Building leadership skills by building bridges

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The South Dakota National Guard continues its second week of the 35th annual Golden Coyote Exercise.

South Dakota National Guard troops roll an oil drum across a makeshift bridge as part of the Golden Coyote Exercise. (KEVN)

Monday soldiers were busy building leadership skills by building bridges.

Completing the Leadership Reaction Course requires more than just skill.

It takes teamwork.

One of the exercises service members had to figure out was how to get an oil drum from one platform across a gap to another platform.

Each station has a different scenario, and the group must solve the obstacle in a certain amount of time.

"My emotions going through this were you know? Let's just wing it and hope it works," South Dakota National Guard Cadet Riley Kopp said.

Captain Miranda Conklin says this particular exercise of the Golden Coyote helps develop leadership skills and improve problem-solving skills.

Each station gets appointed a different leader, testing that soldier's plan and how he adapts to change.

"It helps with morale honestly. I really think that this particular lane is in itself a morale booster for maybe somebody who's had a particularly hard A.T. (Advance Training). They can come out here and have a good time with their buddies. I think that's definitely important," South Dakota National Guard Capt. Miranda Conklin said.

Kopp says this is his first time participating in Golden Coyote, but he's already learned so much.

"Doing exercises like this is great team-building and helps our communication, which is something we struggle on the most. We might be able to do our jobs really well, but if we can't communicate to each other we're just as good as not knowing what we're doing," Kopp said.