- Associated Press - Monday, May 22, 2017

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - There’s a new executive director at the Booth Society, the nonprofit friends group that supports the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives in Spearfish: Karen Holzer started in the position April 1.

“It has been a personal goal to work in a people-centered, tourism-generated, historically-grounded atmosphere,” Holzer said of why she chose to apply for the position when she saw it posted. “The Black Hills area provides options to pursue employment in those areas, and after moving here, I watched for opportunities.”

Born and raised in Timber Lake, S.D., Holzer comes to the position with a 32-year career in the postal system, having lived in various locations across the state and serving as postmaster in Pollock and Salem. Holzer and her husband, Dave moved to Spearfish in 2014 to be closer to family. Their daughter, Terrilyn, and her family, live in Spearfish; their daughter, Kayla, and her family, live in Rapid City; and their son, Tevis, and his family, live in Volga.

The hiring process for the position began in January, when former executive director April Gregory took the museum archivist position with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives.

Dr. Rachel Headley, president of the Booth Society board, said that 12 applications were received.

Karen loves history and serving her community,” she said of what stood out about Holzer as an applicant. “She goes beyond what she needs to do and finds ways of connecting to people through writing. Karen has experience running an entire office, including being the public face of an organization, managing the books, and so forth. It was clear that being the ED (executive director) would just be a matter of learning how we did things, instead of learning everything from scratch.”

Headley added that the board is excited to start looking forward and thinking about new projects, such as updating the museum and expanding conservation activities.

“Our goals are to serve the Northern Hills community, to share our conservation and education mission with our guests, to continue to expand on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service plans and to raise funds to create an even more special experience for our visitors.”

Holzer officially started her new position on April 1.

“The job is challenging, rewarding, and exciting,” she said of her first weeks on the job. “I tend to thrive on challenge, and the director job is providing me with many challenges. The fish hatchery staff, volunteers, and board are great. They have been wonderful to work with and have provided me with support and information about the operation of the hatchery.”

She added that she is looking forward to working with the seasonal volunteers from across the country who provide staffing for the hatchery gift shop and give tours of each of the hatchery’s venues during the summer.

“I am also interested in learning about fisheries, their history, and their stories, along with the people who have worked and lived the fishery life,” Holzer added. “D.C. Booth is fortunate to house national archives, and I am anxious to learn more.”

Holzer remembers visiting the hatchery as a child and has brought her own children, and now grandchildren, to the site, and these memories and experiences now motivate her goals as executive director.

“My primary goal is to work with the staff and volunteers to provide a memorable unique D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery experience for our visitors,” she said. “For years, generations of families have trekked to the fish hatchery to feed the fish, watch the ducks, and stroll through the grounds. Children came with their grandparents, and now those grown children are bringing their grandchildren to share the experience.”

And of course, as executive director, she would be focused on advocacy, fundraising, special events, and membership, Holzer added.

When not working, Holzer enjoys reading and writing, road trips to local museums and attractions with her grandchildren, and history conferences and workshops.

“I enjoy history and studying how people’s lives have created the world we live in,” she said.

And her new position will provide the chance to see this theory in action at the more than century-old hatchery that receives thousands of visitors each year.

“We are thrilled to have Karen on board, and excited that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Carlos Martinez, facility director, hired two full-time employees in Mitch Adams and April Gregory,” Headley said. “They will protect, grow, and care for the grounds and archive, and we are just delighted that they have joined the federal team.”

In addition to Holzer, the Booth Society employs Nancy Cole, gift shop manager and administrative assistant.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, http://www.bhpioneer.com

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