Civic Engagement in North Dakota
Civic Engagement in North Dakota

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders (BTL) is a comprehensive program geared to high school students and is also available for grades seven and eight. The program aims to:

  • Empower students to get involved in school and civic organizations.
  • Build confidence and strengthen the skills students need to lead others.
  • Assist students in developing their personal and professional networks.
  • Help students complete a project to meet a school or community need by applying what they have learned.

The BTL program complements the North Dakota Choice Ready framework skills. It aligns with the NDDPI's content standards in career & technical education, English language arts, library & technology, and social studies. 

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Contact Information

For school proposal submission:

  • Taylor Olsen, Program Administrator, Academic Support, (701) 328-2629

For specific information on the BTL Program and Modules contact:

  • Marie Hvidsten, NDSU Extension Program Coordinator/Leadership and Community Development at (701) 730-1282
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Program Modules
  • Principles of Leadership – Leadership means different things to different people in different situations. Leaders “lead” by mobilizing and inspiring others to act on issues or working with others to make a difference. They help others do the right thing and get the job done. Students will identify styles of leadership, recognize qualities that make an effective leader, and reflect on effective and ineffective leaders.
  • Effective Communication – Effective communication is the basis of any successful team or organization. Young people should be able to communicate with confidence, poise, and respect in any situation. After completing this module, students will be able to define communication, understand basic personality types and experience active listening to increase their understanding of others.
  • Effective Meetings – Effective meetings are no accident. Meetings are carefully thought-out, well-executed events. Students will be engaged in a meaningful discussion about meeting participation and running meetings. Basic knowledge of parliamentary procedure is essential for a leader and anyone serving on a board, council, or committee. Students will learn to develop a meeting agenda for an effective meeting and the basics of parliamentary procedure and gain confidence to serve in a leadership role.
  • Career Preparation – We frequently form an opinion, based on appearances, in less than 30 seconds. Appearances can be physical, verbal, or in the form of a cover letter and resume. Although it can change later, an unfavorable impression based on appearance creates a hurdle or roadblock to overcome. Objectives of this module include helping students recognize what is suitable to wear for a job interview, learning the building blocks of a resume and cover letter, and learning tips to prepare for an interview.
  • Leadership Etiquette – Leaders need to know how to navigate professional situations ranging from eating a meal to mingling at a meeting successfully. Students will learn about etiquette and tips to improve socializing skills, create a personal elevator speech and develop an awareness of how “online” life can affect real life.
  • Conflict Management – People do not always agree. The challenge and opportunity for a leader are to learn to manage conflict and channel the energy in a positive way. After completing this module, students will understand conflict is an integral part of making decisions, recognize conflict and learn about its causes, and develop strategies to manage conflict.
  • Community and State Exploration – As the next generation of leaders, young people must know and understand how policies and laws are made in their school organizations and their communities, as well as at the state and national levels. Students will gain an understanding of leadership opportunities available to them and the legislative process, be connected with leadership mentors in the community, and explore local government.
  • Project Management – Moving a group to action can be challenging, but understanding the steps needed to complete a local mission is important for leaders. Students will learn how to move an idea to action and implement a local project.
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BTL High School Program Overview

Each module contains activities to enhance students’ learning. Activities include a Real Colors temperament assessment, parliamentary procedure practice, mock interviews, and many more hands-on activities within each topic area to achieve a better understanding and increased skill level.

Participating high school students are encouraged to complete all eight units with the ability to choose which activities they want to use within each module. Completing a minimum of six modules is required for reimbursement from the NDDPI. School facilitators are given the flexibility to implement the BTL program in a format that best meets the needs of the given school district. Suggested formats may include but are not limited to regular class periods, two-hour time slots, and half-day or full-day workshops.

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BTL Jr. Program Overview

Building Tomorrow’s Leaders Jr. is a civic engagement and leadership program geared to upper elementary and middle school students.

Program Goals:

  • Explore leadership in schools and communities.
  • Practice essential leadership skills.
  • Complete a service-learning project.

The modules take students through hands-on activities and thought-provoking discussions to learn and improve:

  • Confidence
  • Problem-solving
  • Planning and organizing
  • Cooperation
  • Dealing with conflict
  • Taking responsibility
  • Interpersonal communication