Those Who Live Wide Open

After working all hours at her Mall of America retail job, Mary Pederson and her husband decided their young family would be better off in Pope County. The county, in west central Minnesota, is where the couple grew up. Mary moved away for 20 years for...

Lakes and small-town living drew Dan Jahn to Starbuck, where he opened Peddler Dan's General Store five years ago. He had spent most of his life in Clarkfield, a southwestern Minnesota town where he served as mayor and owned two restaurants with his wife. Now...

North Dakota native Del Mari Runck was working as an executive for a banking firm in North Dakota when a recruiter called her. Would she be interested in becoming an executive officer at an Alexandria bank? Del Mari's job was going well, although she knew she...

It was 2009, graduation time for Brad Elbert and his fellow mechanical engineering students, and the unthinkable was happening. Hardly anyone was hiring engineers. The Great Recession was well underway and only 10 percent of his classmates at Minnesota State University-Mankato had landed jobs. Brad might...

When Heather Tichy joined the Minnesota National Guard, she moved to Barnesville to be closer to her Moorhead-based unit. She immediately warmed to the town of 2,570. “You can go into the post office and even if you don't know anyone there, they'll say hi to you...

Through the Peace Corps, Daniel Appel taught math to teenagers in a rural Namibian village, then embarked on months of adventure in Africa—whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, scuba diving and more. Eventually, he made his way back to his childhood home in western Minnesota—Wheaton, in Traverse County—in...

Molly Johnston's “aha” moment struck the summer before she moved back to Battle Lake with her husband, Robbie. That summer, she hosted a dance festival that brought professional dancers, choreographers and dance educators from all across the country to Battle Lake for a week. “As I sat...

Jonnie Schmitz grew up in Perham, went to college in Moorhead and landed an internship with a hometown employer, KLN Family Brands. The internship went so well that once he graduated from Minnesota State Community and Technical College with degrees in business management and sales...

Life in Moorhead has meant something once unimaginable to Somalian immigrant Hukun Adow Abdullahi. It has meant he can go to college. “Moorhead is a peaceful city compared to where I came from,” Abdullahi said. “Moorhead is a place where a teenager, an immigrant kid, can...