By Shala Larson, 2013 Webster Area High School Alumna
“What’re you doing this summer?” someone asks. I’m 21, a college senior; last year I was in Washington, D.C. and have been to South Africa and Peru. I say I’m going to work on development in my hometown. They respond, “Wait, what?”
Yes, the adventurer who swore she’d never spend another summer at home landed herself back in the land of number 22 license plates, fishing tournaments and more cows than people. Why? Because sometimes you need to better understand where you come from before you can start your future.
Over the past three months, I’ve gained knowledge as Day County’s interim development coordinator, learning things like how to write meeting minutes, manage an office, plan events, market on a budget, how to make a budget, coordinate volunteers, pinpoint areas of improvement and take initiative to tackle projects. I also learned what economic development really looks like. This was introduced on a small-town scale which was best for me to learn from – especially being a young person with no experience in a job like this.
Since I graduated from Webster Area High School in 2013, numerous things have been added or improved; businesses like Perfect Pickins, Dollar General, Wants Warehouse, Shopko Hometown and Marcy Lucy Boutique have opened, a new track and football field have popped up, the swimming pool has been improved and there’s a potential walking/biking path in the works.
That’s a lot of change in three years for a town of 1,800! I was shocked by how our town is moving and shaking, improving the quality of life for residents and prospective citizens. Now I see why the Webster Area Development Corporation wants alumni to move back. I may be an adventurer but I feel confident one day I would possibly move back, or to a similar place.
I dream of working for a non-profit, teaching others to be self-sufficient using agriculture and my goal this summer was to learn about community development. What better place to learn but where my roots are attached, my heart lies and my childhood memories are located.
Thanks for the summer and lessons. Here’s to a lifetime fighting the good fight.
Note: Shala was WADC's Development Assistant from May to August 2016. We appreciated the fresh ideas, energy and time she spent with us! Thank you, Shala!