What is the OTA Builder Program?

At our Sioux Falls event in the summer of 2015, we announced the creation of the OTA Builders Program, an opportunity to elevate the creatives who build our communities. This began with an open nomination process in the fall of 2015. Over 70 applications came in, all ready to take a leap.

It was a very exciting realization for us.

After an earnest review of all the applications by a regional advisory panel and OTA staff, the 20 Builders were announced, and the program began in January 2016. The Builders were selected as those who are preparing to take a personal or professional leap or a journey that will have direct benefit to their community and the broader region.

As part of the program, each Builder has been assigned a mentor   for the duration of the program and will meet with them at a schedule self-defined for support, guidance and accountability. During the month of January, each Builder had a feature written about them and their passion project and also contributed content to us, updating our region on their progress.

All of this lead to March 14, 2016, where all Builders presented their work on stage at OTA:Bismarck. Four Builders were chosen based on presentation pitches to present at the evening session of OTA: Bismarck, and all Builders received $2,500 for their (co)creation of content and participation in OTA: Bismarck.

We’re so excited to see where this adventure has lead. These Builders have taken such great leaps and, moreover, have developed meaningful, inspiring and long-lasting relationships among one another that we never could’ve built on our own. We’re so proud of their progress and look forward to continuing celebrations of their passion. Great work, Builders! 

Craig Weinberg

Craig Weinberg

City: Milbank, South Dakota

Vocation: Photographer, business owner

Builder project: The Studio, a community space for fellowship, education, camaraderie


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Cheryl Kary

Cheryl Kary

City: Bismarck, North Dakota

Vocation: Social advocate, entrepreneur

Builder project: Sacred Pipe Resource Center, a program to support and catalyze the Native American community


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Tyler Read

Tyler Read

City: Rapid City, South Dakota

Vocation: Graffiti artist, arts educator

Builder project: Screen printing coalition as an advocate for arts community


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Ashton Wirrenga

Ashton Wirrenga

City: Bismarck, North Dakota

Vocation: Graphic designer, photographer, entrepreneur

Builder project: Create a print edition of local food magazine, Bevo


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John Riker and Patri Acevedo-Riker

John Riker and Patri Acevedo-Riker

City: Rapid City, South Dakota

Vocation: Owner of architectural firm AcV2

Builder project: Connect college to community to build a local tech incubator


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Nickolas and Ashley Rehder

Nickolas and Ashley Rehder

City: Pemberton, Minnesota

Vocation: Engineer and teacher, respectively

Builder project: Ruby Ranch, a community maker space on their family farm for children and families


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Jade Possail

Jade Possail

City: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Vocation: Founder of Miracle Mugs

Builder project: Miracle Mugs, a nonprofit that supports Children’s Miracle Network


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Moses Tut

Moses Tut

City: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Vocation: Business owner

Builder project: Conscious Youth Solutions, a nonprofit that helps Millennials connect to resources and opportunity


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Jonathan Otis

Jonathan Otis

City: Duluth, Minnesota

Vocation: Firefighter, beekeeper, designer, entrepreneur

Builder project: Create Duluth, a platform to include conversations and competitions that would help to build his community


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Joshua Hofer

Joshua Hofer

City: Tea, South Dakota

Vocation: Community builder, social entrepreneur

Builder project: Help to build an arts center in his hometown of Freeman, South Dakota


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Corey Gerlach

Corey Gerlach

City: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Vocation: Musician, DJ, coffee roaster

Builder project: Open coffee roasting company, The Breaks


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Amy Thue

Amy Thue

City: Milbank, South Dakota

Vocation: Storefront owner

Builder project: Open pop-up gift shop on Main Street


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Karel Sovak

Karel Sovak

City: Bismarck, North Dakota

Vocation: College professor

Builder project: iSEEu, a program to support and guide community ideas, social entrepreneurship


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Wes Eisenhauer

Wes Eisenhauer

City: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Vocation: Photographer, entrepreneur, musician

Builder project: Building a collaborative studio space


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Zach DeBoer

Zach DeBoer

City: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Vocation: Art gallery owner

Builder project: Art, tactical urbanism, community building and urban planning


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Josh Stroschein

Josh Stroschein

City: Madison, South Dakota

Vocation: Technology educator

Builder Project: Founder and instructor of web development boot camp


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Karina Mork

Karina Mork

City: Glenwood, Minnesota

Vocation: Business / shop owner

Builder project: Advocate for more entrepreneurialism in her community


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Kadra Abdi

Kadra Abdi

City: Minnetonka, Minnesota

Vocation: Community advocate

Builder project: Combat sex trafficking in the OTA region


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Chad Ziemendorf

Chad Ziemendorf

City: Watford City, North Dakota

Vocation: Photographer

Builder project: Documentary storytelling about North Dakota on a blog called Intersection Journal; enabling fellow photographers to maximize their community impact


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Altman Studeny

Altman Studeny

City: Plankinton, South Dakota

Vocation: Resident artist, teacher

Builder project: Extending the reach of art opportunity into rural communities


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