The South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership program has seven basic qualifications:

  • Men and Women approximately aged 25 – 55 years
  • Full-time employment in production agriculture, agri-related occupations, or community/rural development
  • U.S. Citizen or permanent resident
  • Live in South Dakota or have demonstrated a sphere of influence that benefits South Dakota agriculture and rural communities
  • Demonstrated leadership experience
  • Potential for future leadership growth
  • Commitment by the individual, spouse/partner if applicable, and employer to attend all seminars, pay tuition, and abide by SDARL policies
  • Class XI will have 12 seminars over 18 months. Because attendance is required, please check the dates below before you apply to ensure attendance. All dates are subject to slight weather adjustments.

Candidates must document to the satisfaction of the selection committee that his/her full participation
in the SDARL program will not adversely affect his/her business or operation. A signed agreement is
required stating that spouse/partner (if applicable) and employer (if not self-employed) understand the
time requirements for participation and support the applicant’s candidacy. It is our hope that what you
learn will be shared with your spouse/partner/family and/or your employer/ co-workers.

Applicants must demonstrate during the interview process their ability to participate meaningfully in
academic seminars, outside reading, written assignments, and thorough self-expression. In addition,
those chosen must support and abide by all policies, rules, and regulations of the South Dakota
Agricultural and Rural Leadership Board of Directors. There are no specific education prerequisites for


The application and accompanying forms are considered by a Selection Team, which will interview
eligible candidates and make a recommendation to the Board of Directors as to which applicants should
be selected for a class. The SDARL Board of Directors votes to approve members of each class at its
meeting in June of the year the class starts. Each class typically has 28 participants. All applications will
be considered impartially regardless of gender, race, religion, creed, disability, age, marital status,
veteran’s status, sexual orientation, or national origin.

Almost all of the applicants who apply for a class are “qualified” to be in the class, but there is only room
for 28 class members. SDARL is looking for candidates who are receptive to experiential learning, have
shown some signs of accepting leadership positions, and are dedicated to a career that advances
agriculture and rural community development.

Other considerations for selection include:

  • Except in rare cases, close relatives (spouse, brother/sister) will not be selected for the same class
  • The number of participants from the same organization or business entity in one class of consecutive classes may be limited
  • It is the goal of the SDARL Board of Directors to have 2/3 of each class “hands-on” in a production agriculture occupation, and each class should have diversity among the types of production


January 1, 2020

March 20, 2020

April 2020

Mid – April to May 2020

June 2020

November 6-7, 2020


The application process is open for CLASS XI and applications are accepted

Applications due in SDARL Office

Applicants notified of interview date/city

Interviews with eligible applicants at various locations throughout the state

Board of Directors selects Class XI, Class members notified, public announcement of Class XI members

First seminar meeting for Class XI, Mitchell, SD


There is no cost to apply to the program. If selected, there is a participation fee of $4,200 (plus tax, if
applicable for a total of $4,473), which can be paid in four installments over the two years: June
($1,500) and November ($1,000) 2020, and July ($1,000) and December ($700 and tax) 2021. The
participation fee is only ¼ of the total cost to provide the program, with the balance paid by
corporations and associations who share our vision for strong leadership, and alumni and friends. Financial assistance may be available to help those chosen offset their participation fee.

The program pays for hotel rooms when part of a seminar date, airfare to and from the National and
International Seminars, bus transportation during a seminar, and most meals incurred during seminars.
The cost of getting to and from each seminar or a hub airport is not included. There may be some
meals not paid by SDARL, and some taxi or other minor transportation costs. Participants will be notified in advance on an agenda of these occasions.


Each person selected for the program will be expected to adhere to a Code of Conduct. The code is
based on a fundamental respect for each other, the advancement of their education to be a leader, and
the reputation of the SDARL program. Participants will be required to abide by the code, which falls into
four areas: professional attitude, conduct, attendance, and dress.

Professional Attitude
Participants are investing time and money in their participation, as is the SDARL Foundation and those
who invest in the Foundation. Participants are expected to have an open mind, a willingness to learn
and grow, to function as a team player, respect for opinions that may differ from their own, and a
commitment to greater service to the betterment of agriculture and rural communities.

Each class member is expected to conduct himself/herself as a responsible leader. Alcoholic beverages
will not be consumed during official seminar activities, and intoxication or tardiness due to alcohol are
not accepted. The use of tobacco during indoor meetings or class activities also is not permitted.

Attendance at all seminars is a priority concern of the SDARL Board of Directors resulting in specific
guidelines and disciplinary action in cases of unexcused absences. Obviously, some latitude is granted
for personal or family emergencies or serious illness.

As with any business or distinguished program, participants should always present themselves in a
professional manner. Participants will wear men/women business suits for most meetings, with less
formal attire required for site tours or special weather conditions. Field or farm attire is not appropriate.


Leadership Orientation Seminar

Communication Excellence Seminar

State Government Seminar

National Study Seminar

Multi-Cultural Societies Seminar

Tech, Innovation, & State-specific Ag Seminar

Policy, Finance, Marketing & Logistics Seminar

Energy, Nat Resources & the Environment

International Perspectives Seminar

Healthcare & Rural Vitality Seminar

International Study Seminar


Mitchell, SD – November 6-7, 2020

Brooking, SD – December 8-10, 2020

Pierre, SD – January 26- 28, 2021

Washington, DC – February 20-26, 2021

Chamberlain, SD Area – April 6-8, 2021

Black Hills Area – June 14-17, 2021

East SD Bus Tour – July 13-15, 2021

Spearfish/Buffalo, SD – October 26-28, 2021

Aberdeen/Milbank, SD November 16-18, 2021

Sioux Falls, SD – December 14-16, 2021

TBD – January or February 2022

Chamberlain, SD – April 2-3, 2022