Slovek and Roseth part of SDARL Class

Participants have been announced for Class IV of South Dakota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (SDARL). The 32 participants selected from across South Dakota include Lola Roseth of Midland and Bill Slovek of Philip. “I am elated and honored to be chosen for this program,” said Lola Roseth.

“I know some people who have been in earlier classes,” said Slovek. “They are forward-thinking, optimistic people; the kind I like to be around. They encouraged me to interview for the course.”

The SDARL course consists of 12 seminars over a two-year period. Ten are two-to-three-day in-state seminars. The national seminar is a six-day study/travel seminar to Washington, D.C. The international travel seminar is a nine-to-11-day study. Class I visited New Zealand and Australia. Class II experienced the Netherlands, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Class III studied agriculture in Brazil.

“This is another outstanding group,” said Denny Everson, chairman of the SDARL Board of Directors. “We had a very large pool of strong applicants. The participants selected are very actively involved in leadership in agriculture.”

SDARL is a private, not-for-profit organization dedicated to identifying and developing leadership for agriculture and rural communities in order to enhance the quality of life in South Dakota. The program helps participants improve performance in their current leadership roles and help prepare them to achieve their future goals.

Director Dan Gee said Class IV will begin meeting November 18-19 as the first in a series of ten in-state seminars held at different locations across South Dakota. The first weekend, which will be in Chamberlain, will begin with an orientation, then will launch into leadership assessment and communication skills.

Other local residents have participated in previous classes. Class I included Cole Briggs, owner and operator of the Trails End Ranch of Midland, and Gary Cammack, president of Cammack Ranch and Cammack Ranch Supply of Union Center. Class III (2004-06) included Mark DeVries, owner and operator of the M Lazy V Ranch of Belvidere.

Sam Johnston of Elm Springs spent two years learning facets of local, state and national agriculture. The time was more than a lead-up to a foreign trip.

“I thought it would be a real learning experience, and it was,” said Johnston. “We toured wind generating plants, ethanol plants, new dairies, packing plants and sawmills.” The South Dakota men and women also visited Pierre and Washington, DC. “We learned about the state and the national governments, especially on how they deal with agriculture, and the farmer and rancher.”

“In Brazil, while we were trying to learn about their agriculture, they were getting ideas and thoughts from us,” said Johnston.

Johnston appreciated the entire two-year experience. “I joined it to enlighten myself, a type of continuing education, and to open my eyes to what is going on. It was a good opportunity to see what you wouldn’t see otherwise. I met people and gained friends.”

The SDARL Class IV (2006-08) curriculum and schedule will cover the political process – including federal agencies, lobbyist groups, and think tanks. It will cover rural and urban economic development; with emphasis on natural resources, water quality and quantity, energy, forestry, and the environment. It will compare cultural systems as they deal with agricultural foreign policy and import/export philosophy. All this will be expounded upon before the international travel seminar and graduation.

The students are to also learn about themselves, gaining enhanced leadership and interpersonal skills, including positive changes in self-image and self esteem.

“Agriculture in South Dakota is affected by changing consumer preferences, environmental regulations, national agriculture and monetary policies and international markets,” Gee said. “To ensure that our rural and agricultural community can keep pace with change, informed, decisive, communicative spokespersons are needed to represent the industry and communities, keeping the public factually informed as policies and decisions are made.”

Each SDARL class is composed of individuals who are actively involved in production agriculture and/or agribusiness. Selection criteria include: resident of SD; women and men between the age of 25-55; demonstrated leadership potential; willingness and ability to adjust personal business interests to accommodate study/travel seminars.