FARGO — This week brought me to the nation's fastest growing county, McKenzie County of North Dakota. It's also the top oil and gas producing county in the U.S. Is that a coincidence? There is no such thing. As my mother taught me, "Coincidences are God's sealed orders."

The North Dakota Petroleum Council annual meeting was here to tackle the growing challenges to the industry that pays over half the taxes in North Dakota. Oil and gas revenues fund our schools, roads and water projects. Additionally, this industry provides our kids and grandkids the opportunity to stay home and make a great living.

The environmental extremists who seek to demonize fossil fuels — the woke ESG and "climate change" movements who are starving these industries of the capital needed to keep America energy independent — and the "not in my backyard" local, loud voices are all doing a disservice to our children. They seek to starve them of opportunities. I met some of those youngsters from McKenzie County.

Aiden Pelton is a freshman at Watford City High School. He says he gets a lot of new friends every year, and that it's good to meet people around the school.

He's most excited for the entrepreneurial opportunities available in Watford City.

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“I'd love to have my own business,” he said.

Allie Cross, a junior here, wants to be a registered nurse. And she's already connecting with other generations to send them a message:

“With COVID and the quarantines, I feel like everyone feels so apart from each other. I have been able to go in to our elementary schools and talk to the students and help them through this. I also love helping the people who are in assisted living. I really enjoy connecting with so many people.”

We can learn a lot from Aiden and Allie.

And from Ryan Zinke, the secretary of interior under President Donald Trump. He was the keynote speaker for the conference. He is a former commander of the U.S. Navy SEAL Team Six from 1986 until 2008; and a former US House of Representatives member from Montana. Now, he is running for the US House in Montana's new 2nd District. He told industry and community leaders about the greatest threat to the United States: “The division in our country. We have a mess on our hands.” But, he brought optimism in how we end the division, unite and win the battle. "It's fixable."

“What man breaks, man can fix,” he said. “But, we are in the fourth quarter.”

He has some strong words for conservatives unhappy with Republican elected leaders.

"We can't circle the wagons and fire in like we so often do," he said.

Let's stop circling the wagons against ourselves. Let's fight for the future our kids deserve, and for an industry that is paving the way for our kids and grandkids to stay in North Dakota to build a better tomorrow.

Click here for more columns from Scott Hennen.

Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com.