Rural Leadership North Dakota receives $10,000 Farm Credit grant | TSLN.com

Rural Leadership North Dakota receives $10,000 Farm Credit grant

North Dakota State University’s Rural Leadership North Dakota (RLND) program has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Farm Credit System Foundation.

“The contribution from the Farm Credit System Foundation will be used to help fund overall seminar and program costs for the RLND program, specifically the Class V, or 2011-13, participants,” said Marie Hvidsten, program director. “This generous contribution will help us meet our mission to prepare and develop effective leaders to strengthen agriculture and rural North Dakota.”

RLND is an 18-month leadership development program that includes in-state seminars with experts; tours of agricultural and community businesses; out-of-state trips to meet with agricultural, business and government leaders; and a trip to another county to learn about international agricultural and community issues.

Participants develop leadership skills, such as thinking critically and creatively, communicating effectively and managing conflict. They also learn about agricultural and rural policy, the agricultural economy and future trends that could affect North Dakota agriculture, innovative methods of funding local and regional development projects, marketing, civic engagement, the value of coalitions and partnerships, industry and community advocacy, and how to work with the state Legislature.

In addition, participants find a way to use the skills they’ve learned to benefit their operation, business, organization, community or region. For example, they’ve spearheaded projects to build community playgrounds, housing, visitor centers and swimming pools; repair homes for low-income and elderly residents; open child-care facilities; improve emergency services; obtain year- round weather radar coverage; and encourage young people to stay in North Dakota.

The grant was funded through the Douglas D. Sims Fund for Rural Leadership.

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CoBank established the fund in 2006 with a $1 million donation to recognize Sims’ 37 years of service to the Farm Credit System.

The fund focuses on the development of rural leaders, particularly those who are committed to making their rural communities better places to live.

The Farm Credit System Foundation administers the fund. The foundation is a nonprofit corporation sponsored by donations from Farm Credit System institutions and more than 1,000 individuals affiliated with the system.

The North Dakota Farm Credit Associations also have supported the RLND program, according to Hvidsten. Michael O’Keeffe, CEO and president of Farm Credit Services of Mandan and an RLND Council member, assisted RLND in the grant application process, including writing a letter of support.

“Michael and his counterparts across North Dakota are generous contributors to the program, as well as partners in supporting our focus areas of agriculture and rural communities,” Hvidsten said. “We are very fortunate to have such great partners.”

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