A big thank you to 4Front Studios for capturing the passion behind PorchLight. Wonder exactly what we do and who we want to connect? Watch this 3 minute video to hear from Cofounder and CEO Jessica Meyers.

Who knows small town life better than people that have lived in a rural community? Growing up rural can have a fundamental impact on adult life and many times it presents itself as a strong work ethic, strong ties to family and friends, or a desire to be involved in the community. However it shows up in life, one things for certain, a rural community has a profound impact on lives.  

At PorchLight, every partner has experienced living rural at some point. No matter what side of the river in South Dakota you originate (all three of us were born West River) or what school was attended (two of us attended SDSU, one attended USD) we all agree on one important thing, a vibrant network of rural communities is great for the health of a state. We wanted to take this month to share who we are and why all of our individual experiences blend together so beautifully to create PorchLight

Jessica Meyers

Jessica Meyers is cofounder and CEO of PorchLight and is dedicated to elevating rural communities and the people who choose to live there. Raised on a dairy farm in Winner, SD, and graduating high school in Vermillion, she went on to college at South Dakota State University. After college, she and her husband moved to New York City and Chicago and moved back home in 2010. In her professional career, Jessica has worked in a variety of industries from publishing, sales, and recruiting where she has run multi-million dollar organizations and won multiple national awards across industries. Jessica leveraged her passion for people and business acumen to co-create PorchLight. She created the first-of-its-kind PorchLight Certification and created the platform where rural development and job opportunities connect. Personally, Jessica has been married for over 20 years to her high school sweetheart Matt and has 3 daughters Eve, Grace, and Juliet who live in Sioux Falls, SD.

Peggy Schlechter

Peggy Schlechter is a Founding Partner of PorchLight. As a founding member, she has co-facilitated focus groups, helps work with the pilot communities and was instrumental in the development of a community guidebook. Peggy has a passion for helping to energize and revitalize our rural communities so that they are all still “on the map” 100 years from now. She grew up on a ranch near Highmore, SD and currently lives on a ranch near Black Hawk, SD. In addition to living in 6 different communities across the state of South Dakota, she has also lived in Idaho and Texas. She returned home to live in South Dakota by choice and wants others to know that choice is available for them too. She currently serves as a Community Vitality Field Specialist with SDSU Extension. In Peggy’s role with SDSU Extension, she focuses on entrepreneurship, agritourism and the national award winning Marketing Hometown America community engagement program, of which she was one of the developers. Prior to working for SDSU Extension, Peggy was employed for 18 years in higher education as an instructor, Career Services Director, and Dean of Students. She also has 8 years’ experience as a middle school/high school teacher. Peggy holds a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from South Dakota State University.

Erik Muckey

Raised in Corsica, SD as the son of rural educators, Erik carries a deep passion for unlocking the potential of rural America and its citizens, especially in the most geographically isolated communities. Erik received his Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Economics from the University of South Dakota in 2014, as well as earning Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Minnesota in 2020. In addition to these degrees, Erik brings professional certifications in Nonprofit Management (CNM) and Project Management (PMP) to PorchLight.

Outside of PorchLight, Erik serves as the CEO of Lost&Found, the region’s largest nonprofit focusing on comprehensive suicide prevention and postvention programs for youth and young adults (10-34) and their support networks. His team of 12 staff spread throughout Minnesota and South Dakota annually reach over 2.5 million people with digital mental health and suicide prevention education, as well as training hundreds of community leaders and providing top notch evaluation and research services for mental health programs. Erik was one of the five co-founders who launched Lost&Found at age 18. Erik is also the founder and one of four Managing Partners for PASQ, a rural economic development and nonprofit management services organization.

Erik calls the historic International Harvester building in downtown Sioux Falls home, along with his partner, Sadie.