Monthly Archives: April 2015

#nwamembermondays – Jesse Wiggins

 

Jesse james2

The National Watermelon Association is pleased to highlight one of our bright young members, Jesse Wiggins. Jesse is a delightful and energetic young man, always eager to give of his time and his resources. Having grown up as a member of the Wiggins family and farm, he is not new to the Watermelon industry or to the Association. As a member of our Y Generation Working Group, we are confident that Jesse has a great deal to contribute. It is a wonderful testament to our organization that young people like Jesse consider The National Watermelon Association “FAMILY” and are invested in the future success of the Association. As a watermelon farmer in his own right, we are very proud to introduce Jesse Wiggins to our members.

“Jesse Wiggins is our oldest son and he is a fifth generation watermelon farmer. He has discovered that farming isn’t just a job but it is a way of life. His participation in our farms began at a very young age. He has done everything in our business from running a fruit stand, helping in the sales office, to helping with harvest and packing/shipping and finally the actual farming of the produce. He is attending Stephen F. Austin State University and pursuing a degree in Agri-Business. For the last two years he has been a part time student as well as a full time farmer. He currently serves on the Texas Watermelon Association Board, he is a member of the Generation Y Group, and he is a nominee for the National Watermelon Promotion Board. He is also an active member of his church and serves on other committees as well. He plans on nurturing his love for farming alongside his younger brother, Jared, as they take Wiggins Farms into the future.

Darren and I are very thankful and proud of the young man he is now and we cannot wait to see where his path in life will take him.”

–Kerri Wiggins

“Jesse is proving to be a great asset for us with the social media. We are an older company and his father, my son and I are so deep in operations, we do not have the time or knowledge to keep up with the social media that is so important to the customers and public. He has the knowledge of social media, as well as extensive knowledge of our farming/ marketing operations. This is a great combination. I feel these abilities are helping my marketing efforts tremendously, and this combined with our high demand for quality, allows us to draw a premium on our watermelons. It is very interesting to watch the next generation find their place among our operations and look forward to see which direction they will take the companies in the future.”

–Jody Wiggins

“It is not uncommon for us to talk with numerous Association members in a given day or week. I can say that when I hear from this young man in particular, Jesse can brighten even a great day. He is most definitely a future leader of the Association, a friend to so many, an inspiration to his family and all that know him, and a person that people want to be around. He is blessed, and you can see God emanating from him. I look forward to the next conversation, and meeting, and simple get-together with Jesse, my young friend.”

–Bob Morrissey

We thank Jesse for his service to the Association, and look forward to watching him as he becomes the leader that we believe he will soon become.

Jesse James

#nwafuturisticfridays – Building a Bright Future

minecraft-welt_Winload

Recently I read an article published by the XYZ University (What Minecraft teaches us about Generation Z), which introduced the generation born 1996-2009, known as Generation Z. The letter that signifies the end of the alphabet has been chosen to describe the generation that has grown up in at a time in which we have also seen the end of  ‘clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences.’ They face adulthood in a very unstable world. Unlike previous generations, these children – the oldest of which are turning 18 this year – have faced school shootings, terrorism, climate change and the Great Recession. According to the author, the impact of these events have created a generation that is more cautious, careful, and realistic in their worldview and approach to life. They are resourceful and focused. You may be wondering what Minecraft has to teach us about this generation.

Minecraft, the 3rd best-selling PC game of all time, is a game of creation, exploration, survival, and combat. In the creative mode, the player gathers resources and uses these 3-dimentional textured blocks to create worlds using their imagination. In the survival mode, in addition to gathering the building blocks to create homes and the environment around them, players also have to supply themselves with food and survive attacks from mobs and monsters. In spite of the antiquated technology the game employs, young people are obsessed with the game and it sells at a rate of over 14,000 copies an hour.

It does not take much imagination to understand the appeal of such a game to a generation that must survive in the midst of the uncertainty confronting them. It reminds me of the Sims games my own children, just a generation before, spent hours playing in their teens. The common thread in both of these games is control of their environment and destiny. Perhaps the virtual reality of these games is a training ground in which they can safely take risks, explore new frontiers, and allow their imagination to play out their dreams.

