom Makeovers or Garage Additions Need Some Attention? Does Your HOME IMPROVEMENT PROJECT

PEACE OF MIND in Uncertain Times

The recent bank headlines and the collapse of one of the largest financial institutions in the country, have many questioning the strength and security surrounding their money. Even though a credit union member has never lost a penny of insured savings at a federally insured credit union, there is no better time to review why you can fully trust in the safety and soundness of your credit union. Today we are visiting with our Chief Growth Officer, Chad Moller, who oversees Dakotaland’s 10 branch locations and has been a seasoned advocate in the finance industry for nearly 20 years.

Independence: Even though the bank collapse was in California and not associated with Dakotaland, should there be reason for concern?

C. Moller: Anytime there is a disruption in the financial world, especially as big as the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, we would anticipate there to be some lingering effect on the banking industry as a whole. As a South Dakota based credit union, we have not seen nor experienced any reason for concern regarding the safety or soundness of Dakotaland or our members’ assets.

Independence: Chad, when they talk about insured funds, what does that mean to me as a member?

C. Moller: As a federal credit union, Dakotaland is federally insured and fully backed by the US Government through the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). To the member, this should give a strong sense of security knowing your funds are protected up to $250,000 per individual and up to $250,000 per joint account. In addition, Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) are insured up to $250,000.

This provides a strong matrix of coverage to rely on.

Independence: Do the actions of stockholders, investors or stock prices have a direct impact on the credit union?

C. Moller: The answer is no. Dakotaland is a financial cooperative owned and governed by its members. There are no outside stockholders, investors, nor are we publicly traded on the stock market. This means Dakotaland is protected from these outside influences.

Independence: As most financial institutions, Dakotaland’s oversite comes from a board of directors, how do I know they are looking out for my best interest and will be good stewards of my money?

C. Moller: Dakotaland’s Board of Directors are made up of seven volunteer credit union members. They are not appointed but are voted in by the membership. The board positions are unpaid and receive no incentive to serve, which prohibits any favoritism or room for personal gain. As members of the credit union, the direction the board members provide affects their funds in the same way it does yours and mine. Their mission is to protect our soundness and provide a safe and productive environment for all our monies.

Independence: In this financially competitive market, do you feel credit union membership can still provide a viable financial partnership?

C. Moller: Most definitely! Your financial cooperative is structured in a way that provides stability, safety, soundness, a solid return and the services you and your family need. There is no better time to be a member of a credit union.

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into a Career of CaringTranslates

Dakotaland’s commitment was sparked when the political refugees from Thailand began making their home in Huron, South Dakota. “These were ‘my people’ and even though I had learned English during my time in the refugee camp, most of the other Karen spoke no English,” recalls Htee Na. This new population was excited to be free of their war–torn country, but they had little experience with the American way of life. They did not understand the banking system, the legal system, the school system, the health care system, etc. The Karen had much to learn and due to the language barrier, had no one to explain to them how it worked.

Htee Na was the cornerstone to the department as she was originally the only interpreter at the credit union and one of the few active Karen translators in Huron. The word spread quickly and she was soon explaining the many facets of banking to her members, as well as addressing questions from every other aspect of their lives.

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Htee Na VP of Interpreting

She took phone calls at all hours of the day and night, visited employers, assisted law enforcement, attended doctor appointments, met with teachers, all in an effort to help the Karen people with these major life changes. “I worked hard to ensure my people had a resource and used my voice and experience to guide and teach them. I am especially proud to see how far my people have come and what they have accomplished since coming to the United States,” boasted Htee Na. Buying cars, owning homes, going to college and opening businesses are just a few of the milestones we have shared with our Karen members.

While Dakotaland was emerging as a leader in providing interpreting services to the Karen community numbering nearly 1,000 accounts, it was evident more Karen interpreters would be needed to meet the demand. Htee Na also noticed the welcomed addition of other non–English speaking individuals (primarily Hispanic) coming to the credit union for assistance. Spanish interpreters were soon added to the department and they too became more than just a financial translator for their English as a second language members.

Htee Na and her interpreting staff speak six languages collectively and they all agree, translating financial services is only the beginning. “You need a kind heart to be a translator at Dakotaland,” Htee Na proclaimed. The interest our interpreters take in their members doesn’t stop with a checking account, they become involved in their daily lives and are many times asked about an array of topics such as citizenship, insurance, paying bills, funerals, taxes, car repairs and more. Htee Na went on to explain, “Our members are comfortable here and know we will not judge their situation or ability to understand the process. We do our best to help where we can or direct them to a better resource if needed.”

The Dakotaland Interpreter Team shares their translating skills with all 10 of our branch locations in our 27–county service area and receive an immense amount of satisfaction knowing they provide a valuable service to a growing population of English as a second language citizens.

Scholarship Winners

Independence | 11 Independence | 11
Marie Weller Redfield, SD Bridgette Lambert Redfield, SD Acaiya Schultz Woonsocket, SD Brady Allen Larson Letcher, SD Bryn Huber Huron, SD Tristan Jensen Woonsocket, SD Leah Williams Huron, SD Jake Holforty Huron, SD Landon Wallman Yale, SD Madison Hofer Hitchcock, SD

is our


Whether your business is a start–up or an established venture, Dakotaland’s Business Lending Department is here to help our business–owning members get the value and service they deserve. Providing a support system that covers day–to–day operations, as well as those expected and unexpected challenges, is what you can count on from this business relationship.

Dakotaland’s Business Lending Staff provides the same friendly service and competitive rates you enjoy with your personal accounts, while helping you meet the financing requirements of your business. If the need is new equipment, operating capital, expansion financing or a business or land purchase, this experienced team is interested in exploring your plans.

Hundreds of local businesses rely on Dakotaland’s expertise and services to build and grow every day. When a partnership is what you seek, there is no better time to look into what your credit union’s business lending service has to offer.

RYAN FUCHS VP of Business Lending Huron Main Branch
LISA AALBERS Financial Analyst | Business Loan Support Huron Main Branch ERICA DORRIS Business Loan Processor Huron Main Branch KAWLAR DAH Business Loan Processor Huron Main Branch DANE DORNBUSCH Business Loan Officer Brookings Branch AMY RUESCHENBERG Financial Analyst Satellite Office BRENDA GILBERT Business Loan Officer Huron Main Branch 12 | Independence
“We have never measured our success in dollars. It has always been providing a good loan to a good member that succeeds.”
FINANCIAL SERVICES LLC 1371 Dakota Avenue South, Suite 100| Huron, SD 57350 | | 605.353.8777 Dakotaland Financial Services, LLC. is a separate entity from Dakotaland Federal Credit Union. Call Today About Our BOOKKEEPING SERVICES When Your Job Puts You Behind the Wheel, We Will Keep You Rolling

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