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Seminar 6 – Exploring the Relationship between Agriculture, Communities and Natural Resources.

Seminar six for RLND Class VII found us fighting our first winter storm of the season. They say effective leaders are able to adapt, and adapt we did. The theme of the Dickinson seminar was “Exploring the relationships between Agriculture, Communities and Natural Resources.”

After a late start and some on the fly adaptations, we kicked off day one with a presentation via Skype from Randy Kreil, retired Wildlife Division Chief with the ND Game & Fish Department. Randy provided an overview of the “Stakeholder Assessment of the North Dakota Badlands and Little Missouri River” and took questions from the class. Our next speaker was Scott Peterson, RLND Council Member and Deputy Director of the ND Game & Fish Department. Scott provided background on the Department as well as their mission and ended with the five biggest challenges ahead for the Department. To round out the morning we heard from holistic rancher and Vice Chair of the ND Grazing Lands Coalition, Chad Njos. Chad spoke about his reasons for choosing to ranch holistically, the improvements he’s seen to the health of his land, and his quality of life. Cal Klewin, Executive Director for the Theodore Roosevelt Expressway also spoke to the class about the proposed expansion of Highway 85 and the need for infrastructure improvements in western ND. Ending the day was Class VII’s RLND Leadership Dinner held at The Crossing Restaurant in Dickinson.

We kicked off day two, hearing from Terri Thiel with the Dickinson Convention & Visitors Bureau and then visited Medora Corporation to learn about Solar Bee. From there the class traveled to the campus of Dickinson State University (DSU) and heard from DSU President Dr. Mitzel. We also heard from Sharon Kilzer, Project Manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Center, about the life and work of Theodore Roosevelt including his legacy in North Dakota. After DSU, we traveled to the Chateau de Mores Interpretive Center in Medora for lunch and speaker Wendy Ross, Teddy Roosevelt National Park Superintendent, about balancing the mission of the Park with ongoing development in western ND. Communication, cooperation and coordination were a central theme. After lunch the group heard from Mike Jensen, Outdoors Promotion Manager with the Dept. of Commerce, Tourism Division. Mike explained tourism is still North Dakota’s 3rd largest industry and how a majority of the State’s tourism is directly tied to the natural resources, whether they be wildlife, trails, clean water or scenic views, we have as a State. RLND Class VII then braved the snow covered roads to take a brief tour of Teddy Roosevelt National Park to view the iconic landscape and wildlife.

It was then off to Belfield, to meet with Marshall Johnson, from the Mule Deer Foundation to learn what conservation groups across the state are doing with private landowners. We then headed over to the historic Belfield Theatre, restored by our very own Class VII member, Natalie Muruato, to view and discuss Keeping All the Pieces video with the Badlands Conservation Alliance and the ND Wildlife Federation. End message, how can we as a State, as leaders, as citizens do better? We ended the evening with a documentary about Ukrainian Immigrants, by Ken Howie.

Before departing Dickinson we looked ahead to our upcoming seminar in Bismarck as well as our international travel to Vietnam and Thailand. The excitement from Class VII to embark on this next adventure is undeniable.

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