TitleREAL Montana - Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership Request Date2012-11-29
RequestorJanelle Booth Phone994-6480
Campuses Bozeman Billings Havre Great Falls FSTS Extension MAES
Cross Depts  
Proposed Dates Start: October 2012 End:  
The REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership) program builds a network of informed and engaged leaders to advance the agriculture and natural resource industries in Montana. The recurring, two-year program guides participants through intensive leadership training while providing exposure to industry challenges and innovations. Eight two-day seminars will be held across Montana for educational tours and classes, and participants will also attend a one-week policy trip to Washington D.C. and a two-week international trip to study global trade.
MSU Extension reaches a statewide audience and its teachings are not restricted to one classroom or campus. For the purpose of this proposal, participants in REAL Montana are defined as MSU “students” and program speakers, coordinators, and collaborators are considered “faculty and staff”.
• Objective E.1 – Strategically increase service, outreach, and engagement at MSU
o REAL Montana will utilize the outreach model of Extension to engage citizens across Montana in leadership development. The program fulfills metric E.1.1 (by 2013, MSU will have a campus-wide coordinating infrastructure to support and advance engagement, outreach and service) by establishing a vehicle for engagement that has the potential to reach citizens in every corner of the state. As an ongoing component of the program, each participant in REAL Montana will select a personalized service project to develop in his or her hometown. Upon completion of the first two-year cycle approximately 20 new projects will have taken place across Montana. Metrics E.1.2 (by 2019, the number of students, faculty and staff involved in outreach activities will increase, with particular attention to underserved areas and minority populations) and E.1.5 (by 2019, MSU staff will have increased opportunities for engagement experiences) will be met by providing opportunities for MSU faculty and staff to contribute to the development and training portions of the program.
• Objective E.3 – MSU students, faculty and staff will have increased opportunities for leadership development
o The primary focus of REAL Montana is leadership development. This objective is met through all aspects of the program, including training on leadership theory and styles, communication, listening, and messaging. The program corresponds with the upcoming Year of Engaged Leadership and each seminar held during 2014 will focus on one of the ten essential leadership characteristics outlined by the university (see proposal scope for more information). REAL Montana fulfills metrics E.3.1 (by 2019, the number of opportunities for leadership development and practice will have increased. Awareness of the opportunities will have also increased) and E.3.2 (by 2019, the percentage of MSU students, faculty and staff participating in leadership development activities will increase) by creating opportunities for MSU affiliates to take part in the coordinating and training aspects of the program, as well as becoming potential participants. Leadership development will also occur as students and facilitators engage with and learn from local citizens and industries by taking part in the REAL Montana seminars. The program brings representatives from diverse backgrounds, some of whom have opposing mindsets, together to establish commonalities and form working relationships.
Funding Type: One-Time Only Funding Base (3-yr Recurring) Funding
  FY13 FY14 FY15 Base ($) OTO Startup ($)   FTE;
Salaries       46000     
Benefits       14720       
Materials & Supplies       5000       
Travel       15000       
Contracted Services            
Other Operations       2000       
TOTAL 82720   
Please comment, if necessary, regarding cost and requirements.

The above budget reflects the administrative costs associated with REAL Montana and does not cover participant lodging, meals, or out-of-state travel.  To fund the participant portion, each class member will be charged a tuition fee for the two-year program and will be encouraged to seek scholarships from outside sources.   A preliminary estimate for the tuition fee is $2,500 per participant.  It is anticipated that the tuition fee charged to participants will cover approximately 15% of actual program costs. The majority of program funds will be raised from industry sponsorship.  The following fundraising plan is in place:

·         Each steering committee member has strategic ties to influential agriculture and natural resource businesses and membership organizations.  Approximately 125 potential sponsors have been identified and will be approached by steering committee members with the closest affiliation.

·         The REAL Montana program director is working with the MSU Alumni Foundation to determine if the Foundation will be an additional source of fundraising expertise.

The total cost of a two-year cycle of the REAL Montana program (assuming 20 participants), including all administrative expenses, is $290,000.  The total amount needed to be raised from private sponsors for the two-year program is $77,600 pending administrative backing by MSU.

Describe the Proposal

The program structure of REAL Montana consists of ten seminars held over a two-year period, which include:

  • Eight two-day educational tours and meetings in locations across Montana (each involving a two-night stay)
  • A one-week policy trip to Washington D.C. (Year 1)
  • A two-week international study trip (Year 2)

Program admission is a competitive process based on industry recommendations, written applications, and interviews. Anticipated size of the inaugural class is 20 participants representing agriculture and the natural resources, including producers and industry employees.  The target audience is adults who earn a substantial percentage of their livelihoods from Montana agriculture and/or natural resources who demonstrate the willingness and capacity for long-term leadership in their respective industries.  REAL Montana will be a reoccurring program and will begin the next two-year cycle of classes with new participants following the graduation of the inaugural class.  Pending funding, participants may be eligible for credit through MSU Extended University.


