Two cooperative leaders with an extensive history of serving South Dakota have been chosen for induction into the Cooperative Hall of Fame for 2020. The SD Cooperative Hall of Fame is the highest honor that the cooperative community bestows on those who have made significant contributions to the state. Their leadership, integrity, and personal commitment have served not only cooperatives, but also their local communities.
This year’s inductees are:
Charles Birkholt, Selby, who has served on the board of directors for Venture Communications for the past 20 years. He joined the board shortly after retiring as general manager of Cam Wal Electric, a cooperative in Selby where he worked for 45 years, starting in May 1952 as a groundsman, equipment operator, lineman, and foreman, and eventually being chosen as general manager in 1989.
When Venture Communications expanded its territory in 1996, Charles was one of the directors to represent the newly acquired areas. As Venture Communications continued to grow, Birkholt was instrumental in ensuring the new customers received quality service from their telecommunications cooperative.
Birkholt is also active in his community, serving in various capacities in St. John Lutheran Church, the Selby cemetery board, Selby Volunteer Fire Department, Selby Opera House board, and the Selby Good Samaritan Center. He and his late wife, Ruby, were both advocates for youth education, and led to the establishment of multiple scholarships for high school seniors pursuing a higher level of education.
Dan Lindblom, Rapid City, was nominated by Black Hills Electric Cooperative headquartered in Custer. Dan served 27 years on the BHEC board of directors, including one term as president and three terms as vice president. He also served on the South Dakota Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s board of directors, including serving as president of the statewide association for six three-year terms. He also earned his National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Director Certification, and received NRECA’s Region VI Award for Outstanding Service.
A lifelong rancher, Dan also was active in state and local agricultural organizations, including the SD Stockgrowers Association, SD Farm Bureau, Central States Fair Board, and State Brand Board. He and his wife, Bev, are active in their church and the West Hills Village Retirement Community.
In addition to their service to the cooperative community, both men exemplify the Seventh Cooperative Principle: Concern for Community. Both Birkholt and Lindblom are veterans who served their country. They have also volunteered countless hours serving their local church, youth activities, and community events.
Cooperatives throughout South Dakota are celebrating October as Cooperative Month. The cooperative idea has been part of South Dakota’s landscape for well over 100 years, providing their member-owners with farm supply and marketing opportunities, electricity, communications services, and financial services.
The SD Cooperative Hall of Fame program is sponsored by CHS, Inc., the SD Association of Cooperatives, SD Association of Telephone Cooperatives, SD Cooperative Managers Association, SD Farmers Union, and SD Rural Electric Association.