As you make the drive to Pipestone you are able to see the beauty of southwest Minnesota. The rolling hills dotted with cattle and wind generators. You can feel the history of the area as you see the red rock and the sacred land that is home to the Pipestone monument. Instead of driving into town Class XI Zoomed into town. Waiting for us in our Pipestone Zoom was Dr. Kumara Jayasuriya, Southwest Minnesota State University President, who welcomed the class. We were treated to the sites of the city through a video and conversation with Erica Volkir, Executive Director of the Pipestone Chamber of Commerce. Erica’s energy and passion for the community of Pipestone made us all the more excited to meet others from the community during our three days together.
Pipestone is home to the Pipestone Monument. The pipestone material that is found here is considered sacred and is quarried to make pipes used in prayer by American Indians. Park Superintendent, Lauren Blacik, shared the history of the monument as well as the work that is done today to protect the area and its legacy. Lauren shared the complexities that exist in working with the American Indian tribes to ensure the legacy of the area and protecting its resources. MARL program leaders Toby and Christy facilitated the conversations in a playful manner, including using a virtual “wheel of fortune”.
Dr. Robert Milligan (MARL Board of Directors) was our guest presenter for day one. Dr. Milligan helped us to explore the concepts of customer attributes and how to better understand our consumers. Through a variety of exercises we were able to develop an understanding of the things that we ourselves value as well as the emotions that are at play in making purchasing decisions.
Our afternoon included a panel discussion with leadership from PIPESTONE Vet and Pipestone Systems. Dr. Gordon Spronk, Dr. Luke Minion, and Sylvia Wolters shared information about their organization, took time to share more about their personal views on leadership and their experiences, and answered endless questions by the Class. PIPESTONE was founded in 1942 and has continued to innovate in its work within the industry. They are an international corporation with holdings in China and South America. They are also very committed to service both their own employees as well as the communities in which they live. The vulnerability that was shared by all three members of the panel was inspiring. These three leaders exemplified PIPESTONES core values of integrity, caring, commitment, growth, and teamwork.
After doing a MARL Show and Tell where we discovered the hidden art talents of Class XI, we closed for the day. We left day one feeling excitement for the people we would meet tomorrow and a deeper appreciation for this hidden gem of southwestern Minnesota.
Submitted by Christy Kallevig, MARL Co-Program Leader