Kameron Nettleton

Joshua Klumb (’07) knows how to keep himself busy.

Klumb serves his local church and community in various ways, working as a farmer, a church staff member, and as a state senator for his home state of South Dakota. Klumb’s willingness to serve others and explore his God-given interests has opened many doors he might not have expected when he first stepped on OKWU’s campus.

Klumb was homeschooled for most of his life, and his social life revolved around the family’s church. Klumb saw other students from his church head south for what was then Bartlesville Wesleyan College, and he tagged along to several campus visits during his high school years.

“When it was time to go to college, I really didn’t look any place else,” he said. “It was just kind of like, ‘that’s where I’m going to go.’”

Klumb arrived on campus in the fall of 2003 and began pursuing his business administration degree, although he wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted from the future.

“I got a business degree because I had no direction and I figured that farming might be in my future,” he said. “I was thinking that no matter what I did later in life, that would be useful.”

His college experience allowed Klumb to pursue a blossoming interest in local politics. His father had been involved with their local Republican party as Klumb grew up, and he had attended several meetings with his dad. As a teenager, Klumb was involved in a teenage Republican group. During his senior year of high school, Klumb was a page in the South Dakota state legislature.

When he got to campus, Klumb helped to found a College Republicans chapter and served in student government. He was elected class president as a freshman and sophomore and served as student body president during his junior and senior years.

Entering the Fray

After graduating in 2007, Klumb spent his summer in Washington, D.C. as an intern for Senator John Thune.

“While I did that, I interned with a young man whose father was in the South Dakota State Legislature. He put me in touch with another member of the Legislature who was running for U.S. Senate and was looking for an assistant.” Klumb went to work for that man immediately after the Senate internship concluded.

Through his work on that campaign, Klumb had made some connections. He was invited to return to serve as a Legislative committee secretary, a part-time job where he would run a committee, call the votes, and keep minutes.

“It was a really fun job for me because I was kind of the political junkie,” Klumb said.

By 2014, Klumb had 6 years of experience in the South Dakota Legislature, and a position in the State House became available when the representative had reached his term limit. Klumb ran and won a House seat, then in 2016, ran and won a seat in the State Senate. He has served in that position ever since and is nearing the term limit. Senators in South Dakota are limited to 4 terms of 2 years.

Along with his work in the state legislature, Klumb is the Director of Technology for River Tree Church in Mitchell, South Dakota. He had volunteered in the sound booth since he was a teenager, and in early 2022, the church hired him when a position came open. And that’s just the second of his three part-time gigs.

“Jack of all trades, master of none,” Klumb said with a laugh.

Service in Many Forms

Klumb grew up on his family farm, and he and his father and brother, Micah (‘14), continue to work the farm throughout the year. They grow corn, soybeans, alfalfa, wheat, and hemp.

The day-to-day for Klumb looks different than it does for many. When the legislature is in session, he travels to Pierre for his government work. When out of session, he alternates his days based on what needs to be done at the farm and church, juggling the farm needs with staff meetings and preparation for worship services. It’s a busy and sometimes hectic schedule, but it’s indicative of the kind of public servant Klumb has been ever since his graduation. With the end of his term coming up, Klumb is not entirely sure what comes next.

“I don’t know what my future plans are,” he said. “My wife and I are expecting our first child in September, and my time in the legislature is definitely coming to its sunset years. For right now, I feel like God is calling me to focus on preparing for fatherhood.”

He notes the irony of his situation compared to most of his colleagues in the legislature. Most of them have already raised their children and retired from their careers before they serve in public office, while Klumb has done the reverse.

Whatever comes next, the foundation Klumb built during his college years will enable him to succeed. College helped break Klumb out of his shell and gave him the self-confidence he would need during his time as a politician.

“If you would have told me as a freshman in college or senior in high school what I would be doing today, I would have never believed you,” he said. “Even running for freshman class president was a stretch for me. I was very introverted, but it helped give me the confidence to try new things.”

Klumb also went on 2 mission trips to New York City while in college, a significant change from the small-town life he was accustomed to.

“I knew I needed to push myself.”

Next Steps

For now, Klumb trusts that God will continue to open doors for him when his term expires. While he maintains an interest in politics, he doesn’t anticipate his service in that arena will continue.

“We have to have good people in there, and I hope other good people continue to run,” he said. “If you’re not at the table, whether you like it or not, you will be affected by the decisions made.”

Despite a lengthy resume, Klumb maintains humility when discussing being named OKWU’s Young Alumnus of the Year.

“I am not a special person. It doesn’t take anyone with great, deep pockets or special talents to do what I’ve done.”

What it does take is someone willing to serve for what he believes in, which is precisely what Klumb has done.

The Young Alumnus of the Year is is given to an individual under 40 who displays distinguished leadership in his or her field and shows promise of future growth professionally and personally. Klumb and the other Alumni Award winners will be honored at Homecoming 2023.

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