The South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership Class XI gained great insight on Rural Community Leadership in Rapid City and Spearfish recently.  Class members found the presentations and visits insightful, refreshing, and inspiring. The 3-day seminar was a good mix of rural business, community development, and resource availability for rural communities.

Getting instruction at SDARL Nieman Sawmill TourThe class took part in tours and demonstrations from Black Hills Energy, Nieman Sawmill, and Black Hills Forest Resource Association. They also had an interesting panel presentation on how grazing permits work with agencies that offer allotments.

Hearing about the forestry and seeing the sawmill, the class had the opportunity to learn about the symbiotic relationship between the logging industry and the Black Hills Forest. Jarrett Rix, Class XI member from Aberdeen said, “My biggest takeaway was how much they both need each other and the leadership to advocate for those interest take a lot of guts to move forward.”

Larry Prager Center of the Nation Wool SDARL South Dakota Leadership Class XIFlying O Sheep & Dave Ollila showed us the ins & outs of the sheep industry. Through current tough times he & all those we met remain steadfast in their resolve to honor the call to care for, raise, & produce the best sheep in ways that respect all involved. Their leadership inspired all of us SDARL – South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership, Inc. this week to explore the ways we remain faithful to the call of honorable leadership!

This SDARL seminar took the class West River where they could see firsthand how the area producers use the resources available to them to improve their lives. Tanya Torgerson, Class XI member from Bath said, “We were fortunate enough to have a guided tour of Center of the Nation Wool located in Belle Fourche. This business was started by a small group of wool growers in 1960. They pooled their resources to develop a marketing location close to their ranches. Today this business handles between 4.5 and 5 million pounds of wool annually produced by 1500 regional wool growers.”

Shannon Kubik, Class XI member from Hamill, SD was quite impressed with what she learned about the deep-rooted sheep industry in Newell. “They may be small in people, but big in the sheep industry. Thousands and thousands of sheep are sold through their sheep yards auction and ram show and sale. If you’re a sheep person, you need to go there.”  The week the class was there, Newell was hosting the 77th Newell Ram Show & Sale, and they met several consigners that have been a part of many of those sales. “They all knew each other and you could feel the friendships in the barn.  There’s magic to tradition.” Kubik added.
entrepreneur Sam Olson Buffalo SD talking about rural community developmentAdditionally, the class learned about all the connections that Eric Jennings (SDARL Class VIII) has with a nonprofit in Spearfish, & invaluable insight from the South Dakota Housing Authority, SDSU Extension, & the SD Community Foundation. South Dakota’s legacy of leadership has been well established & has a bright future because of the work & dedication of individuals such as these.  Class member, Cindy Heidelberg shared, “examples of leadership that challenge us are all over if we look & listen.” after hearing from entrepreneur Sam Olson (SDARL Class X), who is helping to invigorate the economy of Buffalo, SD!
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