The Board of Directors of the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership (SDARL) Foundation has voted to delay the start of its 11th leadership class until Fall 2021, due to the current surge in COVID-19 cases.

Now in its 21st year, the leadership program provides a series of 12 seminars over 18 months held throughout the State of South Dakota, along with a National Study Seminar in Washington, D.C., and an International Seminar held at a global destination of importance to South Dakota agriculture. It is the most comprehensive executive leadership training program in the state.

“The SDARL leadership program is a sequence of seminars designed to develop individuals for personal and professional success, and enhance their service in their communities and the state,” said Todd Mortenson, Chair of the SDARL Board of Directors. “It isn’t safe at this time for the class to meet in person as a group, and the health and safety of class members, their families, co-workers, and community is paramount.”

There has been a surge in COVID-19 cases in South Dakota 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 are committed to providing a seamless, experiential learning program to our new class, just as we have for our 10 previous classes,” said Don Norton, SDARL CEO. “We want this class to move forward at a time when we’re confident there won’t be starts and pauses, and limited access to venues in the state, nationally, and internationally.”

The Class XI program is scheduled to begin in November 2021.

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