Coming back to build your hometown: Boomerangs of the Winn-Worth Betco Region

2 Sep 2022


Why do people leave their hometowns? And, what brings them back? How have their experiences outside their familiar surroundings influenced them? These are unique residents who initiate a vortex of evolution, change, and development. 

We call them “boomerangs.” Boomerangs are people who grew up in an area, moved away, and then moved back. As the two counties of Winnebago and Worth evolve, they are once again becoming home to more and more of these change leaders. 

We spoke to two “boomerangs” who left the area for a while and have now decided to come back and drop anchor. How does it feel to be back, a place where they spent much of their formative years? Let’s find out. 

Meet Angie Thompson 

Angie ThompsonAngie Thompson works as a Project Coordinator at WCTA in Lake Mills and as a fitness instructor at the local Uptown Fitness & Yoga Studio. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your formative years – education etc.?

I graduated from Lake Mills High School and then procured my bachelor’s degree in business from Doane College in Crete, NE. 

You left the Winn-Worth Betco region for a while. What was your experience while you were away? 

My husband and I lived in Lincoln, NE, for several years. While in Lincoln, I worked at Union Bank & Trust as a recruitment specialist and at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, as a human resources generalist. 

How has coming back to the Winn-Worth Betco community made a difference in your life? 

During most of my professional career, I have worked for larger organizations employing hundreds and thousands of employees. Now that I work in a small community, it feels like family to be able to work for a smaller company where I know everyone, and we all know each other’s names. It’s been nice to build relationships with co-workers and get to know them. 

We moved to Lake Mills to be closer to our family. Our kids have benefitted by being able to participate in a variety of sports and activities. Another perk is they have also been able to grow up with their cousins. 

Can you tell us a little about your role and responsibilities in your current position?

At WCTA, my role as Project Coordinator: I work closely with Management Team. I am responsible for coordinating projects across all departments at WCTA. 

At Uptown Fitness, our mission is to promote lifelong wellness to everyone in our community through exercise, yoga, education, and supportive relationships. I lead and instruct Circuit Blast classes, which are a combination of cardio and strength training. 

What would you like to tell other people in your profession? 

“There’s tremendous power in thinking we, not me.” - Todd Davis 

What are your goals for yourself and for the community you serve?

As part of the Lake Mills Chamber Board of Directors, my goal is to make a positive impact in our community and work together to keep our town “alive” by supporting local businesses and events. 

Meet Angie Stensrud 

Angie StensrudAngie Stensrud grew up in Lake Mills and graduated from Lake Mills High School in 1997. She attended Iowa State University and received her bachelor of science in child and family services. After graduating from Iowa State, Angie moved to Minneapolis and worked as an international adoption program coordinator for the China Program, placing around 500 children from China, which allowed her to travel to China with several of her adoptive families on their adoption trips. She then married her high school sweetheart, Andy Stensrud, and set up base in Ankeny, IA. While there, they had their first child, Aiden. Angie did some temp social work but was mainly a stay-at-home mom. 

You left the Winn-Worth Counties area for a while. How has coming back to the Winn-Worth Betco region made a difference in your life? 

When our oldest was about one year old, we moved back to our hometown, Lake Mills, to work in the family business, Stensrud Insurance. We felt it would give us more peace of mind for our children to grow up in a nice small town like Lake Mills. Also, to grow up near family. I was fortunate enough to be able to stay home with our children during their formative years, and when they all started school, I went to work at Lake Mills Community School, accepting a position in the business office. 

Can you tell us a little about your role and responsibilities in your current position? 

My position is unique in the array of responsibilities I hold. I am responsible for the business end of the nutrition, athletics, and activities programs. For the nutrition side, I make bids for milk, bread, and equipment procured, fulfill all the state reports/requirements, pay bills, run the free and reduced lunch program, etc. For the Activity/Athletic side, I also pay the bills and train new activity coordinators on how to file requisitions, fundraisers, reimbursements, POs, etc. Also, for each home game, I prepare the officials' checks, remind officials and schools of the games, make a gate bag, etc.

What would you like to tell other people in your profession? 

My profession is unlike any others in that you will not find someone at another school who does exactly what I do. But the variety is what keeps it interesting! 

What are your goals for yourself and for the community you serve? 

My husband and I like to keep our business local and get involved in our community, serving on boards and coaching. This is my third year as a Parents for DC trip lead, and I hope this trip can continue for years to come. 

Is there anything the community can do to support you and to help you achieve them?

Just continue to support each other and help serve our great community! 

What makes the Winn-Worth area a great place for professionals like you to grow and thrive? 

Opportunity is what you make it. If you want something, go for it, ask for it, and work for it! There can be more opportunities in a small town than in a large city, so don't underestimate a small town.

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