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Wellmark Foundation contributes to JAG-SD

The Wellmark Foundation awarded Jobs for America's Graduates South Dakota (JAG-SD) $15,400 to assist with their leadership development and career development conferences. More than 40 middle and high school students from nine local schools were provided an opportunity to learn more about careers in the health care industry from experts in the field.

"Working to improve social determinants of health conditions in the places people are born, live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes is a priority for the Foundation," said Mary Lawyer, The Wellmark Foundation executive director. "We are proud to support JAG-SD by investing in programming that increases graduation rates for young people of great promise and exposes them to high-demand health care occupations."

Students from Lyman, Todd County, Sioux Falls Roosevelt, Bennett County, Andes Central, and Wagner middle and high schools recently attended a leadership conference on Oct. 6. During the conference students heard from various health care professionals regarding their careers, including Dr. Tim Gutshall, Wellmark’s senior medical director.

"Becoming a doctor wasn’t on my radar until I was fortunate enough to hear from a nurse during a class in eighth grade," said Dr. Gutshall. "Through this leadership conference, I was able to share my unique story and inspire these students to explore a career in health care, work hard and follow their dreams. This experience will set these students apart from others as they determine how they can impact the communities in which they live as part of their future careers."

In addition to attending conferences, JAG students collaborate on projects, hold leadership roles, complete class assignments and participate in several community engagement activities focusing on career development, job attainment, job survival, basic and personal skills, and leadership and self-development.

"JAG helps young people of truly great promise succeed both in school and on-the-job, leading to a productive and rewarding career," said Beth Schneider, JAG-SD state director. "Our partnership with The Wellmark Foundation will help expose students to health care careers that we hope will have a long-term impact on access to and quality of health care for future South Dakotans."

Jobs for America's Graduates is led by a public/private partnership at the national level, comprised of leading Governors, C-Suite Executives among the Fortune 500 and national community leaders. It is organized to support State Affiliates in the high-impact delivery of the JAG Model across middle school, high school, out-of-school and collegiate young adult populations. To learn more about JAG-SD visit External Link.

Since its inception in 1991, The Wellmark Foundation has provided more than $54 million in funding to communities across Iowa and South Dakota. To learn more about the Foundation visit