The program is developed through collaboration between the program director and steering committee.  To date, the steering committee has held multiple conference calls and developed initial program goals, structure, and funding needs.  Steering committee members are Lola Raska (Executive Vice President, Montana Grain Growers), John Youngberg (Vice President of Governmental Affairs, Montana Farm Bureau), Mark Lambrecht (Executive Director, Treasure State Resource Association), Taylor Brown (Senator/Northern Ag Network), Cliff Larsen (Senator/Producer), Errol Rice (Executive Vice President, Montana Stockgrowers), Dave Phillips (Special Projects Coordinator and former Central Region Department Head, MSU Extension), Shannon Arnold (Assistant Professor, MSU College of Agriculture), and Cary Hegreberg (Executive Director, Montana Contractor’s Association).


Preliminary seminar themes, locations, topics, and tour ideas are listed below:

Seminar 1 (September 2013): Introduction/Leadership – Location TBD

  • YOEL (Year of Engaged Leadership) Characteristic: Listening (Discussion prompt: How can individuals use listening techniques to develop and improve leadership capabilities?)
  • Teambuilding Activity
  • What is Leadership?
  • Personality Assessments
  • Ethics in Leadership
  • Establishing Program Goals; discussion of individual projects
  • Introduce leadership book/curriculum

Tour:  Showcase local entrepreneur at restaurant/brewery/social gathering place

Potential Speakers:  Carmen McSpadden, TBD


Seminar 2 (November 2013): Agriculture – Crop Production - Northern MT

  • YOEL Characteristic: Awareness (Discussion prompt: What issues are currently facing the agriculture industries? What are the underlying causes?  Who can be identified as potential collaborators?)
  • Production costs
  • Labor issues
  • Industry innovations
  • Family farming issues – estate planning, labor division

Tour: Malteurop, TBD

Potential Speakers: Dean Folkvord (Wheat Montana), Marsha Goetting (MSU Econ), Bruce Nelson (Farm Service Administration), TBD


Seminar 3 (January 2014): Communication/Working with the Media – Location TBD

  • YOEL Characteristic: Foresight (Discussion prompt: How will industry-related events/issues be communicated to future audiences?  How can potentially negative publicity be avoided or mitigated?)
  • Persuasive speeches/public speaking, debate
  • Television, newspaper & radio styles of media coverage
  • Social media

Tour:  Local television station, newspaper facility

Potential Speakers:  Taylor Brown, local news editors, TBD


Seminar 4 (March 2014): Natural Resources – Oil, Gas, Coal, & Mineral Development - Eastern MT

  • YOEL Characteristic: Stewardship (Discussion prompt: How does stewardship factor into natural resource development?  How can opposing sides find common ground?)
  • Regulations/Permitting
  • The Bakken impact
  • Technological advances in industry
  • The role of natural resources in Montana’s economy
  • Dealing with opposing viewpoints
  • Alternative energy projects

Tour:  Drilling site/man camp, coal mine

Potential Speakers:  Bret Smelser (mayor of Sidney), Dave Galt (MT Petroleum Assoc.), TBD


Seminar 5 (June 2014): Policy on a National Scale – Washington D.C.

  • YOEL Characteristic: Building Community (Participants will develop individual community projects)
  • National government overview
  • Meet w/ Congressional delegation
  • Meet w/ representatives from Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, Dept. of Ag, American Farm Bureau, NCBA, U.S. Wheat Associates
  • Meet w/ lobbyists: Agriculture, energy, animal welfare
  • Effective lobbying workshop

Tour:  Capitol, House & Senate floor sessions, National Mall, Gettysburg battlefield

Potential Speakers:  Jess Peterson (Western Skies Strategies), TBD


Seminar 6 (August 2014): Agriculture – Livestock Production – Location TBD

  • Market overview – cattle, sheep, swine
  • Land use/environmental issues
  • Livestock legislation

Tour:  Ranch, processing facility

Potential Speakers: TBD


Seminar 7 (November 2014): International Trade – Location TBD

  • Economics 101
  • Import/Export Balance
  • Culture, Customs and Politics
  • International Trip Preparation

Tour:  Business that exports globally, TBD

Potential Speakers:  Montana World Trade Center, MSU Ag Econ professor


Seminar 8 (January 2015): International Trip – Location TBD


Seminar 9 (March 2015): Water Issues/State Government - Helena

  • Montana overview – water sources & usage, historical background
  • Legislative overview
  • State government agencies - overview

Tour:  MT Capitol (legislature in session)

Potential Speakers:  Legislators, Gov. Bullock, agency representatives, state lobbyists


Seminar 10 (May 2015): Timber/Graduation - Northwestern MT

  • Industry overview – historical background
  • Challenges/innovations
  • Reports on individual service projects
  • Graduation (class wrap-up)

Tour:  Sawmill/timber production facility, entrepreneur showcase – small business

Potential Speakers: TBD


Seminar subtopics to include in curriculum:

  • Business/Entrepreneurship: Marketing, human resources, research and development, distribution
  • Corrections (Conflict Management): Dept. of Corrections overview, state budget appropriation
  • Health and Human Services: DPHHS overview, Farm Bill/food assistance 
  • Transportation: Dept. of Transportation overview, Western Transportation Institute
Describe the broader impacts and benefits of this proposal

The agriculture and natural resource industries in Montana are facing unprecedented change due to new technologies, consumer preferences, environmental concerns, government regulation, and global trade.  At the same time, the population base from which these industries draw their leadership is diminishing.  It is crucial that the next generations of farmers, livestock producers, timber managers, and energy developers be educated, connected, well-spoken representatives of their respective industries and aware of the issues and challenges facing them.

