There are officially 26 new SDARL alumni following the graduation of Class XI on Sunday, March 26th. When the spouses, parents, and children of those graduates are added, the SDARL family has grown by so much more.
What was supposed to be an 18-month SDARL journey, like many other things in this world, COVID turned into two and a half years and what will likely be the longest SDARL class in history. SDARL board made the difficult decision to postpone the start of Class XI for an entire year which means a lot can change in that time. Voluntary events like a virtual book club and other online activities were held in the interim year.
Former CEO Don Norton recalled the response of other sister programs when he talked about the decision to postpone for a year. “How many class members quit the program?”, several asked.
“Not a single one!” was his proud response. It was a risk, but incredibly, every class member was committed and remained so even though it meant an extra year. Class members had some major life changes that made things difficult and perhaps some may have considered backing out due to the impact on themselves, their family, and/or their places of work including new moms with nursing babies, big career changes, and moves. Through it all, each class member stuck it out for the journey of growth, development, and leadership to ag and the state of South Dakota.