The 2023 BIG Idea Competition marked a milestone with new opportunities for high school students. A record-breaking total of 365 entries were received involving 443 students from 76 schools. For the second year in a row, a separate virtual competition was held for finalists outside of South Dakota. These were judged by a separate judging panel and separate prizes were awarded. The 2023 event wrapped up Wednesday, December 6, at Northern State University (NSU) with the Awards Ceremony.  John T. Meyer shared a great message for all attending, and winners from both competitions were announced along with five special category awards. Over $50,000 in cash and scholarships from Northern State University and SD School of Mines were awarded.    This page provides a recap of all the finalists and winners as well as videos of the Keynote and Awards Presentations.  The livestream link for the complete event can be found on the BIG Idea Facebook page (@BIGIdeaSD).

IN-STATE Competition


Back row: Morgan Haselhorst, Warner; Hunter Reede, Milbank; Carter Simon, Groton; Dallas Stoltenberg, Northwestern; Corbin Tople, Centerville; and Grant Schlueter, Tri-Valley

Front row: Jersey Deibert-McPartland and Brooklyn Bossly, Warner; Kasen Bender, Watertown; Kiara Tulowetzke, Watertown; Augustus Sieh, Leola;  and Cullen Pollard, Centerville

Not Pictured: Bennett Gordon, Sturgis; Emersen Mead, Dakota Valley; Abigail Hsu, Newark Academy, NJ; and Jaidryn Rice, Webster

First Place

Stoltenberg Tailgate Seating

Dallas Stoltenberg of Northwestern High School took first place in the South Dakota competition with Stoltenberg Tailgate Seating, a business that uses the tailgates of old vehicles to make a unique benches which provide a vintage look to a property or retain memories of the vehicle for the owner.

Dallas Stoltenberg of Northwestern High School (Anne Frericks, advisor)

Second Place

Clean Car Detailing Co

Second place went to Clean Car Detailing Co by Augustus Sieh from Leola High School, a mobile car detailing business that provides interior and exterior car cleaning services for busy people who want to maintain their vehicle.

Augustus Sieh from Leola High School (Trevor Van Tilburg, advisor)

Third Place

Paw’s Who Cares

Third place was awarded to Paw’s Who Cares by Warner High School students Morgan Haselhorst, Brooklyn Bossly and Jersey Deibert-McPartland. Paw’s Who Care will use sheltered animals from the Human Society to engage with residents of nursing homes for several hours a day to improve the well-being of both the humans and animals.

Morgan Haselhorst, Brooklyn Bossly, and Jersey Deibert-McPartland of Warner High School (Pam Lane, advisor)

Other Finalists

Swing and a Miss
Carter Simon of Groton High School (Eric Swenson, advisor)

Environ-Mental Food
Hunter Reede of Milbank High School (Jennifer Cleveland, advisor)

Conservation Covers
Kiara Tulowetzke of Watertown High School (Tom Lenox, advisor)

Bender’s Sports
Kasen Bender of Watertown High School (Tom Lenox, advisor)
SoDak Feeds
Jaidryn Rice of Webster High School (Kaylan Pool, advisor)

OUT-OF-STATE Competition


Top row: Nir Pechuk, Davidson Academy Online (NV); Omar Reyes, Ary Dhanani, and Saheb Nibber, The Awty International School (TX); Abigail Hsu, Newark Academy (NJ); and Meghana Penmathsa, Columbus North HS (IN).

Bottom row:  Sameet Das, Pratham Muriki, and Rohit Mekkoth, Valley Christian HS (CA); Parnika Amrute and Anugraha Anandh, Lebanon Trails HS (TX), and Cindy Wang, Barrington HS (IL).

First Place

Extentek makes and sells a device that assists visually impaired people pour liquids into containers without overflowing.
Nir Pechuk of Davidson Academy Online (NV)

Second Place

The product is a glove that counteracts hand tremors in users with Parkinson’s disease.
Omar Reyes, Ary Dhanani, and Saheb Nibber of The Awty International School (TX)

Third Place

Mental Metrics
Abby’s idea is a smart wristband and application that teenagers, doctors, and parents can use to instantaneously track adolescent mental health. Mental Metrics also won the Wellness Award which provides a $500 cash prize and a $500 scholarship from NSU.
Abigail Hsu of Newark Academy (NJ)

Other Finalists

Pratham Muriki, Sameet Das of Valley Christian High School (CA)

Pratham Muriki, Rohit Mekkoth of Valley Christian High School (CA)

Meghana Penmathsa of Columbus North High School (IN)
Parnika Amrute, Anugraha Anandh of Lebanon Trail High School (TX)
Cindy Wang of Barrington High School (IL)


2023 Finalists and Honorable Mentions (PDF)

Marketing Design Winner

(sponsored by McQuillen Creative Group)


Your Acai

Emersen Mead of Dakota Valley High School (Justine Sponder, advisor)

Wellness Winner

(sponsored by Sanford Health)


Abigail Hsu of Newark Academy (NJ)

Agriculture Innovation Winner

(sponsored by the South Dakota Agriculture Foundation)


Hello Ag
Bennett Gordon of Sturgis Brown High School

Hometown Business Winner

(sponsored by the South Dakota Retailers Association)


C & C Spaw’s Pet Grooming
Corbin Tople, Cullen Pollard of Centerville High School (Shelli Eide, advisor)

Makers Winner

(sponsored by Katie and James Washnok from Blackout Industries)

Grant Schlueter of Tri-Valley High School (Tracy Vogt, advisor)

Partners in Business Awards

(sponsored by Angelhaus)

Nathan Gellhaus of Angelhaus (right) presents awards to Shelli Eide, Centerville High School (left), Shauna Severson, Frederick High School and Pam Lane, Warner High School. Tyler Severson (center) accepting on behalf of Severson and Lane.


BIG Idea 2023 Competition Awards Presentation:


Thank you to our 2023 Keynote Speaker, John T. Meyer!

John Meyer, Leadership South Dakota 

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 our sponsors: Sanford Health, East River Electric, REED Fund, Dacotah Bank, First Bank & Trust, Angelhaus, Aberdeen Development Corporation, Northwestern Energy, McQuillen Creative Group, The Tom and Danielle Aman Foundation, Midcontinent Communications, GROW South Dakota, the South Dakota Agriculture Foundation, 3M, Missouri River Energy Services, Agtegra, South Dakota Retailers Association, Independent Health Solutions, Blackout Industries, and Plains Commerce.

The next competition will open again on September 1, 2024.