FARGO, N.D. — The Rural Leadership North Dakota (RLND) program has honored an individual and an organization for their continuous support.
The recipient of the 2019 RLND Leader Award is Michael O’Keeffe of Bismarck, N.D. The North Dakota Farmers Union is the recipient of the 2019 RLND Champion Award.
RLND is North Dakota State University Extension’s 18-month leadership development program. Participants learn leadership skills, such as thinking critically and creatively, communicating effectively, self-awareness, decision making, strategic planning and managing conflict. They also learn about agricultural and rural policy, marketing, civic engagement, the value of coalitions and partnerships, industry and community advocacy, the agricultural economy and future trends that could affect North Dakota agriculture, and finding innovative ways to fund local and regional development projects.
O’Keeffe, a native of Lansford, N.D., was employed at Farm Credit Services of Mandan, N.D., from 1979 until his retirement a few years ago. He was CEO of Farm Credit Services of Mandan for many years prior to his retirement.
“Through Mike’s dedicated leadership and numerous contributions to the RLND program, he has been instrumental in creating the premier statewide leadership program in North Dakota,” says Marie Hvidsten, RLND program director.
O’Keeffe has been part of the RLND program in the following ways during the past nine years:
- Served on the RLND Council from 2010 to 2019 and as chair from 2015 to 2018
- Served as RLND secretary/treasurer from 2013 to 2014
- Served on the Executive Committee from 2013 to 2018
- Served on the RLND Curriculum and Financial committees
- Promoted the RLND program within his organization and had one to two participants from Farm Credit Services of Mandan offices in RLND classes VI, VII, VIII and IX
- Made a grant connection with the Farm Credit System, which awarded RLND a $10,000 grant
- Made personal contacts with the leaders of AgriBank in St. Paul, Minn., which resulted in them presenting to RLND classes during their Minneapolis, Minn., seminars
The North Dakota Farmers Union was organized in 1927 to be a resource for North Dakota’s grain growers and cattlemen. The organization was developed to give support, education and aid in helping farmers’ voices be heard.
“We greatly appreciate the leadership the North Dakota Farmers Union has provided in supporting the RLND program,” Hvidsten says. “Without its support, the program would not be as successful as it is today.”
The North Dakota Farmers Union has been supportive of RLND for the past nine years. Here are some examples:
- Was a tuition sponsor for participants in classes V, VI, VII, VIII and IX
- Had employees who served on the RLND Council
- Became a Leader Corps seminar sponsor for classes VI, VII and VIII
- Helped arrange for speakers at RLND’s national seminar in Washington, D.C.
- Hosted several RLND Council meetings
- Financially supported the RLND Alumni Association’s International Leadership Alumni Conference in July 2019
— NDSU Agriculture Communication
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