A TWO-PERSON TEAM
Kyle Hamilton became a partner of Keep Okoboji Blue in the year 2020. He strives to put our branded merchandise into local stores and at the Farmers Market in the Park every summer and manages the inventory online. He also organizes beach cleanup events, builds and delivers Keep Okoboji Blue Floating Gardens with Drew Hage. Contact him for events and all that is mentioned above.
Deidre Rosenboom founded Keep Okoboji Blue merchandise in 2005. She is the trademark owner and started the endowment in July 2013. She works behind the scenes these days on the endowment purpose in water quality. She gives her time to marketing with designs and publishing on social media and print in her graphic design business of Social Cheers. She also updates the website content for Keep Okoboji Blue.
Kyle's Okoboji history began growing up on the docks and shoreline of Sunset Beach on West Lake Okoboji. Patrolling the sidewalks and docks with a spinning rod in one hand and a homemade slingshot in the other, the connection to the lake began. He has his parents Tom & Robin Hamilton, to thank for giving him a love affair with the Iowa Great Lakes. Both his parents were fortunate to have also grown up with Summer cottages, and the two met at the lake like so many other couples over the ages. I was nine years old when my Father took a seat on the bench as a District Court Judge in Dickinson County, and we moved to Okoboji year-round instead of just seasonally, thus certifying “Local Status.”
Meanwhile, Kyle’s mom Robin was keeping Okoboji blue in another method by putting her big blue Residential Lake Maps on the walls and businesses of the area since 1960. A tradition that Kyle eventually took over in 1990 while in college and still makes those maps today www.bluelakemaps.com
For him, the Keep Okoboji Blue bug bit in 2010 with a KOB collaboration with Deidre and Scott producing some of the first custom printed lake maps for The Wine Bar customers incorporating Keep Okoboji Blue artwork of that era. Ever since then, I’ve been a supporter and just loved the message behind the logo and projects of KOB. We all have our own history and memories of why we love this place we call The Iowa Great Lakes. When it comes down to basics, it’s all about the water and activities we all share that create a “members only’ camaraderie that is the attitude and message of KOB. Doing the Maps for the last 30 years connected me closer to the people and the shoreline of the Lakes. I’ve seen things grow and change greatly and not always for the better; the lake's ecological demise is a product of its own success. The amount of pressure and growth of the area will inevitably affect its future. We won’t stop the area's growth, but we can work to proactively minimize the impact on water quality and the area's ecology.
“ I feel like it’s a bit destiny that I’m involved with KOB; my childhood, my family history, and business relationships all have brought me to this crossroad of opportunity to be a bigger part of the lakes wellbeing for future generations to come.”
Deidre’s relation to Lake Okoboji was of a spiritual matter. She grew to love Okoboji as a young child, the smell of the clean lake and the feeling it gave her when she practiced her dive over and over again off the wooden dock or the back of the boat. She even felt so connected to the lake; Deidre even told her parents that she thought she could have been a reincarnated fish out of Lake Okoboji! Like many of us, the lake drew her back as an adult, and she now settles in-between her family home on West Lake Okoboji, Iowa, and in Ecuador, South America, where she has a home in a small surfing and yoga community by the beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Keep Okoboji Blue began in the spring of 2005 when Deidre and her belated husband Scott lived in Arnold Park. She was becoming more educated about the impact of Aquatic Invasive Species and got scared enough to wake up in the middle of the night thinking something has to be done. The fear was knowing that there can be a defeating impact on our lake's environment. She also knew if our valuable lake's resource is infiltrated with invasive species or pollution runoff, there would be a more considerable economic impact on the people that live here.
The area of “Okoboji” is a variety of small towns, yet unique enough that people travel here for the natural resources – our lakes. So how can you create something that can help protect Iowa’s Great Lakes? Finding ways to preserve a community asset isn’t easy, but it felt necessary. She knew she had something, an idea but wasn’t sure what it was. She also knew no one else was going to do it for her. But to have enough passion for chucking it up to the game of risk? Could it even happen? But how? How can you educate the public and also raise monies for the cause of water quality awareness? How can you speak a message that is about business, the environment & future generations? How can you deliver that where you can relate to all?
