Written by Troy Kastrup, Wapiti President
I never thought my entire family would be involved in the well-being of rural communities. We’ve lived in Sioux Falls and Fargo, we settled in Milbank when our kids approached school age. We were fortunate to have three girls grow up in Milbank, SD, population 3,341. It’s a wonderful community that cares. Milbank may not offer everything a kid wants growing up, but it certainly gave them what they needed. We had teachers and principals that cared about our kids and knew them well, sometimes to their chagrin. They were exposed to others in town who encouraged certain paths.
That caring somehow fostered career interests in taking care of others. Each of our daughters pursued careers in a healthcare-related field. They also chose to live in rural communities caring for others.
Our oldest daughter Alysha followed in her mother’s footsteps getting her Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology. She’s a mother and farmwife, living just outside of Milbank and working for a school co-op fostering the language skills in a small-town school and on a reservation, both in Northeast South Dakota.
Our second daughter Corinne lives in a town with a population of 1,782. Since Junior High, her local dentist kept telling her she could come back and take over for him. After getting her Doctor of Medical Dentistry, Corinne came back home to be the dentist in Ortonville, MN. She is one of only two dentists living in her county and the only female dentist in her county.
Claire, our youngest, has the distinction of being the only kid that has worked side by side with a Wapiti provider in a hospital. She is an RN, working in the ER in Aberdeen, SD while living in Groton, SD, population 1,475. Claire is almost halfway done with her Doctor of Nurse Practitioner and will pursue working in an area most of America would call remote. Her influence was seeing our providers make a difference in communities while seemingly enjoying a great life.
My wife Karla is a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) in a school that has fewer than 100 kids through 8th grade. She has been helping youth for over 2 decades. Karla was influenced by the school SLP in Milbank growing up and went to get her Master’s as an SLP. Years later, she took over for that person who influenced her.
Fifteen years ago, I was introduced to Dr. Brad McDonald. He was building Wapiti into an incredible business in a small town serving small towns, taking care of their health. He invited me in and positively influenced me and impacted our family. Today, I am blessed to be the President and Chairman of Wapiti, a company that purposely connects communities to deliver quality healthcare to their communities. We find it amazing the influence, guidance, and mentorship folks in small towns have had on our family and their careers helping us care for rural.
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