Become a fan on Facebook Follow us on Twitter USDA Blog Feed Watch USDA videos on YouTube Subscribe to receive e-mail updates View USDA Photos on Flickr Subscribe to RSS Feeds

Diversity within a South Dakota Rural Community

USDA Rural Development in South Dakota is interested in learning about and working with other cultures.  To enhance employee understanding, Mark Heuston, Director of Human Resources with Dakota Provisions, a turkey processing firm, was invited to USDA offices recently to make a presentation on the topic of diversity.

Dakota Provisions talent and expertise on working with diverse groups from several cultures is becoming well known throughout the South Dakota business world.  Most notable, is their success in recruiting Myanmar (Burmese) immigrants, “The Karen” to work in various positions throughout the processing plant located in Huron, SD.

The Karens are members of indigenous minority ethnic groups which reside primarily in southern and southeastern Myanmar. Some members have come to the United States recently.   Mr. Heuston educated staff on the Karen culture, the intricate process involved with them leaving Myanmar, and the transition to a life of personal enrichment in the United States – work, home, family, church, and community.

As South Dakota Rural Development staff build upon USDA Rural Development’s vision, mission, and cultural transformation initiative, this session proved to be very informative and educational.  It provided organization employees with the opportunity to understand, accept, value, and celebrate the differences among people with respect to age, class, ethnicity, and gender.  Ideas were also shared on how to overcome communication and cultural barriers.

“South Dakota’s rural nature has been an excellent fit for the Karen people. Without them, the current success at our processing plant would not have been possible. I am extremely proud of the way South Dakota and especially Huron has embraced the new residents. It is extremely hard to attract workers to South Dakota and I think several others communities in South Dakota will be able to build on the successes that we have had.” said Mark Heuston, Director of Human Resources at Dakota Provisions.

Mark Heuston, Director of Human Resources at Dakota Provisions and South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks at a recent diversity training event at USDA offices in South Dakota.

Mark Heuston, Director of Human Resources at Dakota Provisions and South Dakota State Director Elsie Meeks at a recent diversity training event at USDA offices in South Dakota.

Leave a Reply