Acts of Excellence Celebration Recap

On Thursday, January 18 in the State Capitol Rotunda, we gathered for an Acts of Excellence Celebration. We recognized eight recipients who represent everyday acts of excellence through their trials, tribulations, and perseverance. These recipients embody our mission of Championing a Culture of Excellence: One Act at a Time, and we are honored to acknowledge their outstanding acts of excellence.

Learn more about each recipient in the video clips below.

South Dakota Historical Press Society

Established in 1997, the South Dakota Historical Society Press has a mission to publish books that educate people on the rich history of South Dakota and the surrounding region. The Press is part of the South Dakota State Historical Society. For 20 years now, the Press has been encouraging authors whose work touches on the culture and heritage of the state and has been producing books that give readers new insights into the people and the places in South Dakota.

Native Hope

Giving Native American Youth a Voice

Children are the future, and hope is the foundation of real change, says Native Hope, a Chamberlain based, non-profit group whose mission is to empower young Native Americans by funding programs that “provide education, protect at-risk young and honor cultural heritage.”

Mansour Karim

Showing Gratitude in Giving

Mansour Karim has become one of the most generous donors in the central South Dakota area. In 2011, he was honored as Pierre’s Philanthropist of the Year. By that time, he had already given away more than $1.5 million. His son, Jafar, told the Pierre Capital Journal in 2014 that the generous gifts should not be considered surprising “in light of what this country and this community have made possible for him.

A Mission to Save Lifes


Nicole Neugebauer of Armour, the state’s 2015 EMT of the Year, said her goal was simply to improve the health of South Dakotans. One way to do that is to train young people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation. She has trained as many as 200 Douglas  County students over the past three years and has been the driving force behind a new law that requires every school in South Dakota to offer the training.

Houck Ranch

Brings Buffalo to the South Dakota Prairie

Roy and Nellie Houck operated a cattle ranch in Stanley County until 1959, when they purchased their first buffalo. From that modest start, the couple built Triple U Enterprises into one of South Dakota’s first, and one of the world’s largest, private buffalo ranches.

Fort Pierre

200th Birthday a Community-wide Affair

Planning and carrying out a 200th birthday party for South Dakota’s oldest organized town was a communitywide effort for the people of Fort Pierre as they celebrated their bicentennial in 2017 with concerts, rodeos, parades and historical presentations. The bicentennial was two years in the planning and months in preparation.

Historic West River Trail Preservation

Early settlers traveling through South Dakota from the Missouri River west to the Black Hills followed one or another of several old trails. In the 1970s, a Stanley County ranch couple determined that the old trails should not be lost to history, Roy and Edith Norman created signs that marked the various trails taken by Indian tribes, military units and west-bound settlers. The signs have recently been restored by the Second Century Development Corporation of Midland. The signs will now continue to keep history alive for any traveler willing to leave the main highways and follow the travel signs.

Jerry Wattier

Honoring Veterans

The Pierre Elks Lodge began an effort some years ago to work with our veteran facilities. What began as a program that delivered $700 of personal care items collected by the Pierre Elks to the State Veterans Home & Hospital, as well as the VA Medical Center, both in Hot Springs, has expanded its effort. In 2013 the project, led by Jerry Wattier, delivered $19,000 in cash and personal care items directly to the veterans in those facilities.

Do you know an individual or group deserving of recognition for their Acts of Excellence? Nominate them today here.

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