Parents and Family News: Published by the Parent and Family Association

  Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership
January 2017

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Class II travels to Colombia!

REAL Montana Class II recently spent ten days in Colombia as part of their international study seminar. The class began their experience in Cali, where they toured the Fedecacao field headquarters to learn about the cocoa industry. They also visited the Calima hydroelectric dam to discuss power generation and the energy sector, and Hugo Restrepo & Co, one of the largest suppliers of tabasco peppers for the McIlhenny Company in Louisiana. The group then traveled by bus to the RioPaila Castilla sugar cane and biofuel facility, and on to the coffee region of Manizales. They learned about coffee production at Cenicafe, the Colombian Coffee Federation’s headquarters, and at of the region’s largest coffee farms, Hacienda Venecia. While in Manizales they also met with Fundacion Huellas de Vida, a non-profit organization that works with underprivileged youth. Class II toured an area neighborhood, provided donated school supplies, and took part in a soccer game with program volunteers. Their next stop was the city of Medellin, where the group learned about innovation through a tour of the Comuna 13 escalator system. Finally, the class traveled by plane to Bogota where they took part in a tram ride to the top of Cerro Monserrate which overlooks the city, learned about Colombian history, and toured two area organic fruit and vegetable farms. The trip concluded with a tour of Melody Flowers, a cut flower growing and processing facility, and a presentation from Michael Conlon, Agricultural Counselor with USDA Foreign Ag Service.

Photo: Class II at Melody Flowers near Bogota, Colombia on January 11.

Scenes from Seminar 8

Learning about cocoa production at the Fedecacao field headquarters near Cali

Touring the Calima hydroelectric dam

Class members presenting the volunteers at Fundacion Huellas de Vida with school supplies

Sampling tabasco peppers that will be shipped to the McIlhenny Company in Louisiana

Sugar cane fields at RioPaila Castilla

Farrah McGregor evaluating coffee beans at the Hacienda Venecia, a large coffee farm near Manizales

Exploring the city of Medellin and the Comuna 13 escalators

Class II overlooking the city of Bogota from Cerro Monserrate

Flower processing and packaging floor at Melody Flowers

Katie Cooper, Maggie Nutter and Chaley Harney picking carrots at an organic farm

Seminar 8 Insights

"The coffee, sugar cane, hot pepper, and flower operations we visited in Colombia were very different than what we generally see in the U.S. Each focused on successful business models including new technologies, marketing,  and employee satisfaction. It was obvious to me that we do have a world economy today and Montana can play a role."
-Tom Hougen: Owner, Hougen Ranch, Melstone

“From the culture to the coffee, each tour demonstrated passion fueled by a country moving into a brighter future, without forgetting its past.  Family was an underlying theme throughout the entire trip, and we were able to see and learn the importance of taking care of your family/team/coworker/organization and its significance in leadership. The importance of family and the entrepreneurial spirit is my largest take-away from this experience, and I look forward to incorporating those themes into the promotion of our natural resources here in Montana.”
-Molly Schwend: Manager of Community Relations and Public Affairs, Cloud Peak Energy, Laurel

Class II Profiles

Bryan Lorengo: Safety Consultant, Montana Logging Association, Anaconda

As a third generation logger, it was important to be part of a program that brings together such a diverse group of professionals representing the natural resource industries in Montana. We must educate consumers about where their products come from, as the TREASURE state supplies the world with many of those products.
The most impactful experience for me has been the relationships and friendships I have formed. This will be extremely beneficial in the future as we will have a collective voice in educating policy makers for future generations.
Hobbies: spending time with my family and raising my three children, camping and anything that includes the outdoors

Tracy Mosley: MSU Park County Agriculture and Natural Resource Extension Agent, MSU Extension, Wilsall

My passion for open space, the long-term viability of agricultural production, and the western way of life has continued to grow exponentially throughout my life. I applied for REAL Montana to become more knowledgeable about all of the industries in Montana that rely on natural resources, support Montana families, and drive our economy. Equipped with more knowledge and better leadership skills, I believe I can make a difference in preserving the culture I am so proud of.
People, not things, make a difference for our future, and I’ve seen those differences first hand during my REAL Montana experience. Class II is already full of great advocates for our industries and we’ve been inspired to ‘be more’ by the people we’ve interacted with.
Hobbies: Fishing (on the ice in the winter, on a lake in the summer), golf, horseback riding, helping friends and family with livestock work, cooking, downhill skiing

Meet Class II

Class II of REAL represents a diverse cross-section of natural resource industries across Montana. Twenty participants were competitively selected based on leadership capabilities and willingness to serve in decision-making roles upon completing the program. For a complete list, CLICK HERE.

Our Advisory Board

The REAL Montana Advisory Board consists of 11 industry leaders from across the state who donate countless hours to ensure REAL Montana is a success. CLICK HERE to meet our 2016 Advisory Board.

REAL Montana Sponsors

REAL Montana is made possible through the generous support of a broad group of public and private entities. CLICK HERE for a complete list of program sponsors. For information on becoming a sponsor of REAL Montana, please contact the Program Director.






Our trip to Colombia this month was a once-in-a -lifetime opportunity to experience the economics, industry, and culture of a country in the midst of massive change. Leadership lessons abounded throughout the trip and will provide a global frame of reference as Class II moves into their final two seminars. Stay tuned for more information regarding Class III applications - information will be available on the REAL Montana website on March 1.

- Janelle Booth
Director, REAL Montana

Seminar 9: State Government, March 9-11 in Helena

Seminar 10: Timber; Graduation, May 11-13 in Kalispell

Class III Applications open: March 1- May 31



REAL Montana
Janelle Booth, Program Director
Tara Becken, Program Coordinator

MSU Extension
Culbertson Hall
PO Box 170535
Bozeman, MT 59717-0535

Tel: (406) 994-6480
Fax: (406) 994-1905