When Mark and Jodi Wilson moved to Mitchell, Jodi stipulated that it was for no more than five years. That was in 2002.
Now this family of four can’t see much reason to leave.
“It’s the perfect size,” said Mark. “We can find anything we need, and there’s so much to do.”
The Wilsons met at Northern State University in Aberdeen while both were students. Mark began his career in Mitchell before he graduated from Northern. Cabela’s hired him, and he commuted for his last semester of college, working full time while completing his education in business. He made the move in May 2000.
Jodi, an education major, graduated the following December. The Paynesville, Minnesota, native moved back to Minnesota and taught there for a year, hoping that her absence would inspire a wedding proposal. It did.
In 2002, the couple married, and Jodi took a job at Longfellow Elementary in Mitchell, where she stayed for five years. During that time, she also completed her master’s degree in leadership administration from Northern.
Although Mitchell seemed like a good central point – Mark is from Edgemont in western South Dakota – the fact that Jodi’s five siblings and parents live within an hour of her hometown led them to assume Mitchell was a temporary stop until they could move closer to her family. But life in Mitchell proved to be good.
“I hadn’t realized how many people I knew here in Mitchell,” Jodi said. “Both of my parents are from Alexandria, so I have a lot of relatives here.”
And their friends became like family.
“We have such a great group of friends,” Mark said. “They are one of the main reasons we’re still here. I grew up in a town of less than 1000 people – this is such a nice size. You often run into people you know in Mitchell, but there’s privacy, too.”
During their time as Mitchell residents, their careers have changed and so has their family. Both now work in telecommunications: Mark is the network operations manager for Santel Communications, and Jodi does project management and contract administration for Farr Technologies, a local telecom and engineering firm. She works from home and acknowledges that Mitchell’s outstanding broadband access helps her be successful.
“Although I could do my job from anywhere, it requires good internet access,” said Jodi. “I don’t have to worry about that living in Mitchell.”
Outside of work, the Wilsons’ lives revolve around their boys, 13-year-old Brady and 10-year-old Colin. Mark and Jodi describe themselves as very social and having busy, involved children has expanded their social circle.
The boys are competitive swimmers, and their parents are involved in the Mitchell Aquatic Club; Mark has served as the group’s president. Their kids’ involvement in many activities has also led to lots of fundraising.
“What don’t we sell?” asked Jodi. “Depending on the organization, we’ve sold raffle tickets, calendars, popcorn – just about everything.”
Brady is their more serious child, focused on school – he loves middle school – swimming, football, and he is making plans for earning his driver’s license.
Colin is their social butterfly.
“Colin wants to be in every activity, not because he loves the activity,” said Jodi, “but because he wants to be with the people.”
Mark and Jodi are also active with Holy Family Church and John Paul II Elementary. Jodi is a cofounder of the catholic school/faith formation fundraiser, Bids for Kids. Their involvement has led to some advice for the boys.
“There are a lot of people who know us by name even if we don’t know them,” said Jodi, “so I tell the boys to be sure to represent your family well.”
In addition to church-related activities, Mark’s involvement includes the boys’ Cub Scout packs, and he is in the SD InfraGard, which involves private industry working with the FBI on cybersecurity.
Despite all their activities as a family, Jodi and Mark find time to run – Jodi ran a half-marathon – play golf, and Mark and the boys like to hunt. They gather with friends and their kids, and they love to try out new restaurants and night spots in Mitchell. They also appreciate that Mitchell has MTI and DWU.
“We enjoy following Wesleyan sports,” said Mark.
“It’s so great to have both options for higher education as an example for our boys,” said Jodi. “Although right now, Colin thinks MTI is too far from home for him.”
Joking aside, the Wilsons’ temporary residence has now become a permanent home. They would say they are better for their 16-plus years in Mitchell, and Mitchell is definitely better for their passionate community involvement.