The Black Hills Knowledge Network is a full time collaboration between our team and community partners. Our full time staff and summer interns work with public libraries, towns, and reservations in the Black Hills region to post local news, history, and resources. Our thirteen partner libraries and communities include: City of Box Elder, Custer Public Library, Deadwood Public Library, Edgemont Public Library, Phoebe Apperson Hearst Library (Lead), Oglala Lakota College Library (Kyle), Piedmont Valley Library, Rapid City Public Library, Grace Balloch Memorial Library (Spearfish), Sturgis Public Library, City of Summerset, Wall Public Library, and the Whitewood Public Library. To learn more about our partners, scroll down.
Eric John Abrahamson, Ph.D.
Contact Eric by email or at 605-716-0058
Dr. Eric John Abrahamson is an economic historian by training and author or co-author of more than a dozen books on major for-profit and non-profit organizations and institutions in the United States and Canada. He has served on the Rapid City and South Dakota State Library boards, is past chairman of the Black Hills Area Community Foundation board, and currently serves as a director of the John T. Vucurevich Foundation and the South Dakota Humanities Council. He co-founded the Black Hills Knowledge Network in 2009 and has served as project director since 2012.
Project Coordinator and Data Specialist
Contact Callie by email or at 605-716-0058
Callie Tysdal is regional geographer with a bachelor’s degree in Geography and Art History from Macalester College. She has authored and presented work on the importance of the Red Cloud Indian Art Show and the revitalization of downtown Rapid City. Callie became a data miner for the South Dakota Dashboard and project coordinator of the Black Hills Knowledge Network in 2014. Callie currently spends her working hours aggregating and disseminating local news, digital archive collections, and statewide data.
Community News and Information Editor
Contact Rochelle by email or at 605-716-0058
Rochelle came to the BHKN in 2016 from the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen's Health Board, where she served as the organization's communications and executive affairs coordinator. Prior to her work at the health board, Rochelle served as a tribal liaison and research assistant at the U.S. Senate. Rochelle received her bachelor's degree in political science and American Indian studies from the University of Minnesota. She is currently working on her master's degree in community development through South Dakota State University. In her free time, Rochelle enjoys spending time outdoors with her fiancé and two dogs.
Jake Mortenson, Ph.D.
Jacob Mortenson, a native of Fort Pierre, SD, is a consulting economist for BHKN. Jacob recently earned his PhD in economics from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. His research has appeared in academic journals, as part of the Federal Reserve Board's working paper series, and has been featured by the Wall Street Journal. In addition to academics, Jacob has worked for a non-partisan agency in the U.S. Congress forecasting federal income tax revenue. He currently resides in Sioux Falls, SD, and stays busy spending time with his family, doing contract work in economics for several entities, and occasionally slapping leather on his family's Hayes, SD cattle ranch.
Our 2017 Summer Interns
Data Services Intern
Zane Cooper, from Eaton, Colorado is an undergraduate student at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, studying applied and computational mathematics. Zane’s primary academic interests include statistics and mathematical modeling. He previously worked in the SDSM&T bookstore and enjoys spending his free time listening to music and reading.
Data and Social Media Intern
Janice Gbedemah is an international student from Ghana, West Africa. She moved to Rapid City in 2014 to further her education. Janice is currently a junior at Black Hills State University pursuing her bachelor's dgree in economics and finance. She also works as an economics tutor at the university. Janice was recently admitted to the academic honors society, Beta Gamma Sigma. In her free time, Janice likes to hang out with friends and catch up on dozens of her favorite television shows.
Historical Services Intern
Donnie Keifert was born and raised in Spearfish, SD and primarily focuses on the history of the Black Hills area. He graduated from Black Hills State University with a bachelor’s degree in history as well as a certificate in historical site interpretation. His work background includes multiple historic sites and museums including the Sanford Lab-Homestake Visitor Center, Mount Rusmore National Memorial and is currently part of the education team at the Journey Museum & Learning Center.
Our Content Contributors
Content Focus: Scott is a contributing member of the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network community partnership. He is a responsible for content pertaining to Rapid City government and for maintaining most of the government resource pages on the BHKN.
Biography: Scott graduated with a bachelor’s in Theatre Arts and a minor in English from California Polytechnic State University, then obtained his Masters in Library Science from Clarion University in 2016. He has worked professionally in libraries for over 12 years and is currently working as a library associate and nonfiction selector at the Rapid City Public Library. He joined the RCPL/BHKN team in May 2012, then took on the government section and team lead role in fall 2012. Scott has called Rapid City home for over 25 years.
Content Focus: Scott is a contributing member of the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network community partnership. He is responsible for posts pertaining to work and the economy, recreation, hunting, energy, Ellsworth Air force Base, and the Rapid City election permanent page.
