The last day of our trip! We all were on the bus by 7:00 a.m. heading to Gettysburg. The vast majority of us have not been to Gettysburg. After an hour and a half drive we arrived, and our bus dropped us off at the Visitor’s Center. The very first thing we did was watch a short video about Gettysburg, and its historical impact on our country.

The Cyclorama was next on our agenda. The Cyclorama is a 380 degree oil painting of the battle of Gettysburg. Looking at the battle depicted in this way impacted many of us.

Next we boarded our bus with a tour guide. The battle sites of Gettysburg was our next stop. We were all very impressed with the wealth of knowledge and passion of our guide, he made it all come to life. I don’t think any of us realize just how many monuments recognizing Gettysburg dotted the landscape. Neither did we comprehend the vast number of deaths in such a short amount of time. It made an impact on all of us.
Our destination for the afternoon was the Eisenhower Farm. I guess personally I did not realize President Eisenhower lived on a farm outside of Gettysburg. Eisenhower’s farm is lined with evergreen trees along the driveway – one from each state. Again we started our tour with a short video. On the next stop was the house. 97% of the furnishings are original.Eisenhower loved the farm and one reason he purchased it was his interest in soil conservation.

As we ended our last day we are feeling exhausted, our minds are full and physically we are exhausted. But none of us would change a thing!

-Wanda Patsche
Class of VIII

Another busy day in D.C…

We started out in the rush hour hustle on the metro. Everyone made it there safely, although we did get split up and a few got on the wrong train. The group had a chance to briefly meet with senator Klobuchar and take a picture. She had to run to a committee hearing but had a moment to share a few thoughts with us. One main issue for her now is opening up trade with Cuba. (Fun Fact: Amy Klobochar was the first women elected to the U.S. Senate from MN, pretty impressive!)

 We then headed over the meet with Senator Al Franken, and legislative aids at the newly constructed U.S. Capital Visitor’s Center. Senator Franken spent about 15 minutes addressing our group and answering questions. I really enjoyed the personal interaction; we talked about the Keystone Pipeline, International Trade, The Renewable Fuel Standard, and Wolves. One comment related to me personally, he said “I did not grow up on a farm, but I have spent a lot of time working with and learning from farmers. I have learned a lot about these issues that allows me to work on behalf of Minnesota Agriculture.” (Something like this.) In many ways this is also my story.

The reoccurring theme is that the parties are not working together and it is frustrating trying to get anything done – too bad because there are a lot of smart people in Washington with a real potential to make an impact. Our tour of the U.S. Capital was good – I personally liked standing in the original Supreme Court chamber. Also, there was beautiful original artwork all around.

The final official visit today was at Minnesota Farmers Union. Nice presentation/discussion, but the group was pretty tired. After five days in D.C. we are all wearing down a bit – we have been on the move and learning so much. I feel like I am swimming in all this information. I will definitely need to process when I get home.

Dinner on the waterfront – good food, good drinks, great company. My parting thought is do not trust D.C. taxi drivers with your life, wear a seat belt.

-Margaret Wagner

We had a later start this morning and began by talking about our heritage and how that has influenced our values and beliefs.

Next we all headed for a tour of the White House. Shawn worked with Representative Walz’s office to get our large group in and the staffer Jesse, got us all invites. We were all able to get through security just fine. It was an interesting experience to see how “untouched” or representative of the period they were constructed in, both the rooms and furnishings. The blue room is the center of the White House and is designed in an oval so everyone is an equal distance from the President.

Next, we all headed to our appointments with different organizations. Some visited with groups such as Feeding America, Department of Commerce- international Trade Association, National Cattleman’s Sierra Club, and National Biodiesel Board.Many walked away with a new perspective and greater understanding of these organizations and their issues.

Next we all headed to the American Farm Bureau Office. We met with similar “MARL” groups from Indiana, Washington and South Dakota, for a social hour at AFBF.

We then divided into small groups with some participants from each state and went to dinner in D.C. Some groups went to places like Fogo, Hamilton’s and D.C. Chophouse. Conversation ranged from learning about each person’s job, family and farm to current Ag issues, programs we were passionate about and everyone’s travels so far in D.C.

Tomorrow is a long day with visits with our Senators, a meeting at Farmers union and our ‘farewell to D.C.’ It is hard to believe we already head for home on Friday!

-Sara Hewitt

7:30 – We started the morning talking about conflict solution and reviewed the day.

The first stop of the day was the U.S.D.A. where we met with Lang Honig Chief of Crops Branch, Karis Gutter Deputy under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Ag. Services and USDA Military Veterans Ag. Liaison, and Rachel Steele, National Climate Hubs Coordinator. It was heartening to have Mr. Gutter say “we” have a story to tell, and it is a good one, in regards to agriculture. Interesting fun fact, the NASS report is signed by the Secretary of Agriculture before he reads it so it can’t be c hanged. “Just the facts, ma’am,” or something like that finally in regards to climate changes – the USDA’s climate change program recognizes it is the sometimes the terminology that causes conflict rather than what the real issues are.

The group photo at the Great Memorial went pretty well considering the wind chill was probably 5 degrees. We are a hearty group for sure.

Another great opportunity for the Greatest MARL Class VIII ever, Collin Peterson stopped in to meet us when we were in the Ag. Committee meeting room. He shared his words of wisdom with us and we greatly appreciated him taking the time to stop in.

Since we were already through security and got to experience the insanely busy cafeteria in the Longworth Building, it was on to our congressional appointments. Our class had the opportunity to meet with staff members from Walz, Kline, Paulson, Emmer, and Peterson’s office. Thanks to our wonderful classmate Shaun Schlosser some of us got to meet Congressman Walz. In my group we met staffers from Congressional Kline’s office. Pat was phenomenal in explaining a lot of interesting things to us. Not the least of which was it does make a difference to the office how we contact them and they are listening.

Finally our day ended with a trip out to Gadsby’s. This tavern made us feel like we were stepping back in time to colonial Virginia, definitely a highlight of our week. Mike Liepold’s guest John Douglass Hall was a favorite among us all for his interpretation of colonial times. Of course having Robin Kinney there was tremendously fun, along with Jeff Harrison and Brandon, lobbyists for corn growers,

and Genya Dana (State Department, Office of Science and Technology) a scientist with an interesting and supportive attitude in science and agriculture. Our brief debriefing at the hotel said everyone had a great day and I’m sure we are all excited for tomorrow.

The Greatest MARL Class VIII Ever,
-Barb Liebenstein

We started our day by visiting either the Australian embassy or the Moroccan embassy. I attended the Australian embassy wit Dr. Chris Parker.

We all watched a presentation on Australia give to us by Dr. Parker. Our next agenda item was meeting with the Cuban Intersection Center, but unfortunately plans fell through. The group spent the afternoon visiting sites based on their interests. Many visited either the Holocaust Museum, Smithsonian Institute or National Archives.

We ended our evening with an evening tour of the national memorial. We all were very cold as temperatures were only about 2 degrees with a wind.

Tomorrow we visit the USDA and meet with our congressional representatives. Everyone is truly enjoying their time in Washington D.C.

Class VIII
Wanda Patsche