New Year, New Decade, New Possibilities

January 18, 2020

Guest editorial by Don Norton, CEO of South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership (SDARL)

Published in the 2020 Winter Soybean Leader

For many South Dakota soybean farmers, it was a relief to turn the last calendar page on 2019. So, let’s move on. We see last year in the rearview mirror. Goodbye! Today, it’s back to the windshield and moving forward.

2020 is more than just a new year – it’s a brand new decade. You have the opportunity to grab hold of your personal desire to make positive changes in your life. This is more than just a New Year’s resolution; it’s a New Decade resolution. As ag broadcaster Orion Samuelson says, “You can’t dream big enough.” You have the power to make the “twenty-twenties” the best ever on your farm, in your family, and in your leadership life. Ralph Waldo Emerson captured that spirit when he penned, “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.”

That’s how we look at the future at the South Dakota Agricultural and Rural Leadership program (SDARL). Leaders are not born, they are developed. Leadership lies inside each person. By offering the most outstanding leadership program in the state, we help bring to life the leadership within each of our program participants – all to the benefit of an enriched and vibrant South Dakota.

At SDARL, we’re launching this new decade by graduating our 10th leadership class in April and celebrating the 20th anniversary of our organization that has produced 300 of the most passionate, informed, and skilled leaders in our state.

SDARL-trained leaders include many officers and board members at the South Dakota Soybean Association and Soybean Research and Promotion Council, in addition to the Secretary of Agriculture (and the three Secretaries before her), President of the South Dakota Farm Bureau; and the President and Vice President of the Cattlemen’s Association, among others. While these titles are impressive, so is the leadership service of other graduates to our rural communities as school board members, mayors, county commissioners, and countless other organizations where agriculture should be represented at the table.

Now, back to the personal positive changes in your life for this new decade. Currently, we’re accepting applications for our 11th leadership class that will begin in November 2020. Class members will experience 12 seminars over 18 months that will expand your network, improve your skills, increase your knowledge, and help you realize your full potential as a leader. Yes, it will take some time away from home and work. No, you won’t regret it.

I encourage you to apply for our next leadership development class. Visit our website and review the application: The deadline is March 20, 2020.

It’s a new year and a new decade. This is a great time to develop a new leader for South Dakota agriculture – YOU!