Dr. Olin Oedekoven was featured in the Gillette News Record as one of the Ten who made a difference in 2015. Here is the article:
In Olin Oedekoven’s thinking, making a difference is about removing barriers so others can unlock their potential.
At least, he sees that as his role in Gillette.
It’s a formula the 56-year-old co-owner and CEO of Peregrine Leadership Institute has used since he started the now global business in Gillette. It’s one he first learned in a visit to Google headquarters in California as an officer in the Wyoming Army National Guard.
He’s never forgotten that lesson, even as his company has reached 35 countries and now 300 client universities worldwide. Peregrine now has nine offices, including its cornerstone in Gillette, but also in India, Mongolia, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas, Melbourne, Australia, Vienna, Austria, Zurich, Switzerland, and Africa.
Through it all, Oedekoven has remained committed to the vision of small business in America, and in particular this corner of northeast Wyoming.
“One of the things I’m most proud of with this company is being able to see others become involved in the community,” he said.
His role, he says, is in helping to ignite a passion in others by providing resources and encouragement.
That’s the view of Scott Engel, the associate dean of academics at Gillette College. The college is using a $100,000 donation from Oedekoven, his wife Laurel Vicklund, and Peregrine to revamp its business department and spark local research into the benefits of small businesses. He wants to show the impact small businesses have had as a backbone of the community.
“Olin has really made a difference. His donation is just one of the many things he does,” Engel said. “He’s made a difference in the life of the college and he’s very committed to education, He’s invested himself in the community. … He’s chosen to stay here (Gillette), when he could have put his office anywhere, and I think he really makes a mark in Gillette. He has added to the community.”
The money Oedekoven has given to the college and other groups, he said, “is just a symbol. … It’s a tangible way to get things happening and get it started.”
Oedekoven “wants to promote research and he wants to promote the college and the community. He’s given from the heart,” Engel said.
Randall Weinzierl, director of Blessings in a Backpack in Gillette, agrees.
“For us, he makes a big, big difference,” he said.
Each year, Oedekoven has paid the rent and utilities for a warehouse that serves as headquarters for Blessings in a Backpack. That makes it possible for the hundreds of volunteers each year to stuff the bags and backpacks with food, and supply pantries in schools in Campbell County and Moorcroft so needy students don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from on weekends when they’re not in school.
That saves money the program now uses each year to order more food in bulk and also allows them the room to store the food in a growing program that now reaches 859 students about 40 weeks each year. It relieves a tremendous headache that could drain the nonprofit group’s funding.
It’s also something Oedekoven feels strongly about since the program started eight years ago. After all, it’s a way to help the young — no matter their families’ income or situation — have an opportunity for success.