Celebrating Minnesota’s 150th Birthday In 2008: What Will Minnesota Look Like A Generation From Now? is the theme of the 25th annual Rural Legislative Forum on Friday, Dec. 7 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the South Central College Conference Center, 1920 Lee Blvd., North Mankato, MN. Forum sponsors include: Minnesota Agri-Women, Minnesota Farm Bureau, South Central Technical College’s Agri-Business Department and Farm Business Management Program, Region Nine Development Commission and University of Minnesota Extension.Registration for the forum is $15/person, and includes the noon lunch and all printed materials. To register or for more information about the forum contact the Blue Earth County Extension Office at 507-304-4325 or mnext-blueearth@umn.eduSome key questions to consider as we look at current and future demographics for Minnesota, which will be addressed at the forum, include:
· What are current population, economic and agricultural trends in southern Minnesota?
· What changes are likely to influence the region in the next 25 years?
· How can business and educational leaders, along with elected officials, help guide changes?
· How can citizens and communities best prepare for the impact of the coming changes?The forum’s keynote presenter, Tom Gillaspy, Minnesota state demographer, will address these questions and other insights on the current and future demographics for Minnesota. His presentation will be followed by a keynote panel featuring three Minnesota state commissioners, a deputy commissioner and two statewide educational leaders. The state commissioners on the panel include Alice Seagren, Education; Mark Holsten, DNR; and Dan McElroy, DEED. Other Panel Members are Jim Boerboom, deputy ag commissioner; Bev Durgan, U of M Extension dean; and Keith Stover, president of South Central College. Mike Liepold, regional Extension educator with U of M Extension will moderate the panel.Congressman Tim Walz will be the noon luncheon speaker for the Rural Legislative Forum. The highlight of the afternoon program will be a state legislative panel from 1:15 to 3:00 p.m. State senators and representatives from south-central Minnesota have been invited to address audience questions related to the theme for the legislative forum, and other key issues for the 2008 state legislative session. Kent Thiesse, vice president at MinnStar Bank and area agricultural and education leader, will moderate the legislative panel discussion. County Farm Bureau organizations from south-central Minnesota will sponsor refreshments and rolls during the morning registration. Sponsors for the noon lunch include Community Bank in Amboy, Mankato and Vernon Center; MinnStar Bank in Lake Crystal, Good Thunder and Mankato; Nicollet County Bank in St. Peter; First National Bank Minnesota in Mankato; and Voyager Bank in Mankato. Other forum sponsors include POET Energy of Lake Crystal, MN, MN Corn Grower’s Association, MN Soybean Research and Promotion Council, and MN Pork Board.

Editor’s note: Kent Thiesse is a former University of Minnesota Extension educator and now is Vice President of MinnStar Bank, Lake Crystal, MN. You can contact him at 507-726-2137 or via e-mail at kent.thiesse@minnstarbank.com.