Bryon Noem became the first First Gentleman of South Dakota on January 5, 2019, when his wife, Governor Kristi Noem, was sworn in as the 33rd governor of South Dakota.
Bryon grew up on a farm near Bryant, South Dakota – the place where his love for small towns began. He graduated from Northern State University with a degree in business and finance. After college, he worked on the family farm, coached basketball, and eventually moved into the world of insurance.
Bryon often says the best decision he ever made was marrying Kristi Arnold – a girl from his high school who just wanted to become a farmer and rancher. Together, they have operated a farm and ranch, opened an ice cream shop, helped manage a family restaurant, and pursued numerous other business ventures. Their greatest accomplishment, though, has been raising their three children: Kassidy (who recently married Kyle), Kennedy, and Booker. Bryon continues to operate an insurance agency in Bryant and Watertown and coaches basketball (Go Chargers!).
As First Gentleman, Bryon is working to tell the stories of small town South Dakota and celebrate the hidden gems found throughout the state. His passion is people; his mission is to highlight the people and places of small town South Dakota.
To learn more about Bryon’s work as First Gentleman, visit his Facebook page.
More from Bryon
Why are you focusing on small town South Dakota?
I am proud to be from rural South Dakota. It’s where I learned the values of hard work and self-reliance, where Kristi and I chose to raise our kids, where we started an insurance business and hunting lodge, and where my family has farmed and ranched for a century. But many small towns like ours are struggling today. Class sizes are dropping. Businesses can’t afford to stay open. And fewer kids are coming home to farm or ranch. While South Dakota has grown by more than 100,000 people since 2000, rural populations have decreased. Seeing our larger communities flourish is exciting, but I want to make sure we don’t lose South Dakota’s rural culture either. I want to remind people that these are some of the best places to raise a family or start a business. I want to show that our way of life here is worth celebrating and promoting. I want to listen to peoples’ stories and learn from their experiences, then share them with others.
What will you be doing?
I want to highlight the good things that are happening in our smaller communities and listen to people tell stories about their hometowns. In our world today, I think we’ve gotten away from just listening. I want to bring that back. Whether it’s hearing the stories of a veteran over morning coffee in a café… shooting hoops with the mayor and hearing about the good and tough times a town has gone through… eating ice cream and learning about the heritage of a community… our hometowns have stories to tell and I want everyone in South Dakota to hear them.
What inspired this initiative?
In the last ten years or so, Kristi and I have been able to meet so many incredible people across South Dakota. It’s easy to think the grass is always greener somewhere else, but when it comes down to it, I truly believe that the people of South Dakota are the most kind, genuine people you’ll ever meet. And every person, every community has a story. I want people here to learn more about their own state, and I want people outside to learn how great South Dakota is. It’s my mission to uncover some of these hidden gems and celebrate the incredible value our small towns bring to our state.