What I have learned about Generation Z encourages me. These diligent problem solvers have the education, technology, resources and imagination that they will need to take their building skills to the next level.

What Minecraft teaches us about Generation Z.” (2014, February). Retrieved from http://myemail.constantcontact.com/What-Minecraft-teaches-us-about-Generation-Z.html?soid=1103747366238&aid=ukk13-3ExhU.

 

#nwamembermondays – Arnold Mack

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Arnold Mack has been recognized as a farmer who CARESbecause of his ‘Best Management Practices.’ He has been highlighted by Eat Florida Fresh for food safety and good agricultural practices in their growing, harvesting, and packing house.

Apparently Arnold Mack’s experience farming watermelon at McMelon, Inc. since 1967,  has earned him the reputation of being a successful farmer and a man of integrity and insight. As a past Association President and active participant on such committees as the Budget, Nominating, Public Affairs, Auction Load, to name a few, it is not surprising that Arnold is on the Lifetime Council for the Association. But his National Watermelon Association ‘family’ has more to say about Arnold than his responsible farming practices and faithful service.

Former Association President and long-time friend, John Corsaro says the following about Arnold Mack.

“He is an incredible business man…….he is a more incredible friend and person. He will give it to you straight from the heart. He is so charismatic. They don’t make them like Arnold anymore.”

“I have enjoyed ‘listening’ to many conversations with Arnold over the years,” says Bob Morrissey. “I called him very recently, intending just to touch base for no more than five minutes. The call ended forty-five minutes later after listening and laughing. There is no such thing as a quick call with Arnold. Jokes are his forte. He knows so many of them. Arnold is full of life, and is devoted to his wife, his boys, his company, and to this Association. We are privileged to have him, his dedication, and his humor.”

 

 

 

On the Brink

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There is a great divide in the job markets of the most developed nations in the world today. That divide separates the high powered, high paid business executives and the enthusiastic, intelligent, best educated generation in history. The eager generation to which I refer are those born between 1982-1995, who reached adulthood around the year 2000, and is referred to in the media as “Generation Y’ or the ‘Millennials.’ While these Millennials are educated and technically skilled, they lack experience and training. On the other side of the chasm are the ‘Baby Boomers,’ experienced leaders ready to retire. If nothing is done, global businesses may undergo the greatest collective loss of experience, knowledge, ability and skills.

“We’re on the brink of the largest shift in human capital in history,” says Sarah Sladek in her book, Knowing Y, Engage the Next Generation Now.  She quotes US Census Bureau statistics stating that by the year 2025, the majority of Baby Boomers will have retired and 75% of the global workforce will be ‘Generation Y’. These statistics lead her to caution business and organization leaders to begin now to prepare the generation expected to fill the vacancies they leave behind.

The unemployment statistics for this young generation are at staggering highs in many European nations. In Spain, the unemployment of Generation Y is above 50% and in Greece it’s over 60%. In the United States, 40% of the unemployed are Millennials – according to US Census data by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Although they are the best educated generation in history, the Millennials are the most underutilized human resources. In the past, young people just out of college were offered moderately high salaried, entry level positions, but many of those positions are now automated or outsourced.

What can be done to bridge the gap? Associations must take the lead. “Uniquely perched at the forefront of industries, frequently intersecting with government and education,” Sladek advises, “Associations have the knowledge, connections, and influence so desperately needed to solve the crisis.”

The Y Generation wants to take the lead, but they are not yet qualified to lead. They are interested in meaningful engagement and are willing to work hard. Although they prefer to be evaluated on the basis of skill and performance rather than experience and tenure, they need to be given the opportunity to develop those skills. Associations and businesses need to embrace these Millennials and provide mentoring programs, training, and guided opportunities to let them take the lead in planning and executing programs and events.

