Three Ways Jr. REAL Creates Community Leaders

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Junior Rural Economics and Leadership (Jr. REAL) is an innovative leadership development program that invests in high school juniors and seniors and presents a comprehensive one-day seminar to students from various high schools in different locations across South Dakota. Student participants engage in hands-on exercises focused on leadership development, credit issues and identity theft, life skills, and motivation.

Jr. REAL aims to mold youth into leaders, starting with civic responsibility and engagement in their own rural communities..

  1. By teaching youth how to take their leadership skills and turn their community into a place they want to live.
  • By teaching youth skills to turn their community into a place they want to live, it becomes apparent that they don’t necessarily need to move away to become successful. Now more than ever, rural communities in South Dakota need youth to return and be a proud part of the community, contributing to the local economy and running family farming and ranching operations.
  1. By showing that leadership is about the small things.
  • Strong leaders know that leadership is about doing little things in big ways. During the program, youth learn firsthand that they can all be leaders in their own way, not just by being the head of the group or speaking in front of the classroom.
  1. By sparking interest in civic responsibility and engagement for years to come.
  • Community leaders understand the value of civic responsibility and engagement. Youth will carry these values into the next chapters of their lives, understanding they have the ability to influence society. Students with these values are more likely to have the ability to think complexly about human behavior and see the world from someone else’s perspective.

To learn more about SDFU’s Jr. REAL program, visit

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