Thursday in Perham started off at the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Authority.  This was a unique opportunity to be able to see what happens to the trash that is taken from dumpsters.  We met with Brian and Scott who were both very knowledgeable and passionate about what they do.  The tour showed us how the trash is sifted and sorted before it can be further processed and the eventually burned which subsequently supplies steam energy to the Tuffys dog food plant and the Bongards creamery.  Some lucky classmates and even Olga got the opportunity to run the grappling claw that picks up trash and puts it into the burn chamber.

After our time at the waste facility we travelled to Kenny’s Candy and Confections where we had a tour so sweet the air tasted like sugar.  Here we got to see how various types of candy and snacks were created and processed.  We also got the opportunity to learn about some of the qualities of Kenny and how he is a leader in the industry for his company and a small view into the future for the facility.  After our tours we had the rare opportunity to return to the hotel for lunch and an extended break to catch up on work or to just recharge for the remainder of our day.


After lunch we traveled to the Perham Sportsmans Clubhouse to continue our training.  We are very thankful that one of our classmates (Cordell Huebsch) had so many connections to provide such a great space to work on some leadership strategies such as Open Space.  We had some excitement in our transit because the roads were pretty slick and one of our classmates slid into the ditch, but it all worked out as a payloader was on its way by and had a chain to pull him out.  Then the payloader was hung up in the other ditch so another classmate with a bigger truck had to tug him out.

To cap off our long day of tours and program facilitation we traveled to the Cactus for our Banquet.  Together with alumni and other guests, we enjoyed a meal and some great reflections on our MARL experience thus far.  We also had a very special keynote speaker; our very own classmate Erin Spangler and the topic of her speech could not have been more important.  She spoke about Health and Safety in Agriculture and brought up the very real fact that the Ag industry is dangerous, and we should all strive to be safer.  This topic for me really struck home growing up on my family farm and being part of the farm there are many times when I probably do not practice the safe or cautious ways to do my work but moving forward I will try my best to take a little extra time to make sure what I am doing is safe.  We had a very full day but a very educative and exciting day, nonetheless.

Submitted by Sean Maday

MARL Class X descended on Perham Mn. on January 22 – 24th, for the 9th and final domestic session of our course. As the weather thawed outside we gathered in the ARVIG building conference room, learning about who is a visionary leader and asking ourselves when have we been visionary leaders as well as the value of creating a shared vision and leading a change. We culminated our day with supper at the Pine Island Fish Co. and a late hotel check-in.

Day two we found our way to the Prairie Lakes Municipal Solid Waste Facility where plant manager Brian Schmidt explained the unique features of the facility, showing us firsthand how the boilers are fed the garbage with “The Claw” and the steam produced is sold to neighboring business’ Tuffy’s and Bongard’s to run their production lines. Counterpart Scott Munson carried us through the many facets of the recycling  process within the plant, showing us how workers and equipment size, sort, redistribute, and finally package the various materials we through away.

We then made our way across town to Kenny’s Candy and Confections where Keith Carlson and Kathy George toured us through their plant, showing us how the many types of licorice, gummy bears, popcorn and other treats are made sorted, packaged, and shipped. Workers seemed to be happy with all that sugar around!


The Thursday afternoon session we ventured to the Perham Sportsman’s Club where Toby and Christy led us through a “Facilitate to Lead” program where we discussed how to set up and build a meeting agenda as well as dealing with conflicts in a meeting and difficult behaviors. We ended the day at The Cactus for our supper banquet where Class X’s own Erin Spangler gave a keynote address on Health and Safety in Agriculture which moved all in the room to count our blessings!

Friday morning we gathered for breakfast with our emotional intelligence groups before meeting at the Arvig conference room where we discussed the details of our upcoming International trip to Cambodia and Taiwan next month. Planning and tasks of our April 3rd graduation and auction were delegated to various members of the class. Leaving us to wrap up the week electing Curtis Mahnken and Matt Altman in a tie breaker, as our class representatives for the next two years! Congratulations to Curtis and Matt, they will represent us very well!


Submitted by Steve Schmitt