Kurt Stekl doesn’t hesitate when asked what his dream job would be. Even though he grew up “obsessed” with John Deere equipment as a kid, his current job there as a contract engineer doesn’t quite rise to that level.

No, his dream job is farming. Specifically, working on his family farm where he grew up northeast of Letcher.

Partially inspired by the pandemic showing remote work was feasible, Stekl hatched a plan. He could work from his home in Letcher and a workshop at his family farm. He could take six weeks off in the spring and six weeks off in the fall to help with planting and harvesting crops. All while still designing drive train components and systems for the John Deere plant in Waterloo, Iowa.

His bosses signed off on it, and Stekl moved back home permanently.

The thought of working remotely, communicating with his coworkers on Teams and downloading and uploading large schematics wouldn’t be possible without a fast and reliable internet connection.

That’s where Santel Communications comes in. The internet provider for most of Sanborn County and one of the 17 member companies of SDN Communications made a commitment to providing fiber internet to every residence in 2018 through a $24 million improvement plan. Now the company is 100 percent fiber to the home – and the farm.

“There are a lot of people I work with who have connectivity issues — and there still are,” Stekl said. “You will get in meetings, and people are choppy and you can’t hear them. But I’ve never had an issue. As soon as you tell (your bosses) you have fiber internet, they say they’re good with it.”

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