Sether living her dream in Jackson
JACKSON -- Moving back to her hometown was a dream come true for Andrea Sether, who now works as the administrative assistant at the Jackson Economic Development office.
Sether was born in Minneapolis to Steve and Linda Handevidt, but moved with her parents to Jackson at the young age of 2, when her father took a job at a law firm in town.
As the only girl in a family of three children, Sether admits to being a daddy's girl and a grandpa's girl.
"My dad and I share a lot of same traits," she said. "Like my dad, I'm not afraid to speak out when I have ideas. I don't expect all my ideas to be accepted, but people need to voice it because that's how things get going."
Sether spent a lot of time with her grandparents while growing up. She fondly remembers fishing trips she took with them.
"We did that all through the years," she said. "My younger brother would go sometimes but that was my favorite thing to do with them."
A proud Blue Jay
Sether graduated from Jackson High School before the Blue Jays and Lakefield Panthers merged to form Jackson County Central.
As a student, she participated in various extracurricular activities, primarily in sports. Her focus was in track and field. She placed in a few state meets, she added.
Sether enjoyed being involved in student groups like 4H, FFA and Students against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
"Part of the reason I enjoy my job so much now is because I can get involved and do things that make a difference," Sether detailed.
After high school, she was uncertain about her career path. She was accepted to Augustana College under a track and field scholarship, but her track career ended when Sether was involved in an auto accident a month before her freshman year.
"I hurt my knees and couldn't run anymore," she said. "The scholarship with hopes of running track in college was the reason that I attended Augie."
After leaving Augustana College, she earned an associate of arts degree from Minnesota West in Worthington and also became a certified massage therapist.
"I thought that I could do massage therapy until I decided what I wanted to do with my life," she added.
Eventually, she started her own massage therapy business in Jackson for a year. She then decided, though, that she needed to enter the workforce.
Sether moved about 100 miles away from home to Sioux Falls, S.D., where she was employed as an account manager for a telephone company.
"I liked it in Sioux Falls because it was close enough to home," she added. "Next, I took a job with an abstracting company in Jackson and obtained my abstracting license."
Sether returned to Sioux Falls to work as a title examiner for a real estate company.
"While working in Sioux Falls, I was offered a position with a title insurance company in Minneapolis and made the move. I was ready for a change," Sether said.
She explained that while many segments of the economy were in recession after 9/11, the refinancing industry was booming in the Twin Cities.
At her Edina-based job, she steadily scaled the hierarchy of positions to become the production manager.
"I enjoyed doing it but I missed the customer service aspect of jobs," she said. "There's not a lot of interaction with the public and that's something I've always enjoyed more."
While she was in Minneapolis, Sether started dating her soon-to-be husband, Shane, who was working in Algona, Iowa.
Sether had been acquainted with Shane while she was in high school. They became engaged and commuted weekly to see one another.
After marriage, the couple settled in Algona, where Shane was a senior agronomist for Pioneer.
"I became tired of the commute and quit my job in Minneapolis," Sether explained. "I then worked in Algona for a real estate sales office and for a law office."
At Algona, she also volunteered with a local animal rescue group and helped to develop a dog park in Algona.
The Sethers lived in Iowa for five years before moving back home to Jackson.
"Rich (Shane's father) reached retirement age and was ready to move from the farm to his home on Fish Lake. He offered to sell us the home building site if Shane returned to the farm," Sether said, adding that she was excited at the prospect of returning to Jackson. "We accepted it."
Two weeks after settling back at home, Sether began her job at the Jackson Economic Development office.
"There's so much that goes on behind the scenes when you hear about a business expansion," she said about what she enjoys about her job. "We work to get businesses here and expand those that are here. It's fun to work on these things and get the satisfaction when you're done."
A recent example is the AGCO expansion, she said, when the Economic Development Office worked to compile proposals with incentive packages.
In cooperating with AGCO and several of the major employers in Jackson, Sether explained that the Economic Development Office has been working on recruiting employees who commute to live in Jackson.
"We have a lot of people who commute to Jackson for work but our goal is get them to live here," she said, explaining one of the first things achieved was consolidating real estate agencies' information to create a multiple listing on one website. "It's a one -stop place for people to go to and it was a great success."
Life outside of work
When she's not at work, Sether makes time to be with her family -- a part of life she considers most important.
"One of the main reasons we moved back is so that we could be close to family," she stressed.
Sether's parents and Shane's mother still reside in Jackson Her older brothers and his family recently moved back to Minnesota from San Diego.
"They had wanted to come back to the Midwest. Ideally they would have come back to Jackson," she said. "He had to go where the job took him, though, so they're in Eagle Lake.
Sether's younger brother, Jake, lives the farthest from home, in Prior Lake.
Life with three young children, Thomas, 5, Paylin, 3, and Dixon, 11 months, has kept Sether occupied.
"There aren't enough hours in the day. My hobbies have dwindled," she joked. "I love fishing, but I don't do it as much anymore."
"I also love playing foosball too," she said in between laughter. "Guys don't expect girls to be good at it, so it's fun to beat them. They always want a rematch."
Naturally, her passion for community involvement has drawn her into some volunteering.
"I helped to start PAWS -- the new animal rescue group here -- about a year an a half ago," she said. "While working with the city, I noticed all the impound notices on the bulletin board. I questioned what happened to the animals. They were being put down, so I thought something could be done to help the animals."
A quest on Facebook to seek feedback led her to a few friends who shared the interest in rescuing impounded animals.
"I've always had a soft spot for animals," Sether added.