Farmers Union now taking nominations for 2015 Rural Dakota Pride awards

Farm Forum

HURON – Helping women in her community has been Cindy Wilk’s calling for more than 30 years. It began when her mother, Jan Manolis, was among a group of women to open a domestic violence shelter in Huron.

“Domestic violence is something that is very dear to my heart. Years ago there was no place for women to go for help. If they didn’t have help from family or friends, there was nothing – no shelters or no counseling,” explains Wilk, who serves as a volunteer advocate.

Today, thanks to the Jan Manolis Family Safe Center and numerous volunteer advocates, not only do victims and their children (the shelter also helps men who are abused) have a safe place to stay if they are in an abusive situation, but they also have an advocate to help them move forward. “We make sure they are not alone,” Wilk says.

As an advocate, she carries a shelter cell phone for two weeks at a time, answering calls from victims and helping them with anything they need. “We are there to let them know we are on their side.”

In 2014, Farmers Union recognized Wilk with the Dakota Rural Pride Award.

“Rural communities depend on these unsung heroes. They are the people who do what needs to be done,” says Karla Hofhenke, Executive Director of South Dakota Farmers Union.

Each year, the Rural Dakota Pride Award recognizes five individuals who give back to their rural communities.

As an organization which supports South Dakota farmers and ranchers, Hofhenke explains that Farmers Union understands the integral connection between those who work in South Dakota’s number one industry and their rural communities.

“One survives with the other,” she says. “Without thriving communities, it’s difficult to encourage young people to return to their family’s farm or ranch. Rural communities are key to the future of South Dakota’s agriculture industry; which is why we like to recognize those individuals who help them thrive.”

2015 nominations are due July 1, 2015.

South Dakota Farmers Union is currently accepting nominations for the 2015 Rural Dakota Pride Awards. Nominations can be submitted via the Farmers Union website,, or by contacting Hofhenke at 605-352-6761 ext. 114. The five awards will be presented during Farmers Union Day at the 2015 South Dakota State Fair.