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

  October 2014

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REAL Montana heads to Miles City & Colstrip for Seminar 6!


REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership) held a seminar focusing on livestock and coal production in Miles City and Colstrip on September 11-13, 2014. Members of Class I took part in the 89th Annual Montana Wool Growers Ram Sale activities, heard from industry leaders on current livestock issues such as grazing, federal land expansion, and sound resource management, and received training on how to fundraise for a cause they believe in. September 12 was spent in Colstrip, where the class toured the Westmoreland mine and Colstrip Steam Electric Station and discussed the opportunities and challenges associated with energy production. Class I traveled to the Cross Four ranch and feedlot on Sept. 13 to learn about their natural cattle operation and association with the Global Animal Partnership. Networking opportunities and public speaking practice occurred throughout the three-day seminar.

Seminar 6 Activities

Sara & Shane Rehm and Julie & Brian Nowicki lead a tour of the Cross Four Ranch & Feedlot

Dragline at Westmoreland Coal mine

Small group coal
Class members outside the Colstrip power plant

Class I listens to Neil Dennehy of PPL at the Colstrip power plant

Kristen Krueger test drives the coal power plant simulator

Class members Kate Vogel, Tyler Smith, and Walt Anseth

Photo credits: Whitney Klasna & Cary Hegreberg

Seminar 6 Insights

"I have lived in Montana my entire life, but until Seminar 6 of the REAL Montana Program I had never visited a coal mine.  Our tour of Colstrip, a coal mine, and PPL Montana gave me a greater understanding of this important industry.  It allowed me to learn more about the challenges the coal industry faces, and how they are similar to the challenges we see in other natural resource industries.  I was most impressed by the coal mine reclamation process.  It was clear that everyone we spoke with genuinely cared for the environment, area ranchers and the surrounding community. This seminar broadened my knowledge of the coal industry, and prepared me to educate others about this valuable natural resource."       
-Tara Becken: USDA-RMA Specialist & Rancher, Billings

Class I Profiles
Scott Blain: Farmer/Rancher, Joliet

I felt like I knew a lot of people in Montana before, but through REAL Montana I have been introduced to new people both within agriculture as well as those from other resource industries.  We have so much to learn from each other and will benefit greatly by working together.

I have been brainstorming how a program like REAL Montana could work on a smaller level.  I see the same challenges in our county when it comes to resources, and would like to develop a program for my county that would help educate, unify and prepare better leaders.

Hobbies: We enjoy checking cows as a family.  Time spent with my family is my favorite thing to do.  

Whitney Klasna: Farmer/Rancher, Lambert

The biggest benefit I’ve seen from participating in REAL Montana is expanding and diversifying my advocacy efforts.  I used to be all “agriculture advocacy” but now, I’m realizing the common thread that farming, ranching, oil and gas drilling, mining, timber, ALL of Montana’s natural resource industries share. It is easy for each of our industries to get bogged down when the literal and proverbial wolf is knocking at our door. But with this program, I have found better ways to address tough questions about some of the not-so-glamorous parts of the agriculture and natural resources industries. 

REAL Montana is unlike any other leadership program in the state or nation. We have been able to learn about everything from growing organic produce in a greenhouse in Bozeman to coal mining in Colstrip! It truly epitomizes what Montana is…The Treasure State!

Hobbies: Photography, volunteering, hunting

Andy Matakis: Game Warden, Havre

Through REAL Montana I have gained an extensive knowledge of different industries within the state and gotten to see how each of these industries intertwine with one another. During this first year it has been great to meet so many new people, both in our class as well as speakers at our seminars. REAL Montana has offered me many networking opportunities with influential people.

The most interesting part of the program has been seeing how all of the different industries in Montana face similar challenges and how we can all help each other. Also, having the opportunity to travel and spend time in different parts of the state and Washington D.C. has been an amazing experience.

Hobbies: Hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking; coaching youth hockey and playing adult league hockey; spending time with my wife and 3 children

Meet Class I!

The inaugural class of REAL represents a diverse cross-section of natural resource industries across Montana. Nineteen participants were competitively selected based on leadership capabilities and willingness to serve in decision-making roles upon completing the program. For photos and biographies of Class I, CLICK HERE.

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 I is busy researching topics ranging from politics, religion, energy development, manufacturing, infrastructure, and the environment to prepare for our upcoming trip to China in January 2015. The research will be presented during Seminar 7 in Shelby next month, which focuses on Montana's role in international trade.

- Janelle Booth
Director, REAL Montana

MSU Extension

Seminar 7: International Trade, Nov. 13-15 in Shelby

Seminar 8: Class trip to CHINA, Jan. 8-18, 2015

Seminar 9: State Government & Water Issues, March 12-14, 2015 in Helena

Seminar 10: Timber & GRADUATION, May 14-16, 2015 in Kalispell


REAL Montana
Janelle Booth
Program Director

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

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