Participants in class six of the Minnesota Ag­riculture and Rural Lead­er­ship (MARL) Pro­gram have been selected.

    Participants in class six of the Minnesota Ag­riculture and Rural Lead­er­ship (MARL) Pro­gram have been selected.
    “We were glad to see the number and quality of applicants continue to be high,” said Tim Dufault, chair of the MARL Board of Directors. “The MARL board had a very difficult task selecting MARL?Class VI. It is unfortunate that we don’t have positions to select all the qualified applicants. Our best alternative is designating alternatives, those who are qualified, but weren’t selected. They would be called upon to fill in if professional or personal issues prevent a selected applicant from participating.”
    Applicants submit a written application that includes several essay questions, secure written references, and participate in a personal interview before being selected by the MARL Board of Directors.
    Successful applicants share two common traits, according to Tim Alcorn, MARL Executive Director. “MARL participants are actively in­volved in leadership roles in their communities and organizations and have high aspirations for success in more responsible leadership roles in the future.” “The MARL Program experience will sharpen their skills and broaden their horizons. It is the goal of the program to help the participants improve their performance in their current leadership roles and prepare them for achieving their future goals as quickly as possible. By investing in these individuals, the MARL?Program is an investment in rural Minnesota and its agriculture.”
    MARL Program leader, Mark Liepold, said the program experience is enhanced by the participants themselves. “We put a lot of energy into making MARL a life-changing educational experience.?Participants learn a tremendous amount from each of the MARL seminars and national and international study tours we deliver,” Liepold said. “They also learn a great deal from one another. In looking at the members of Class VI, I’m confident that these individuals will add much to the experience for their fellow classmates.”
    MARL Class VI will begin meeting in mid-November for the first of a series of nine in-state seminars held at different locations across the state. The program curriculum also features a five-day national study tour to?Washington D.C., and a 10 to 14-day international study tour. The program experience will conclude in?March 2012.
    Steve Sorenson is one of thirty participants chosen for the class six program.?Sorenson is Chief Financial Officer for NuWay Cooperative, Madalia School Board member, Faith Lutheran?Church, and a Watonwan County Collaborative joint powers board leader.
    A Personal Word From?Steve Sorenson
    “I am passionate about agriculture, the success of farmers, and the rural communities we live in. I grew up on a grain and livestock farm and always wanted to farm.?When I graduated from High?School in 1983, it wasn’t economically feasible for me to join the family farm. My dad encouraged me to go to college and get an education.?He wanted me to have something to fall back on if farming wasn’t possible. The opportunity to farm never presented itself,  but a career in accounting did. Eventually, accounting allowed me to fulfill my dream of being involved with agriculture while working for Associated Milk Producers,?Inc., in New Ulm and in my current position as Chief Financial Officer for NuWay Cooperative.
    I’ve always had a passion for learning.?A colleague of mine, Jeff Crissinger, recently completed this program (MARL) and shared with me the value of his experience in the program.?After visiting with Jeff and reading about the program online, I realized that this was an ideal opportunity to combine my interest in agriculture with learning. I’m hoping this will give me a better understanding of the challenges facing today’s farmer.”
    My family from Steve
    “The love and support I have for and from my family is the most important thing to me. I have been blessed with a wonderful wife and four healthy, active children.?Watching my children experience life and develop into unique individuals is a wonderful and amazing gift. Children make you realize how different each individual is. They test your patience, redefine your expectations, expect your forgiveness and appreciate your praise.
    My wife and I have been foster/adoptive parents since January 2008.?Caring for these children has given me a new appreciation for my parents and for my my children. Having a family to care for and one that cares for me is something I’ve taken for granted. I’ve learned that there are many children (in my community) that need someone to love and care for them. I am thankful that I’ve had the opportunity to provde a sense of family and security for our foster childrten.”