The National Watermelon Association and its members are willing to take the lead, whatever the cost. The establishment of the Generation Y Working Group is the first step in many the Association is taking to embrace this generation and the future. It’s leaders are confident that the involvement of the Y Generation will produce fresh ideas and a greater understanding of their generation and its values. The National Watermelon Association acknowledges the fact that the future is in the hands of the Millennials and that the loss of this demographic will be the loss of the Association’s relevance.

“Our efforts are uniquely geared toward ‘Trust,'” Bob Morrissey, executive director of the National Watermelon Association states. “As we learn from and about Generation Y, we begin to trust them. Trusting that they will participate and lead, plus follow, all the while securing the future of this great Association. It was once said by an unknown author, ‘How can our children be trustworthy if we do not instill trust in them?’ We are headed in the right direction. Join us in these efforts and learn about the bright future of the National Watermelon Association.”

Let the bridge-building begin!

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*Sladek, Sarah. Knowing Y, Engage the Next Generation Now. Washington, DC: Association Management Press, 2014. Print.

US Dept of Labor Watermelon Worker Enforcement Initiative

News Alert: US Dept. of Labor  multi-year education and enforcement initiative begins with Oklahoma Watermelon Growers
A note from Bob Morrissey
Executive Director of the National Watermelon Association
Some of us will remember last year when the US Dept. of Labor conducted a focused audit process on the watermelon industry operating in the eastern third of our country. Although this new action is based solely in the state of Oklahoma, it should be a learning tool for all of us. And, none of us know when the US Dept. of Labor or state officials will audit anywhere else, so be prepared.
It is obvious that our industry is once again a target of the US Dept. of Labor. Please be aware of the laws (both federal and state) related to workers. These agricultural statutes include the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act, the labor provisions of the H-2A visa program, and the field sanitation provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
Being prepared will allow us to conduct our businesses well, provide jobs, and supply a quality  crop to consumers across our nation.
The agency has begun with the watermelon industry because it is a labor-intensive crop and involves a large number of seasonal and migrant workers.
“The department hopes to reduce the number of violations by educating and providing assistance to employers and workers out in the field,” said Cynthia Watson, regional administrator for the division in the Southwest. “No employee who works so hard for their wages should be denied their basic rights under the law.”
The division plans to be present in several outreach events where it hopes to increase awareness and compliance. One such event is the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival August 8th.

Natalie Collins, assistant director of the agency’s Wage and Hour Division in Oklahoma, said that future outreach and enforcement efforts will focus on other labor-intensive crops such as peaches, strawberries, and grapes.

#nwamembermondays – Art Perry

CHP_0473 “One of the most wonderful men I’ve ever known,” was how I was introduced to Art Perry at the National Watermelon Convention in La Quinta, California. After watching Art interact with the members of the Association as well as with his family – which was well represented – I would have to agree.

Art Perry is a co-operator of George Perry and Sons, one of the largest growers and shippers of watermelon in California. Over 75 years and four generations, Perry and Sons attributes their success to their devotion to God, to their family, and to the community that surrounds them. The Perry family also considers The National Watermelon Association part of their extended family.

Art Perry has served the Association in many capacities. He has served on the Executive Council, Auction Load Committee, Food Safety Committee, Public Affairs Committee, and the NWPB Liaison Committee.

We appreciate the faithful service of members like Art Perry. Thank you so much for your dedication and support of the watermelon industry Art.

 

Young Americans Value Volunteering

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According to an article published in December of 2014 by The Associated Press by Connie Cass, young people under the age of 30 are more serious about giving back to the communities in which they live than their parents were. They actually feel a strong obligation to serve. The fact that many of them  grew up in a time when community service was a requirement in their high schools and colleges might have a great deal to do with the increasing trend.

Although 20% of those 30 and under volunteered in 2013, up from 14%, commitment to civic duties (voting, jury duty,etc.) has not seen the same upturn (statistics from the Corporation for National and Community Service).

