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Guest Blog from ND Tourism: www.LegendaryND.wordpress.com.
It’s almost Memorial Weekend which means, for most people, a nice three-day weekend. Last year our Memorial Weekend update included information about flooding and closures. This year we’re happy to say – Missouri River boat ramps are open! All 18-holes of Bully Pulpit Golf Course are open! Campgrounds in the Badlands are open! The Dakota Zoo is open! And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for fun experiences you can enjoy this weekend and all summer long in North Dakota.
Looking for some North Dakota travel tips? Be sure to pick up an official North Dakota Travel Guide and state map. They’re free and if you don’t already have one you can pick them up at rest areas or order online and we’ll mail them to you. Check your routes online with the ND Dept. of Transportation. A travel information map will alert you to any road closures or construction.
Here are a few events from our weekend calendar and you can find many more at www.NDtourism.com.
- Memorial Day is Military Appreciation Day in all North Dakota State Parks which means free admission for veterans and current service members.
- The Sky Dance Sakakawea kite festival will take place at Fort Stevenson State Park – May 26-28
- How about a Wild West Shootout? It goes down at 3 p.m. on Monday in the Frontier Village in Jamestown
- Kick back with some cowboy poetry, May 26 in Medora
Memorial Day services are held in communities around the state. One of the most notable takes place in Sherwood where veterans from the U.S. and Canada exchange flags at the International Boundary. A program and parade will follow with North Dakota’s Lieutenant Governor Drew Wrigley as keynote speaker.
A friend of ours was recently inspired after attending a freelance writer’s conference to create her own North Dakota Bucket List. We created a bucket list once, but we think we may not have understood the concept at the time.
She, much like many of our Ambassadors, loves North Dakota and was shocked by how many times she hears about new places to go and visit even after living in the state her entire life. We liked the list so much we thought we’d encourage you to think about your North Dakota bucket list. Check out her list below and for the full skinny – and we mean skinny, as she is normally a fitness and healthy food blogger – visit her at www.donteatcrapblog.com.
North Dakota Bucket List ala Brianna Strahm (AKA @donteatcrap)
- Drive through Teddy Roosevelt National Park to pet the buffalo and experience the Medora Musical (again!) (Editor’s Note: We strongly advise against petting buffalo.)
- Bike or Hike “part” of the 100 mile Maah Daah Hey Trail
- Go sailing on Lake Sakakawea
- Kayaking or canoeing on the Pembina River
- Catch a walleye in Devils Lake
- Go to a UND Hockey Game at the Ralph Engelstad
- Take a picture with the Worlds Largest Buffalo (again!)
- Drive down the Enchanted Highway
- Visit the Rock Museum in Parshall
- Visit the Wood Chipper in Fargo
- Walk across the Fairview Bridge
- Visit Prairie Fire Pottery in Beach
- Eat at the Pitchfork Fondue in Medora
- Eat Juneberry Pie at Lunds Landing in Ray
- Sample a dessert from Nicole’s Fine Pastry in Fargo
- Eat Chippers from Widmans in Grand Forks (again!)
- Visit the Albino Buffalo in Jamestown (sorta again!)
- Ride a sled being pulled by an ATV at Papa’s Polar Patch
- Stay at the Hotel Donaldson in Fargo
- Experience Norsk Hostfest in Minot
- Participate in a grape stomp at the Red Trail Vineyard in Buffalo
Now for the BIG question … what would you add to the list?
When you were a kid and were asked this question, did you want to be a professional baseball player, doctor, nurse, or maybe even a firefighter? Ask yourself why you wanted to be those things. Was it because your mom was a nurse? Or you looked up to a famous professional athlete? How much thought did you give to your decision? Probably not much when you were 10, but as you grew older and entered high school, your opinions changed based on life experiences.
In today’s world that question is still being asked of our youth, but let us ask, “How are you helping your children find their calling in life?” With the average cost of higher education in the U.S. reaching $35,000 annually, it’s a good idea to start asking your children questions early.
