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Young professionals group sets up in Bismarck

If you go:

What: Youth Professionals in Energy meeting

When: Wednesday, Oct. 16

Where: Blarney Stone Pub, 408 E. Main Ave., Bismarck

BISMARCK -- With North Dakota's out-migration of young adults slowing significantly, a new chapter of an international professionals group is putting down roots in Bismarck with hopes that other chapters will spread throughout the state.

Young Professionals in Energy, a Texas-based group for professionals in the energy sector under the age of 40, doesn't just focus on oil and gas.

"It's also electricity, green energy -- anything dealing with energy, basically," said Adam Landstrom, founder of the Bismarck chapter of YPE.

As the state's energy boom continues to attract 20- and 30-somethings from around the country, Landstrom said the group may aid in connecting mature professionals with those just getting started.

"People can view us as a way to connect with people that are young in the industry because there's -- at least from my time I've noticed -- a big gap in ages between people who are young professionals and people who are mature in the industry," Landstrom said. "There's kind of an age gap."

YPE allows people to share their firsthand experience with one another. It brings in industry leaders over 40 to address and teach its members, and it also fulfills another purpose, as Landstrom said he felt there was a void for young people who want to be involved in their industry and community.

"It's a way for younger people that are in the energy industry to gather together," Landstrom said. "Maybe I don't exactly know what's going on in the utility industry, where as someone from Basin (Electric) or from MDU might. They might have the same knowledge of what goes on in, say, an oil and gas lease negotiation like I do."

"I thought it was a valuable thing to start up," said Rob Linberg, YPE member and consultation director of Back the Bakken, a group that supports development in the Bakken and is funded by the North Dakota Petroleum Council.

As YPE fits in with the mission of Back the Bakken, which promotes the good things happening in the state because of the energy boom, "I volunteered to help them with some communications-type stuff," Linberg said.

The group started in June and has had one meeting -- either a business-focused lunch meeting or a socially focused evening activity -- each month since, but hopes to host one of each monthly once the group becomes more established.

"We're hoping to keep on pushing forward and eventually get involved with more service-oriented projects and more educational projects," Landstrom said.

And once the Bismarck chapter is established -- it's the group's first chapter in the state -- they hope other oil hub cities will start their own chapters.

"The energy industry is so important to us in North Dakota, we'd like to see it branch out to a couple other cities too," Landstrom said. "We do understand a lot of people are busy, and it does take a significant amount of time to get a chapter started."

Although Landstrom recently moved to Minot for his career, he is still very much the backbone of setting up the Bismarck group. Ben Schreiber, a right-of-way engineer with KLJ in the state capital and former landman, has become second-in-command for the group.

"It seems like a great idea to get a group of like-minded people together to do stuff," Schrieber said.

While Landstrom, Linberg and Schreiber all have desk jobs, the group isn't just for the suits of the industry.

"It's not aimed at just one specific group," Landstrom said. "They're professionals too. If you're roughnecking, you're a professional. I started out as an oil and gas landman, and a number of people in the group have spent time in all the different communities -- Dickinson, Minot, Williston -- just because they travel so much."

It expands the experiences of those in a wide, diverse industry, Landstrom said.

"I don't think we have very many exclusions; if people want to join, they're more than welcome," Landstrom said. "Our main area of focus is people under 40 heavily involved in the energy industry."

The group is free to join. Members pay dues with time donated to fundraising efforts for the group, a portion of which goes to the national office, Landstrom said.

A lunchtime meeting is scheduled for noon Wednesday at the Blarney Stone Pub, 408 E. Main Ave. in Bismarck.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
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