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RLND Class Learns Lessons, Gains Contacts on Tour

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Beltsville Agricultural Research Center entomologist Jay Evans, second from left, describes his bee research to RLND members (from left) Peggy Hellandsaas, Kim Moen, Tina Gustafson and Scott Kroeger. Beltsville Agricultural Research Center entomologist Jay Evans, second from left, describes his bee research to RLND members (from left) Peggy Hellandsaas, Kim Moen, Tina Gustafson and Scott Kroeger.
Peggy Hellandsaas, left, and Christina Wiederrich are among the RLND members who visit with U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., during their study tour to Washington, D.C. Peggy Hellandsaas, left, and Christina Wiederrich are among the RLND members who visit with U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., during their study tour to Washington, D.C.
RLND members say they gained valuable knowledge and contacts on their study tour to Washington, D.C.

Rural Leadership North Dakota participants say a recent trip to Washington, D.C., gave them a better understanding of how the federal government works.

"I now have much more respect for the political system and the people who are working in it," says Sharla Price, who lives in Price.

Price, a human service program administrator with the North Dakota Department of Human Services, is one of 17 North Dakotans taking part in RLND, the North Dakota State University Extension Service's leader training program.

RLND is a two-year program that works to ensure North Dakota has willing, effective and innovative leaders with the right skills to overcome challenges and guide the state into the future. Participants attend 10 workshops throughout the state and take a six-day study tour to Washington, D.C. They also develop and implement a project that benefits their organization, community or region.

"I believe I have a deeper appreciation for the history of our country, the founding forefathers and individuals today who pursue a career in politics," RLND class member Kim Nunberg says about the study tour. She is city auditor in Beach.

While in the U.S. capital, the class met with North Dakota's congressional delegation, toured the Pentagon and Library of Congress, visited the Holocaust Museum, attended a Senate budget committee hearing on funding for the troop surge in Iraq and networked with Washington state's AgForestry Leadership Program leaders.

Tour participants also visited the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where they received overviews of the USDA's work, rural housing, Rural Utilities Service and Rural Business Cooperative Service, and learned about farm bill proposals and U.S. energy initiatives.

In addition, some spent time at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center, where they talked with scientists who are researching issues that can affect agriculture in North Dakota, such as soybean rust and the colony collapse disorder in bees. Other participants met with representatives of organizations such as the National League of Cities and American Bankers Association Center for Agricultural and Rural Banking.

Participants said the people they met and the knowledge they gained will be valuable tools.

"If there are issues or concerns that I feel need to be discussed with somebody in D.C., I now have contacts for some areas," says Scott Kroeger, chief financial officer and controller for the Arthur Cos. in Arthur.

"These resources began to be used the minute I got home," says Christina Wiederrich, resource development specialist for the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp. "The coupling of resources and contacts is exciting and may be applied to many areas of economic and community development."

The class is wrapping up the second year of its program. It has one in-state workshop left. That session, on the power of individuals working together, will be in Beulah in April. The group's graduation celebration is scheduled for Oct. 13 in Bismarck.

The 2007-09 RLND class also will start in October. Program director Marie Hvidsten is accepting applications for that class. July 1 is the application deadline.

For more information about RLND, to apply to become a member of the 2007-09 class or to nominate someone for the program, call (701) 231-5803, send an e-mail to mailto:r-leader@ndsuext.nodak.edu or visit RLND's Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/rlnd.


Agriculture Communication

Source:Marie Hvidsten, (701) 231-5803, marie.hvidsten@ndsu.edu
Editor:Ellen Crawford, (701) 231-5391, ellen.crawford@ndsu.edu
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