Start asking questions today and begin to help your children fine tune their interests. If your child is interested in becoming a banker, arrange for a job shadow opportunity. (Seriously, this is as simple as calling a banker in your town and asking if they’d mentor your child for a few hours.)
Job shadowing is a great way to expose a career to your children and for them to learn about the daily job duties. After the job shadowing experience, ask them what they liked, what they didn’t like, and what they were surprised to learn. Sit down with them at the computer and research careers. If your student is enrolled in a North Dakota secondary school, they should receive a Career Outlook magazine published annually by the Department of Career & Technical Education. Browse through this resource and learn about the different programs being offered in North Dakota.
If you don’t want to make those connections to set up job shadow opportunities quite yet, expose your children to more occupations online. The North Dakota Department of Commerce has a collection of short 5-minute videos highlighting high demand careers in North Dakota called Career Conversations. All of the Career Conversation videos showcase someone talking about their real job in North Dakota and what they do in the that career. Parents and kids alike can watch the videos and match talents of their own or their children to what might be possible career paths for them in the future.
Exposing careers to children at a younger age gives them the knowledge to make informed decision when it comes time to choose a post-secondary education path. We all know they grow up to fast, and if we want to keep then in North Dakota, it’s time to start thinking about what jobs are in demand. The more they know about a career before going in to it, the less like likely they are to change majors and spend unnecessary dollars on their education.
North Dakota’s outlook is much different than the rest of the union. With an estimated 15,000 job openings and plenty more to come once our youth are entering the workforce, North Dakota is in need of workers. It is our hope that once our young people find their right career path, they choose to stay in North Dakota, develop their career, continue our mission to be the best state in live in. Whatever they want to be when they grow up, we hope they want to be it in North Dakota.
Guest Blog by North Dakota Youth Forward
Youth Forward is anything and everything that connects people ages 14-24 to a future in North Dakota. It’s easy to overlook opportunities in your own state when you don’t know they exist. Youth Forward works to promote jobs, entertainment, education, and more opportunities for youth looking to stay in North Dakota. Explore more career ideas for youth at:
Editors Note: The following is an editorial piece by Joel Kotkin which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on March 14, 2011. It’s the kind of article that makes us proud to be Ambassadors for the Great State of North Dakota!
By Joel Kotkin, Wall Street Journal
Living on the harsh, wind-swept northern Great Plains, North Dakotans lean towards the practical in economic development. Finding themselves sitting on prodigious pools of oil—estimated by the state’s Department of Mineral Resources at least 4.3 billion barrels—they are out drilling like mad. And the state is booming.
Unemployment is 3.8%, and according to a Gallup survey last month, North Dakota has the best job market in the country. Its economy “sticks out like a diamond in a bowl of cherry pits,” says Ron Wirtz, editor of the Minneapolis Fed’s newspaper, fedgazette. The state’s population, slightly more than 672,000, is up nearly 5% since 2000.
The biggest impetus for the good times lies with energy development. Around 650 wells were drilled last year in North Dakota, and the state Department of Mineral Resources envisions another 5,500 new wells over the next two decades. Between 2005 and 2009, oil industry revenues have tripled to $12.7 billion from $4.2 billion, creating more than 13,000 jobs.
Already fourth in oil production behind Texas, Alaska and California, the state is positioned to advance on its competitors. Drilling in both Alaska and the Gulf, for example, is currently being restrained by Washington-imposed regulations. And progressives in California—which sits on its own prodigious oil supplies—abhor drilling, promising green jobs while suffering double-digit unemployment, higher utility rates and the prospect of mind-numbing new regulations that are designed to combat global warming and are all but certain to depress future growth. In North Dakota, by contrast, even the state’s Democrats—such as Sen. Kent Conrad and former Sen. Byron Dorgan—tend to be pro-oil. The industry services the old-fashioned liberal goal of making middle-class constituents wealthier.
