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Spirit of Dakota Award Avoids Conflict of Interest with First Gentleman

One thing First Gentleman Bryon Noem isn’t doing with his time is serving on the “Spirit of Dakota” Award selection committee. The annual award program, held in Huron at the Crossroads Hotel honors one South Dakota woman each year for being a successful and admired leader. The Governor’s spouse has traditionally served on the selection committee, and in 2019, First Gentleman Bryon Noem was named to the selection committee. Bryon happily posed with the 2019 winner and her plaque.

But after postponing the 2020 award program due to coronavirus, the selection committee never mentioned the First Gentleman as a member, not when they named two new members to their group in September, and not when they announced this year’s ten nominees.

Of course, that’s probably for the best, since Bryon’s wife, Governor Kristi Noem, was one of the nominees.

With Bryon apparently not on the selection committee, the women in charge of the award were free to deliberate without bias over the ten nominees. Saturday night, they bestowed the 2021 Spirit of Dakota Award on Angela Ehlers of Presho:

A fourth generation Lyman County resident and landowner, working and caring for the land has been a driving force throughout her life.

…Her passion for the land led her to South Dakota State University where she earned a bachelor of science degree in two majors, commercial economics and ag business. Still on her bucket list is to go back and finish her master’s degree or become a master woodworker.

…She has been Executive Director of the S.D. Association of Conservation Districts for 32 years, moving the association forward through challenging times.

…As Executive Director of SDACD, Ehlers works closely with over 60 conservation districts. During her tenure new coalitions have been formed, including the S.D. Agricultural Land Trust, the Grasslands Coalition, and the Soil Health Coalition. Her leadership reaches beyond the South Dakota borders as she works with various agencies to ensure the people of South Dakota have clean water and air, along with clean energy for a healthier environment.

…The former newspaper editor and publisher has served on various local boards, including city council (now mayor!), Medicine Cree Golf Course, and the Lyman County Ambulance District, with more than 40 years as an EMT (emergency medical technician) [staff, “Ehlers Presented 2021 Spirit of Dakota Award,” Huron Plainsman, 2021.10.04].

And now with the 2021 award and a potential conflict of interest out of the way, perhaps Bryon can rejoin the award committee. He certainly has the time on his hands to help out.


  1. Porter Lansing 2021-10-04

    Is Ms. Ehlers a Democrat?

    Has she political interests?

  2. grudznick 2021-10-04

    Mr. Lansing, the young lady Ms. Ehlers, the mayor, is a tall drink of conservative common sense. She’s a bit of a squeaky voiced simpleton in the world of lobbists but golly she is a pretty young thing right up your ally. I mean, she runs a lean, mean mini-organization so I’m sure she could probably take over for the latest CEO of the democrat party who is some kid, as I understand. Ms. Ehlers would be 10 times better than that, for sure.

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