Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide, who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations and help build good will and peace in the world.
In 1905, four Chicago businessmen began to meet as a club to "kindle fellowship among members of the business community." As they continued to meet, adding others to the groups, they rotated their meetings among the members' places of business, hence the name. Soon after, other cities began organizing clubs. In 1910, Rotary became international when a club was formed in Canada. By 1921, the organization was represented on every continent and the name Rotary International was adopted in 1922.
The Brookings Rotary club was formed in 1919 when Ivan Cobel and Clyde Hinkley, Brookings, SD businessmen, thought that a Rotary Club would help bring businessmen of the community closer together. Other local businessmen were consulted and all supported it. Negotiations for a Brookings Rotary Club were conducted through the Watertown sponsoring club. A charter was granted and affiliation completed on February 1, 1920. Arthur Stoll was elected the first president. There were 21 charter members.
Over the years, the Brookings Rotary Club has been involved in many community projects. These have included providing instruments and uniforms for the Brookings High School band and sponsoring a Boy Scout troop, little league baseball teams, and hockey teams. The club was instrumental in initiating the idea for the Brookings United Retirement Center. They also began and ran the United Fund, supplied equipment for the Brookings Hospital and developed Rotary Park. The local club has also given financial support to various local community and youth activities.
Brookings Rotary Club members have been active in Rotary International with six members serving as District governors. They have also been involved in international projects. Local Rotarians collected books and shipped them to needy schools in South Africa and the Philippines. They have also contributed funds to the Rotary International Polio Plus program and to the Rotary International Foundation.
Brookings Rotary has sponsored young business and professional people from the Brookings area to serve on group study exchange teams. The teams visit other countries to study culture and businesses. The club also sponsors a four-year scholarship each year for Brookings students to attend South Dakota State University and give educational awards to students who spend one academic year abroad.
Brookings Rotary club continues to support local youth and civic projects in the Brookings area. Members from the business, industrial and educational communities continue to serve the community. Weekly meetings are held to promote fellowship and understanding in the local community, and listen to programs of interest.