Oil also is the principal reason North Dakota enjoys arguably the best fiscal situation in all the states. With a severance tax on locally produced oil, there’s a growing state surplus. Recent estimates put an extra $1 billion in the state’s coffers this year, and that’s based on a now-low price of $70 a barrel.
North Dakota, however, is no one-note Prairie sheikdom. The state enjoys prodigious coal supplies and has—yes—even moved heavily into wind-generated electricity, now ranking ninth in the country. Thanks to global demand, North Dakota’s crop sales are strong, but they are no longer the dominant economic driver—agriculture employs only 7.2% of the state’s work force.
Perhaps more surprising, North Dakota is also attracting high-tech. For years many of the state’s talented graduates left home, but that brain drain is beginning to reverse. This has been critical to the success of many companies, such as Great Plains Software, which was founded in the 1980s and sold to Microsoft in 2001 for $1.1 billion. The firm has well over 1,000 employees.
The corridor between Grand Forks and Fargo along the Red River (the border between North Dakota and Minnesota) has grown rapidly in the past decade. It now boasts the headquarters of Microsoft Business Systems and firms such as PacketDigital, which makes microelectronics for portable electronic devices and systems. There are also biotech firms such as Aldevron, which manufactures proteins for biomedical research. Between 2002 and 2009, state employment in science, technology, engineering and math-related professions grew over 30%, according to EMSI, an economic modeling firm. This is five times the national average.
While the overall numbers are still small compared to those of bigger states, North Dakota now outperforms the nation in everything from the percentage of college graduates under the age of 45 to per-capita numbers of engineering and science graduates. Median household income in 2009 was $49,450, up from $42,235 in 2000. That 17% increase over the last decade was three times the rate of Massachussetts and more than 10 times that of California.
Some cities, notably Fargo (population 95,000), have emerged as magnets. “Our parking lot has 20 license plates in it,” notes Niles Hushka, co-founder of Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson, an engineering firm active in Great Plains energy development. Broadway Drive in Fargo’s downtown boasts art galleries, good restaurants and young urban professionals hanging out in an array of bars. This urban revival is a source of great pride in Fargo.
What accounts for the state’s success? Dakotans didn’t bet the farm, so to speak, on solar cells, high-density housing or high-speed rail. Taxes are moderate—the state ranks near the middle in terms of tax per capita, according to the Tax Foundation—and North Dakota is a right-to-work state, which makes it attractive to new employers, especially in manufacturing. But the state’s real key to success is doing the first things first—such as producing energy, food and specialized manufactured goods for which there is a growing, world-wide market. This is what creates the employment and wealth that can support environmental protection and higher education.
Thankfully, this kind of sensible thinking is making a comeback in some other states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. These hard-pressed states realize that attending to basic needs—in their case, shale natural gas—could be just the elixir to resuscitate their economies.
Note: Thanks to Ambassador Kyle Gagner for sharing a North Dakota outdoor moment from this past summer. Way to have the gumption to start your own mountain biking group to explore your passion for North Dakota!
By Kyle Gagner, North Dakota Ambassador
I recently had the privilege of going mountain biking with a few friends of mine here in our great state of North Dakota.
Yes, I said mountain biking in North Dakota. A fellow who attends our church invited me out to his place out in northeastern North Dakota near the Pembina Gorge area to go for a ride on his 6 mile (approximately) biking path. This delightfully challenging path took us up and down ridges, through the woods, around hairpin turns, over old bridges, past an old shooting range, along babbling brooks and alongside a lake. It was a most enjoyable experience as it was challenging and stunningly gorgeous all the same time! What a wonderful way to take in the scenery of our beloved state.
I have since decided to start a group, MwhoB, which stands for Men Who Bike. Next summer we will be taking weekly rides on this path and helping said owner tweek, improve, and groom his treasure of a trail.
This is only one of the many reasons that I find North Dakota to be America’s best kept secret.
