MARL Class IX started our last full day in Washington DC with a group meeting in our hotel. We reminisced on our previous evening activities with the other state leadership dinner groups and review our schedule for the day. As we learn about government, and our place in the advancement of agriculture, and rural life we have interesting conversations each day. Today we reviewed and discussed ethical leadership and how our personal morals and values are certainly an important piece of our leadership effectiveness and impact.
Traveling with our group to Capitol Hill gave us a chance to spend time learning about our Nation’s Capitol. The history of the building itself, and the transition and changes over time was intriguing and fascinating. Our eyes were definitely opened more each day to the history and how that plays a part in our present and future.
The MARL delegation was fortunate to meet with both MN Senators. Senator Al Franken spent some time with us in the Capitol updating us on the current climate in the session and answering our questions. When asked about leadership in a polarized government he indicated that “being honorable, hard-working, ethical and having high standards” were essential to his work. These leadership qualities help him maintain trust and find common ground with other Legislators. Franken said he focuses on work that is “good for all of Minnesota”, and that he is passionate about representing his state the best he can. Franken prides himself on being a serious legislator and leads by example. He also joked with our MARL Class IX member Russell Derickson about an encounter they had at Farm Fest last August, even reenacting the scene!
Next, our MARL class met with Senator Amy Klobuchar in the Hart Building Atrium between meetings. We learned that the U.S. Senate currently has the most women Senators it has ever had in its history, there are 21 woman senators that serve various states. Senator Klobuchar indicated that finding common ground is always important in her work. She needs to find common ground with her constituents, as well as fellow Senators so they can work to create policy that makes sense. Relationships are certainly key in Washington and Klobuchar talked positivity about the partners she has made.
Following our visits at the Capitol we arrived at The Grange near the White House to learn more about their work in support of rural America. The mission of The Grange Organization is to provide opportunities for families and individuals and families to develop to their highest potential in order to build stronger communities and states, as well as a stronger nation. It was interesting to learn that The Grange has strong ties to Minnesota History in Agriculture and our class was able to learn more about their continuing efforts to help create policy to support rural Americans.
Following our visit with the professionals at The Grange our SMT groups took off on our Leadership Search activities in D.C. Our Groups visited a historic site or museum. On our visit, we were charged with identifying examples of extraordinary acts, concepts or characteristics of leadership that were evident in our observations. Our SMT groups all visited different places in D.C. and throughout these experiences our groups developed a presentation to perform for our classmates at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts.
Our performances were representative of many of our morning leadership conversations from throughout our week in Washington D.C. and our personal and group experiences, intertwined with our site tours and learning opportunities. These performances portrayed our view of leadership characteristics that we identified in past leaders, likely and unlikely or well-known and less known, in the history of our great country.
MARL Class IX has a tremendous team of leaders and we would like to thank them all for their leadership. We realize these experiences take many minds and hands. For our fearless leaders and “opportunity-makers”, THANK YOU from all of us. We are grateful for the time spent, knowledge gained we are all excited about the paths that have been laid before us and for the opportunities to come!
Submitted by Natasha Mortenson