Yesterday, Carolyn Christensen, Diane Smith and I attended the Horizons Final Celebration in Bismarck. Representatives from all 21 communities were there to share in the recognition.
Lynette Flage, NDSU Horizons Extension Project Director, emceed the program. She highlighted several community achievements including: Steele formed a non-profit organization for their local food pantry; Harvey set up a local community foundation for long-term philanthropic efforts (several other communities are in the process); Cando increased the local library mill levy; Dodge received a grant to purchase library resources; Walhalla got two new cell phone towers (something we could use around here in Rutland!). Other initiatives include Farmer’s Markets, walking trails, community theatre building renovations, and neighborhood watches. She mentioned that “Rutland, Steele, Maddock and Hazelton are working on housing issues in their community by surveying residents and working to develop various housing opportunities for all.”
Dr. D.C. Coston, NDSU Vice President for Agriculture and University Extension, spoke to attendees and recognized the achievements of the communities.
Governor Hoeven also spoke at the program and recognized the great strides that the Horizon communities have taken. He noted that North Dakota’s future depends on the six pillars of growth: education, economic development, agriculture, energy, technology and quality of life. The Governor said North Dakota has expanded its economy, adding thousands of new jobs, and grown its targeted industry sectors, including value-added agriculture, advanced manufacturing, energy development, technology-based business and tourism.
Following the Governor’s talk, there was time for photos and presentation of a plaque (and an $8500 check) to each community. Carolyn, Diane and I had our photo taken with The Governor, Dr. Coston, representatives from the Northwest Area Foundation, and Jodi Bruns, our advisor throughout the Horizons project.
Horizon community representatives gave a quick five-minute presentation or skit to communicate what they accomplished through the 18-month involvement with the Horizons program. Carolyn and I gave a quick PowerPoint presentation about Rutland’s work through the Horizons program and showed photos that demonstrated the involvement of our residents.
We all learned a lot and developed contacts to help us proceed with some of our action plan goals. I returned with a new sense of energy and a true feeling of accomplishment for what Rutland has done already. As Hubert H. Humphrey once said, “You don’t have to save the world. Just save your hometown. It will add up.”