South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Foundation

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SDARL Program Overview & History



SDARL was formed in 1999 and is dedicated to identifying and developing leaders in agriculture and rural communities. This unique program is designed to provide leadership training to rural residents from farming, ranching, agri-industry, and agricultural

organizations. The goal is to assist program participants in gaining the vision, knowledge, confidence, and commitment necessary to assume leadership roles in South Dakota’s agricultural industry and communities.





To ensure that the South Dakota rural and agricultural communities can keep pace with the rate of change, it is imperative that we continue to supply informed, decisive, and communicative spokespersons to represent our industry and communities - keeping the public factually informed as policies are constructed and decisions are made. To address these needs, SDARL provides an intensive study and training experience for future agricultural and rural leaders of South Dakota.



Class Structure / Seminars


Each SDARL class is composed of approximately 30 individuals who are actively involved in production ag or in agribusiness.  Applications for the next class, Class X, will be taken during the first quarter of 2018 with a class start date of November 2018.


Class members are required to attend all seminars, complete pre-seminar reading assignments, participate in informal question and answer periods, evaluate seminars and report highlights to the media, civic groups, and/or community organizations.


The SDARL program consists of 12 seminars over an 18-month period. Ten of the seminars are 3-4 day in-state seminars held at a variety of locations across South Dakota. The National Study Seminar is a week-long study seminar to Washington, DC in February of the first year. The International Study Seminar is a 10-12 day seminar held typically in February of the second year, just prior to graduation. Class I visited New Zealand/Australia; Class II went to the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK. Brazil and Argentina were the destination for Class III with Class IV looked at agriculture and culture in China. Class V conducted the international seminar in South Africa and Class VI went to China. Class VII researched agriculture and trade in Chile and Peru, Class VIII went to xxxxxx, and Class IX visited the large U.S. trading partner India.




The cost of the SDARL program  exceeds $540,000 per class for the two-year program. Participants are responsible for approximately one quarter of the actual costs incurred on their behalf. Foundation, organization, corporate, alumni, and individual contributions are utilized to provide the balance of funding for each participant. SDARL receives no state or federal funding, but rather is supported by organizations and individuals who share our passion for developing strong leaders for agriculture and our rural communities.

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Contact Us


Lori Cope, Executive Director

West River Ag Center

1905 Plaza Boulevard

Rapid City, SD 57702-9302

Cell: 605-216-6178



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