MARL Graduates Class VIII in Brainerd

Closing ceremony offers time for celebration, reflection

More than 30 Minnesota farmers and agribusiness men and women wrapped up their time with the Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL), which held its final session and graduation April 1 in Brainerd, Minn., at Cragun’s Resort.

Following the graduation ceremony and banquet for Class VIII, the Class hosted the annual MARL Fundraising Auction with both live and silent items. The auction was chaired by Sara Hewitt, Margaret Wagner and Sara Preston. At the conclusion of the auction MARL Class VIII raised just short of $30,000 to go towards the MARL program in upcoming years.

Saturday morning, as Class VIII’s time together officially came to a close, class members participated in exit interviews conducted by MARL Alumni and Industry partners to recap the past 18 months and the take always each member received.

“The greatest take away from MARL would be becoming more mindful of other people and understanding the situation I am in,” said Corey Hanson, Class VIII Member and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association Director. “Over the 18 months, I have become a better listener and become more aware of my surroundings to help digest all the information better. This has happened because of a variety of exercises we did to get to know our strengths and weaknesses. I now understand the areas I need to work on, and using my strengths I have to become a better leader.”

Chris Hill, Class VIII member and Minnesota Soybean Growers Association director, said the MARL Program has been an excellent and life changing experience, especially traveling abroad to Vietnam and learning about agriculture in a different country.

“On our international study to Vietnam, we visited a pig farm and it was at this visit that the farmer talked about the growing demand for soybeans and soybean meal in the country due to the rapid increase in livestock, specially pigs,” Hill said. “These pig farmers are looking for the best inputs for their pigs and are looking to the United States for this. As a soybean farmer, I was very excited as it shows we have a tremendous amount of trade opportunity with Vietnam.”

Both Hill and Hanson agreed that MARL is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“We encourage anyone who is interested to take the jump and apply for the next class, you won’t regret it,” Hanson said.

The Minnesota Soybean Research & Promotion Council invests in the MARL program, which is currently taking applications through May 1 for MARL Class IX. The new class will begin its two-year commitment in November 2016 and run through Spring of 2018. For more information, visit http://www.marlprogram.org/

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