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Aakre selected to participate in agriculture, leadership program

Carl Aakre of Perham has been selected as a participant in the next Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) Program class (MARL Class V).

Aakre is an Agriculture Science teacher at Perham High School and an education associations leader.

"Competition for positions in the MARL Program gets tougher with each class," said Ron Obermoller, chair of the MARL Board of Directors. "The applicants for MARL Class V were outstanding. That makes the selection process difficult. It is a good challenge, but also frustrating to be unable to take all the qualified applicants."

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 Class V 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 six-day national study tour to Washington, D.C., and a 12-day international study tour. The program experience will conclude in April of 2010.

Two-thirds of MARL participants are agricultural producers, so the seminar and study tour schedule is held almost entirely in the winter months. The variance from that schedule is at the mid-point of the program experience.

A single in-state seminar is held in Duluth at the end of June so participants see port operations during the Great Lakes shipping season.

The MARL curriculum features a variety of leadership studies, personal skill-building, and location-related experiences. Resource personnel from the private and public sector and academia deliver the curriculum.

The mission of the MARL Program is to develop the skills of Minnesota agricultural and rural leaders so they may maximize their impact and effectiveness in local, state, national, and international arenas.

The MARL Program is a private/public partnership. Southwest Minnesota State University administers the program and the University of Minnesota Extension Service coordinates the curriculum. The program is funded through participant tuition and donations.

Overseeing the program is the MARL board of directors, operating as a standing committee of the Southwest Minnesota State University Foundation, a private 501(c)(3) organization.

For more information on the MARL Program, visit