For 35 years, MREA has brought a unified voice to rural education and been a constant advocate for students. Here’s a look at key milestones in the organization’s history.

1985   MREA founded to provide a unified voice for rural education

Board of Directors brings together school administrators, teachers, school board members, and other education leaders to put learners first.

1987   Brings legislation attention to metro-rural funding gap

MREA calls from bringing bottom funded districts up to within $200 of the average of the top 10 funded districts in the state.

1987   Award program begin

The start of the Profile of Excellence Award showcases outstanding programs in member districts and demonstrates that bigger is not always better.

1990   First, long-time executive director named

This begins 12 years of leadership and dedication of Vernae Hasbargen on behalf of Greater Minnesota students at the State Capitol. 

1991   Leads analysis on key issues and publishes “The Voice”

This printed publication brings accurate, credible and compelling information on issues to school district members.

2005   Director of Legislative Affairs position added

This move, with the hiring of Sam Walseth, significantly impacts MREA’s legislative approach and success for the next 15 years.

2011   Membership growth begins with new vision

MREA seeks to be the Voice for Greater Minnesota Education, under the new leadership of Executive Director Fred Nolan. Communications becomes a key priority and differentiator.

2016   Educators of Excellence Award begins

The program honors and elevates teachers across Greater Minnesota and seeks to inspire others.

2019   Membership reaches 230 school districts

The Voice for Greater Minnesota Education also includes more than 90 education cooperatives, businesses and other advocates.


Unified Voice

What if rural schools had a unified voice at the Capitol? That single question led to the inception of MREA and has remained central to the organization. Hear how it unfolded in this video. Read more.

First Issue

MREA immediately went to work to bring legislative attention to the significant gap in funding between what metro area and rural public schools. Hear how it unfolded in this video. Read more.

Advocacy Team

MREA has a history of having strong lobbyists and legislative teams working at the Capitol on behalf of Greater Minnesota schools. See the key leaders behind it and how it has grown.  View Results

Becoming the Voice

Under the leadership of Dr. Fred Nolan, MREA grew to 230 school districts across Greater Minnesota as well as more than 90 education cooperatives, businesses and other advocates. Read more.

Elevating Educators

MREA developed the Educators of Excellence and Innovation Awards in its pursuit to further elevate the work and dedication of teachers in Greater Minnesota. Read more.