The Board of Directors of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation (SDARL) has voted to pause its in-person leadership programming activities until the current surge in COVID-19 cases subsides.

The organization is postponing the first meeting of its 11th leadership class, scheduled for Brookings on November 6-7, and is postponing the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the program, scheduled for November 7. The graduation of the 10th leadership class, previously scheduled for April but rescheduled for November 8, also will be moved to a future date. The online benefit auction will proceed as planned, with bidding available October 31 – November 7. The auction is available online at SDARL2020.givesmart.com.

“As leaders, we need to make difficult decisions that first and foremost consider the well-being of our participants,” said Todd Mortenson, Chair of the SDARL Board of Directors. “All of these activities are important to our organization, but not at the expense of potential high-risk exposure to COVID-19.”

There has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in the state and the Brookings area that includes an increase in hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control considers large, in-person gatherings to be at the highest risk for possible exposure.

“We appreciate the hard work of the SDARL staff and the hospitality venues in Brookings,” said Don Norton, SDARL CEO. “The right decision for our organization at this time is to postpone these events and move our class activities into the future. We ask our alumni and other supporters to embrace our online auction and fundraising activities.”

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