Editor’s Note: North Dakota’s varied topography offers mountain bikers many choices for riding. From the one million acres of rugged buttes in the Little Missouri National Grassland to the rolling hills of the Turtle Mountains, North Dakota has many areas for mountain biking, including the Maah Daah Hey Trail waiting to be discovered. Connect with some of North Dakota’s best public mountain biking trails. Explore Mountain Biking at the NDTourism.com site.
Note: Thanks to Ambassador Karen Sanderson Elliott for sharing a North Dakota memory with us and for knowing that she may not be native, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be North Dakotan. Welcome to our great state Karen, we’re glad you’re here!
By Karen Sanderson Elliott, North Dakota Ambassador
When I began to tell friends and acquaintances I was moving from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Minot, North Dakota, everyone’s response was the same – “North Dakota?!” The next few words out of their mouth would invariably be, “Why would you want to move there?” Admittedly, when my Air Force son told me he and his family were reassigned to Minot AFB my knee-jerk reaction was less than favorable. My single reference point would have to be the movie Fargo, but I didn’t want to base my judgment on a single dark Hollywood farce.
Since making the decision to move to Minot, I’ve done some research and connected electronically with many interesting people. I Googled North Dakota and discovered why people love it and why many opt to retire here. Once I recognized the perks, I became increasingly eager to move:
Friendliest state in the nation
- One of the safest and cleanest states
- One of the best places to raise children
- Second best run state in the U.S.
- Leads the nation in 14 major commodities
- Lowest unemployment rate in the nation
- One of the leaders of the pack when it comes to renewable energy, including wind power
- Rich in Scandinavian culture (coincidentally my maiden name is Sanderson)
Considerably smaller than the city I left behind Minot’s size is attractive to me. In a 2006 census estimate, the population of Minot hovered around 35,000 while Albuquerque held over half a million people. Arguably, my former New Mexico habitat has a few interesting sites and boasts an agreeable climate, but I was beginning to see the unattractive by-products of a sprawling urban choke-hold. Increasingly I saw more crowded streets and stores, more angry and hurried people, and an increase in crime and grime.
The friendliness of North Dakota greeted me within hours of my first foray into her blizzard-blocked towns. People said “Hi” and smiled. Please, thank you, and excuse me had found their way back into my conversations with strangers. Service with a smile was not just something you’d see in TV commercials – it was again a reality.
Since connecting with North Dakota Ambassadors and numerous ND tourism pages, I’ve met real estate professionals, an imaginative photographer, a trained pastry chef, ranch and farm owners, journalists, authors, and freelancers, a singer in a barbershop quartet, and a Celtic harpist, as well as a myriad of property managers in my hunt for any available rental property.
Throughout my 53-year life span, I lived along an over-populated east coast for over four decades then spent ten years in a too-big New Mexico city. A less populated town means less stress to me. Enjoying a shorter-than-15-minute commute from one end of Minot to the other is a delightful bonus.
I’ll never be a native. But I am proud to call North Dakota my new home, and I’m excited by all the new friends, experiences, and possibilities coming my way.
www.deltaskymag.com – October, 2010
Note: Thanks to Ambassador Carolyn Desper for sharing a North Dakota memory with us. It was just such a heart-warmer, we needed to share. Enjoy.
By Carolyn Desper, North Dakota Ambassador
I moved to North Dakota from Arizona when I was sixteen. My mother wanted to move closer to her family and aging mother. The company my father worked for was helping build the power plants going up around Beulah in the late seventies, he requested a transfer, and without much hesitation, if any, his company approved the transfer.
Mom warned my sister and I what to expect from North Dakota winters, but like any teenager, I did not really believe what she said. I knew about snow, we had lived in the mountain ranges of California and it snowed there. We were living in the high desert of Arizona and it snowed. But in both places the snow would come and go through the winter and an entire day below zero rarely happened, as I recall.
We moved in late winter early spring of 1978, the second half of a long winter as I understood. We lived in a hotel waiting to move into our house which was slowly being put together (a modular home). My father became ill, and had to go to the hospital in Hazen. The doctor wanted to send him to Bismarck for surgery, but the ambulance crew reported the roads were being closed due to a blizzard. I believe it was April. The company dad work for passed out buttons that said “I survived the winter of 77-78.” Still I did not experience anything like my mother had told us about before leaving Arizona.
