Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber

Makenzie Huber is a lifelong South Dakotan whose work has won national and regional awards. She's spent five years as a journalist with experience reporting on workforce, development and business issues within the state.

The Palmer Gulch Fire burns in October 2022 in the Black Hills. (Courtesy of Black Hills National Forest)

How climate change threatens South Dakota’s protected landscapes

By: - May 30, 2023

Swaths of South Dakota water, grasslands and forests are under federal protection, but climate change recognizes no boundaries.  Scientists say South Dakota’s protected lands are vulnerable to pest infestation, wildfire, drought, flooding and more extreme weather in the decades to come. That ranges from a wild stretch of the Missouri River to grasslands in central […]

Gov. Kristi Noem speaks at the Calvin Coolidge Foundation conference at the Library of Congress on Feb. 17, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Noem criticizes universities, issues series of ‘challenges’

By: - May 25, 2023

Gov. Kristi Noem challenged the South Dakota Board of Regents in a letter Thursday to “improve higher education” in the state through a range of suggestions. Noem said she wants to bolster free speech, ban drag shows and the use of preferred pronouns on campuses, root out Chinese influence, require U.S. history and government classes, […]

A portion of the Wharf Mine near Lead in 2019. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

State board considering expansion of Black Hills gold mine

By: - May 19, 2023

A state board won’t make a final decision on the proposed expansion of South Dakota’s lone large-scale gold mine for another two months, after the board listened to two days of testimony during a hearing this week in Pierre. The expansion of the Coeur Wharf Resources mine, just north of Terry Peak and west of […]

Fifth Circuit Court Judge Tony Portra speaks at the Brown County listening session with members of the Indigent Legal Defense Task Force. The meeting was held in the Brown County Courthouse basement in Aberdeen on May 17, 2023. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

Officials seek help for counties at first listening session on public defense costs

By: - May 17, 2023

ABERDEEN — The caseload of defendants who can’t afford a lawyer has increased exponentially in Brown County in recent years, and public defense costs for criminal cases have more than doubled in the last decade in the county and across the state. That’s putting increased pressure on the county to cover the costs for the […]

A pregnant mother poses with the ultrasound printout of her baby. (Getty Images)

South Dakota has a women’s health care shortage. The abortion ban may worsen it, physicians say.

By: - May 15, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in a three-part series about the impacts of South Dakota’s abortion ban. The first story examined the number of South Dakotans leaving the state for abortions, and the second story analyzed the state’s “life of the mother” exception. Avery Olson has a choice to make. She could practice […]

Erica Schipper is an OB-GYN physician practicing in Sioux Falls. (Joshua Haiar/South Dakota Searchlight)

Physicians feel ‘trapped’ by SD’s abortion trigger law. They’re hoping to change it.

By: - May 13, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second story in a three-part series about the impacts of South Dakota’s abortion ban. The first story examined the number of South Dakotans leaving the state for abortions. The third story looks at the effects of the abortion ban on the recruitment and retention of OB-GYNs. A wave of dread […]

(Getty Images)

Before and after ban, South Dakotans seek abortions elsewhere: ‘They’re going to find a way’

By: - May 12, 2023

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first story in a three-part series about the impacts of South Dakota’s abortion ban. The second story examines the effects of South Dakota’s “life of the mother” exception, which some critics believe is ill-defined. The third story analyzes effects on the availability of women’s health care. Nobody knows exactly how […]

The Board of Regents meets Dec. 8, 2022, at South Dakota Mines in Rapid City. (Seth Tupper/South Dakota Searchlight)

Board approves ‘minors on campus’ policy following drag show controversy

By: - May 9, 2023

The state Board of Regents unanimously approved a policy Tuesday responding to public concerns about minors attending a drag show on a college campus.  “We threaded the needle between state statute and First Amendment issues or potential challenges,” said board president Tim Rave. “This is a good first step with the framework in place.” Drag […]

The Brown County Courthouse is located in Aberdeen and is connected to other county offices, such as the Auditor's Office and the Brown County Jail. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

State offers portal for local governments to post public information, but few use it

By: - April 30, 2023

Jackson County government officials don’t post public information on the internet. The rural western South Dakota county, which serves roughly 2,800 residents spread over 1,871 square miles, doesn’t have a website. And it doesn’t intend to, County Auditor Vicki Wilson said. “It takes more time than we have staff,” she said. State government offers a […]

Joey is a 12-year-old transgender boy living in South Dakota. After the latest legislative session, where lawmakers passed a bill that would ban gender-affirming care for minors in the state, his family is planning to move. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

‘Children are political targets’: A family’s struggle with SD’s trans health care ban

By: - April 28, 2023

Joey enjoys playing basketball and baseball. He’s a sixth grader, and he wants to be an exotic animal vet when he grows up. He likes to build with Legos and he loves science, but he’s not a fan of math. He’s teaching himself how to play the guitar, he plays trombone in the school band […]

An apartment complex on the Rosebud Reservation has drifts of snow blocking the doors and windows on Dec. 27, 2022. (Joshua Haiar/SD Searchlight)

SD school districts find compromise between snow days and online learning post-COVID

By: - April 26, 2023

Whether they sleep with a spoon under their pillow or turn their pajamas inside out – two rituals purported to bring about a snow day – South Dakota students haven’t lost the magic of a serendipitous day off from school. And if school districts across the state have anything to say about it, they’ll always […]

A pickup truck drives along a gravel road in front of badlands formations in southwestern South Dakota. (Makenzie Huber/South Dakota Searchlight)

More precipitation, more drought: Rosebud Sioux Tribe to implement climate adaptation plan

By: - April 25, 2023

Steam rose from snow puddles hours after melting across southwestern South Dakota over Easter weekend. Deer are changing their migration patterns because of drought; magpies have nearly disappeared from the prairie, Native American elders observe. This is the shifting landscape of the Rosebud Reservation, home of the Sicangu Lakota Oyate, or the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. […]