On the second day of our St. Paul seminar, we started the day listening to Bruce Miller from Minnesota Farmer’s Union discuss his roles with the union, MN farmers, and State & Federal governments. Mr. Miller made sure to elude to the fact that our representatives would much rather hear from us, their constituents, over lobbyists and other special interest groups in the capital. Hearing this was a sign to relief to myself and the rest of our MARL class because it made us feel like we had a voice as local leaders and our inputs and opinions had some pull in conversation with our elected officials.
After Bruce’s program we headed for the State Capitol where we had the opportunity to meet our State Senators and Representatives. I was able to block off a chunk of time to sit down with my State Senator, Sen. Dave Senjem, and discuss my local community of Rochester, MN. I listened to Sen. Senjem discuss his ideas on how to improve the life of his constituents and how he thought leadership programs like MARL could impact at the local, state, and national levels. Our conversation concluded with me following Sen. Senjem down to a transportation committee meeting and walking in with him through the back entrance. It was pretty cool walking in to a committee meeting with a former Senate minority AND majority leader.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon I popped in and out of committee meetings. During lunch, together with a group of classmates we discussed each of our different experiences at the capitol and what we learned, realized, or were surprised by. We all came away learning different things from our representatives and each other, both of which I consider huge wins.
When everyone returned to the hotel we shifted gears to our next adventure, the Washington D.C. seminar. We went over our tentative agenda, what to pack, took a quiz on what we knew about D.C., and got our ducks in a row regarding congressional meetings and professional organization appointments. My first two MARL seminars I was overwhelmed by the amount of information we were being presented, but at this point I’m used to it and almost look at it as if it were a challenge. Our 4th seminar to Washington D.C. will be a test and I’m looking forward to every minute of it.
Afterward, program leader Christy Kallevig lead a session on Ethical Leadership. In this segment we learned about the six core ethical principles that are the foundation of ethical cultures: Respect/Autonomy, Beneficence, Non-Malice, Justice, Fidelity, and Law Abiding. We also discussed the differences between Moral Temptations and Ethical Dilemmas and the three ways of resolving ethical dilemmas.
Right before the evening’s banquet we went over our Letter to the Editor comments by Paula Mohr (Class VI) from the previous seminar in Marshall. Everyone was very pleased with their feedback and we look forward to seeing if any of them go to print in their respected publications. MARL Board Chairwoman Cheryl Glaeser (Class VII) greeted the class immediately after Paula Mohr’s session, encouraging everyone to continue being engaged members. Cheryl briefly shared how MARL impacted her life, and through that, agriculture and rural Minnesota.
To wrap up the night we were joined by a very nice group at the banquet emceed by Class IX graduate, Mary Kay Delvo. There were MARL graduates, State Representatives, and many others that were able to make it. Our Keynote speaker was Lori Sturdevant, Author and retired Star Tribune editorial writer, who spoke about history of Minnesota and emphasized the important role of the press. Jay Schmidt and Stephanie Loch shared their Class X reflections with the audience.
Overall our St. Paul Seminar was a very educational experience for me. I’m looking forward to our trip to Washington D.C. and the rest of our journey the next 15 months.
Submitted by Scott Schwartz, Class X