Agriculture has always been at the heart of First Dakota National Bank since it opened its doors in 1872. It is that commitment to agriculture and rural communities that led to a $350,000 endowed funding gift for the “First Dakota National Bank Seminar on Agriculture, Finance, and Economic Development” in the South Dakota Agricultural & Rural Leadership (SDARL) program seminar series.

SDARL provides an unparalleled leadership education program for individuals working in agriculture and holding leadership positions in rural communities. The flagship 18-month program features 12 seminars that develop the skills, knowledge, and character of leaders.

SDARL CEO Don Norton (at left) presents a plaque to Nate Franzen, President of the Agri-business Division of First Dakota National Bank, commemorating the establishment of the “First Dakota National Bank Seminar on Agriculture, Finance, and Economic Development.”

“As one of the largest agricultural lenders in the nation, First Dakota has always supported organizations that will have a long-range impact on our rural communities,” said Nate Franzen, President of the Agri-Business Division at First Dakota. “We utilize the SDARL program as part of our executive training, and several bank employees are graduates of SDARL. We have seen first-hand how the program has benefitted agriculture in South Dakota.”

The “First Dakota National Bank Seminar on Agriculture, Finance, and Economic Development” is a three-day learning event that demonstrates how agriculture is the economic engine that drives South Dakota. Class participants explore the importance of the land grant institution, the diversity of agriculture in the private sector, and the relationship between agricultural products and processing. Together, these systems are a force for community and economic development.

“First Dakota National Bank has supported SDARL since the leadership program started more than 20 years ago,” said Don Norton, SDARL CEO. “We gratefully appreciate the continued support the bank provides, and endowing this seminar will have a broad impact on South Dakota agriculture and rural communities for many years to come.”

First Dakota National Bank began in 1872 when it became the first fully chartered bank in the Dakota Territory. Located in Yankton, First Dakota grew steadily as it served the needs of settlers, the river traffic, and the flourishing businesses. Today, First Dakota National Bank has grown to a network of 18 full service and five loan production offices with assets of more than $2 billion. First Dakota delivers a complete array of banking, investment, and trust services to individuals, businesses, and agricultural customers.

Now in its 20th year, the SDARL program is a series of 12 seminars where competitively-selected class members learn the skills, knowledge, and character of leaders for agriculture and rural communities in South Dakota. SDARL also offers leadership training to partner organizations and to graduates through the SDARL Learning Network. The SDARL Foundation, a 501(c) 3 corporation under South Dakota law, is the management and funding organization for the program and other leadership development efforts.


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