Must Love Dogs: Southland’s Hovden is looking to give back to the community

Published 8:32 pm Friday, August 11, 2017

ADAMS — Emily Hovden has learned a lot so far in life, but now she’s starting to truly understand the importance of giving back to her community.

Hovden knows all about receiving support from the Adams area as she is a two-sport athlete at Southland High School and when the time came for her to choose a senior project, she knew just the cause to pick. Hovden, who will be a senior this fall, chose the task of building a dog park in Adams and she’s found out that there’s a lot more to it than simply putting up a fence.

Hovden has had to attend city council meetings, she’s met with insurance representatives, she had to come up with an estimated size and cost for her project and she’s had to look for volunteers to help raise funds and help build the park.

Email newsletter signup

“I don’t build things. I like animals, but I’m not a big builder and I don’t really know how to plan that kind of stuff,” Hovden said. “This is something that is really challenging my abilities.”

Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland/Southland Emily Hovden takes the handoff from teammate Katelyn Luthe in the finals of the 4 x 200-meter relay at the Minnesota Class A State Track and Field Meet last spring at Hamline University in St. Paul. Herald File Photo

Hovden has a dog of her own named ‘Lizzy’ and she said it would be very helpful to have a dog park in Adams where dogs could run free inside of a fenced area instead of being leashed up all the time.

“I really love animals and our community has a lot of people who have dogs,” Hovden said. “I just want to give back to my community because they do so much for me, like giving money to Rebel Nation. That helps me with sports and they also help with my schooling to get the education I need and the opportunities I need. I just want to give back.”

While getting a dog park built will be a challenge for Hovden, she’s not likely to back down from it. Hovden is all too familiar with facing obstacles as she’s had to overcome a few setbacks on the GMLOKS track and field team.

Hovden began her track and field career as a distance runner, but a broken ankle caused her to switch to middle distances. While running the 400-meter run, Hovden battled an intestinal disorder that made it painful for her to compete, so she moved to sprints.

That’s when Hovden really hit her stride for the GMLOKS as she’s provided a major boost for three state qualifying relay teams. In 2016, Hovden ran on the 4 x 200-meter relay team with Jordyn Glynn, Lauren Buchholtz and Sydney Bendtsen that took ninth in the Minnesota Class A state meet. Last spring, Hovden ran on the third place 4 x 200-meter relay team at state with Riley Queensland, Katelyn Luthe and Buchholtz and she was on the 12th place 4 x 100-meter relay at state team with Luthe, Kassidy Kirtz and Isabelle Olson.

Southland senior Emily Hovden plays with her dog Lizzy in her yard at her family’s home in Adams. Rocky Hulne/

With all of that success, Hovden hasn’t looked back since she made the move from middle distance to sprints.

“I was missing too much school and I had to move down to sprints, which I ended up being fairly good at. My stomach is pretty much what led me down to the sprints,” Hovden said. “We’re going to try and improve our time even more next year. We’ve been setting the school record every year.”

Hovden is also involved in the Southland volleyball team, the National Honor Society, Student Council and she works at local lumber yard in Adams. Staying busy and active has helped Hovden prepare for college and it’s also helped her become a well-rounded student athlete at Southland.

“It keeps you on track with your schooling,” Hovden said. “NHS helps me stay in line with community service, it helps me be the person I want to be and it helps me keep my grades up. I want to learn study habits for college and you have to learn to have good character and be nice to everyone; that makes it much more fun and easier to enjoy the High School experience.”

Hovden has learned a lot about community action already and she’s likely to learn a lot more as her project moves forward during the school year. She said she couldn’t think of a better way to give back to a town that she embraces.

“Everyone here is friendly with each other and we’re all super considerate of everything,” Hovden said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. This is really challenging me as a person and my abilities. But I’m really glad I’m doing it. It’s going to be fun.”

Hovden is looking to raise $6,000 for her dog park project and she has has started a gofund me page at She is considering holding a dog walk in the fall and other fund raisers in the community. Hovden’s also looking into applying for grants for the project.