MARL enters 18th year of training leaders in agriculture

(MARL participants toured Croatia to learn more about its developing ag sector)

Participants in the Minnesota Agriculture Research Program (MARL) recently capped off the 18-month program with an international study seminar in Croatia. The trip abroad is one of many experiences MARL graduates are exposed to as they work to become better leaders in Minnesota’s ag sector.

MARL was officially launched in 2000 as a two-year program open to ag professionals with leadership experience interested in learning applicable skills in leadership, personal skill-building and location-related subject matter. Participants attend 11 different seminars, all with a different focus and location for unique perspectives on agriculture in different parts of the state and beyond.

Every two years, up to 30 people are accepted into the program. Applications are now being accepted for MARL’s tenth class through April 12, with classes beginning in November.

MARL Executive Director Olga Reuvekamp said the program is designed to be very comprehensive in terms of its curriculum. Each seminar has a focus on not only learning to become better leaders, but also better members of the ag community through personal development. For example, participants in the current class focused on developing emotional intelligence during one seminar followed by a seminar in Duluth focused on rural industry and trade, including a tour of the Port of Duluth.

“We want our participants to feel confident they can step up and do more,” Reuvekamp said. “With the right training and the right support, our graduates are prepared to take advantage of those career opportunities as they come along. They walk away with the skills and self-confidence to succeed.”

Each class spends time outside of the state, traveling to Washington DC to learn more about policy and abroad to see agriculture from a different perspective. For the latter, the international seminar in Croatia introduced participants to a country that is still developing agriculturally and also prohibits the use of GMOs.

“By hearing different perspectives, we hope participants are able to take away new principles of how they can work in a community and impact agriculture,” Reuvekamp said.

Reuvekamp said participants typically range in both age and professional backgrounds, which include farmers, seed salesman, nonprofit leaders and more. The diversity is one of the strengths of the program, according to Reuvekamp.

“We love to see people from all background and parts of Minnesota,” Reuvekamp said. “It is because of that class diversity that participants are also able to learn from each other.”

The Minnesota Corn Growers Association (MCGA) has been a financial supporter of MARL in its efforts to grow future leaders in agriculture. Like with MCGA, MARL depends on financial contributions from both organizations and individuals. If you are interested in learning more about the program, visit www.marlprogram.org/.

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