Class II learns about oil and gas development in the Bakken region
Class II just returned from Sidney as part of REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership). This was the fifth seminar in their two-year educational program, and the focus of the seminar was “Oil and Gas Development”. The class learned the basics of oil and gas extraction, environmental regulation, community issues, the Clean Power Plan, and how the Bakken oil boom and slowdown has impacted other sectors of the economy. A skill building training on how to run effective political campaigns was provided and the class hosted a reception with members of the Rural Leadership North Dakota program. Participants toured an active Oasis Petroleum drilling and frac site near Watford City, ND, the ONEOK Lonesome Creek Gas Plant and ONEOK Riverview Rail Facility. The seminar also included a networking banquet where class members interacted with local program sponsors and industry leaders.
Photo: Class II at an Oasis Petroleum drilling site on June 10
Scenes from Seminar 5
Seminar 5 Insights
“The oil and gas industry is similar to agriculture in that when you are so distanced form the actual process, you have a tendency to develop a negative judgment about whether the process is safe or necessary. However, when you see the oil and gas extraction process first hand, you realize they are stewards of the land while supporting the local economy and developing jobs and infrastructure just like farmers and ranchers."
-Megan Hedges: Vice President, Heydon Farms Inc., Chester
"As a cattle rancher in the mountains of western Montana, this seminar was a real eye opener for me. Learning about oil and gas development was very informative but the discussions regarding the community impacts provided the greatest learning opportunity. Hearing from law enforcement, local government officials, county planners, and producers in industries other than oil and gas really gave me a better understanding of the Bakken boom impact. I greatly respect and admire everyone in the region for all their hard work and adaptability."
-Lacey Ehlke: Co-owner, Ehlke Herefords, Townsend
Class II Profiles
LaVon Wagler: Location Manager, CHS, Wolf Point
I am deeply passionate about our natural resource industries, particularly agriculture. The generations removed from agriculture continue to widen and the need for dialog between the end user and the producer is ever more urgent. I applied for REAL Montana because I realized the need was bigger than I could tackle on my own. Submitting that application has been the best decision I ever made for my professional life.
The media seminar made a big impact by increasing my comfort level with public speaking and helping me dial in on the story that I want to tell.
Hobbies: There is very little time for hobbies when you are raising a family and working more than a full time career but I enjoy fishing, hunting, snowboarding, and mountain biking when possible.
Katie Cooper: Director and Ranch Hand, Cooper Hereford Ranch, Willow Creek
We live in a state that is home to more cattle than people. We also live in a state that thrives off coal and oil production. Yet agriculture and the natural resources industries are heavily scrutinized and regulated. Pair those with strong and varying public opinions and it's apparent that the challenges ahead will call for new leadership. I want to do my part to ensure these industries continue to provide jobs and a great way of life for myself and the people of Montana.
Through REAL Montana, I have connected with some of Montana's elite leaders and have developed new friendships and business relationships with my classmates and others who also have an invested interest in our land and water. The energy and support from this program has been paramount in growing my leadership skills.
Hobbies: In the winter, my husband and I like to explore a corner of the world warmer than Montana. I also enjoy playing city league basketball in Bozeman, working in my garden, and practicing photography.
Class I members and spouses gathered at a business social and dinner in Helena on May 6
Class II, alumni, and board members toured the Tintina Black Butte copper mine site on May 23
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.