Stimulating, encouraging, and informative to me are the best adjectives to describe my first MARL experience.  Friendships, knowledge, and self-awareness are how I feel about what is to come for us in class X.  As a class we have a lot to look forward to in the next two years.

Enough about how I feel let me tell you about what we accomplished and what we learned on day two of our first MARL seminar. Day two, a day packed with great information, learning, and self-awareness. Day two had an interesting start; typically a person gets up, takes a hot shower, and gets ready for the day, well not at our hotel in Willmar where there was no running water. Yes, no running water! During the evening the hotel had water issues which led to no running water in the morning. If you were fortunate enough to have a poolside room you were witness to flooding and what looked like a swamp (pool/picture attached). Even though there were no hot showers taken we were still an alert and happy group. Louriston Dairy located near Murdock was the groups’ destination on day 2. Wow! What a facility! Let me tell you this is a top notch facility with some really great people who milk a lot of cows. All the milk produced at the dairy goes into cheese production to make some really excellent cheese. How do I know it is excellent cheese? Well, we got to have it for snacks two times during day two. Why is this important, because apparently “snacks are hard to come by during MARL seminars”, said Natasha Mortenson who was a MARL class nine participant. Thank You Louriston Dairy!

In preparation for seminar one, class X participants were asked to fill out a Myers-Briggs evaluation prior to attending the seminar in Willmar. In case you are curious the Myers-Briggs evaluation is taken to determine a person’s personality type. There are 16 different personality types. Individuals have distinctive characteristics that make up a specific type of personality. I hadn’t heard of the evaluation prior to MARL and did not know what to expect. I learned a lot about myself, some things I already knew some I did not. Catie Rasmussen extension educator for the University of Minnesota presented on the Myers-Briggs evaluation. Catie led us through the Myers-Briggs evaluation explaining the background of the evaluation and how to read and understand our own report. The individual reports were extremely accurate and I know all of us learned more about ourselves and even more about each other through the activities led by Catie.

After lunch we had the opportunity to tour the Louriston Dairy facilities. Did you know that this facility is home to 9,500 Jersey/Holstein cross dairy cows? They milk 22 hours a day and are a capable of milking 106 cows per milking. They ship the milk to a local creamery that produces a wide variety of cheeses. The dairy has some really great people and a lot of them are immigrants from Mexico and Central America. They strategically placed the dairy for sources of feed, manure management, water management, and sales of milk. The dairy does not use anti-biotics but instead strives to keep the facility very clean and the livestock healthy. I could keep going but I would have three pages! I think you as a reader get the point. After the tour we were back in the classroom where we finished the day getting briefed on homework due before the next seminar and providing the class with a Golden Nugget. A Golden Nugget had to be an experience or something gained from the first seminar. Each participant shared their own Golden Nugget to the group as we all stood in a circle and carefully listened to one another. What a great experience seminar one and day two were. With that I will finish with a quote, “No thief, however skillful, can rob one of knowledge, and that is why knowledge is the best and safest treasure to acquire.”

― L. Frank Baum, The Lost Princess of Oz

I like this quote because MARL is knowledge and no one will take that knowledge away from us. As we start our journey we will gain great knowledge while sharing that experience with great people. I look forward to seeing everyone in Marshall!

Submitted by Austen Germolus

Greetings to All!

MARL Class X officially kicked off last Thursday in Willmar and with it came Winter for most of Minnesota. The day began with registration, individual photos, and a delicious lunch prepared by Representative Dave Baker’s staff at the Oaks at Eagle Creek. During lunch we heard from Jim Sieben of Class VI talk about his involvement in the local community and how he brought Nova-Tech Engineering and the Midwest Technology Campus onto the international scene.

Following lunch each member of Class X gave their 90 second spiel on themselves and their family, which was very humbling and about the time I confirmed that I was out of my league with all the talent in the room. We all learned what we can expect from MARL, what is expected of us, and what was to come in the rest of the Willmar session.

After a quick break we were right back at it, absorbing knowledge from Eriks and Christy about the Frameworks for Leadership, and how everyone lead differently and viewed the world from many different angles. The exercise had us divide ourselves throughout the room based on our leadership styles and how we viewed and would handle different scenarios that were presented.

Next we heard from Ellen Wolter and Dr. Kent Olson discussing Minnesota’s demographics and the Ag & Rural Economy. I was very surprised by Ellen’s presentation and how the states demographics were shifting to a more diverse racial structure, at a fairly constant rate along with how the age trend will be shifting in coming years. Dr. Olson’s presentation showed promise for younger farmers taking a bit larger ROA than their father’s generation; with the looming economic times it was a small ray of sunshine.

While they set up for the banquet we switched rooms and broke off into groups to do a SOAR analysis of Minnesota’s current rural setting. SOAR analysis is a bit like a SWOT analysis that leverages the strength and opportunities while adding aspirations and results. It encourages taking your weaknesses and threats and reframing them into a positive way of thinking.

Lastly we closed out with my favorite part, the social and the banquet. After day 2 I had an intimate understanding of why I enjoy this part of the night so much, but I’ll let Austen tell you about that in the next blog post! We were lucky enough to have Glenn Leitch as our Keynote Speaker; Glen is the Executive VP of Supply Chain at Hormel Foods. His presentation was very informative and with over 35 years in the industry his experiences and past predictions were quite surprising.

After hearing Glen’s predictions I decided to make one of my own. I believe the next 17 months will be the most enlightening months of my life up to this point and I’m looking forward to growing and learning with the rest of MARL Class X. I hope everyone has a safe holiday season filled with countless blessings and even more calories.

Steven “Scott” Schwartz

MARL Class X