Your Donation Will Be Matched by Jessie Ball du Pont Foundation from Nov. 1 – Dec. 31, 2023. post arr Donate Now

American Mothers Logo
state mother of the year

Meet Melissa Schmautz, 2023 North Dakota Mother of the Year®

March 15, 2023


Melissa Schmautz was born and raised on a family farm and ranch in rural North Dakota. Melissa and her high school sweetheart, Tyler, have two boys; Dawson, 10, and Mason, 7, who are the highlight of her life. She has been blessed to work her “dream job” as a child life specialist at Sanford Health for 16 years, first in Fargo and now in Bismarck. Her passion is working with pediatric oncology patients and assisting children/families at the end- of-life. She helped start the first pediatric palliative care program in North Dakota in Fargo and is now working to start a program in Bismarck. Melissa shares her knowledge and expertise in the child life field by teaching at Minnesota State University, Mankato as an adjunct staff member. She has been involved with Kamp KACE (Kids-Against-Cancer- Everywhere) for the past 20 years, where she helps offer camping experiences for kids with cancer and their siblings.

Who has been impactful in your journey as a mother? What lessons do you carry with you and share often through motherhood?

My own mother has had the biggest impact on me. She has had a complicated medical journey that started with kidney disease over 20 years ago and, even now, continues to have medical obstacles. She continues to work alongside my dad on the family farm. Through this all, she is the most positive, inspiring and hardworking person. I carry these values as a mother and hopefully, my children are learning them from me. If I am half the person to my kids that my mother has been to myself and my siblings, I should turn out great!

What continues to inspire you in your motherhood journey?

My kids inspire me. They help me strive to be a great person. I want to be a positive role model for them. They inspire me to work hard for things that are important to me; helping hospitalized children and teaching students who want to become a child life specialist. They inspire me to volunteer in my community; being on the Board of Directors for Kamp KACE and participating in Kamp functions, assisting with their sports and involvement in our church. I want them to grow up wanting to help others too.

How has being a mom shaped your life?

Having an educational background in child development and working with children in the hospital, I felt like I was prepared for my own children. Well, I was partially prepared. I have learned so much from my kids that neither my education nor my work experience taught me. They give me the best “hands on” experience I could ever ask for. I feel this makes me an even better child life specialist and teacher because I have actually experienced many things that other families go through; I can relate.