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New MARL Class V program members selected

MARSHALL -- Four area individuals have been selected as participants in the next Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) Program class.

Joe VanderKooi, a dairy and crop producer from rural Worthington; Louise Worm, an ag science teacher from Lakefield; Doug Westerman, Red Rock Rural Water System operations manager from Windom, and Monica Anderson, a corn and soybean producer from Walnut Grove, were among the 32 members selected for the class.

VanderKooi, who also operates a custom forage harvest business, serves on the advisory committee for both the Minnesota West Community & Technical College ag program and the Worthington FFA. Worm teaches at the Academy of Science and Agriculture Charter School in Vadnais Heights, and is also an education leader and sheep producer near Lakefield. Westerman serves as vice chair of the Windom School Board, and Anderson is on the Highwater Ethanol board.

"Competition for positions in the MARL Program gets tougher with each class," said Ron Obermoller of Brewster, 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 participation in a personal interview before being selected by the MARL board of directors.

"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," said Tim Alcorn, MARL executive director. "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 instate seminars 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 2010.

MARL curriculum includes leadership studies, personal skill-building and locationrelated experiences. 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. For more information on the MARL Program, visit