Someone You Should Know: StrengthenND founder works to revitalize rural North Dakota

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With small-town North Dakota roots, Warwick-native Megan Laudenschlager is passionate about improving her home state in any way she can.

“There’s nothing better than growing up on a farm and living in a small town, graduating with a class of five people to teach you the importance of communities and knowing your neighbor and supporting your neighbor and being there for your neighbor,” she said.

With experience working for a local community foundation she ended up building StrengthenND from the ground up back in 2015.

She said, “Our big picture vision is: how do we support communities to be more liveable and more viable into North Dakota’s future.”

StrengthenND’s focus is rural North Dakota cities, with populations less than 500.

Some examples of what the organization does to help communities thrive are economic development based on food, art, and entrepreneurship or by boosting nonprofits with things like grant opportunities and education.

A recent initiative was a state-wide art project that allowed StrengthenND to collect hundreds of postcards from residents all over the state.

In one short sentence, people stated what means the most to them, which not only helps Megan work toward goals… a lot of them are things she can relate to.

“One of my favorites said, ‘you live at the end of the earth. I replied, the beginning of heaven.’ and it’s like, oh.. yeah!”

She also sits on the board of directors for three Governor-appointed positions, is on several non-profit boards in the Minot area, and was on the planning committee for Minot’s largest volunteer event–Magic Day of Giving.

“I think that being heavily involved helps with kind of resourcing and brainstorming,” she reflected.

The last event was back in 2019 due to the coronavirus but 3,000 people showed up to donate their time and efforts towards more than 80 projects that year.

Her vision is big for small-town North Dakota.

“You know, we talk often about rural revitalization and I sometimes think that all of the bones, all of the good pieces are out there within rural North Dakota,” she said. “But I think sometimes maybe we need to shine a few of them up or to connect a few of them but we have so much to be proud of.”

With pragmatism, passion, and pride, Megan Laudenschlager is Someone You Should Know.

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