The 2020 BIG Idea Competition was a BIG success with 245 entries involving 339 high school students from 29 schools! The BIG Idea Committee would like to congratulate this year’s winners who received nearly $18,000 in cash and scholarships.

Top Row (from left): Tessa Erdmann Groton (Agriculture Innovation Winner), Nathan Bellikka & Emily Efraimson Aberdeen Central, Cameron Gilmore Blacksburg VA (2nd Place). Middle Row (from left): Sydney Tedrow & Kara Weiss Pierre T.F. Riggs, Megan Nash (Marketing Design Winner and 3rd Place), Ian Lehman Pierre T.F. Riggs. Bottom Row (from left): Jordan Schock & Rachel Schallenkamp McCook Central (Wellness Winners), Alexis Ninneman Milbank, Matea Gordon Sturgis Brown (1st Place).

First Place

Goats-2-Go: Delivering a Goat Load of Fun was created by Matea Gordon from Sturgis Brown High School. Her idea is a goat rental business.
Matea Gordon of Sturgis Brown High School (pictured below)

Second Place

Cameron Waste Removal, Inc.
Cameron Waste Removal, Inc. was created by Cameron Gilmore, Senior from Blacksburg High School in Virginia. While the competition is marketed to South Dakota students, it is open to any high school student. Cameron is the first out of state student to participate and place in the Final Competition in BIG Idea History. His idea was to offer a trash and recycling pick-up service in his community.
Cameron Gilmore of Blacksburg Virginia High School (pictured below)

Third Place

Busy Bees
Busy Bees was created by Megan Nash, Junior from Northwestern High School, with Anne Frericks as her advisor. Megan was a finalist at the 2019 competition and took home 2nd place. Her idea for the 2020 competition is a beekeeping business that rents beehives to landowners.
Megan Nash of Northwestern High School (pictured below)

Other Finalists

Essentials Errands

Essential Errands was created by Senior Alexis Ninneman of Milbank High School. Jerry Janisch is her advisor. Her idea was to run errands in her community for those who couldn’t run errands themselves.

Alexis Ninneman of Milbank High School


SimplyCook was created by Jordan Schock and Rachel Schallenkamp from McCook Central High School, with Terry Rieckman as their advisor. Their idea was an app that helps people cook with the food they have by giving them recipes and connecting people together through the app.

Jordan Schock and Rachel Schallenkamp of McCook Central High School

Build A Bouquet

Build A Bouquet was created by Kara Weiss and Sydney Tedrow from Pierre T.F. Riggs High School, with Cheryl Ulmen as their advisor. Their idea was a business that helps people create bouquets of flowers, and educates the customer on the flowers.

Sydney Tedrow and Kara Weiss of Pierre T.F. Riggs High School

Bee’s Boats

Bee’s Boats was created by Emily Efraimson and Nathan Bellikka from Aberdeen Central High School, with Brandt Munsen as their advisor. Their idea was a boat storage and winterization business.

Nathan Bellikka and Emily Efraimson of Aberdeen Central High School

LWC Welding Repair

LWC Welding and Repair was created by Ian Lehman from Pierre T.F. Riggs High School. His idea was a mobile welding and repair business for heavy equipment.

Ian Lehman of Pierre T.F. Riggs High School

Download the 2020 Finalists and Honorable Mentions (PDF)

BIG Idea 2020 Competition Awards Presentation:

Winner of the Marketing Design competition, sponsored by McQuillen Creative Group, was:

Busy Bees
Megan Nash of Northwestern High School

Winner of the Wellness Category competition, sponsored by Sanford Health, was:

Jordan Schock and Rachel Schallenkamp of McCook Central High School

Winner of the Agriculture Innovation competition, sponsored by the South Dakota Agriculture Foundation, was:

Erdmann Precision Field Analysis
Tessa Erdmann of Groton High School


Partners in Business Award
Sponsored by Angelhaus
Cheryl Ulmen, Pierre T.F. Riggs High School
Joe Dalton, Waverly/South Shore High School
Brandt Munsen, Aberdeen Central High School

Thank you to our 2020 Speaker!

Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
Joe Mahon

Special Thanks

A Special Thanks to the teachers who encouraged their students’ participation and the students themselves for putting in the hard work to make it a fun, competitive competition.

Thanks to the committee members and community leaders who participated as judges, panelists and supporters.

Also a special thanks to all of your sponsors: Small Business Development Center, Sanford Health, East River Electric, REED Fund, Dacotah Bank, McQuillen Creative Group, Northern State University, Presentation College, South Dakota Schools of Mines & Technology, Black Hills State University, First Bank & Trust, Angelhaus, Northwestern Energy, Aberdeen Development Corporation, the Tom & Danielle Aman Foundation, Midco, GROW South Dakota, the South Dakota Agriculture Foundation, and 3M.

The next competition will open again on September 1, 2021.