The new MARL Class IX met for the first time at the MinnWest Tech Campus in Willmar, MN to begin their 18-month leadership development journey. This first seminar focused on the orientation to MARL, getting to know each other, and ways to understand leadership. Executive Director Olga Reuvekamp and Board Chair Cheryl Glaeser welcomed the class, Jim Tate of SMSU snapped the first (of many) group pictures, and then Mike Liepold and I began the exploration of leadership. The inspiration was palatable, as rightfully tweeted by Mary Kay Delvo, member.


How do we define leadership? What qualities are part of good leadership? Who in our lives display those leadership characteristics? And, prompted by the late Dr. Robert Terry, what kind of leadership choices shape the ways we lead?


With these questions rattling around the room, class members then went into Willmar to meet with local leaders and hear their takes on leadership. Class IX members met with local business owners, a conservationist, community developers, an agronomist, and a Dean of a college to learn how these leadership choices have impacts in different contexts.


Emcee Harmon Wilts (Class III) introducing MARL alumni


Dr. Connie Gores, President of Southwest Minnesota State University, welcoming the audience

The first night ended with a social and banquet where alumni and other MARL friends joined Class IX to build the network further. Emcee Harmon Wilts, Class III, and Keynote Speaker Glenn Leitch, CEO of Jennie-O Turkey Store, challenged everyone in the room to think about how we apply our leadership to our rural communities and the field agriculture. Alumni Steve Olson (Class II) and Lara Durben (Class VI) shared a message from the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association/Research & Promotion Council – banquet sponsor. A great fit with our turkey dinner and the upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving.


Keynote Speaker Glenn Leitch, CEO Jennie-O Turkey Store


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