Megan Torgerson’s heart is in the small northeastern Montana town of Dagmar, where she grew up on her family’s farm and ranch. Dagmar sits on the plains with vast open skies, golden stands of wheat, rich grasslands, and incredible sunsets. The population of Sheridan County, where Dagmar is located, is just 3,539. Almost half (44 percent) of the state’s population lives in rural Montana. The U.S. Census Bureau defines rural as population centers having fewer than 2,500 people. This rural living experience gives Megan an insightful and essential lens as a storyteller.

After graduating high school, life took Megan to Missoula, Seattle, Portland, and North Carolina, until she returned home to Montana. During her journey, she met people who were disconnected from rural places, their food, and the people responsible for growing it. She encountered many misconceptions about her life growing up on her family’s farm and rural life. People assumed she was poor, uneducated, or disconnected from global issues.

photo of Megan Torgerson.

Photo: Jeremy Lurgio

When she recognized the growing urban-rural divide, she decided to start a public conversation to amplify rural voices in a sea of media that either didn’t represent, or misrepresented, rural places. The podcast, Reframing Rural (, was born. “I didn’t see myself in the media [growing up]. There was A River Runs Through It, or there were caricatures of rural. So it is important to me to tell complex stories about rural places,” said Megan.

Reframing Rural’s mission is to share stories of people and places in rural America to celebrate culture, preserve history, and cultivate curiosity and conversation across geographic, class, and cultural divides. The podcast is in its third season and tackles challenging subjects like farm succession, mental health care in agricultural communities, absentee landownership, and the future of family farms. The stories in the podcast provide an immersive listening experience: the sounds of people walking across a field in the morning frost, the clang of dishes, or the hum of equipment.

Extensive travel across Montana is required to capture the authentic audio, creating connections that Megan deeply values. When asked why she picked a podcast over other forms of storytelling, Megan replied that she wanted a medium that removed visual judgments. “I wanted to hear a person’s voice without maybe seeing dirty Carhartts and thinking differently of them.”

The podcast mission has shifted slightly throughout the seasons, but Montana and its people are at the core. Season one features stories from individual people who Megan thinks about when she thinks of home. They are the ranchers, teachers, letter carriers, and Indigenous people of northeast Montana. Season two follows people who are amplifying the rural experience through different approaches. Season three focuses on discussing some challenges that rural communities are facing.

Megan Torgerson in front of a large, green John Deer tractor.

Photo: Russell Torgerson

The podcast even has her crossing paths with MSU Extension programs and resources. During an episode about farm succession (season 3, episode 2), her family used the MSU Extension publication “Transferring Your Farm or Ranch to the Next Generation: How to combine legal, economic and social decision-making” ( to navigate how to move forward when transferring a farm or ranch to the next generation. In another episode, Megan approaches mental health care in the agricultural community with MSU Extension mental health specialist Alison Brennan and Courtney Brown Kibblewhite, vice president of Northern Broadcasting System (season 3, episode 7).

Being back in Montana has allowed Megan to say yes to more projects and travel across the state. When asked about the podcast’s future, Megan said she is asking for public input on what people want to hear in the coming seasons. This input will help Megan select topics and gather stories. Listeners or potential listeners can visit the Reframing Rural website ( and complete a survey.

Megan is growing her storytelling by joining co-producers Zach Altman and Anthony Pavkovich to work on a short documentary film following two Montana women navigating ranching. She is also working with the Red Ants Pants Foundation to evaluate how the foundation can support grant recipients over the long-term.

Megan’s hope for Montana is that the people stay curious and seek out the things that connect us. “I hope that the people who have been in Montana for a long time stay curious about Montana and don’t have this idea that the past is preferable to the future, but can envision a different future that is both prosperous for newcomers and established residents. For the people who are coming in, I hope that they become curious about place, and get to know the history and the industries that have been here before,” Megan explained. Through her hard work, she is fulfilling that hope of connection by sharing conversations over fencelines.

man standing in front of an old abandoned house.

Photo: Megan Torgerson


Erika Malo is the MSU Extension External Relations and Social Media Coordinator.