REAL Montana Class II Travels to Washington D.C. March 1-5

Sidney resident Karli Johnson just returned from four days in Washington D.C. as part of REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership). REAL Montana is comprised of twenty of Montana's emerging and established leaders. The participants were competitively selected from a pool of qualified candidates representing a wide variety of agriculture and natural resource industries across the state to take part in Class II of REAL Montana.

For Karli and other members of REAL Montana Class II, this was the fourth seminar in their two-year educational program. The program features eight in-state seminars; a four-day tour in Washington D.C .; and a ten-day international trip to Columbia. Seminars include training in natural resource development, agriculture institutions and agencies, public speaking/media, economics, state and federal policy, international trade, urban/rural relationships, water issues, and other current industry topics. The next seminar will be here in Sidney focusing on the oil gas industry.

The focus of the seminar March 1-5 was "Policy on a National Scale". Class members spent a day on Capitol Hill meeting with the Montana Congressional delegation and receiving briefings from Senate Agriculture and Energy and Natural Resources Committee staffers. The American Farm Bureau Federation hosted the class the following day, where they heard from speakers representing a wide range of interests including the EPA, Federal Forest Resource Coalition, and the Associated General Contractors of America. The class arranged meetings with representatives from federal agencies including the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Trade Representative, and USDA Risk Management Agency. The visit to D.C. was topped off by a guided tour of the Gettysburg battlefield where class members heard leadership lessons from a retired Army colonel. Additional class activities included tours of the U.S. Capitol and other historic sites as well as group dinners with the California Agriculture Leadership Program and the Washington AgForestry Leadership Program. "My biggest lesson from my time in DC is the importance of forming coalitions and working together to find solutions. There are so many opportunities to unit our voices as Natural Resource Industries."

REAL Montana is funded through a partnership with Montana State University Extension and private industry. An advisory board of industry leaders provides oversight. The program will start accepting applications for Class III in the spring of 2017.

Complete program information is available at or by contacting Janelle Booth, program director, at (406) 994-6480, [email protected].


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