Beneficiaries of REAL Montana are not only the selected class members, but the agriculture and natural resource industries as a whole.  Benefits include:

  • Networking and coalition building: Strategic alliances are formed within Montana’s agriculture and natural resources sectors and beyond.
  • Analytical and leadership skills: Participants analyze complex issues associated with agriculture and natural resources while receiving intensive leadership training and exposure to a wide range of experiences and viewpoints.
  • Policy development: Participants gain knowledge and confidence to work within the policy-making and regulatory systems on the local, state, and national level.
  • Community and industry involvement: Graduates are primed to assume greater leadership responsibilities in their organizations, industries, and communities while staying connected to program themes through an active alumni network.  Alumni development will be an ongoing component of the program by establishing refresher seminars and engaging alumni in current class activities.

In Montana, no program currently exists that offers in-depth, comprehensive education and training for people engaged in agriculture and the natural resources.  Leadership Montana operates under similar leadership principles but does not provide comprehensive agriculture and natural resource education or feature experience in policy and global markets (as provided by group trips to Washington, D.C. and international seminars).  Montana Farm Bureau sponsors a smaller-scale Young Farmers and Ranchers program, Montana Stockgrowers host a Young Stockgrowers program, and various commodity groups sponsor annual Young Ag Leadership and Young Ag Couples conferences.  Organizers of these programs are collaborating with MSU Extension to expand the impact of their individual conferences.  The intent of REAL Montana is to build on the successes of these platforms and develop a long-term program that is global in scope and creates a dynamic network of alumni.  The strength of REAL Montana is in its targeted and fully immersive approach to leadership in the agriculture and natural resource industries.  Solid backing from the major industry groups in the state will ensure that the program carries out its mission.

Similar agriculture and leadership programs exist in over 30 states, notably in all states bordering Montana (see directory here:  Many successful models and resources are in place to aid the structuring of REAL Montana, and the program director has been working closely with program leadership in other states.

Implementation Plan


  • September – December 2012: Formation of advisory board, initial curriculum development, participant recruitment
    • Participant recruitment is currently accomplished through the Program Director’s presence at industry meetings and annual conventions, where information is presented about REAL Montana and interested people sign up for program updates
  • January – April 2013: Fundraising, curriculum development, program planning, participant recruitment
  • May – August 2013: Participant interviews & selection, program planning
  • September 2013: Inaugural seminar takes place
  • Additional proposed seminar dates: November 2013, January 2014, March 2014, June 2014 (Washington  D.C. trip), August 2014, November 2014, January 2015 (International trip), March 2015, May 2015 (graduation)
Assessment Plan

The following indicators will be used to assess program success:

  • Fundraising: By April 1, 2013, letters of commitment or actual funding amounting to $25,000 from private industry sponsors will be received (approximately 33% of total needed revenue for fundraising).
  • Program development: The Curriculum subcommittee (comprised of the program director and steering committee members) will develop curriculum and gauge its relevancy by subjecting the seminar content to review from program directors in neighboring states and the full steering committee.  Outside parties with significant connections to current agriculture and natural resource issues in Montana may also be included in the review process. Curriculum will be finalized by June 1, 2013.
  • Marketing: Program promotion is an ongoing task of the Director and steering committee through their industry affiliations.  A website ( has been established that will be updated with information for applicants and sponsors.  Marketing success will be determined by the submission of at least 25 applications from qualified individuals for the inaugural class of REAL Montana.
  • Program implementation:  The program will be continuously assessed, starting with the inaugural seminar in September 2013.  Informal interviews will be conducted with program participants and collaborators to determine the quality and relevancy of each seminar, with special attention paid to tours, speakers, and topics.  Participants will serve as rotating scribes during each seminar to provide blog posts and compile comments and suggestions.
  • Program reporting:  Qualitative exit interviews will take place with each program participant upon completion of REAL Montana.  The Program Director will utilize models provided by agricultural leadership programs in other states to measure overall program impact and effectiveness.  Metrics examined will be amount of public service completed by graduates, number of graduates who step up to fill leadership roles in their organizations or communities, number of graduates who provide information or testimony to legislative hearings or news media, and number of graduates who form new collaborations among diverse industries for business and community purposes.
If assessed objectives are not met in the timeframe outlined what is the plan to sunset this proposal?

Success of the REAL Montana proposal is based upon industry support and strategic funding from MSU.  If these appropriations are not secured according to the metrics listed above, the announcement will be made that sufficient funding is not available and all initial sponsorship will be promptly returned.  The REAL Montana concept will be set aside for re-examination at a later date, when funding conditions appear more favorable.  An alternative, smaller-scale program may be offered in place of REAL Montana.

Department Head: Paul Lachapelle (
Executive/VP: Jill Martz (