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

  Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership
March 2018

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Class III travels to Washington D.C. for Federal Policy Seminar

Class III traveled to Washington D.C. February 26-March 2 for their “Federal Policy” seminar. This was the fourth seminar in the two-year program. The class started the week at the American Farm Bureau Federation office, where they heard from speakers representing a wide range of interests including agriculture, forestry, coal production, construction, and rail transportation. They concluded the day with a meeting at the Department of the Interior where they met with Secretary Ryan Zinke. The second day was spent on Capitol Hill meeting with the Montana Congressional delegation and receiving briefings from legislative staffers. The group also visited the Embassy of India in preparation for the upcoming international seminar. On the third day, class members arranged meetings with representatives from federal agencies including the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Department of Energy, and U.S. Trade Representative, and participated in a commodity price release lockdown simulation with the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. The week wrapped up with a guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield where class members heard leadership lessons from a retired Army colonel. Additional class activities included tours of the Holocaust Museum and other historic sites, as well as a group dinner with members of the Washington AgForestry Leadership Program.

Photo: Class III in front of the U.S. Capitol Building on February 28

Scenes from Seminar 4

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke shows Class III the DC skyline from the DOI Headquarters

Senator Steve Daines and Representative Greg Gianforte with the group at Montana Coffee

Discussing Montana natural resource issues and leadership with Senator Jon Tester

Class members with Doug Little, U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental and External Affairs

Bridger Mahlum assists Sean O'Neill from the Associated General Contractors of America as he discusses regulation and infrastructure

Learning about "Leadership Lessons from Gettysburg"

Seminar 4 Insights

"The Federal Policy seminar was a great opportunity to learn about important federal issues impacting natural resources, and also make invaluable connections with professionals who can help Montana advance its natural resources. We had the opportunity to meet with the Secretary of Interior, Ryan Zinke, as well as the entire Montana Congressional delegation. The fact that these individuals took the time to meet with us and answer our questions signals to me our importance as leaders in Montana. After this seminar, I felt empowered in realizing this importance and knowing that I have a voice that federal officials and lawmakers are willing to hear."
-Sarah Norcott: Corporate Council, NorthWestern Energy, Helena

“One of the most impactful experienced during our Washington D.C. seminar was the visit to the Holocaust Museum. I firmly believe in the saying that "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." Our visit to the museum was a powerful lesson in how important ethical leadership is for humanity and it left me with an even stronger desire to speak out against injustice when it see it." 
-Lori Shaw: Co-founder and Director, Colstrip United, Colstrip

Class III Profiles
Kevin Kanduch: Logger, Kanduch Logging, Inc., Philipsburg
I applied for REAL Montana because for too long natural resource and ag industries have been detrimentally affected by false information. Someone has to stand up, make a difference, and effectively articulate the truths of our industries. Someone has to fight back. The question that I kept asking myself is “If I don’t, who will?” I believe that this program will be a machine of positive change for our industries, and I want to be a cog in that machine.

Our week-long seminar in DC was definitely the most impactful for me. There are good people in powerful positions that are trying to make positive changes. They are fighting the good fight, and we learned about how to help them. This is what the REAL Montana Program is all about; being a leader to effect positive change in our respective industries. The connections and knowledge we gained is absolutely priceless and I am very grateful for the opportunity.

Hobbies: my diesel pickup and diesel performance sporting events, strategy games, spending time with my beautiful wife and awesome puppy

Brian Thompson: Associate Attorney, Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry and Hoven P.C., Helena
I applied to REAL Montana because I care about our natural resources and the people involved in them. I saw REAL Montana as an opportunity to increase my knowledge of the resource industries in the state and learn from the people directly involved in these industries. In understanding the challenges being faced, I can become a better advocate for those businesses.

The Colstrip seminar has been the most striking to me. The seminar did an excellent job of demonstrating both the positive local impacts of the energy generation industry, as well as its far reaching effects on the Montana economy and the availability and affordability of energy statewide and regionally. 

Hobbies: fishing, trap shooting, hunting, reading non-fiction

Meet Class III

Class III of REAL represents a diverse cross-section of natural resource industries across Montana. 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 12 industry leaders from across the state who donate countless hours to ensure REAL Montana is a success. CLICK HERE to meet our 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.





Class III had an exciting and educational week in Washington D.C.! Highlights included meetings with all three members of our Montana Congressional delegation and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. The class received a first-hand look at how policy is created, and how to be more effective leaders for our state and natural resource industries.

- Tara Becken
Director, REAL Montana

Seminar 5: Oil & Gas Development, June 21-23, 2018 in Sidney

Seminar 6: Food Production, September 20-22, 2018 in Lewistown


REAL Montana
Tara Becken, Program Director

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

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