Small Town, Big World

This collaborative research project investigates the lives of residents of Storm Lake, Iowa.



Storm Lake is a town of approximately 14,000 residents in northwestern Iowa. Over the last forty years, the community has undergone dramatic social change due to the local meatpacking industry’s recruitment of workers from all nations. As a result, Storm Lake has grown dynamically and is among the most diverse communities in the nation.

This website is a collaboration between the community members, the Storm Lake Community School District, and two classes at Miami University and Buena Vista University to document the people from all backgrounds who live in Storm Lake and Buena Vista County.

In the coming weeks, profiles of residents–including audio profiles, photos, and interview transcripts–will be posted. At the conclusion of the project, these will be deposited with the Buena Vista County Historical Society.

The Latest Profiles

  • A Taste of Storm Lake with Mary Cullen
    Interview and Profile by Caitlin Zawodny Food shapes a community. It nourishes, it builds connections, and it can bridge generations. Through her “My Favorite Recipes” column in the Storm Lake Times Pilot—over the last thirty-two years—Mary Cullen has showcased how food can unite a community as diverse as Storm Lake. Her recipes are often attached […]
  • Candy Clough’s Memorable Homecoming
    Profile Text: Piper Nicely Interview: Joey Belmonte and Andrew Offenburger For many, a parade is a way to bring a community together. Gathering to celebrate, to cheer, and to showcase the highlights of a town can do much to create a feeling of togetherness across generations. For Candy Clough this is especially true. In 2018, […]
  • Lori Porsch on the Shift from Equality to Equity
    Profile Text: Rachel Rinehart Audio Profile: Max Olsan Lori Porsch arrived as a newlywed in Storm Lake in 1981, a turning point for her and for the town, when Iowa Beef Processors (IBP) took over the Hygrade plant. In her time in Storm Lake, then, Porsch has witnessed first-hand the town’s transformation, and throughout her […]

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