Biography: Scott a Bachelor’s degree in History from Northern State University in 2005. He also obtained a Master’s degree in Modern U.S. History from North Dakota State University in 2013. He is a library associate at the Rapid City Public Library and helps with reference inquiries, as well as troubleshoots patron’s basic computer and technology problems. Scott has lived in Rapid City since May, 2008 and is active in fishing its waters and promoting its fisheries. Scott joined the RCPL team in 2011.
Content Focus: Jennifer is a contributing member of the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network community partnership. She is responsible for posts about health and wellness in South Dakota. She also focuses on Veterans Affairs in the Black Hills.
Biography: Jennifer graduated from Morningside College with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication and Spanish. She is currently pursuing her Masters in Library and Information Science through Wayne State University. She recently returned to the Black Hills to be closer to family. She joined the RCPL/BHKN team in 2015.
Content Focus: Carrie is a contributing member of the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network community partnership. She posts on education and construction and maintains all related education and construction resource pages.
Biography: Carrie earned an undergraduate degree from Black Hills State University in Political Science and a Juris Doctor degree from University of Kansas, Law School. Carrie worked in the Kansas Supreme Court before becoming a Library Associate at RCPL. Carrie happy to be in the world of books and public service again. She moved to the Black Hills in the 9th grade, attended high school and college, and returned here to raise her daughter and be near family. She joined the RCPL/BHKN team in 2016
Content Focus: Rebecca is a contributing member of the Rapid City Public Library and Black Hills Knowledge Network community partnership. Rebecca writes primarily on Civic Life and History while also covering other topics like the Keystone XL Pipeline and urban beekeeping. She maintains the Civic Life and History resource pages.
Biography: Rebecca went to school at the University of South Dakota, where she studied English and Musical Performance. While there, she worked at the university’s library as a page. After she had completed her degree, she came back to her hometown of Rapid City and began working at the Rapid City Public Library. Along with her work on the Black Hills Knowledge Network, she maintains and develops the adult fiction collection and works in the library’s makerspace. Rebecca joined the RCPL team in 2014.
Content Focus: Sam serves as Rapid City Public Library liaison and coordinator for the Black Hills Knowledge Network.
Biography: Sam earned a bachelor’s degree from BHSU in History and Library Media and went on to earn a Masters in Library Science from Clarion University. She has a professional background in museums, academic, and public libraries. Sam is the Partners and Digital & Special Collections Librarian at RCPL. She was born and raised in Rapid City and joined the BHKN team in 2011.
Content Focus: Cheyenne is our Wall liaison, courtesy of the Wall Economic Development Corporation. She posts content on current economic and community issues in the Wall area. She also helps maintain our Wall permanent pages.
Biography: Cheyenne grew up on a ranch near Wall and graduated from Wall High School in 2012. She received her B.A. in Communication Arts from Chadron State College in May 2015. Cheyenne was hired as the first Economic Development Director for the City of Wall in September 2015. Her role as the Wall Economic Development Director is to build upon community strengths and encourage community collaboration to address Wall’s housing needs, work toward community development, retain and expand current businesses and attract new businesses and community members to the Wall area. Cheyenne loves living in Wall and enjoys spending time exploring the Badlands and Black Hills.
Denise Ross is a veteran journalist. A journalism graduate of South Dakota State University, Ross worked as a reporter for the Rapid City Journal and online editor for the Mitchell Daily Republic. As an independent filmmaker, she created a documentary on the 2006 abortion ballot measure in South Dakota. She also serves as a commentator on Dakota Midday on South Dakota Public Broadcasting. Denise served as project editor from 2013 to 2016.
The Black Hills Knowledge Network reflects the work and investment of a growing range of partners in the region. The John S. & James L. Knight Foundation, the Bush Foundation, and the John T. Vucurevich Foundation have provided major funding for this project. Other partner funding organizations include: Black Hills Vision, Friends of the Rapid City Public Library, Rapid City Public Library Foundation, Regional Health, the South Dakota Community Foundation, and the South Dakota Humanities Council. Generous partner content providers include: Black Hills Corporation, Black Hills Pioneer, Chiesman Center for Democracy, KOTA / My Town, Native Sun News, Rapid City Journal, Lee Enterprises, the Rural Life and Census Data Center atSouth Dakota State University, and Vantage Point Historical Services, Inc.
Black Hills Knowledge Network community data is powered by Minnesota Compass, a social indicators project led by Wilder Research. Additional state and local level data is provided by the SDSU Rural Life and Census Data Center. These data partners, plus our sister project North Dakota Compass, form a tri-state cohort dedicated to bringing you the best community information.
Interested in being a sponsor? Contact us and donate today!
The Black Hills Knowledge Network is generously supported by our Board of Directors. Members include Letitia Lister (Chair), Eric John Abrahamson, Barbara Garcia, Matt Hasvold, Regina Jahr, James McShane, Benjamin Snow, Ronald Amodeo, and Kyle White.