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A new Early Learning Community has begun in the Custer area. The group formed under the auspices of Early Learners South Dakota and is part of a national effort to ensure that all children have access to high-quality early learning experiences and environments to create a solid foundation for lifelong success.


The effort in the Custer has a steering committee and has already hosted one activity, a learning scavenger hunt during Custer's 4th of July celebration. They laminated QR codes and taped them up at various locations around town. Overall, 50 children and their families participate over two days.

View Clues

View QR Codes


A planning grant of $1,000 from United Way of the Black Hills and administered through the Custer YMCA is making initial work possible.


The initial work also includes asking leaders in Custer City and Custer County to complete the Progress Rating Tool created from the Early Learning National. The survey asks for the responder’s perspective on where the county and city are in encouraging high-quality early learning experiences and environments. Developed by the National League of Cities and the Pew Charitable Trust, the tool will also assist the steering committee in developing a work plan based on the responses received from decisions makers and community members.


Anyone interested in participating in this effort may send an email to and follow the group on Facebook at Interest people can participate in meetings


Members of steering committee include Erica Van Horn, Custer YMCA; Barb Paulson, Custer Elementary Principal; Conni Virtue, teacher; Courtney Ellman, parent; Jeannie Fischer, Custer City County; Rose Kor, citizen; Doris Ann Mertz, Custer County Library.

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