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Great Bear Employment

Meet Our Team


Our vision is to inspire great memories.

Our mission is provide fun and meaningful experiences.

Our values are adaptable, communicate, respect, teamwork.  

Great Bear Board of Directors: Steve Sanford (President), Jamie Simko (Vice President), Jim Whitcomb (Secretary), James Gulson, Eric Lundin, Suzannah Reaves, Sarah Schulte, Natalie Eisenberg, Greg Blomberg, Errin Frankman, Brock Doubledee, Kelby Mieras (Parks Operations Manager for the City of Sioux Falls)

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Dan Grider
General Manager

Dan was first bitten by the ski bug in the mid 70’s at his local ski area, Great Bear! During the 80’s, Dan was involved in his family's food businesses and in 1992, was awarded the food concession contract at Great Bear. His involvement in the Great Bear operation evolved into the position of General Manager, and he has been part of all of the areas expansions since 1992. What does he like most about Great Bear: “I love the feeling of giving something back to the sport that has given me so much.”

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Jill Lerdal
Director of Indoor Operations & Events

Jill started as a part-time bartender in 2000. In 2004, the kitchen manager position opened up, and with her catering background, that seemed to be a good fit for a full-time job (Jill’s potato salad is a Sioux Falls favorite). Her job has since grown into Director of Indoor Operations & Events. One of the things she loves most about her job is having every day be different. Nothing is ever boring at The Bear.


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Alexa Jerstad
Director of Communications & Human Resources

Growing up skiing at Great Bear with her family, Lexi’s love for winter sports began at a young age. In 2010, she started as a guest services employee greeting and assisting visitors. After graduating college, Lexi was made Director of Communications. Her duties now include managing day-to-day administrative tasks, assisting departments heads and promoting the Great Bear brand. She enjoys working alongside her coworkers who share her passion for snow: “The employees at Great Bear are one big, happy family! It is such a fun place to work.”

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Brandon Mercado
Director of SnowSports & Rental Operations 

Brandon wishes he had a cool story about how his parents were ski bums and that he was on skis since the day he was born. But the truth is, he never even lived in a place that got snow until he was 16. In 2001, he started working in the rental shop during college, never skiing a day in his life. Figuring he should know how to ski if he was going to work at a ski area, he gave it a shot and was instantly hooked. His new love kept him coming back year after year. In 2011, Brandon took over as rental shop manager and in 2021, he was promoted to full time as the Director SnowSports & Rental Operations.

“I love having the opportunity to share skiing and snowboarding with other people, maybe they will end up loving it as much as I do,” Brandon said. His younger brother and sister are prime examples of this, taking up the sport and even becoming employees themselves. His favorite part about working at Great Bear are the people he gets to meet and the people he works with, affectionately calling them his “winter family”.

For questions regarding the SnowSports School, please email

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Kyle Vanderberg
Mountain Manager / Content Creator

In 2008, Kyle started as a maintenance employee and immediately fell in love with snowmaking. After two years, he became Assistant Mountain Manager. Recently, his duties have expanded to include social media management and on hill photographer/videographer. Kyle enjoys the variety of his job: “There is always something to do, and it is always something different. Keeps things fast paced and energetic!"

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Roxie Johnson
Food Service Manager

Roxie started in the kitchen part time in 2005. Shortly after, she became Food Service Manager. Roxie quickly became the driving force behind the amazing winter weekend breakfasts. She loves to help kids with their first job experience, and help them grow in a working environment. In addition, she has started the very successful Angels With A Dream fundraiser that benefits Make-A-Wish of South Dakota. Much of the Great Bear staff volunteer their time to help make kids with life threatening illnesses dreams come true. Angels With A Dream is held in the summer each year at Great Bear. She says she loves Great Bear because we are all one big family, and enjoys watching the kids every year as they grow through the sport.

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Billy & Sharon Heap
Ski Patrol Director

Billy Joe and Sharon have been part of the National Ski Patrol since 1991 and transferred to the Great Bear Ski Patrol in January 2000.  They became patrol directors at Great Bear in 2004.  Growing up in Canada, Billy Joe learned to ski at a very young age, and has passed his passion for the sport on to his kids who learned to ski/snowboard at the same time they learned to walk.  Sharon's not an avid skier, but cheers the family on from the chalet.  The family atmosphere and the great perks of discounted ski lessons for volunteer patrollers and their immediate family is what got them involved at Great Bear.

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Daren Teggatz
Mountain Manager

Daren joined the Great Bear team in 2015 starting in Food Service. His love of the outdoors found him outside as a Lift Operator the following season. In 2019, Daren was promoted to Mountian Manager bringing years of leadership expreience and great customer service to the job. Daren is originally from northcentral Iowa, and spent 24 years in the U.S. Navy as an avionics technician. Over the past years, Daren has taught himself to ski at Great Bear, finding it a fun place to enjoy nature.

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Adam Jerstad
Mountain Manager 

A Sioux Falls native, Adam grew up snowboarding at the Bear with his friends. He joined the  team in 2010 as maintenance and was hooked. In 2019, Adam was promoted to Mountain Manager. When he is not making snow or doing lift inspections, Adam is a CAD engineer designing water tanks for fire trucks. Adam loves to hit the slopes with his friends.

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Jayne Vanderberg
Administrative Assistant

A Minnesota native, Jayne grew up skiing every Christmas at Giant's Ridge with her family.  She moved to Sioux Falls in 2014 and joined the Great Bear team in 2018 as a part of Guest Services. In 2020, she was promoted to Administrative Assistant. Jayne is also the Director of Training at Rhoades Enterprises - Scooter's Coffee.

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Brayden Harris
Ski Patrol Director (effective Spring 2022)

Currently attending Augustana University, Brayden joined the Great Bear Ski Patrol in 2019. In 2021, he was promoted to Ski Patrol Director.

Jeff Johnson
National Ski Patrol Rep (effective Spring 2022)

A teacher at Washington High School and avid rock climber, Jeff joined the Great Bear Ski Patrol in 2015. In 2021, he was elected the next NSP Rep and will take the lead on training.

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