How nice would it be if you would not have to wait half a year before starting the MARL journey, after selection? Class XII is the first cohort of MARL to start right away. In conjunction with a tradeshow (Farmfest) and large picnic with friends and alumni, the participants of Class XII had their very first leadership seminar on August 3rd. Beginning the journey in a celebratory way.

And fun it was! Executive Director Olga Brouwer (SMSU) and Program Leader Toby Spanier (UMN Extension) welcomed the group at the Redwood Area Community Center at 11:30 a.m., with the traditional MARL materials: name tag, personalized padfolio and – binder. The day started off with introductions in a playful way to get to know each other. A puzzle activity in small groups quickly lead us to think about leadership. As each group completed their puzzle, the shared an analogy to leading in agricultural and rural communities.

After lunch and interactive activities, Toby shared networking tips that could be applied at a short meet & greet with the MARL board, as well as the next segment of the day: a Leadership Hunt Activity at the Farmfest trade show. Some helpful tips are found at To make sure we could recognize each other at the busy trade show, all received a t-shirt with MARL logo print. Which actually helped for many visitors to recognize the new participants with smiles and words of encouragement. Including Minnesota Commissioner Petersen and Governor Walz! The excitement increased by the hour.

Commissioner of Agriculture Petersen and Governor Tim Walz visiting the MARL booth at Farmfest, with Rob Sip (Class V) and Darrell Ingvaldson (Class VI)

The short seminar concluded with a reflection on the Leadership Hunt and a picnic together with MARL alumni and friends at the beautiful farm of Bruce (Class V) and Ann Tiffany.

A big Thank You to Class XII for their dedicated participation, to friends and alumni for their support and encouragement. It was wonderful to meet all of you, and feel the excitement. The journey has started!

A short online prep-session for Class XII will be held on September 19. The first 3-day seminar is scheduled for December 13-15, 2022. Follow more news via Facebook and Twitter: @marlprogram.

Submitted by Olga Brouwer, Executive Director MARL



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