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Fillmore County Pork Ambassador attends MAAI

Fri, Jun 25th, 2010
Posted in Agriculture

Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson (left) and Minnesota Pork Board Executive Director David Preisler (right) congratulate Fillmore County Pork Ambassador Morgan Mensink of Preston for her participation in a three-day leadership program for youth with agricultural interests. Photo provided

Fillmore County Pork Ambassador Morgan Mensink of Preston attended the 15th annual Minnesota Agricultural Ambassador Institute (MAAI) earlier this month in Mankato and southern Minnesota.

The MAAI is a leadership and advocacy development program for young adults with agricultural interests. Also among the 40 individuals taking part were representatives from county pork associations, Minnesota Pork Board, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Minnesota Corn Growers Association, Minnesota FFA, local FFA chapters, Minnesota Lamb and Wool Growers Association and Grant County Farm Bureau and New Fashion Pork.

The MAAI program combines hands-on activities, speakers and tours that encourage and develop communication, leadership and advocacy skills, and increases individual's agricultural knowledge. The MAAI participants toured the Balzer, Inc., equipment manufacturing plant in Mountain Lake, Port Haven Dairy, owned by dairy farmers Tom and Mary Portner of Sleepy Eye, and Christensen Farms headquarters and feed mill, also located near Sleepy Eye.

Additional events included an etiquette dinner followed by a talk from Minnesota Department of Agriculture Commissioner Gene Hugoson. Hugoson encouraged the MAAI group members to take pride in being part of Minnesota's livestock and crop production sector, to consider pursuing agricultural careers and to speak up and advocate for agriculture.

This year's speakers also included Amanda Nolz, an editor for BEEF Magazine, and Dan Durheim, American Farm Bureau Foundation executive director for agriculture. Nolz spoke on how to be an agricultural advocate, communication skill development and social networking tools. Durheim guided participants through leadership development exercises and business etiquette practices.

MAAI's primary organizers and sponsors are the Minnesota Pork Board and Minnesota Farm and Food Coalition, with assistance from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and funding from Minnesota Livestock Breeders Association, Farm Boy® Brand Clothing, Minnesota Corn Research & Promotion Council, AgStar Financial Services, Pioneer, Midwest Dairy Association, Minnesota Farm Bureau, Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council, Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council, and Minnesota Lamb and Wool Growers Association.

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