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The Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership Program — REAL Oregon — Class 3 meets Oregon Gov. Kate Brown at the state Capitol before the coronavirus pandemic.

Salem – The Resource Education and Agricultural Leadership Program — REAL Oregon — announced the successful completion of Class 3.

The final in-person session, scheduled for March 17 -19 in Boardman, was canceled due to the pandemic and Gov. Kate Brown’s stay-home order. However, despite this and other logistical challenges, according to the press release from REAL Oregon, Class 3 wrapped up its formal training with a virtual fifth and final session. REAL Oregon board chairman Jake Gibbs commented on the challenges.

“The preference would have been meeting in person in Boardman, that wasn’t possible,” he said, according to press release. “We did, however, deliver great online presentations and had excellent class participation in our virtual session.”

REAL Oregon Executive Director Greg Addington noted while the formality of an actual class graduation will have to wait, the program is happy to welcome 29 individuals from agricultural credit services to family farms to research into the program’s growing alumni network.

REAL Oregon is a collaboration of industry and other groups throughout the state that have recognized the importance of developing and grooming natural resource leaders. In addition to networking opportunities and learning more about the state, the program will bring together current and future leaders from agriculture, fishing and forestry sectors in a series of five statewide sessions starting this fall.

The annual leadership development program will expose this cross-section of representatives to the diversity of Oregon’s geography, economy and cultures through training in board governance, communication skills, critical thinking and other areas.

REAL Oregon is planning Class 4 for November. To adjust for the COVID-19 situation, the organization made changes to the schedule and policies related to Class 4.

REAL Oregon board member and curriculum chairwoman Lauren Lucht in the press release stated the coronavirus pandemic “has created challenges to be sure, but it has also created opportunities and could, in fact, make for an even more unique and rewarding experience for participants.”

The application deadline is July 24, and interested candidates should visit the REAL Oregon website at www.realoregon.net for more information.

Gibbs added the value of the program may never be greater, and while Class 4 may look different from previous classes, the program’s mission remains intact.

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