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

  Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership
March 2017

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Class II studies state government in Helena

REAL Montana Class II recently completed the ninth seminar in their two-year program, focusing on state government and the legislative process. While in Helena, the class toured the Capitol building, learned how a bill becomes a law, and attended committee hearings. Seminar speakers included Attorney General Tim Fox, leaders in the Montana Department of Agriculture and the Department of Livestock, and state legislators. The class also learned about cooperation and collaboration among competing interests during a panel on the Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program. Skill building sessions included training on strategic planning and how to provide testimony in a legislative hearing. A highlight of the seminar was a networking banquet at the historic Montana Club, attended by over 30 legislators, program sponsors, and industry leaders.

Photo: Class II at the Montana Capitol building March 10

Scenes from Seminar 9

Learning about Montana history while touring the Capitol building

Attorney General Tim Fox sharing leadership lessons with Class II

Board Members Cary Hegreberg and Taylor Brown leading a training on strategic planning

Blaine Juedeman, Nicole Rolf and Brian Marler participating in a mock legislative hearing

Jill Herold and Darcia Patten with the "Choose Montana" display at the Capitol

Class members and sponsors at the networking banquet

Seminar 9 Insights

"Our state government seminar in Helena was an eye-opening experience. The chance to meet with legislators and gain insight on how to shape policy was extremely valuable. I believe the whole class left Helena with a renewed passion toward promoting and advocating for our natural resource industries."
-Blaine Juedeman: Location Manager and Grain Procurement Merchandiser, CHS Inc., Geraldine

"The Montana Legislative session was very informative in helping to understand all the steps a bill must go through to become a law. It was great to meet so many of the legislators and staff that work in Helena. It really increased my respect for these people and the hard job they have trying to sort through all the bills and information they receive."
-Maggie Nutter: Co-owner, Certain Creek Ranch, Sweetgrass

Class II Profiles

Megan Hedges: Vice President, Heydon Farms, Inc., Chester

Growing up on a farm with progressive parents dedicated to the sustainability of our way of life, I knew it would be my responsibility to continue that legacy. I joined REAL as a way to advance my leadership skills, my knowledge of the political process, and my understanding of other resource industries. 

The most powerful experiences for me were the Colstrip and Butte seminars. Colstrip plays a dramatic role not only in what it costs to heat our homes, but on the tax revenue that funds our rural communities and schools. I'm honored to be a part of a program that has educated me to advocate for another industry while building a network of leaders who can stand up for agriculture. 

Hobbies: chasing around our 2 kiddos (Eliza and Brody), being outdoors, playing at the park, camping, and kayaking

Brian Marler: Marketing and western region asphalt sales, Calumet Montana Refining, Great Falls

I applied for REAL Montana because it was a great opportunity for me to learn from some of the best natural resource advocates in the state. I was excited to hone my skills in areas like media relations, public speaking, and state/national government, and be part of a community of that will shape Montana’s future.

The Colstrip and Sidney seminars were the most impactful. Both of these experiences showcased the triumphs of local communities and presented reminders of why Montana needs natural resource advocates as we saw the harsh reality of governmental regulation.

Hobbies: spending time with my family in the outdoors, hunting, fishing, and camping

Nicole Rolf: National Affairs Director, Montana Farm Bureau Federation, Miles City

I grew up on a ranch and developed a passion for agriculture at a young age. I chose to pursue a career where I hope to make a positive difference in the agriculture industry. I believe that other natural resource related industries are also very important and when we all thrive, we all succeed. I applied for REAL Montana because I wanted to take my abilities to the next level and become a more skilled and well-rounded advocate.

Most impactful for me is the realization that not only are other resource industries similar to agriculture in the provision of essential goods to consumers, but that we can learn a great deal from each other. We have all gone through struggles and can help each other find solutions. The legislatively focused seminars gave us the reassurance that we can, and should, reach out and make a difference.

Hobbies: helping my husband and family on the ranch, trail running, gardening, baking, camping, hunting, and spending time with my son, Quade

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.






Applications are now open for Class III! We are looking for committed leaders in the natural resource industries who are ready to take on larger challenges and responsibilities.  Check out for complete application information.  Applications close May 31.

- Janelle Booth
Director, REAL Montana

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

Applications open for Class III: March 1 - May 31, 2017

Class III participants announced: July 2017


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