This past weekend, we had the opportunity as a MARL class to wrap up the program with a bang. The final seminar included several activities including EQi post assessments, attendance of the grand opening of the Sprout Food Hub, and graduation festivities.
We arrived to Cragun’s Resort on Thursday as a group excited to catch up and reconnect after our trip to Vietnam. One of the first items of business was to evaluate and reflect on our EQi post assessments which is focused on emotional intelligence. It was really cool hearing how everyone in our group grew during the year and a half long MARL program in several areas. We all had chosen to work on two or three areas of our report from the beginning to now. Knowledge of the emotional intelligences have made us more aware of both why we are acting the way we do and why other people act the way they do. Later that evening, we had a wonderful dinner, sponsored by Dan & Ronaele Hoffman, with key donors to the MARL program and we greatly appreciate their support.
On the second day, we were able to visit the Sprout Food Hub in Little Falls for their grand opening celebration. The hub has become a vital resource to the region for local and small growers to have a means to market their goods to restaurants and stores. You could tell that there was a lot of passion that shined through by everyone involved in Sprout. There were vendors present offering local produce and goods to purchase along with a program involving several speakers. Speakers included Senator Amy Klobuchar, Representative Rick Nolan and Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Dave Frederickson. Hopefully Sprout will become a sustained vital cog to the community that it is in well into the future!
We capped off our MARL experience with the graduation ceremony and banquet. It was a fantastic event full of stories, laughter and tears and will be reminisced upon by many well into the future.
At the conclusion of the banquet, we were able to have an auction to help fundraise money for the MARL program. It was a great success! By the end of the night, we had raised just over $29,000 for the future of the program. I know that I can speak for all of us in saying that the MARL program is worth every single penny of that.
MARL was a fantastic experience that I am very fortunate to have been a part of and it will be missed. Through the program, you are able to meet very talented people from around the state that are in different fields and specialties from yourself. When a group of diverse and talented people come together, personal leadership growth is inevitable. I know that this will result in more active leaders in our rural communities and agriculture industry which will benefit us all well into the future.
Submitted by Luke Daninger