Leadership Montana Classroom Reflection: Indigenous Immersion Initiative Reflection: John Morrison, Helena, Class of 2005 and III 2022
Flagship Session: Ben Thiem
May 31, 2023
Masters Class Session: Jackie Atkins
June 30, 2023


Kacie Tollefson, Montana Community Foundation, VP Finance and Administration, Helena, Guest
Invited by Jessica Stewart Kuntz, Helena, Flagship Class of 2023

Confluence Spotlight

Kacie Tollefson, Montana Community Foundation, VP Finance and Administration, Helena, Guest

I had the pleasure of attending my first Confluence in Sidney, Montana, and to say it was an incredible experience is an understatement.

On the first day, we had expert panelists present a deep dive into the impact of the Oil and Energy Revenue in Richland County.  They shared the effects and complexity of the “boom and bust” nature of the revenues each year, and how they navigate balancing their respective budgets and the related community and energy needs.  The presentations dispelled the generalized perception of “that county has a ton of oil money – they can’t have issues.” Local attendees even mentioned that they learned a lot about complexities they were unaware of.

We also learned how the energy in the local area has significant and far-reaching impacts on the United States as a whole.  After the presentation, we toured the Fairgrounds and the Sidney Health Center, including their current expansions. Both tours showed just how visionary and innovative the Sidney community is!  The Fairgrounds is getting creative about building space utilization and maximization, and the Sidney Health Center is utilizing cutting-edge technology.

The second day, we had excellent panelists present on the agricultural side of Sidney, specifically focusing on the loss of the sugar beet industry. It was hard to hear about the challenges the area has faced, as many generations of families are now facing significant changes in their livelihoods and, in some cases, having to pivot to new industries. However, the panelists reminded us how resilient the farming and ranching communities are. Just as they adapt to weather changes, they will also continue to adapt and recognize that often, when one door closes, world economics presents another opportunity.

It was inspirational to learn about the economics and innovations that are happening in Richland County amid the challenges the community is facing. I hope to share this information with others who may be inspired by it as well!