Then the next winter came and I was in for a surprise as all she had told us came true. The sky can be bright blue, the sun shining, birds singing, and it can still be way below zero!!!
Despite the winters I have come to love North Dakota. I have been offered the opportunity to move away more than once and have chosen to stay. My own children have grown and moved away, but every time they tell me I need to move closer to them, I smile and tell them “No.” One daughter tells me she hopes to return and raise her children here. I hope the growth of our state continues and she and her spouse can return and work here.
Guest Blog by Shane Goettle, Commissioner, North Dakota Department of Commerce
Senator Elect John Hoeven named the first members of his new Senatorial staff today, and I have decided to join his team as the state director. I expect my role will evolve and change as Senator Hoeven’s agenda develops. I will wrap up my tenure at Commerce by the end of December. Governor-to-be Jack Dalrymple has asked Paul Govig, who has been my deputy for five years, to serve as interim commissioner while he takes time to select a permanent appointment to this key position.
This was an extremely difficult decision for many reasons, but most obviously, because I thoroughly enjoy the working for the Comerce Department and the people involved in it.
When I look back on the last five years, I’m amazed at everything Commerce has accomplished. It has grown from an infant agency to an organization that is trusted to build connections, deliver effective programs and lead the state’s efforts to increase wealth and improve the quality of life for North Dakota people.
The list of new initiatives spearheaded by Commerce in partnership with many others throughout the state is lengthy and includes the Centers of Excellence program, Innovate ND, Operation Intern, Empower ND, the Youth Office, Workforce Enhancement grants, western North Dakota infrastructure development, energy programs, Experience ND, the North Dakota Trade Office, the Native American Business Development Office and much more.
The network of people working to grow our state is stronger today than at any time in our history. State officials are working more effectively with locals and partnerships between communities are the norm not the exception. We are working more efficiently toward a shared vision of prosperity for all North Dakotans. And together we have managed to elevate North Dakota to a position of national prominence.
I’m confident the leadership of Jack Dalrymple as governor will keep North Dakota on this successful path, and I know community and economic development will remain a cornerstone of his administration.
Thank you for your ongoing involvement in growing North Dakota, and most of all thank you for your friendship. One part about my new role that excites me most is the opportunity I will have to continue working with you and others in North Dakota’s business and development community.
ENTREPRENEUR. Webster’s dictionary defines it as “One who organizes, manages and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise.
For some it means freedom. For others it’s the culmination of dreams.
To me, being an entrepreneur means hours of labor. Of hard work. Being able to think outside the box, being visionary, having an innate belief in myself, knowing that the first step is the hardest, being willing to help others, and the understanding that ‘NO’ is just a word.
My husband and I are both ‘entrepreneurs’. When we moved back to ND five years ago, he brought his business Tom Kat on Site Inc back with him. He is a mobile Caterpillar engine repair specialist. It’s defiantly considered a niche! Getting our business set up in ND wasn’t anywhere near as time-consuming or complicated as what was expected. Both our accountant and local banker were well-informed on what we needed to transition from Colorado to ND. With some creative marketing, a good work ethic and a great atmosphere, his business really took off and we are very happy with it.
Because of our success with Tom Kat on Site, we were able to start TomkatZ Repair (automotive) in Washburn and sell it to my cousin and his family who we had talked into relocating from Sacramento.
We also currently own D’Eggos Diner in Underwood. We’ve been there almost a year now. We decided that since I was already commuting to Bismarck to work in hospitality, I might as well work for myself. It’s been a little more challenging. Business is actually very good. Finding help is the issue at hand. With a little creativity we are overcoming that. Also through the Diner, we have been able to help one of our girls launch Connie’s Cowboy Cookies and Bakery. It works out great … She needs somewhere to bake, I need baked goods.
It’s like paying it forward. North Dakota Style.
