SDHC Announces Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Winners

Scott Rausch, Julie Moore Peterson, South Dakota Historical Society Press to be Honored at 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books

The South Dakota Humanities Council, a non-profit that leads statewide advocacy for the humanities, is pleased to announce this year's winners of the Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Awards.

Receiving their Distinguished Achievement awards at the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books will be longtime volunteers Scott Rausch and Julie Moore Peterson and South Dakota Historical Society Press, which printed SDHC's 2019 Young Readers One Book South Dakota, "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People" by Donald F. Montileaux.

Winners are selected based on their outstanding commitment to scholarly and cultural advocacy around South Dakota — advocacy in the form of presenting humanities-related events and programs, writing books and publications important to the humanities and providing funding or partnerships to sustain a vibrant cultural landscape. Rausch was the winner in the "Individual" award category, while Moore Peterson was selected for the "Librarian" category and the South Dakota Historical Society Press was the winner in the "Organization" category.

Award Winners Are Strong Volunteers, Partners for SDHC

Rausch and Moore Peterson have donated countless hours of time and energy to promoting the humanities in South Dakota; they've been instrumental in organizing and setting up SDHC events, offering guidance from their seats on the SDHC Board of Directors (both have served their full terms and are no longer on the board) and generally promoting the organization's efforts in every way possible.

"For many years, Scott was our 'go-to' volunteer for setting up South Dakota Festival of Books venues in Deadwood, from hauling chairs to keeping audio-visual equipment working, and as a past SDHC treasurer, he also spent many hours assisting staff with financial record-keeping," said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book and the Festival of Books. "Julie has served on the Festival steering committee several times and has helped us coordinate countless events in Sturgis, including visits from former National Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, acclaimed Vietnam-era author Tim O'Brien and many others."

South Dakota Historical Society Press has partnered with SDHC on numerous projects. In addition to printing the 2019 Young Readers One Book, the press also published the 2012 One Book South Dakota "Dammed Indians Revisited" (2012) and has been a constant presence at the annual South Dakota Festival of Books, where the organization displays its extensive library of works published about South Dakota and by South Dakota authors.

"It is a privilege to have such a strong publishing presence in our state," said Widman. "Each year, the Festival of Books features several authors published by the South Dakota Historical Society Press, and their insights into the rich history of South Dakota always draw praise from attendees."

The Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Awards Ceremony will be held at 6:15 p.m. Saturday, October 5 at the Deadwood Mountain Grand Event Center (1906 Deadwood Mountain Dr.) during the 2019 South Dakota Festival of Books, which is Oct. 4-6 in Deadwood.

The awards ceremony will precede the event "A Celebration of South Dakota's New Poet Laureate." Presiding at the ceremony will be SDHC Board of Directors Chair Vonnie Shields, assisted by SDHC Executive Director Ann Volin.

Below are the full bios of the winners.

Scott Rausch, Piedmont ("Individual" Award Category)

Scott Rausch grew up on a farm near Agar, S.D. He graduated with an electrical engineering degree from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City and worked in the aerospace industry, retiring as a vice president of engineering. Upon retirement, he joined the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the School of Mines and served as a faculty member and department head. He served on the SDHC Board of Directors for 10 years and has been actively involved with the South Dakota Festival of Books, playing a crucial role with venue setup and offering other assistance as needed. He has also served on other non-profit boards, including the Rapid City Arts Council, the Piedmont Park Board and the School of Mines Alumni Association. Rausch is a lifelong advocate of books and reading and maintains a large personal library focusing on science, mathematics, history, philosophy and religion.

Scott Rausch, winner of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award (Individual Award Category).

Scott Rausch, winner of the 2019 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award.

Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner Julie Moore Peterson.

Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner Julie Moore Peterson.

Julie Moore Peterson, Sturgis ("Librarian" Award Category)

Julie Moore Peterson, director of the Sturgis Public Library since 2004, has worked in libraries for more than 37 years. Moore Peterson also served on the board of directors for the SDHC and the Sturgis Area Arts Council and continues to work closely with both to promote and provide literary and arts-related programs in the community. Under her guidance the library has hosted, co-hosted or sponsored numerous SDHC programs and speakers, including two Smithsonian Institution/Museum on Main Street Exhibits, Chautauqua events, author Tim O'Brien (part of a three-month community Big Read Grant in 2017), "Longmire" author Craig Johnson and U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith. The library has also hosted One Book authors, Speakers Bureau events and regional author programs. Moore Peterson has chaired SDHC board committees and annually volunteers for the South Dakota Festival of Books. Moore Peterson was also a founding partner in developing the "Black Hills Library Consortium," a group of 11 area libraries that jointly share collections and an online operating system. She served on that organization's board for four years.

South Dakota Historical Society Press, Pierre ("Organization" Award Category)

Nancy Tystad Koupal established the South Dakota Historical Society Press in 1997 with the vision of producing scholarly, well-crafted books that reflect the rich and varied history of South Dakota and the Northern Great Plains. In its 22 years, the Press has published nearly 100 titles, interpreting and disseminating the history, heritage, culture, art, and stories of the region for a broad range of readers, including a recent collection of essays that received national acclaim: "Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder." The book, edited by Koupal, drew the following praise from Publishers Weekly: "These informative essays will be of considerable interest to Wilder fans and scholars." Recognized for producing well-researched books of the highest standards, the Press became an affiliate member of the Association of University Presses in 2018. The Press has worked in partnership with the Humanities Council on a number of projects, most recently "Tatanka and Other Legends of the Lakota People," the 2019 Young Readers One Book.

2019 Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner South Dakota Historical Society Press.

Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award winner South Dakota Historical Society Press. 


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The non-profit South Dakota Humanities Council, founded in 1972, delivers humanities programming to South Dakotans. As a steward of the state's heritage, the Council promotes the exchange of ideas to foster a thoughtful and engaged society and the appreciation of South Dakota history, literature and the humanities. Click below to subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter and find out more about our programs.