So I guess you start the next day! Deidre got on her computer to do what she knew best – designing a logo for a sticker campaign – the first initial idea. At that time, she was unsure what to call it. She had a few ideas, but none seemed right. She then went to her husband and asked for his advice. He said, “Deidre, what about Keep Okoboji Blue?” in fact, in 1996, three years before they met, he had secured Keep Okoboji Blue by purchasing the trademark at the local courthouse. He wanted to do something with it but was unable to afford the graphic designer or printer. As it works out, Deidre is an established freelance graphic designer.
In that summer, it all came together within a month of designing the first logo of the salamanders and then had signed up with local businesses to sell clothing featuring the logo. Fall came around, and she went on to create a website and investing all of her sales back into Keep Okoboji Blue marketing and clothing.
Tragically, in 2011 her husband, Scott, passed away in a car accident. It was the most traumatic years of her life. She pushed forward. Two years later, she brought forth the first blue water concert of the Iowa Great Lakes. This concert raised funds to start the Keep Okoboji Blue Endowment for her husband's legacy, and she was able to raise $16,000 in the first year! After all the excitement was over, she realized she still needed to heal and find herself from her loss. She departed the lakes she loved and became a nomad traveling the world. She made many friends and also rested her soul. Along the way, she discovered Ecuador and built a home that she now rents out when she is away.
Thanks to Keep Okoboji Blue, people out there can share the same passions by displaying the decals on their car, boat, or doorway. You can also show these logos by wearing the Keep Okoboji Blue brand. It’s a great way to give back to water quality efforts.
There can’t be enough thanks for the people who helped make this idea reality. It might have started with a driven fear of, “what if?” But the belief from the people who know the value in our rare resource made Keep Okoboji Blue happen!
The Scott Baumgard Memorial Rain Garden Fund
On March 18, 2011, Scott Baumgard was tragically killed in an automobile accident near Sibley, Iowa. He was an advocate of Keep Okoboji Blue and a supportive husband to Deidre Rosenboom. Together, they formed the Keep Okoboji Blue mission.
Scott displayed acceptance and unconditional love for every living thing. In his memory, we have collected the funds for a rain garden at Preservation Plaza in Arnolds Park Amusement Park, down by the beach near the volleyball tents. A rain garden is a landscaped area allowing storm water run off to filter pollutants and sediments through before entering the lake. Rain Gardens are constructed with various sub surface materials for filtering purposes. Above ground are grasses, prairie flowers, trees and plants that help the water flow down into the water table or lake. The Rain Garden was constructed a few years after Scott’s passing.
THE LIFE OF SCOTT BAUMGARD
Scott Douglas Baumgard graduated from Spirit Lake High School in 1995. He went on to pursue his education in business and accounting from Iowa Lakes Community College. Scott’s entrepreneurial spirit was put to work to offset the cost of his education, through his hemp necklace business, Scootie’s Hemp. With foresight of the importance of a key term, Scott trademarked “Keep Okoboji Blue” in 1996, waiting for its true purpose to come through. After graduation, he owned Baumgard LLC, a landscaping company that served the Lakes area. Shortly after, he met the love of his life, Deidre Rosenboom. The two were united in marriage on September 22, 2001.
Scott’s hardworking drive continued to serve him well as he began a career with Rosenboom Machine and Tool as one of the company’s first production employees. His latest role was serving as logistics manager for Sheldon and Spirit Lake operations. Scott had admiration for the hard work, dedication and goal setting of those he supervised. Coworkers appreciated Scott’s boundless energy, and the time he took to personally learn about each individual- from their goals to the members of their family.
Throughout his marriage to Deidre, the two enjoyed many adventures and fostered great friendships, pursuing their mutual love of the Iowa Great Lakes. Soon, the two gave purpose to Keep Okoboji Blue, using the phrase to highlight the importance of environmental awareness and lakes ecology.
In 2007, Scott and Deidre were able to open the doors on a business that showcased their love of the Lakes area, creating a sense of community at the Wine Bar and Art Gallery, where they fostered long-running friendships while creating many new ones. The Wine Bar was passed onto new ownership three years after the passing of Scott.
Scott will forever be cherished for his unapologetic sense of humor, snazzy dress shirts, his constantly evolving facial hair, and, more than anything, his limitless ability to accept others and see their true potential. Friends of Scott will forever cherish their memories of great laughter, infectious energy and boundless love they knew from having Scott in their life.
Blessed be the memory of Scott Baumgard.