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

  Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership
December 2015

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Class II receives intensive media training in Billings

REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership) Class II attended their second seminar November 18-20, 2015 in Billings. During the “Working with the Media” seminar class members participated in over a dozen live television and radio interviews, took part in mock interview training, and fine-tuned their own personal messages about Montana’s many natural resource-based industries.
Participants heard from some of state’s top media experts on how to frame a message, prepare a persuasive speech, and effectively utilize social media. The class attended editorial meetings at the Billings Gazette, KULR 8, and KTVQ and toured each facility. Speaker panels consisting of media and communications experts briefed the class on techniques to earn positive media attention and offered case studies in handling emotional and controversial industry topics in the public arena. The seminar included a banquet at the Petroleum Club, where the class interacted with local program sponsors and industry leaders.

Photo: Class II at KTVQ news

Scenes from Seminar 2

Megan Hedges and Nicole Rolf at TWANG 107.5

Russell Nemetz interviews Jill Herold and Nick Miller live on KTVQ

LaVon Wagler practices his interview techniques with Alex Tyson

Jon Arneson talking with Karli Johnson and Brian Marler on Voices of Montana


KULR live morning broadcast with Chaley Harney and Bryan Lorengo

Billings Gazette editorial meeting

Seminar 2 Insights

“This seminar was invaluable. It provided behind-the-scenes insight into how to get a story or message included in different media sources, provided an opportunity for us to talk to owners and operators of various media types, and gave us real-life experience on either television or radio shows in Billings"
-Tracy Mosley: MSU Park County Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Agent, MSU Extension, Wilsall

“I feel very fortunate to be part of the REAL Montana program. Seminar 2, Working with the Media, was beyond my expectations. Class 2 gained tremendous exposure to all media outlets and the seminar prepared us to answer tough questions that each of our industries face. I look forward to working with my classmates, to create a unified voice for the natural resource industries in Montana."
-Bryan Lorengo: Safety Consultant, Montana Logging Association, Anaconda

Class II Profiles
Molly Schwend: Manager of Community Relations and Public Affairs, Cloud Peak Energy, Billings

I chose to apply for REAL Montana because of the new role I started within the coal industry.  For the past 10 years, I have worked as a mining engineer, and have recently stepped into the position of Manager of Community Relations and Public Affairs for the nation’s 4th largest coal producer, Cloud Peak Energy. Continuing education and leadership training is imperative to my role and growth within the company and REAL Montana is the perfect opportunity to develop my skills. As an active member in the Billings community, I can’t help but think about all the contacts and networking opportunities I’m presented with on a daily basis, which will truly benefit from the knowledge and experience I’ll gain through the program.

Thus far, the media training in Billings has had the biggest impact on me.  I gained a new respect for the media world, understanding media relations and what makes information newsworthy.  I also gained an increased confidence in myself. The skills I gained from our training and the professions brought in for our seminar were something I will use for a lifetime, continually improving upon.  I feel more confident in the preparation and delivery of my message and am so very thankful to be a part of this dynamic class of leaders.

Hobbies: wrangling three kids, playing golf, skiing, playing volleyball and traveling

Nick Miller: Construction Manager and Vice President of Helena Sand & Gravel, Helena

I applied for REAL Montana for personal growth and to become better educated about issues facing the natural resource industry.  I’m a 5th generation Montanan, and my Great Great Grandfather homesteaded in the Deer Lodge Valley in the late 1800’s and later worked for the Anaconda Company.  The agriculture and natural resource industry have provided good lifestyles for myself, my family, and prior generations.  We are blessed to have sustainable natural resources in Montana and I believe we need to continue to market our opportunities in a responsible manner. It is my hope that through collaboration with other industry professionals, I will be able to advocate for all the natural resource industries.

The most impactful experience thus far has been the interaction with the other REAL Montana industry professionals. We are all passionate about our industries, and we share common interests and challenges.  Developing my own Leadership Philosophy and learning how to better work with the media have been my personal highlights from the first two sessions. 

Hobbies: Spending time with my family.  My kids are active in sports, and I also coach them too!  My wife and I have 4 children, ages 21, 13, 11, and 8.

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 12 industry leaders from across the state who donate countless hours to ensure REAL Montana is a success. CLICK HERE to meet our 2015 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.





Last month, Class II completed an rigorous skill building seminar that challenged everyone to become more articulate and confident when engaging with the media. Strong communication skills are essential to overall leadership development. The experience left us excited and ready to take on industry issues!

- Janelle Booth
Director, REAL Montana

Seminar 3: MT Crop Production and Economy, January 14-16, 2016 in Great Falls

Seminar 4: Federal Government: Policy on a National Scale, March 1-5, 2016 in Washington D.C.


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