For us North Dakota has been a great place to do business. The resources are seemingly endless. There’s networking opportunities, (we became active in the Ambassador program before moving here) free business classes, terrific support from our local lender, a state website that‘s easy to navigate, ‘atta boys’ from the community and much more. We tell everybody to come here! I would definitely say doing business in ND is rewarding. Not just financially, but personally as well.
Written by Guest Blogger – Katy Kassian | We could tell you her story, but she’s already done it so well above! Katy and her husband Tom live in the Regan area.
If Katy has aroused your inner entrepreneur, now’s the time to enter the InnovateND competition. Click the link and find out more!
I love it when a young person in North Dakota gets it! As a whole, people in North Dakota talk a little too negative about our state and it’s time we stopped. This University of North Dakota student, Madi Whitman, captured it great in a recent post for the Dakota Student that was shared by the Youth Forward blog. I hope you enjoy the frank and fresh perspective.
Madi Whitman, a student at UND, offers her opinion on the upside of calling North Dakota home. This article was originally published on the Dakota Student website. Click here to read the full article
Throughout my last few years in Grand Forks, I have heard many complaints regarding our present location. I understand many of them, as Grand Forks is not exactly the most thrilling of places to live, but I tend to become a little irritated when the distaste is extended to the entire state.
I will admit that I do not enjoy dressing for the winter like I am preparing for the Iditarod, and I despise I-29 with the intensity of a January blizzard, but these are all minor blemishes on an otherwise flawless profile.
I will skip the lecture about low crime rates, our good economy, work ethic, and that crap about us being the friendliest (although I have found this to be at least somewhat true, but more on that later) and will instead focus on the core of the state, that which produces the attributes of our residence we proudly display.
Firstly: wheat. As current occupants of Grand Forks County, I am willing to venture a guess that you have all at least seen it at some point or another. But have you really seen it?
The ways in which the wind acts on the green sheaves and the waves of wheat rolling across a field are simply glorious. I had always thought the “amber waves of grain” line from “America the Beautiful” was a little lame, but seeing it in person is quite moving.
For those of you who are not from our lovely state or have not explored it extensively, it may come as a surprise that the region is not wholly flat.
“A place exists with a higher elevation than the Columbia overpass” you ask? Indeed, the far west of North Dakota is rather stunning with its rugged terrain and commanding buttes. But perhaps it is not so much the landscape that defines the state as it is the people who inhabit it.
I am slowly realizing that part of the “North Dakota nice” broadcasted to the population is partially a front. I once had a friend from out of state tell me that once the cold moved in, we were just as mean as everyone else, although I think the “we” in that statement is perhaps reserved for our behavior on the days in which the weather is too bitter for anyone. The term does have validity, though, especially in rural areas.
Once, several months ago, I parked in a farmstead outside of a very small town, waiting for a coworker. As I sat in our vehicle, a large tractor drove up, and a one-armed woman maneuvered out of it to speak to me. Over the roar of the motor, I shouted the reason for my presence. Although it was not explained particularly well and I am convinced she could not hear me, she smiled warmly and nodded before firing up a truck and heading into town to continue her business, trusting that I would remain as a benevolent presence. Perhaps “nice” is not the word I am trying to demonstrate, but “friendly.” However, even that does not seem to fit well.
Another example: on a separate occasion, I was at another farmstead, waiting in our vehicle while my coworker spoke with a rancher about his land. I went to give them some paperwork, and the rancher introduced himself to me and said: “now, I’m not a male chauvinist and I’m not sure if you’re one of them women’s libers, but I’m going to ask you this as a father and a grandfather: would you like to use the bathroom?”
I am not sure if such a question would be asked in other places, and I doubt it is specific to North Dakota, but it is so typical of our great state that I think it demonstrates my point.
I know NoDak has its cons, but I think the pros far outweigh them. There is something about this place that cannot be found once one crosses the border. Complain all you want about the cold and the flat portions of the land, but please, don’t hate the state