President Jason Miller opened the meeting and Nils Friberg led the invocation.
Our guest today was /assistant District Governor Julie Gotham.  She introduced the District Governors Rotary Passport Program to encourage making up meeting at other Rotary Clubs.
NEXT WEEK MEETING TIME AND PLACE CHANGE – To potentially better accommodate members, we will be trying some morning meetings in August to help decide if we should make a permanent change:   7:30 a.m. August 2 & 9 at Sunset Grill, 8466 Hwy 65 NE, Spring Lake Park (just north of Old Highway 10) and 7:30 a.m. August 16 & 23 at the Mounds View Community Center.
The August 30 meeting will be at noon at The Exchange, Board meeting at 11.
Board actions today included approval of $600 for the St. Paul/Maplewood/Oakdale District Grant for “Sylvia’s Children,” secondary school scholarships for orphaned children in Uganda, Africa. Half of this amount is from Club treasury and the remainder is a pass-through donation from Paul Jacobsen. An additional grant of $500 was approved for the White Bear Lake Club’s District Grant project, “Touching Tiny Lives,” which will provide a vehicle to provide follow-up medical/nutrition support for babies & children in Losetho, Africa.
John Ordway is facilitating a Club social outing to see the Broadway musical “Six” on the evening of Tuesday, November 1, which will take the place of our regular meeting that day. He has reserved 30 tickets for Rotarians, spouses, former Rotarians and other friends. Tickets begin at $55.
John Johnson reminded us that the Community Support Center Walk For Your Neighbor fundraiser is this Sunday, Aug. 31, at Silver View Park, East of Silver Lake Road on County Road I from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. He represents Rotary on the Board, and is heading up a hot dog feed.
The Stockyard Days parade and Rotary hot dog feed will be Saturday, August 13, at the same location as last year. We should be there by 10 or 10:30 for setup.
The Rotary Foundation (TRF) earns a perfect score of 100 from Charity Navigator,(CN) which scores thousands of charities for financial health and accountability and transparency. The criteria are to execute missions in a fiscally responsible way while adhering to good governance and other practices that minimize the chance of unethical activities. Less than 1% of the thousands of charities rated by CN achieve perfect scores.
Jake Pletscher of Pletschers’ Greenhouse was today’s speaker. The business was started in 1920 by John E. Pletscher, Jake’s great-grandfather, to raise and sell garden and vegetable plants. When John’s three sons returned from WW II, they expanded the greenhouse and added a retail florist shop. The greenhouse covers more than an acre. Everything is grown onsite. One example of the benefit of this is that poinsettias are not “Guaranteed Sale,” where the retailer only pays the provider for plants sold, and has less invested in caring for the plants than a “locally sourced” provider/retailer like Pletschers.
Jake’s is the fourth generation to own and run the shop. He studied business administration and economics. Some of the business changes he mentioned are the use of more automation; for example, filling pots with potting soil and automatic irrigation for consistency and saving time. Challenges are getting customers in and keeping them around, supply disruption, and the significantly increased cost of supplies. Plastic products have gone up 25–30%. He gifted us with some of the 65 varieties of succulents that they raise.  Jake was enthusiastically thanked for the long-stemmed roses that Pletschers hands out at the Stockyard Days parade every year!  Jake and President Jason Miller are shown below.