Tim Dufault, Dave Genereux among local alumni of two-year state, national and international education and leadership program

    The Minnesota Agriculture & Rural Leadership (MARL) program’s tenth class, known as “Class X” is spending part of their week in Crookston, from Wednesday to Friday.

    University of Minnesota Crookston leaders along with the Crookston Area Chamber & Visitors Bureau are coordinating many of the group’s activities, which Wednesday evening included the Class X group of 30 breaking into three groups and dining at Wonderful Life Foods, El Gordito Market & Restaurant, and China Moon.
    MARL alumni from Crookston include Dave Genereux and Tim Dufault.

    So what is MARL?

    In 1998, Southwest Minnesota State University engaged the Humphrey Institute and Extension at the University of Minnesota in a two-year research and development project. Their study led to the development of a two-year program plan and the first MARL class was selected in 2000 with the first MARL seminar in November of that year. Since then, new classes have begun every two years. Today, MARL is known throughout the state as the premier agriculture and rural leadership development program.

    Olga Reuvekamp is the current executive director of MARL. She, along with MARL program leaders Eriks Dunens and Christy Kallevig are with Class X during their visit to Crookston.

    MARL’s mission is to “develop the skills of Minnesota’s agricultural and rural leaders so they may maximize their impact and effectiveness in local, state, national and international arenas.” When someone is nominated and chosen for inclusion in a MARL class, they experience a “dynamic two-year educational experience featuring nine three-day in-state seminars, a six-day national study seminar and a 10- to 14-day international study seminar.” The MARL curriculum is “designed to have immediate applicability for active leaders. Each session features a mix of leadership study, personal skill-building, and location-related subject matter.”

    Each class is comprised of up to 30 participants. A majority is agricultural producers and others are professionals involved in agribusiness or rural leadership positions. Read more about qualifications at http://www.marlprogram.org/application/.

    Most MARL activities occur over the winter months. MARL Class X’s activities will continue into 2020.
    
Crookston visit

    MARL Class X members have a busy schedule during their Crookston visit, which began at noon Wednesday in UMN Crookston’s Heritage Hall.

    During the three-location “Community Dinner” Wednesday evening, at El Gordito, UMN Crookston Director of Diversity and Multi-Cultural Programs Lorna Hollowell led a discussion on “women and minorities who own local businesses.” MARL Class X members at El Gordito got to meet El Gordito owner/manager Julia Meija and hear her story.

    Thursday, UMN Crookston 1994 alum Tyler Grove led a tour of the East Grand Forks American Crystal Sugar factory, where he works. Northwest School of Agriculture alum Allan Dragseth led a tour of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Museum in Crookston, and Northwest Research and Outreach Center Director Albert Sims was to address the class. A social and dinner will take place Thursday evening in UMN Crookston’s Bede Ballroom, where Tom Astrup, American Crystal CEO, will be the keynote speaker.

    Friday, MARL Class X will visit the Daniel and Ruth Yantze Farm in rural Fertile and tour the Amish colony. Before wrapping up their visit, they’ll spend an hour at Bergeson Nursery in rural Fertile.