Josh Hayes

Josh Hayes

Assistant Director of Operations, Faith Temple Food Giveaway
Sioux Falls, SD
Media and Journalism, Psychology, 2018

"Give back to the community—even when nobody is looking. I have found that most of the time someone will receive credit for the things they do, but it shows much more character when someone is able to do something and not expecting to receive praise in return."

Q&A with Josh:

Describe your current educational or professional pursuits.

Currently, I work as the assistant director and co-founder for the Faith Temple Food Giveaway, a 501(C)3 non-profit, whose mission is to help end hunger in South Dakota. The non-profit is one of the largest food distribution programs in the state. The non-profit helps over 1,700 people each week feed their families, in over 20 counties in South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa. I teach and work alongside volunteers, stakeholders and advocates to make sure they are aware of the problem of hunger in South Dakota and how our non-profit actively addresses it. In addition to interacting directly with recipients and stakeholders, I am in charge of applying for grants and funding to pay the fees for over 25,000 pounds of food that we give away every week.

Through the giveaway, we have been able to give out over 10 million pounds of food, which has provided over 8.5 million meals to people living in food insecurity. The skills that I learned at USD have helped me immensely, when implementing and addressing hunger in South Dakota—specifically with SMART goals and policies. I have been able to utilize my skills in the areas of social psychology, integrated marketing communications and public-awareness campaigns. I am presently serving a three-year term on the Sioux Falls Thrive Food Security task force with other influencers from Minnehaha County, the City of Sioux Falls, the Sioux Falls School District, university-based entities and other stakeholders. The task force’s goal is to reduce the number of children in the Sioux Falls area who are currently living in food insecurity.

How did your USD experience influence your career path?

I believe USD has greatly influenced my career path, as well as presented to me what it takes to succeed. Through classes and organizations, I learned how necessary it is to get “out of my comfort zone,” to address problems that affect others. I believe my degrees in psychology and strategic communications have helped me achieve a perfect balance between knowing the social psychological principles and motives that drive people and then successfully reaching a targeted audience with a solution they will understand, thereby promoting opportunities for more advantageous resolutions to their current circumstances. Without learning and applying these important principles I obtained at USD, I believe both the impact and reach of the programs I have helped foster would not be as prolific as they are now.

Through the knowledge and skills I attained through my time at USD, I, with the organization, have been able to assist people who are hungry and/or are struggling to feed their families by promoting the food giveaway, as well as more opportunities to gain access to both food and resources.

Tell us about your proudest achievement.

I have been blessed to be a part of so many amazing opportunities. Some of my proudest achievements include recording footage alongside other videographers that was used in two regional Emmy-nominated pieces, while I was interning with the state, as well as presenting psychological research at national conferences about the effects of vaping. I received three “Outstanding Researcher of the Year” awards in three consecutive years—the most in the USD Psychology Department’s history (as of 2018). Also, I am proud of how the small non-profit that I co-founded has now helped to provide over 10 million pounds of food and will continue to assist people living in food insecurity.

What was your USD experience like? Were you involved in any campus organizations or activities?

When I started going to USD, I instantly felt at home. I was amazed at all of the incredible opportunities the university had to offer. I was involved with Coyote Communications my freshman year, in addition to other organizations including Sigma Alpha Pi, USD Spanish Club, Cru and Habitat for Humanity. During my time with Cru, I not only held the president position, but was also on the leadership team for two international student-led trips. I had a practicum and internship with South Dakota Public Broadcasting through the media and journalism department, where I assisted with election interviews, high school sporting tournaments, documentaries, live shows, and even worked in the Capitol in Pierre during the legislative session.

In addition, I was heavily involved in psychological research with Dr. Cindy Struckman-Johnson. Through our research surrounding the topic of vaping, we were able to make some of the first “groundbreaking findings” in the subject area. We presented our research nationally at the Midwestern Psychological Association conference in Chicago, as well as at IDEA Fest at USD. In addition to conducting research with the psychology department, I was able to design and run statistical analysis on various student-led research studies within the department. I also enjoyed working with the Center for Academic & Global Engagement office as their graphic and media coordinator. In my final year at the university, I worked for South Dakota Kids Count as their graphic designer. I redesigned their annual factbook and created quarterly reports that were then distributed across the state to both policy and child well-being advocates. In short, I believe USD prepared me with an amazing liberal arts degree that helps shape the way I think and act and continually gives me the knowledge and experiences to make a difference in the world.

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