Rural Leadership North Dakota


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Exploring the Relationships between Agriculture, Communities, and Natural Resources

Class VI had the opportunity to explore the Western part of the state for Seminar Six and gained insightful knowledge on relationships between agriculture, natural resources, and communities. We began on Thursday November 13th in Williston with a Community Capitals Presentation by Kathy Tweeten.

Our noon meal was catered from R Rooster BBQ Restaurant owned by Maeve MacSteves, RLND Class IV. In the afternoon we heard from a variety of speakers that discussed soil health and diversity and wildlife conservation. We also had speakers discussing water quantity and quality and the challenges that Western North Dakota specifically faces with these issues due to the oil drilling process. 

                The afternoon ended with a panel of speakers including ND Game and Fish, Williams County Commissioner, Watford City area Rancher and McKenzie County Commissioner, Oil Industry Representative, and McKenzie County Emergency Management. Each panel speaker was able to provide information to the class on the unique challenges their cities and counties continue to face with the oil boom and what they predict as outcomes for the future.

                Our leadership dinner was on Thursday evening at the new Area Recreational Center (ARC) in Williston. The ARC is a great example of the positive outcomes that have occurred for the community of Williston. Our evening speakers included Cody Austreim from Williston Friendly Faces and Vawnita Best, RLND Class V and McKenzie County Commissioner. Both speakers were able to tie in their desires to serve in their community and the impact of what one person can do to motivate change.

                On Friday we met with Darius Frick from Whiting Oil and Wayne Olson from Nuverra in Watford City and heard about the processes of drilling oil, the positives and success stories of the oil boom, as well as some of the hardships. Whiting Oil took the group to an oil drilling site where we were able to visualize the process of drilling oil and ask questions. We ended our time in Watford City with a tour of the city by Gene Veder, Executive Director McKenzie County JDA. When we arrived back in Williston, we were able to tour Williston with the Mayor Howard Klug. We also get a feel for the changes that have occurred in this community as well as surrounding areas. Friday night’s supper was a great experience dining at Target Logistics Bear Paw Lodge. We were also provided a tour of the facility and were able to see what living in these settings for the oil workers was like.

                We wrapped up our seminar on Saturday with Dave Lehman presenting on the Futures Game. Small groups were able to engage in the process of making decisions for a community, and analyze the lasting effects that these changes and decisions can make. We also spent time visiting about our international seminar in February to Costa Rica and Panama and ended with reflections and preparation for our next seminar in Bismarck.

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