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