When Jennifer Dietsch graduated from Chanute High School, her goal was to go out into the world and leave this small Kansas town behind.
“I was going away and never coming back,” she said. “I couldn’t wait to get away.”
That didn’t last long.
After dropping her off at college, her parents would not have been surprised if they had found her car back in the driveway.
“I was so homesick,” Dietsch said.
Although Dietsch was born in Emporia, her parents and grandparents grew up in Chanute and her family moved here when she was a toddler.
Now Dietsch is active in the community not only as a business operator but also through involvement to recognize education in the area.
Her parents started as teachers in western Kansas before returning to Chanute, where her father went into accounting as business manager for Churchill Pumps. Her mother operated Golden Bow gift store and was involved with downtown merchants.
“I grew up in downtown Chanute,” Dietsch said.
During her teen years, she said she was involved in high school athletics and clubs.
“I was part of every event there was,” she said.
After graduating with a business degree in marketing, Dietsch spent a year in Wichita.
“I found out I’m not a big city girl,” she said.
She moved back and worked for two banks in Chanute before joining State Farm Insurance in 1999 in its management.
After 2003, Dietsch commuted between Chanute and Kansas City three to four days a week for three years.
“We look back and we have no idea how we did it,” she said. She became a State Farm agent in 2007.
She said her upbringing influenced her volunteer activities. In addition to being the daughter of teachers, she grew up with a brother with special needs.
Dietsch has started awards programs at Humboldt, Royster Middle School and Chanute Elementary. She presents Student of the Month awards, teacher awards and the “No App for That” award, where teachers nominate custodians, cooks and para-educators for awards.
“We’re giving pats on the back to people that do make a difference that often get overlooked,” Dietsch said.
Her activities include the Chanute Booster Club and After Prom, car shows at Heritage and Diversicare, Soup Line, the Neosho County Fair Board and 4-H, the Safari Museum Duck Race, Neosho Memorial Regional Medical Center Health Fair and Chanute Recreation events.
She and her husband, Doug, have been married 27 years. He worked for 26 years at Gates Rubber Co. in Iola before leaving due to health issues.
Their oldest son, Caleb, graduated from the University of Kansas and is a marketing rep for a physical therapy group.
Her son Cameron has been a Chanute firefighter since April.