North Dakota has more than 8,000 nonprofit organizations and governmental entities that need people to serve in leadership roles.
To help North Dakotans gain the leadership skills to serve and improve their community or organization, as well as be better prepared to lead their business or farm/ranch operation and develop their personal skills, North Dakota State University Extension developed the Rural Leadership North Dakota (RLND) program in 2003.
This year, RLND is looking for participants for its ninth class, which begins in November.
The 18-month leadership development program includes in-state seminars with experts; tours of agricultural and community businesses; out-of-state trips (Washington, D.C., and Minneapolis in 2018) to meet with agricultural, business and government leaders; and a trip to another country (destination to be determined) to learn about international agricultural and community issues. Previous classes visited Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand, Vietnam and Chile.
The program helps participants enhance leadership skills, such as thinking critically and creatively, communicating effectively, self-awareness, decision making, strategic planning and managing conflict. Participants also learn about agricultural and rural policy, the agricultural economy and future trends that could affect North Dakota, finding innovative ways to fund local and regional development projects, marketing, civic engagement, the value of coalitions and partnerships, industry and community advocacy, and how to work with the state Legislature.
In addition, participants create a network of contacts and resources they can continue to tap into for ideas, answers and support long after they graduate from the program.
“Rural Leadership North Dakota is the premier statewide leadership program in North Dakota,” says Marie Hvidsten, RLND program director. “If you are seeking a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn more about yourself, the state, country and world to help move North Dakota forward, then we want you in Class IX of the RLND program.”
RLND has been an invaluable experience for its graduates. For example, Chuck Neubauer, market president at Starion Bank in Bottineau and a Class VII alumnus, used the skills he learned to start a local chapter of the International Mountain Biking Association in Bottineau.
“Thanks to the incredible RLND experience, I have been given the education and resources to be able to become a much more effective leader both in my career and in my community activities and projects,” he says.
Natalie Muruato, Belfield city auditor and another Class VII graduate, used her new leadership skills to help transform the closed Belfield Theater into a regional cultural center and community gathering place.
“It was through the RLND program I acquired the skills and knowledge necessary to take on a project like this and many others that have come after,” she says.
The tuition for the RLND program is $4,000. That covers all meals, hotels and travel expenses, such as buses during in-state seminars and airfare to out-of-state seminars. Participants are responsible for their travel costs to in-state seminars and points of departure for out-of-state seminars.
The deadline to apply for RLND Class IX (2019-21) is June 30. Applicants must have been a state resident for at least a year and be able to attend all of the seminars.
For more information, or to apply or nominate someone for the class, visit RLND’s website at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/rlnd, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 701-231-7171. Also check out RLND on Facebook.
One hundred sixty-six people from 83 communities in 39 counties have participated in RLND since it began in November 2003.