Rural Leadership North Dakota’s seventh class includes farmers, a swine operation manager, business owners, city officials, a dental hygienist, college and bank personnel, a museum director, credit analyst and biologist.
They are among 29 people selected for the North Dakota State University Extension Service’s leadership development program that starts in November. They will spend 18 months developing skills to help them shape the future of their organization, community and state.
The 2015-17 program consists of in-state seminars with experts on topics such as leadership, economic development and agriculture; tours of agricultural and community businesses; out-of-state trips (Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis in 2016) to meet with agricultural, business and governmental leaders; and a trip abroad to learn about international agricultural and community issues. Previous classes visited Brazil, Costa Rica and Panama.
Participants will learn leadership skills, such as thinking critically and creatively, communicating effectively, self-awareness, decision making, strategic planning and managing conflict. They also will learn about agricultural and rural policy, marketing, civic engagement, the value of coalitions and partnerships, industry and community advocacy, the agricultural economy and future trends that could affect North Dakota agriculture, finding innovative ways to fund local and regional development projects, and how to work with the state Legislature.
In addition, they’ll create a network of contacts and resources they can tap into for ideas, answers and support. They also will practice the skills they learn by creating a project that benefits their operation, business, organization, community or region.
For example, one 2013-15 class member is working on plans to start a community grocery store. Other participants’ projects include getting mental health education into schools, starting a heifer exchange program and developing efforts to grow plants in an elementary school.
“Through the RLND program, I have learned to step outside of the classroom and immerse myself in a variety of cultural experiences, which has helped me become a true leader,” says 2013-15 class member Julie Gemmill of Fordville. “Participating in the RLND program helped me build confidence, character and communication skills to form invaluable connections at the regional, national and international levels. Applying for the RLND program was one of the best career decisions I have made.”
Those selected for the 2025-17 class are: Kelli Bowen, Buffalo; Rachel Bush, Jamestown; Jayme Davis, Rolette; Roxanne Hoffarth, Langdon; Devin Jacobson, Alamo; Kwirt Johnson, Belfield; Kayla Burkhart, Berthold; Pavel Danil, Michigan; Jeremy Doan, Bismarck; Levi Jacobson, Bismarck; Daniel Janes, Horace; Erica Johnsrud, Watford City; Lucas Lang, Sterling; Jodi Larson, Hettinger; Jason Lindell, Park River; Georgia Miller, Jamestown; Chuck Neubauer, Bottineau; Brandon Pyle, Casselton; Kristi Schultz, Wheatland; Jeanna Smaaladen, Grand Forks; Larry Luick, Fairmount; Natalie Muruato, Beach; Darrell Oswald, Wing; Gregg Schuetze, Watford City; Joyce ShiningOneSide, Dunseith; Warren Solberg, Horace; Joni Tillich, Belcourt; Daniel Stenberg, Watford City; and Alan Svangstu, Minot.
“It’s very exciting to have our seventh RLND class starting in November,” says Marie Hvidsten, RLND program director. “This class is the largest group so far with 29 participants. The experience they have will be life-changing.”
Since RLND began in November 2003, 110 people from 78 communities in 37 counties have graduated from the program.