Heidi Haugo, Communications Director, North Dakota Corn Utilization Council

Written by: mag mag

Tell us about yourself.

I grew up on a hog and crop farm in the rural community of Winthrop, MN, where I was first introduced to the importance of community involvement through my parents’ steadfast commitment to the development of our hometown.

I graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2017 with a B.S. in agricultural education and my husband, Aaron, and I have been proud residents of Fargo since that time. I have been working in the agricultural industry for six years.

In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, camping, supporting restaurants and small businesses in the Fargo-Moorhead community, caring for our many houseplants and spending time with Aaron and our cat, Gouda!

I grew up on a hog and crop farm, and I have been involved in the agricultural industry in various ways all my life. I have worked in the corn industry for six years, and have served as the Communications Director for the North Dakota Corn Utilization Council for four-and-a-half years.

Who are some people who have been influential in your journey and why?

My dad, Harry Sloot, through his quiet dedication to agriculture. He has inspired me to work in the industry and shown me the value of agriculture and everyone who plays a role in it. His passion for farming and the outdoors has been influential in my desire to pursue a career in this field, and my continued passion for agricultural and environmental sustainability.

My mom, Kellie Sloot, through her selfless service to her hometown and her church community. She is a giver and has taught me through example the importance of using our talents and doing what we can to support those around us. She has been influential in my desire to support the Fargo-Moorhead community through volunteer work.

Additionally, my boss, Jean Henning, has made a significant impact on my life through her professional mentorship in my current position. She is a shining example of what it means to commit yourself to your passions, engage with others in mutually beneficial ways and lift up others as you ascend. She supports my desire to continue to learn and seek understanding as there are always new ways to stretch ourselves and new places to go with knowledge. She has been a reliable teammate, a sounding board and a safe place to bring ideas for finetuning. She has helped me to identify strengths and encouraged me to pursue development outside of the office walls as well. She has taught me what it means to be a good mentor, shown me what it means to be a charitable manager and has empowered me to be that to others in the workplace as well.

What drives you?

I am driven by the desire to learn. I enjoy learning new skills, new topics, about new places or things, or people. I am also deeply motivated by the opportunity to be creative. Projects that allow me to practice autonomy and think broadly to achieve goals make me passionate about the work I am creating and allow me to tap into my best self. I feel most proud of the work I do when given the chance to be creative in the process.

What are some important lessons you have learned in your lifetime?

1. Be present. Psychology experts have said that a huge part of depression revolves around living in the past. Anxiety, on the other hand, is caused by spending time worrying heavily about the future. Practicing living in the present helps us to be better listeners, teammates and partners, and improves self-awareness and mental health. Yes, please!

2. You are stronger than you think. As humans, we are rising to new and unforeseen challenges every day, and then conquering them! We are capable of overcoming everything that life throws our way. P.S. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That takes strength too!

3. It will all work out in the end. Nothing lasts forever! When you feel like you are in the middle of a crisis, remember that this too will pass. Always practice gratitude for the small things, and keep on keepin’ on!

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for our readers?

Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday and his podcast The Daily Stoic. In our lives, we are being pulled in countless directions by competing priorities and beliefs. There are obstacles in the way of everything we hope to accomplish professionally and personally. To overcome them, the book asks us to slow down amidst the noise of this busy world, allowing us to focus and be present. The stories of ancient stoics and modern leaders helped me understand the power and value of embracing stillness, limiting inputs and prioritizing self-care.

What are you hoping to gain from the United Way 35 Under 35 Women’s Leadership Program?

When I moved to Fargo five years ago, I was looking to challenge myself professionally. As I worked to build a sense of community through personal and professional relationships, I felt supported, nurtured and empowered to succeed by leaders all around me. These leaders were mentoring others and working for positive growth and change within the Fargo Moorhead community, as well as at national and international levels, which was inspirational to me as someone learning the culture of my new home. Now, I feel called to do these things for others. I hope to use this opportunity to build new friendships, continue developing the skills to be an effective leader who communicates across ages, backgrounds, traditions and cultures and find additional ways to serve this vibrant community. I am excited for this opportunity to transform my weaknesses, share my own strengths and gifts, and be a cheerleader for others who are seeking this opportunity for growth as well.

What do you think can be improved in our community?

I would love to see more affinity-based groups in the community that encourage connection with other like-minded people. It would be a great way to build stronger community ties and increase networking for individuals outside of professional settings.

What are some of your passions outside of work?

Right now my passion outside of work seems to be home restoration! My husband and I own a perfect little 1928 home in North Fargo that we are lovingly repairing and restoring. Often, I find myself spending hours researching architecture styles and appropriate furnishings for homes based on the year they were built and learning new skills needed to bring life back to our house. Call me if you need your drywall taped and mudded! I am also passionate about the environment and the outdoors and enjoy time camping, hiking, biking and gardening.

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