Applications open for South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership

South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS — Agriculture producers, agribusiness professionals and rural community leaders are encouraged to apply for the 2018-2020 class of South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership (SDARL).

Established 20 years ago, the premiere leadership organization identifies and develops leaders for the world’s most essential industry – agriculture.

“SDARL graduates return to their farms, ranches and rural communities with the leadership and professional development skills necessary to serve and impact positive change,” said Don Norton, CEO of SDARL Foundation.

Although she was engaged in agriculture organizations before becoming involved in SDARL, after graduating from the program, Tammy Basel, a fourth-generation Union Center sheep and cattle rancher says the experience broadened her knowledge base and motivated her to do more. Today, Basel serves on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board, is Treasure of the South Sheep Growers Association and the Multi-County Predator District. She serves as secretary/treasurer for CBH CO-OP, Sturgis.

“It’s easy to get tunnel vision when you’re in leadership. SDARL opened my eyes and gave me a better understanding of how everything works together throughout South Dakota agriculture,” Basel said.

Norton says Basel’s experience is not unique, as he lists off several graduates who today who serve as leaders of local, regional and national commodity organizations, cooperatives, agriculture advocacy groups, serve in local and state government, as well as the current South Dakota secretary of agriculture, Mike Jaspers, and his two predecessors — Lucas Lentsch and Walt Bones.

“The program is excellent because of the character of individuals who participate,” Norton said.

What is South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership (SDARL)?

The South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership (SDARL) program is an 18-month course offering intensive study, training and travel for future leaders in agriculture and rural communities throughout South Dakota. The program includes a seminar in Washington D.C. and an international agriculture tour.

Although it is a large time commitment, Ryan Wagner, a third-generation Day County farmer and father to three young children, says his time as a SDARL class member was well spent.

“Living in rural South Dakota, it wouldn’t have been possible for me to find anything similar to the quality of this program,” Wagner said. “Today, there are so few of us involved in agriculture, that it’s important for those of us who are involved to have the leadership skills necessary to represent our industry.

Today, Wagner serves as president of the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council.

Each class is composed of 30 individuals who will be either actively involve as operators of production agriculture or from agribusiness, related organizations and rural community leadership roles.

Valued at $20,000 per class member, the cost to participate, if selected, is $4,250 thanks to generous donations from sponsors.

If you are someone who is interested in advancing your leadership capabilities, apply today.

The application deadline is March 31, 2018.

Applications are reviewed and applicants from across the state and representing a diversity of agriculture careers are then selected for an interview process. Following the interview process, 30 individuals will be selected.

To apply, visit Contact Don Norton if you have any questions,

SDARL graduate, Tammy Basel is a fourth-generation Union Center sheep and cattle rancher. She says the experience broadened her knowledge base and motivated her to do more. Courtesy photo