U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, on Saturday in Fergus Falls, discussed the importance of getting girls involved with manufacturing and agricultural careers at the high school level.
Her comments came during a meeting with with Fergus Falls city officials and business owners, where she provided updates on actions at the federal government and sought input about the local economy and quality of life.
“We have to make it cool again to get kids involved in these fields,” she said.
Klobuchar continued her 10-county rural economy tour at Union Pizza & Brewing Co. in Fergus Falls Saturday morning.
Klobuchar said she has witnessed educational programs that give students, especially girls in high school, opportunities early to learn about manufacturing and agriculture.
Fergus Falls Mayor Ben Schierer discussed local plans revolving around the Otter Tail River and the downtown riverfront project.
The Fergus Falls Public Library half-cent local option sales tax approval in the November election was also discussed. It awaits approval from the state Legislature.
Fergus Falls Public Schools Superintendent Jerry Ness brought up several examples of success fundraising in the community, such as the new high school football field, and called the community “generous.”
“Funding efforts like that really show that when the community wants something they will work together to get it done,” said.
Continuing on school topics, Ness shared with Klobuchar local business involvement teaming up with the school.
Programs like Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — also known as STEM — have helped with getting students interested at an early age, Ness said.
Klobuchar was also informed of M State’s recently launched leadership program, which helps students engage with the community and businesses.
Otter Tail Power Co. President Tim Rogelstad addressed how the company looks to continue ways to work with the city.
“Fifty percent of our linemen will retire in the next 10 years,” Rogelstad said.
Klobuchar referred to the importance of attracting the younger generation to fill jobs for the generation to retire.
Local tourism areas also were of interest to Klobuchar.
Schierer mentioned the Central Lakes State Trail as well as the North Country Trail, both of which attract tourism for the city.
On the government side, Klobuchar talked about funding for the state’s infrastructure, potential changes to the 2018 farm bill and early childhood education.
“Federal funding for Minnesota’s roads has been done for the next four years,” Klobuchar said. “Increases on Minnesota’s portion has been increased by over $100 million. Anything we do now on top of that is extra.”
The 2018 farm bill is also on Klobuchar’s radar. As decisions for the 2018 farm bill nears, Klobuchar said she is working on relating it to rural areas, too.
“The 2018 farm bill is not just about farmers, but rural areas, too,” she said.
She mentioned expanding high-speed internet for rural areas is important along with supporting small businesses in rural communities.
Klobuchar continued her day by traveling to Ashby, Wheaton and Glenwood to meet with students in Future Farmers of America, residents and hospital staff.