During COVID, the SDARL board made the decision to hold off proceeding with Class XI Seminars so that class members could experience the full depth of their experience by meeting in-person. The class made it through most of their full curriculum before making history as the first class to hold a seminar entirely online.  While nothing replaces the in-person experience, the Dacotah Bank Seminar on Environment, Biofuels and Innovation was informative, interesting, engaging, and insightful. The event was held on Zoom over the 3-day seminar due to the infamous 4-day blizzard of December 2022.

The morning began with updates and introductions with Robert Fouberg from Dacotah Bank, who spoke to the group about leadership and his focus on moving forward no matter in which industry we find ourselves working. “I look to surround myself with people who are smarter than me and release them to do their work.”  Cindy Heidelberger, the SDARL Class XI reporter for this seminar said, “This falls right in line with what we have seen throughout every Seminar: hone the skills we have, surround ourselves with others who can pour into the vision, and then get out of the way and let them flex their wings.”

NSU is all about innovation, education, and hands-on learning. Dr. Michael Wanous, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, spoke about the $1.5 million grant NSU is using to help entrepreneurs and motivate startups. He began with complimenting SDARL XI members, “You are lifelong learners and that means that you will take these lessons and grow South Dakota.”

Dr. Erin Fouberg, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, gave the class a high-level view of the partnerships and innovations taking place at NSU. Dr. Fouberg shared the $150 million in investments that NSU has received in the last 10 years. This included $14 million that went into building a new SD School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, a one-of-a kind opportunity that is gaining national attention.

Gevo recently broke ground on its sustainable aviation fuel production facility at Lake Preston, SD, that will produce lowcarbon renewable fuels from corn.  Kevin Hodges representing GEVO walked the class through the impacts of carbon markets and Gevo’s response to carbon markets. They are the 5th largest renewable natural gas in the market and the goal is to create a net zero carbon balance focusing on creating sustainable aviation fuel. GEVO hopes to have 1 billion gallons of sustainable aviation fuel by 2030. They are leaders in the industry in decarbonizing and de-fossilizing the aviation industry.

SDARL consultant Logan Joyce returned for a capstone workshop helping Class XI members articulate their ideal leadership approach and the values that drive communication. Class members were asked to create a 1-year vision with quarterly priorities, personal communication accountability measures, and the resources and planning needed to reach “Raging Success!”

Other presentations at the seminar included;

  • Class XI members and Raven employees Chad Biegler and Caleb Dinse teamed up with Travis Bunde (SDARL VII) and fellow Raven team member, to share the history of Raven and where the company is going
  • Jeff Zimprich, farmer and former South Dakota State Conservationist, talked about grasslands
  • Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist, and Dr. Matt Diersen, SDSU Extension Risk/Business Management Specialist talked about the Every Acres Counts program 

Throughout the seminar, class members took turns presenting on various topics related to their upcoming international seminar to Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. Class members were required to research and present their findings to help prepare for travel with knowledge, history, and expectations.

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