Some people do good for their community through their careers. Others help their neighborhood in their spare time. Every so often, there is a person whose job and free time are spent bettering their community. In Northwest Indiana, Krysten Hinkle is a shining example of service in both her career and in her down time.
During the work week, Hinkle serves as the Project Coordinator at the Pulaski County Community Development Commission. Focusing on community development, advertising and marketing for tourism economy, and quality of place initiatives, Hinkle strives to make her community a better place to live.
“People tend to forget about quality of place as being an economic driver,” Hinkle said. “Especially in rural Indiana, we have a lot of young people moving out, and our populations are declining. I think a lot of time that it’s forgotten that people want to live in a nice place, and that’s important because if you want more people to live in your place, you need to have those things.”
In addition to her role as Project Coordinator, Hinkle extended her contribution to the community as the manager of the Pulaski County Farmers’ Market for over two years. The farmers’ market, a non-profit that works to provide homemade and homegrown products and produce, adds to the cultural vibrance of the Region.
“It’s a misconception that small communities cannot be culturally relevant,” Hinkle said. “I think we are. We have this beautiful river, the Tippecanoe River, running right through our county. Its rated among the cleanest rivers in North America. We have all these natural resources and natural parks, and we have this culture of respecting all of that. Especially in Pulaski county, people are pleasantly surprised at what we have and the kind of people we are.”
Hinkle’s contribution to the area does not stop when the work day is through. Rather, Hinkle’s passion for helping others drives her to help them through a certain rather personal and difficult time in their lives.
Hinkle was adopted at a young age, and growing up, she did not know her birth father. As her interest in meeting her birth father grew, she opted to utilize a DNA-analysis service to gain more information about her genetic genealogy. After receiving her results, Hinkle found few resources to teach her how to use the information given to track down her birth father, so she took it upon herself to learn.
“I was pretty much forced to learn about genetic genealogy, as there’s really no handbook for that,” Hinkle said. “Since then, I’ve found more people that don’t quite know what to do with the information in front of them once they take a DNA test. I want to help them figure it out.”
For Hinkle, her search for her birth father ended in happiness. After meeting her own birth father, Hinkle recognized that others in the area might have the same questions she did about beginning their search for genealogical answers. Through word of mouth, Hinkle began helping people delve into the world of genetic genealogy.
“Reach out to the community,” Hinkle said to those still seeking more information about their genealogy. “There is a whole community out there, hundreds of thousands of people strong, that have experience in this. No matter what you’re feeling, I’m 100 percent sure that you’re not alone in feeling it.”
Amidst a busy work schedule and while continuing to support local residents in their search of genetic answers, Hinkle balances her passions with her family responsibilities and own hobbies. When not serving others, Hinkle enjoys golfing, gardening, and spending time with her husband and 6-year-old son.
“I’d like to thank my family for showing me the importance of taking care of your community,” Hinkle said. “My parents have taught me that and, in a way, my son has taught me that. You can’t just sit around and let things deteriorate. You have to jump in.”
With a strong passion for helping her community, Krysten Hinkle shows how one person can make a huge difference in the community.
“I don’t view it so much as giving back as I do taking care of your home,” Hinkle said. “This is my home. This has been my home all my life. I brought my husband to this place, and our child is here. He’s going to grow up here. When you see something that needs to be done or something that needs to be fixed, that’s no different than taking care of your physical home. You do it for the long run. You do it to make sure it is sustainable.”