Sweetgrass rancher Maggie Nutter and Chester farmer Magen Hedges just returned from three days in Billings as part of REAL Montana (Resource Education and Agriculture Leadership). For Nutter and Hedges and other members of REAL Montana Class II, this was the second seminar in their two-year educa-tional program.

The focus of the seminar Nov. 18-20 was “Working with the Media.” Class members partici-pated in over a dozen live televi-sion and radio interviews, took part in mock interview training, and fine-tuned their own personal messages about Montana’s many natural resource-based industries.

Participants heard from some of state’s top media experts on how to frame a message, prepare a persuasive speech, and effec-tively utilize social media. The class attended editorial meetings at the Billings Gazette, KULR 8, and KTVQ and toured each facil-ity. Speaker panels consisting of media and communications ex-perts briefed the class on tech-niques to earn positive media attention and offered case studies in handling emotional and con-troversial industry topics in the public arena. The seminar in-cluded a banquet at the Petrole-um Club, where the class inter-acted with local program spon-sors and industry leaders.

“Learning to communicate a clear message through different media venues is important when seeking to have our concerns addressed or sharing factual in-formation,” stated Maggie Nut-ter. “Even if you convey the facts there are many different points of views and values that are con-nected to them. Communication is so key to allowing agriculture to continue to prosper.”

Twenty of Montana’s sharpest leaders were competitively se-lected from a large pool of quali-fied candidates representing a wide variety of agriculture and natural resource industries across the state to take part in Class II of REAL Montana. The two-year program features eight in-state seminars; a five-day national study tour in Washington D.C.; and a two-week international trip. Seminars include training in agriculture institutions and agen-cies, natural resource develop-ment, public speaking/media, economics, state and federal pol-icy, international trade, ur-ban/rural relationships, water issues, and other current industry topics.

REAL Montana is funded through a partnership with Mon-tana State University Extension and private industry. Oversight is provided by an advisory board of industry leaders. The program will start accepting applications for Class III in the spring of 2017.

Complete program information is available at www.realmontana. org or by contacting Janelle Booth, program director, at 994-6480, janelle.booth@montana. edu.

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