Brief personal background, education, career, bio: 

Billy Milbeck

From the time I was born until I graduated from PRHS in 1999, I lived on the Old Fergus Road, just a block from the high school. I was involved in every sport and from FFA to Boys Scouts, nearly anything in between. From 5th – 8th grades, I delivered newspapers on foot and bicycle; the folks I delivered to each day and visited with really taught me a lot. I learned not just about the history and the people of Pelican but also about how important simple daily conversations and the relationships built through them helps you as a kid turn into an adult. I remember the Barb & Doug Ericksons and their awesome daughters, the Mike Olsons at Farmers Elevator who’d regularly buy me a soda on hot days, the Mary Kay Haugruds, Tracy Williams, Karen Homans, Paul and Jeannie Evensons, who in high school gave me a job at their new Southtown, and the Hank Emmels- who always had the greatest stories. To this day, I try to take time to have those conversations and really care about others. These folks and many others, in addition to my own family, really taught me what community is all about. In high school and college years, I worked in many different areas from Gorton Turkey Farms, the City of Pelican (CEP), Broen Home, Telemarketing, Furniture Salesman, Roofing, Concrete (poured Fergus Fleet farm top to bottom), an underground utility locator for Gopher State (locating for the E911 project at the time),even a Tanning Sales rep. As for college education, I attended a year at St. Cloud State and then a year at Portland State University. I was then offered an exciting career opportunity and moved to NYC. I was fortunate to be able to travel all over for a few years to 43 states and 12 countries. In all that time and in many conversations with folks from all over, I always talked about where I was from in Minnesota–and how I really looked forward to going back and raising a family in the area that had provided me with so many tools. In the 5-6 years I was out of the lakes area, I never missed coming back for Christmas or family events. In 2004 when I was here visiting, I was lucky to meet the love of my life Lindsay, from Underwood. We’ve been married for 12 years and have two wonderful children who attend PRHS. Hazen is 15, and Londyn is 11. As for many, my kids are my life, and as an active Dad, I’ve helped volunteer and chaperone class activities and field trips since 2011, was a Cub Scout leader, help in 4-H, and with various sports and coaching, help with our church Grace Lutheran’s Sunday School and youth group, and am currently a youth football coach, basketball coach, and a Captain for High School Fishing League for the past 3 years. I own and operate a DJ and entertainment company that I started in 2006. In 2008 I started a power washing company as well. I’m very proud of my parents and family that taught us to simply treat others how you want to be treated, and Lindsay and I have raised our kids the same way, I believe. In addition to my family, I am very much who I am, was able to go where I’ve gone, and know what I know because I was born and raised here in Pelican Rapids and District #548. I’ve always been proud and grateful for being from here.

Please explain your motivation for seeking the Pelican Rapids School Board seat. 

My motivation is simple. I want to help and be available to the district that gave me so much. I do not have an agenda. I just simply care. I care a great deal about the kids and the community and lakes area that I grew up in. In 2011 we bought our family home and live on the lake that makes five generations of Milbecks living on Eddy Lake in Maplewood Township, and that absolutely means everything to me. I was talking to Officer Stadum and an old classmate last week at the football game, and we were talking about how we know a lot of people and friends born and raised here who aren’t in the area or district anymore since they seemingly chose the money that can be made elsewhere instead of being present and reinvesting in the community that has given us all so much. We all agreed that’s why we’re here because the area, the people, and the community that we grew up in mean so much to our families and to us. 

Another part of the motivation is the people before me who have all been willing and available to serve. Like the Jon Kargers – who has ALWAYS been here giving back to Pelican from being a lifeguard to town cop to now much more. Ever since I was a kid, Jon has always been available and willing to chat with folks. And the Charlie Blixts – who helped with everything from youth wrestling to Boy Scouts and much more. He’s always willing to serve. Others who come to mind who were always volunteering with everything to help us kids and the community are the Jim Michaels, the Rob Millers, and John Nordstroms. In fact, last year, when I was re-learning how to walk and talk and fight for another day, Jim Michaels somehow heard about me; he came all the way to the recliner I spent two months in just to make sure I was doing okay. This is an example of how he is still, to this day, giving back unconditionally to the place where he grew up, and that inspires me as well. Finally, District #548 – I know I’m going to forget some, so please forgive me because every teacher and coach I had made an impact on my life. From the Mrs. Bablers, Mrs. Martins, Mrs. Storrustens (&Dan), Mr. Rund and Miss B in my day (now Mrs. Gottenborg), the Mr. Polleys, Mr. Browns, KKO’s, Mr. Bruggs, Mr. C’s, Frau Evensons, Mrs. Hayeks, Mr. J’s, Mr. Wohlmans, Ms. Restads, Mr. Siegle, Mr. Evert, Mrs. Ebersvillers and Mr. Moerkes have always been there for the kids always giving back to help our kids be the next generation to succeed. That’s why I want to be always willing to give back as well. I’m very proud of our school and community and hope I can possibly help keep that proud tradition of being from Pelican Rapids going strong.

What do you see as the opportunities and challenges in the Pelican district? 

I believe our district is lucky to be such a diverse community in that it gives us the opportunity to have many perspectives, ideas, and insights. I’m a math and history nerd, but if everybody just liked math and history, it would be tough to build a well-rounded community. We need kids who are interested in agriculture, landscaping, building, medicine, biology, culinary, teaching, law enforcement, and all the varied careers that make everything work. That’s why different thoughts and perspectives are necessary to sustain and create healthy kids and communities. We need to remember that even though I like Ford and you like Chevy doesn’t mean we can’t still be friends or still have an honest conversation and just try to hear it out and try to figure out a solution. We still have a lot in common in that our family is first. We like hunting, fishing, and the outdoors; we go to church, and no matter what, we all just want our kids to thrive and have success, as well as our communities. 

 In your view, what has the district done well in recent years? 

I believe the district did a great job in dealing with the pandemic and having to adapt and adjust to help make it possible for the kids to learn and for their families to support them. It took a lot of extra time and effort from both teachers and families, and there was a lot of stress on everyone.

What has the district done that you would change or improve upon?

This might not fall into the change or improve category, because I’m not sure that this is even locally, but now in the post-pandemic era–to be helping try to ensure grades and scores are trending back upwards, which had been hard–both statewide and nationwide the past couple years. 

The “achievement gap” has been an issue in almost every school district. What causes it? What can be done? 

I believe the problem has been created over time. For years it was kind of the consensus that we all needed a four-year college education, and that technical skills and jobs were inferior. As I mentioned earlier, we need to help prepare kids to be interested in all fields, including the skilled/labor job sector.

Another way to possibly help (and again, our district already does great with this, so this would be to just build on the outreach and importance) would be to really emphasize and try to help the seniors each year make sure and just get their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) completed and turned in. It’s a FREE application, and most kids assume they won’t qualify, so they don’t even fill it out. Nationwide only 46% of seniors/graduates even fill out the FAFSA, and in MN the number is a little higher at 50% of graduates. Only 47% of qualifying kids nationwide receive the PELL grant (in MN, for instance, the average amount a student would get in a PELL Grant is $4,359) because most don’t even know they would have qualified. In MN, only 32.1% of kids that qualify for the money even get it.

• See the other School Board candidate questionnaires here.