For years, Rees Beaver has been focused on becoming an optometrist and returning to Sioux Center.

This summer, that vision came true when he joined his father, Dr. Paul Beaver, as a practicing optometrist at Beaver Eye Care.

Working with eyes has always been Beaver’s lifelong goal. It was something that seemed natural, having spent so much of his youth at Beaver Eye Care, which was established by his father in 1989.

Beaver still remembers being fascinated by all the equipment.

“[My dad] used to have a model of an eye, and I would take it apart and look at it,” he said.

There was never another option in his mind for what he wanted to do with his life.

He graduated from Sioux Center High School in 2011. After that, he attended Dordt College where he graduated in 2015 with a biology degree.

“It prepared me really well,” Beaver said. “I felt I was really well prepared coming in ahead of some of the other people who went to other schools.”

When his time at Dordt was done, he went on to the Illinois College of Optometry — the largest optometry college in the country and the oldest one of its kind in the world. Beaver graduated from there earlier this year and is proud of graduating as the class valedictorian.

The first three years of optometry school were comparable to any other classroom setting. But in the last year, they go to different locations, Beaver said. That took him to Sioux Falls, SD; Chicago; Beaufort, SC; and Florida.

“So, I missed all of the last winter because we were in South Carolina and Florida for my rotations, which was great,” Beaver said. “We kept getting updates on how horrible the winter was here, and we would get off the phone and go to the beach. It was beautiful.”

He was excited to come back home to Sioux Center, but he admitted the winters aren’t something he’s looking forward to again.

Still, Beaver is happy to come back to Sioux Center.

Chicago, he said, “views N’West Iowa as truly the middle of nowhere, but I always talked highly of Sioux Center. It’s a great community, good schools. People are more friendly here.”

Moving to Chicago was one of the hardest parts of pursuing his career. Beaver said there was definitely a culture shock going from a town of about 7,500 to one of more than 2 million.

“I learned a lot, and I think it made me more independent because you had to be your own person there. But it was a journey,” Beaver said.

His wife, Logan, has enjoyed Sioux Center living so far, too.

“She really liked Florida and South Carolina, but we got her on board with Sioux Center,” Beaver said.

Beaver and Logan married in November 2018.

“South Carolina was my first internship after we got married, so she went with me after that. So, she kind of went on a tropical six-month vacation of sorts,” Beaver said.

Logan is originally from Pella. The two met at Dordt.

Of the parts of the eye, he particularly is interested in corneas.

“Through my internships, I found that was something I was really interested in,” he said. “There are a lot of different conditions that do affect the cornea. You can get different diseases or scarring from injuries. That’s the area I’m most interested in.”

He noted that there are specialty contact lenses he’s working to bring in to Beaver Eye Care. These lenses should be beneficial to people who have different corneal conditions, such as keratoconus, which is a distortion of the cornea, or corneal transplants or scarring.

Even those with high prescriptions could benefit from these contacts, he said.

“Since this practice is already established, I wanted to bring something of my own,” Beaver said.

He and Logan moved to Sioux Center in May, right after graduating. Beaver started work at Beaver Eye Care in June.

Beaver said it’s been great to work with his father.

“He’s a really easy guy to get along with, and I look forward to working with him for a really long time,” Beaver said. “It’s kind of the goal when I was studying, thinking I can’t wait to be done with this and start actually working. It’s been very enjoyable. It was worth the work.”

He added that it’s also been a pleasure working alongside Dr. Dan Clousing, who joined Beaver Eye Care in 2013.

“They’ve both been really helpful and answered a lot of my questions,” Beaver said. “I think I’ve learned a lot from both of them already. I’m in their offices all the time asking questions. They’ve been really good about that.”

Since Beaver started practicing optometry, he’s also enjoyed working with the patients.

“Optometry is a lot of conversation. I can’t see what the patient is seeing; they have to tell me. I only get to see them for a half-hour, and they’re using their eyes all day, every day, all year,” Beaver said. “The communication with people is my favorite part, working with them to figure out how we can make their day-to-day life better. I think people skills are huge in this profession.”

And it’s fun to find any shared connections with the patients, if he doesn’t already know them.

His first day of work at Beaver Eye Care was a bit surreal, he said.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I’m going to work here for the next 40 years, and this is my first day on the job.’ It was a bizarre feeling,” he said. “This was the goal that I was working for, and now I’m here. It’s weird to think of that.”

It was also a striking moment to be working at Beaver Eye Care in time to celebrate the business’s 30th anniversary alongside his father.

“My dad and I were working on that day. That was cool,” Beaver said. “It was a cool moment to discuss with him how far it had come.”

Logan is studying to become a certified financial planner, working for Roger Kroll at Money Concepts in Sioux Center.

Beaver pointed out that it’s next door to Beaver Eye Care, and his sister, Kaitlin Hoogeveen, owns Children’s Dental Centre across the street.

“We just really like this area of town,” Beaver joked. “We really branch out.”