Dakota MAC Team Spotlight
We are proud of the years of service, dedication, knowledge and resilience of our Dakota MAC team. Each of our team members has a unique story, and we want you to have the chance to get to know them a little better. That is one of the reasons we developed our Dakota MAC Team Spotlight. We hope you enjoy getting to learn more about our team.
Meet Nathan Sparks
Sparks on Scuba
Pre-Covid, Nathan and his wife Audra typically would take a trip south leaving the winter blues behind them for a week. Some of their favorite destinations include Mexico, Jamaica, Florida, Phoenix, Southern California and Lake Havasu. Occasionally these trips may include their kids Logan (19), Lauren (18), Brandon and Brock (16) or friends.
One of his favorite trips was a few years ago to Jamaica where he was able to scuba dive in the beautiful clear waters of the Caribbean Sea. Nathan received his scuba diving certificate originally as part of the Davison County Search and Rescue team for dives involving rescue missions, however now he uses that certification more for recreational diving. It was a whole new world diving in clear ocean water compared to the 3-5 foot vision in our murky lakes and rivers of South Dakota. It was fun to explore the vast world under the surface of the ocean. Jamaica is an amazing place to visit and he’d encourage everyone to explore it.
Not one to sit around much, Nathan enjoys spending time with family and friends outdoors. He spends a lot of his time traveling with his four very active kids to their sporting events but when he does have spare time he enjoys hunting, fishing, hiking, boating, and really about anything outdoors.
Education and Experience
Nathan Sparks joined Dakota Mac, a Division of First Dakota National Bank in February 2003 as a Loan Production Officer traveling the Upper Midwest originating and servicing Ag real estate loans. Nathan grew up in Armour with post-secondary education coming from Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown earning an Associate’s Degree in Ag Finance and graduating in 1996. Since then, Nathan has completed Midwest Banking Institute and Experienced Ag Lending School organized by the SD Bankers Association. Nathan is currently a member of the Holy Family Church finance committee and past chair, Chairman of the John Paul II Education Advisory Committee, Board Member of the Mitchell Baseball Association, and a past chairman and current member of the Mitchell Area Ag Chamber Committee where he received the 2018 Volunteer of the Year award for his continued involvement of Ag in the Classroom. Additionally, Nathan graduated from Class 2 of SDARL and was very involved with the SDARL Alumni Association serving as Treasurer. He currently serves as the Treasurer of the SDARL Foundation Board.
Challenges and Changes
Many things have changed in his 25 year career in banking. Technology is one of those things that has made vast changes since the mid 90’s. In his position, Nathan relies on that technology to give him the ability to remain mobile while also keeping in touch with the office. Another challenge in the Ag industry is that no two years have ever been the same, so it’s great to partner with so many producers who have adapted to the many challenges they face daily or annually and remain successful.
The relationships Nathan has made throughout his career will be cherished for a lifetime. He believes trust is the foundation of any great relationship. “When you trust your client and they trust you, the expectation from each is unmatched.” Nathan could write a book about the experiences he’s been involved with over the years. “There have definitely been some very good experiences and some not-so-good ones, but each one creates a memory which will last forever.”
This past year has certainly brought forward many new challenges, but more importantly Nathan wants to look at the new opportunities. “Each and every one of us had to adapt to a new normal, whether we liked it or not, for our own well-being and those around us.” He came across a quote in the VanTrump report that sums it up quite nicely, “Dear optimist, pessimist, and realist, While you were busy arguing about the glass of water, I drank it. Sincerely, the opportunist.” Generally he considers himself a very optimistic guy, but through this he will be looking for the chances to be an opportunist.
Nathan feels very fortunate to live in South Dakota where the impact was not as intense as more populated states. Funny thing is, with the rural nature of our area, South Dakotans have been practicing social distancing for a number of years prior to Covid, but adapting to the new normal definitely hasn’t been without its challenges.