This week KDLT has been taking a closer look at the candidates vying for your vote in this year’s election.
Thursday night, we're focusing on Paula Hawks, the candidate trying to take incumbent Kristi Noem's seat as the U.S. House Representative for South Dakota.
"We don't grow alfalfa anymore, this year it's been all beans,” says Paula Hawks.
Hawks grew up on a farm just northwest of Flandreau.
"The barn behind me is where I spent a lot of my days checking on pigs, checking on baby pigs,” checking on cattle when they were calving,” she says.
It's also where she learned to value the simple things.
"During the 1980's we experienced that farm crises that was so devastating for South Dakota and my family went bankrupt because of it.”
By the time Hawks was in high school, her family slowly started to phase out of farming.
That's when she focused on school, getting a biology degree at SDSU and later, her teaching certificate.
Hawks taught at West Central High School for ten years.
It's during that time the democratic candidate knew she needed to get involved in politics.
"Education was in a crisis situation and I knew we needed strong voices to speak to education,” says Hawks.
Hawks was elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2014 as one of the District 9 State House Representatives.
During this past legislative session, a bill that increased taxes in order to give teachers a higher salary went into law.
Now Hawks wants to fight on the national level, this time focusing on her roots.
"We need a good strong farm bill that works for us in good times and bad times and safety nets for when they go through rough times,” says Hawks. “We have some of the lowest commodity prices we’ve seein in years, land prices are down, rent prices are down.”
For the past year, Hawks has been stressing to voters the importance of protecting farm lifestyle, voicing that she wants a seat in Ag Committee.
But she admits the campaign hasn't always been easy, especially when it brought up private events in her life.
"I was a college student at SDSU it was someone who I knew, who had a position who had authority over me, I was raped."
Hawks says she knew she had to speak up after Donald Trump's lewd comments toward women in 2005 surfaced last month.
"It's hard to ask for help especially with something so devastating, so when it came to this and hear him brag about doing this on television because you're a star, that's disgusting."
If Hawks is elected, she says she's taking all of her life experiences, the good and the bad, and using them as a platform to help others.
"I'm an ag girl from a farm in South Dakota who wants to go fight for farmers in South Dakota at the national level.”
For more information about Paula Hawks and where she stands on issues visit her website.