Members of Class XI of the South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership Program (SDARL) met with lawmakers and influencers, and learned how to engage in constructive dialog during the South Dakota State Government Seminar held in Pierre January 25-27, 2022.

The class began the seminar by attending the AgriVisions session, hosted by First Dakota National Bank. Lucas Lentsch, Chief Federation Office of Dairy Management Inc., challenged the group to impact meaningful change by recognizing that agriculturalists actually work for the consumer. Dr. Joseph Santos of South Dakota State University described the current rise in inflation as a consequence of supply chain issues, and indicated there will be a long road to recovery.

Randy Lioz of the Braver Angels led the class in an exercise on “Civic Engagement” with the purpose of bridging the divide between Democrats and Republicans and fostering meaningful conversation between opposing parties. The first evening concluded with a dinner at the Cattleman’s Club with featured speaker Hunter Roberts, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who gave an update on the department.

The second day of the seminar featured visits to legislative committee hearings and a presentation by Secretary of State Steve Barnett, who instructed the class on how to run for office. He also gave an update on voter registration and turnout, and other areas within his department. Lobbyists Lorin and Jeromy Pankratz discussed the role of the lobbyist as important to educating legislators on issues.

The class met with Governor Kristi Noem and Lieutenant Governor Larry Rhoden (pictured above) to discuss issues prior to being introduced on the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives. The class had the opportunity for one-on-one discussions with lawmakers during an evening reception.

The final day of the seminar began at the Dakota Lakes Research Farm where scientists Dr. Dwayne Beck and Sam Ireland talked about studies in soil health. The class continued to explore state agencies with presentations by Scott Simpson, Director of Parks & Recreation, State Veterinarian Dr. Dustin Oedekoven, and Joe Fiala of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

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