FBSR Leadership Change: Honoring Dana Loseke

For each of our board members, our members, and our readers, Friends of the Big Sioux River means something different. To some, it is a way of life—a choice to defend the river, to live in harmony with the watershed. To others, it may simply be a name—a monthly newsletter browsed and discarded. From the diehard to the casual observer, we at FBSR strive to honor everyone’s relationship with the river, and that has been our goal since our inception. We seek to ensure that South Dakotans—past and present, urban and rural, from Grant County to North Sioux—can turn to the Big Sioux River as a source of enjoyment, pride, and community.

Our organization started as a coffee group with a desire to see positive change, but as too many of us know, wanting does not always mean doing. Without action, want wastes into discontent. From our beginnings, FBSR has been lucky to be guided by men and women dissatisfied with inaction and inspired by our community’s potential. Of these hardworking leaders at FBSR, none have worked harder for our river and our organization than Chairman Dana Loseke. Following five years as Friends of the Big Sioux River’s Chairperson, Loseke will be stepping down from his role as our leader. For his years of service, tireless advocacy, and strength of character, we are incredibly grateful.

If you Google “Dana Loseke,” you will find a biographical sketch affixed to a few My Voice articles. You’ll also find a testament to the amount of time and energy expended by Loseke to draw attention to the plight of the Big Sioux. From EDWDD board meetings to Augustana’s Academy for Seniors, from time in Pierre with legislators, to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, from Ag Update to KELO, Loseke shared his time and expertise with countless members of the community interested in learning more about the Big Sioux’s complicated, contaminated watershed. To ensure that his statements to the press and community characterized the truth of the matter, his days were spent at conferences, lectures, and ag seminars —learning about water ecology or talking about solutions with officials.

For many years, Loseke represented the face of FBSR. He often fielded phone calls and emails. In his role, he collaborated with stakeholders, contacted officials and politicians, and solicited memberships and donations. He presented the mission of FBSR to school children, Riverfest goers, and Big Sioux River summit attendees. To see a Friends of the Big Sioux River booth or presentation meant seeing Dana Loseke. Serving in such a public role is certainly not easy—nor is it always fun. As the face of our organization, he met with polluters, exasperated river enthusiasts, and other discontented community members. In situations where many would’ve quit or went negative, he set an example of dignity and collaboration that we can all learn from.

Though public relations was the bulk of the beast, Loseke also enjoyed the science and research of river advocacy. His portfolio overflowed with educational pamphlets and articles. Since 2015, he has performed water testing and FBSR eventually developed a water quality portal—a project meant to spotlight safety and bring awareness. His summers soon became filled with frequent trips between surface water sites, driving as far south as Akron, IA and as far north as Dell Rapids. The data on our site, depicting the water quality of the Big Sioux, Wall Lake, and Skunk Creek, wouldn’t have been possible without Loseke.

Though Loseke intends to resign his position as chair, he will still remain an active contributor to Friends of the Big Sioux River. As history shows, he can’t be slowed down—especially when it comes to working for his community. However, as he makes his transition to a more peaceable position, we offer our sincerest appreciation to the good heart and intelligent mind that has led us all these years. It has been an honor. Thank you for the work, Dana!