Rushford’s Bruihler selected for rural leadership class

John Bruihler of Rushford
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

John Bruihler has been selected as one of 30 Minnesotans to attend the 10th Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership  (MARL) Class. 

Bruihler, who farms north of Rushford, will take part in a two-year education and leadership program designed to help participants learn how to make a difference in agriculture. Bruihler first became interested in the program after talking to people in previous classes who encouraged him to apply.

“I’ve known several people that have gone through the program, including some from Rushford,” Bruihler said. “They all spoke very highly of it and it kind of piqued my interest in it. I’ve had it in the back of my mind for a number of years.

“I was interviewed about a month ago and offered an opportunity to participate,” Bruihler added. “I’m very excited about it. I’ll be honest, I am a little concerned about the time commitment. It’s a huge amount of time, but fortunately, most of it takes place in the winter. We farm, so that should work out for us.”

Bruihler looks forward to  MARL  as a “learning experience,” with technical subjects, mixed with the connections he’ll make with the other class participants. He calls the people that tend to participate in this program “gifted and influential.” 

Olga Reuvekamp, MARL Director, agrees, saying the board always has a difficult time choosing candidates because the high quality of applicants, and 2018 was no different. “The board had a very difficult time selecting MARL Class X participants,” she said in a statement. “The program really works at developing the leadership qualities of each participant, and these are the people who make a lot of difference in agriculture today.” 

Bruihler said the group travels extensively throughout Minnesota, with stops planned for Willmar, Itasca, Marshall, Crookston, St. Paul, and Duluth. Most of these in-state educational visits will last three days. Following their in-state experience, MARL participants will visit Washington, D.C., in late February/early March to meet with state legislators. 

Leadership development will be among the primary subjects they’ll work on at each stop. “Trait leadership, emotional intelligence, emerging markets, innovation and new trends, communities big and small, as well as timber, taconite, and journalism are among the subjects we’ll cover,” Bruihler said. “Others include natural resources and the environment, rural America’s future, rural development and diversity, and the international study.” 

Bruihler feels that it’s more important than ever that farmers from across rural America take time to understand the rest of the world. The goal is to help the non-farm population to better understand farming and agriculture. Bruihler said people may not understand that, as a farmer, conservation is very important to him, something he’s proven by his involvement as president of the Rush-Pine Creek Watershed Farmers’ Council. 

“We’ve done a lot of traveling, both domestically and internationally, and it’s amazing how many people have never actually met a farmer,” Bruihler said. “Even some people who oversee farm policy have never actually been in a tractor. 

“We have the same thing with groups like the Humane Society (of the U.S.) and PETA  trying to influence Ag policy, and a lot of them also have no farming experience at all,” Bruihler noted. “They’re welcome to come to my farm anytime and take a look. The simple fact is, if farmers don’t care for the land they work or the animals they raise, they don’t get to stay in business.”

Bruihler is unusual in that he didn’t grow up on a farm. But that doesn’t mean he loves agriculture any less. His family has owned land since the 1860s. However, it had been two generations since the land was farmed by anyone in the family until he took it over. 

“I originally came to Rushford and took over as postmaster years ago and did some farming on the side,” Bruihler said.  “I retired from the post office about 13 years ago. We’re in our third year of full-time farming with our son. When I left the post office, we expanded the operation some. I’m living my dream right now.”