The third and last day of the Moorhead seminar; MARL Class VIII met on Friday, November 13 at the Marriott Courtyard Hotel.

Topic of the leadership session: “Decision Making when the Stakes are High” -The Highly Pathogenic Avian Flu Outbreak

Hartmann, Starkey, Westbrock and Olson

Hartmann, Starkey, Westbrock and Olson

Our main objective for the day was an in-depth study of the Avian Influenza crisis this pas spring. Steve Olson (Executive Director for the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association, MARL Class II) presented an overview of the crisis, and introduced the panelists. Our panelists, Jessica Westbrock (turkey farmer, Melrose), Dr. Bill Hartmann (MN Board of Animal Health), Mike Starkey (MN Dept of Ag) and Steve Olson each took time and talked extensively on how the crisis affected them and how they reacted.

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A summary:

9.3 million birds were affected.

Avian Influenza resulted in a $650,000 economic loss.

The Avian Influenza crisis is deemed the largest animal disaster outbreak in the U.S..

110 Farms were affected, which equates to about 10% of the birds in Minnesota.DSC02829 DSC02831

After each panelist presented to our group, the discussion was opened up to questions. A lot of questions. The last part of the session was dedicated to small group discussion where each of the panelists talked to one particular team. I know we all learned a great deal more about the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza and our state organizations will be even better prepared for when or if it happens again.


Submitted by Wanda Patsche

A summary of Day 2  – Seminar seven led us to the community of Moorhead, MN where like most sessions; we are up with the sun and out the door for an early morning departure. Fellow Class VIII member Ben Askegaard, a local native, guided our windshield tour of Moorhead and Fargo North Dakota pointing out the educational and cultural aspects of the area.

Case IH tour outfit

We Saw Red – Case IH Fargo Manufacturing Operations

An employee with 50-year’s working history at Case IH, led our tour. Which is a testament to the company. From steel sheets to rolling stock in 80-hours, Case IH Agriculture equipment is touched by many hands with a sense of accountability and responsibility in an area where communication is limited by the environment. We observed safety, lean manufacturing, inventory management, research and a dedicated workforce.

We were reminded of an earlier “Opener” exercise where we broke into teams and were tasked with building the tallest structure possible out of soda straws and tape. We had five minutes to discuss strategy and ten minutes to build our structure without speaking to each other. Those same skills take place every day on the manufacturing floor at Case IH.

The 2-Second Forecast – Commodity Trading Simulator, North Dakota State University, Dr. William Wilson.

DSC02775 DSC02777Dr. Wilson shared the management of risk and volatility in Agriculture Commodities. The simulator has full global market access and teaches trading to prospective students.   Dr. Wilson shared his views on the shortage of human capital in the agricultural sector as a result of growth in demand, internationally competitive landscape, technical advances, tremendous investment and China. What a fascinating discussion to engage in. His forecast projections are time bound by 2-seconds because after that the markets have already reflected the change. That certainly leaves no time for second guesses or daydreaming.

Permission to take Risk – Appareo Systems

With offices in ND, KS, and France, our hosts demonstrated how their core values are fundamental to their success. They are encouraging risk taking and tolerate failure. In doing so, they are able to cross the sectors of agriculture and aviation in ways that are similar but distinct. One of their innovations included using the sense of listening verses looking to count seed flow during planting. Cultivating the culture of innovation; MARL develops our skills and gives us the permission to take risks and lead.

Patience – Robert Bergland, Former US Secretary of Agriculture (1977-1981) US Congressman 1971-1977, Minnesota’s 7th Congressional District.

Former U.S. Secretary Bergland thanked by Sarah Schieck

Former U.S. Secretary Bergland thanked by Sarah Schieck

At 87 years old, Mr. Bergland gave us all hope to continue to make change. Some memorable statements from his address, as keynote speaker at the MARL banquet with alumni and friends included:

No matter how hot the hen house, it takes 21 days to hatch an egg.

We don’t always get our way but we get along.

We have looked East since WWII; we need to look south to Latin America.

His greatest lesson learned in Washington, D.C.: patience.

He is most proud of his work at the University of Minnesota Board of Regents.

DSC02788 DSC02789 DSC02796 Reuvekamp, Timmerman and Patsche addressing the audience.

What a treasure to spend time listening, learning and dreaming of the impact we will make when we enter into our late eighties. I intend to make it make it now through my MARL experience.

Submitted by Shawn Schloesser, MARL Class VIII

November 11, 2015 – Seminar 7, DAY 1

364 days ago, we started our leadership development journey with our MARL family. It was a bittersweet day as we kicked off the 2nd year in Moorhead. Excitement buzzed through the room as we reconnected with friends from across the state and caught up on each other’s lives since we were together in Duluth earlier this summer. It is a sobering thought that our MARL journey will conclude in just over 4 months with graduation in Brainerd.

Liepold measuring

Liepold measuring straw tower

Hagl and Jensen engaged in the straw tower competition

Hagl and Jensen engaged in the straw tower competition

The November session will largely focus on communication, facilitating productive meetings and making decisions in critical situations. We kicked off the session with a group activity that challenged our communication skills. The objective was to construct the tallest structure using only drinking straws and masking tape. Our teams had five minutes to talk out our game plan followed by ten minutes to execute our plan without talking. It was a great exercise to remind us about how critical communication is. It is interesting to think about how similar our personal and professional lives are to the straw tower challenge. We often develop a plan with our families and teams for daily/weekly tasks and then divide to conquer with limited opportunities to reconnect as we focus on our own key areas.



MARL Class VIII in silent action

MARL Class VIII in silent action

Class VIII building in silence

Class VIII building in silence

Mike then lead us through a discussion on how to best position the committees we serve on for success. With countless hours invested by volunteers, it is important to use the time of meeting participants as efficiently as possible. This starts with proactive meeting preparation that drives an agenda to communicate expectations to committee members. Facilitating the meeting to keep people on task while ensuring there is participation from all attendees can prove to be a challenge. We reviewed a couple of resource manuals that had great tips to balance various personality types to pursue a productive meeting conclusion.After a delicious meal of high quality pork loin (pig farmers across rural America thank you for the opportunity to provide your nutritional needs!), we capped off the night with an update from Mike and Olga on our Vietnam trip before we shared our personal and professional updates.









Cotterall and Hewitt, part of the winning team

Cotterall and Hewitt, part of the winning team

Tomorrow is an exciting day with tours to Case-New Holland, NDSU, Appareo Systems and the evening banquet. Here’s to the second year of our MARL experience, Cheers!

Respectfully yours,

Daryl Timmerman