After two full days of learning at Southwest Minnesota State University, the Class IX crew traveled to nearby Balaton, Minnesota for day three. Although it only boasts a population of 630 people, Balaton is home to one of southwest Minnesota’s premiere agriculture companies, Ralco Animal Nutrition. Ralco was generous enough to allow the group to meet at one of their facilities.
Morning programming began with some housekeeping items and upcoming assignments. Once complete, Lynn Becker, MARL Class II, led off by telling his story surrounding crisis communication. Lynn’s real-world example of how to effectively communicate during a crisis situation was a great introduction for the rest of the day.
Following Lynn, Lon Tonneson of the Dakota Farmer was kind enough to spend some time giving pointers to the group on writing letters to the editor. This interactive segment featured a whole host of questions. Lon answered each question from the perspective of a newspaper editor, himself. It became quite clear that many within the group took great interest in writing letters to the editor, but haven’t done so to this point.
Although shrimp might not be the first thing that pops into your mind when thinking of southwest Minnesota, but it will soon grow the list of Minnesota agricultural exports. Tru© Shrimp Systems is one of the latest advancements Ralco has to offer. In the coming future, Ralco’s shrimp facility in Balaton will begin producing commercially grown shrimp using the most advanced technology within the shrimp industry.
Channeling his inner Forest Gump, Tru Shrimp Systems Operations Manager Robert Gervais taught the class all about the modern shrimping business. Ralco worked closely with Texas A&M University to create technology to sustainably raise shrimp using machines to replicate ocean tidal basins. This breakthrough technology could change the way domestic shrimp production occurs.
Kristin Harner, MARL Class II, rounded out class presentations for the day. Through her communications experience with the Minnesota Farm Bureau, Kristin gave the class great tips on how to handle a crisis situation. Following her presentation, Kristin helped lead an impromptu crisis communication activity. She was joined by past MARL Board Member Jeremy Geske, Lon Tonneson and Heath Radke of MARL Class VIII in administering the activity. Participants quickly found themselves outside of their comfort zones by being put on the spot in answering questions surrounding a hypothetical crisis event tailored to their professional workplace. While other classmates took their turn participating in the activity, Carolyn Olson spoke with Class IX members on her experience as an active blogger and social media user.
Before another snow storm moved in, the group ended the second session in traditional MARL fashion. Each participant shared a quick word on what they took away from the three-day session. Now the group is onto St. Paul in January!
Submitted by Adam Ulbricht