Group of people standing together under State of North Dakota seal.

RLND Program Celebrates 20 Years of Leadership Development

Authored on

NDSU Extension’s Rural Leadership North Dakota (RLND) Program began 20 years ago to develop agricultural and community leaders. One hundred fifty-nine people from 87 communities in 41 counties have participated in RLND since the program began in November 2003.

RLND is an 18-month program. Participants attend seven in-state workshops with tours of agricultural and community businesses; a regional seminar and a national seminar to meet with agricultural, business and government leaders; and an international study tour to learn about global agricultural policies and rural development. Previous classes visited Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Thailand, Vietnam, Chile and Spain.

The program helps participants to enhance leadership skills, such as thinking critically, communicating effectively, strategic planning and managing conflict. Participants also learn about agricultural and rural policy, trends that could affect North Dakota, finding innovative ways to fund local and regional development projects, the value of coalitions and partnerships, and agricultural and community advocacy.

Program participants then use the skills they have learned to implement a project that benefits their organization, community or region. For example:

  • Watford City gained a community playground and multifamily housing units.
  • Dawson is attracting tourists with a visitor center/museum of the area’s history.
  • Hannaford's old elementary school became a multipurpose building with a library, fitness center, craft room, technology center, and space for start-up businesses and community events.

“RLND allowed me to expand my network of leaders throughout the state of North Dakota,” says Anthony Larson, Adams County commissioner. “Further, it caused me to engage and commit to leadership roles at a higher level than previously. My experiences in the RLND program have allowed me to gain confidence and be more effective as a leader on local, regional and national boards.”

This year, RLND is looking for participants for Class X, which begins in November. The deadline to apply is May 15.


RLND Website

RLND Facebook Page 

Katie Tyler, 701-231-5640,