REAL Fosters Leadership, Looking for 2019 Participants

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South Dakota Farmers Union Rural Economic and Leadership Development (REAL)

fosters leadership among rural leaders, business owners and agricultural operators. 

In small towns and rural communities, leaders wear a lot of hats. They are not just running businesses and going to school events. They are sitting on boards, volunteering, fundraising and mentoring. REAL’s purpose is to give current and future leaders an opportunity for professional development. 

Rachel Haigh-Blume, Education Director, South Dakota Farmers Union explains, “The REAL groups have fun and make connections that last. It gives individuals a group of people to run things by and a chance to just learn from each other. It’s also a great resource builder to reach out to and gain insights from.” 

Alan Roth of Sabers Farmers Union Insurance Agency in Sturgis participated in this year’s REAL program where he had the opportunity to sit in on Senate and House sessions at the State Capitol. “I would strongly suggest REAL to anyone who is just getting started in their career or anyone who thinks they could use a little boost in their current position,” says Roth. 

Participants bring what they’ve learned from REAL back to their communities. Kelli Erickson of Full Circle Ag in Britton recently joined her local Chamber of Commerce. “The REAL program has definitely helped me gain the rural economic and leadership skills needed to help me succeed on the board,” says Erickson. “Opportunities like this remind me how to be a good communicator and a strong leader when working with teams.” 

Full Circle Ag believes the REAL program has impacted their employees in numerous positive ways. The company has made a commitment to offer their staff the opportunity to apply for the REAL program each year. 

Are you interested in participating in REAL or do you have employees you would encourage to apply? We are looking for our next class of rural leaders from all walks of life. Go to sdfu.org or call Rachel Haigh-Blume at 605-450-1000.


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