Leadership SD Recap : Session 1 : Pierre

By Casey Schultz on Sep 27, 2021

As I file away notes, documents, handouts, and license plates (not real ones) I’ve decided to post a quick recap of my experience so far in the Leadership South Dakota Program. For anyone curious about the program, I’ll spare you a few minutes and just tell you this; Yes, it’s a great program and you should get involved if you can.

With only one session under my belt, that might be a bit of a leap, but I’m already very confident in that answer. The people I’ve met, the stories I’ve heard, and the overload of information that was doused upon me those first three days are pretty incredible. Of course, all were led and organized by our fearless leaders, Rick, Vale, Connie, and Molly. All great people and have been nothing short of amazing to help get this first session completed without a hitch (as far as I could tell).

After an early morning departure on Day 1, we started the first session at 9 am in Pierre with a quick intro to the program. In true ‘get to know your neighbor’ fashion we were asked to share an artifact about ourselves that told a unique story or helped provide some background to something special to each of us. It only took about 15 mins of hearing some of these stories from other LSD members for me to be instantly captivated. These 2-minute stories, from 40 other strangers, almost immediately changed my perception of the program.

As the morning wraps up, my mind is spinning with all these incredible stories, yet I’m trying my best to refocus on our next stop – The Capitol. It’s been a while since I’ve been in The Capitol and this time I had a more mature perspective of The Capitol, our elected officials, and just the overall purpose of our State government. The tour of The Capitol was great and just a good reminder of how our government officials work and quite literally where they convene to hear and pass legislation.

Next stop – The Governor’s Residence. It goes without saying the residence itself is a beautiful home and overall property. As we peeked around in the areas that are open to the public, we were fortunate enough to spend some time talking with Gov. Noem. She did a great job informing us about some of the recent topics, answered our questions, and could not have been more warm and welcoming all the way around.

As we wrapped up our tours, we moved on for dinner and an enlightening presentation from Mr. Steve Willard. I’m not going to pretend to be smart when it comes to political topics or regulations, but Mr. Willard made some very good points and was certainly entertaining when discussing the role and responsibilities of Legislative lobbyists. 


Day 2

Yes, all the snippets mentioned above were crammed into one day. Love it or hate it, everyone was aboard a tight ship.

First stop of day 2 was the South Dakota Women’s Prison. To be fair – I had no idea what to expect with this visit. Just like the day before, I was impressed and enlightened about a new entity I knew almost nothing about. The facility, the processes, the stats, etc… were all very informative and interesting, but as we concluded our visit, we were lucky enough to hear from an actual resident. From a life sentence to writing appeals for seven years and now finally getting her sentence reduced to be back out of prison very soon – it was an intense story that really put your life’s decisions into perspective.

After concluding our visit to the prison, we moved on to the South Dakota Cultural Heritage Museum. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but this again was another destination that I knew very little about. Our host was very gracious and his team did a great job of explaining the process of procuring items, how they document these historical items and how they store and display the items in their collection. The sheer amount of ‘stuff’ was pretty overwhelming. The Museum itself is a beautiful place and full of rich history. 

Then onto lunch and an afternoon panel of speakers that included a representative from the South Dakota Community Foundation, the Bureau of Human Resources, the Bureau of Finance Management, the Department of Labor, the Department of Public Safety, and the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Information overload for sure… but in a good way. I know I learned about many topics and areas that never really crossed my mind previously. 

To wrap up the afternoon, we dug into our DISC assessments (I’m an ISC) and unpacked how these characteristics help us understand ourselves and can help us communicate better with others. As many times as I’ve taken a DISC assessment, I’ve never really had it explained or presented to me the way Rick did, so that was also refreshing.

The evening session was a presentation by a couple of past alumni members who shared their stories about ‘Extreme Experiences’. Both of these men had great stories, tips and advice about how to train, think, act and lead as the next generation of leaders.


Day 3

After a light warm-up discussion, day 3 began with a presentation from the South Dakota Lottery, the Secretary of State, and the Executive Director of South Dakota Activities Association. Each of them had great presentations with a very unique perspective on their roles, challenges and helping us understand their purpose as it relates to the greater good of the state.

With day 3 being a shorter day, we had other discussions and networking activities, another great meal, and concluded the day with a challenging game of Kahoot! to see which of our groups knew the most trivia about the counties of South Dakota. Fun was had by all and regardless of score, I think our group did pretty good.

Whew….. That was a long entry and I glazed over many other tidbits of info that made this first event very successful. But if this first session was any indication of how the rest of the program will be, I’m confident that I’ll enjoy every minute of it. Check back next month to see what we learn in Brookings.