Sarah Sladek, generational expert and author of Knowing Y, Engage the Next Generation Now, notes that this generation is ‘motivated by emotions and experiences’ which leads them to actively support causes that have personal significance. How and where these young Americans give their time and service largely depends on where they feel they can make a difference. Perhaps a feeling of futility or ineffectiveness is the reason we have not seen the same increase in civic volunteering.

How this trend will influence associations such as the National Watermelon Association, is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, it is good news in the turbulent times in which we live.

Where are we going?

Our National Watermelon Association convention has grown by leaps and bounds with successes and experiences that will last for years and years to come.  Our convention is the most talked-about convention of any association, and is planned to continue that trend in the years to come.

2015 nwa roomkey

As we travel throughout the country we experience some of the best properties available, and typically bring wonderful weather with us.  Whether it was 2011 in La Jolla CA, 2012 in Amelia Island FL, 2013 in San Antonio TX, 2014 in Savannah, GA or 2015 in La Quinta CA, we have been able to visit and experience resorts that have been nothing less than exceptional.

What does the future hold for our convention?  More of the same.  Wonderful properties, great weather, and an experience that will create memories.  Let’s take a look…

  February 24-27, 2016  ~ New Orleans, Louisiana

              New Orleans 1      New Orleans 2

 

February 22-25, 2017 ~ Lake Tahoe, Nevada

               Lake Tahoe 2       Lake Tahoe 1

 February 21-24, 2018 ~ Nashville, Tennessee

              Nashville1

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And for the very first time in our history, the National Watermelon Association will venture to Paradise, commonly called The Big Island.

February 20-23, 2019 ~ Waikoloa, Hawaii (The Big Island)

                      Hawaii1        Hawaii 2

Now is the time to plan ahead, put the dates for the National Watermelon Association conventions on your future calendars, and get ready to have the Times of Your Life.  We hope to see you all there, Every Year!

#nwamembermondays – Dennis Mouzin

chp_0495Dennis Mouzin, of Mouzin Brother’s Farm, was selected to be the National Watermelon Association’s President for 2015-16. Mouzin Brothers Farm, founded on a few small acres in 1935, has grown to over 4000 acres and is operated by Dennis and his brother Ed. As a third generation grower and shipper of watermelon, Dennis’ experience and knowledge in the industry as well as his integrity and devotion to honesty make him a perfect leader.
mouzin brothers logo

Dennis’ sister-in-law, Cindy, added this regarding her brother’s commitment…

“Dennis is extremely hardworking and dedicated to both the farm and his family.    He wears many hats and is constantly juggling several projects at the same time.  He never truly takes off work.  He always has his phone and is readily available.  Dennis learned what hard work is by watching his father.  His dad, Paul Mouzin, at 77 years old, still puts in as many hours than most of the hired hands each day!  Dennis spends several hours in the office each day. As the business day closes, phone calls stop, and everyone goes home he heads out to the field. It’s at this time he says, ‘now I can do my work.’ Weekends, holidays doesn’t matter he is always on.”

The Association embraces Dennis with open arms as he has a long history of service and leadership in the Association as well as on his farms in Indiana/Illinois. He has been an active participant on the Auction Load, Food Safety, NWPB Liaison, Public Affairs, Research, Promotions, and Convention Committees, as well as serving on the Executive Committee.

Congratulations Dennis and thank you for your willingness to serve the Association.

Gen Y – Who are they?

Knowing Y

Generation Y, also called Millennials, were born between 1982-1995.  They are the largest generation in our country’s history – over 80 Million –  and they are changing the world around us in exciting and invigorating ways that have never been seen before.

For many decades retailers and nonprofit associations have known that young Americans are an indicator of future trends in the economy that drives consumer purchasing.  While companies and associations fist thought of Gen Y and dreamed of dollar signs and success, it has quickly become clear that they are not an easy sell.  Their buying habits are far different from the generations that came before them.

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Gen Y doesn’t seem to enjoy purchasing the same things  that previous generations valued.  Cars, houses association memberships, jewelry and non-light beers are what Gen Y is not buying.

For many brands and businesses, this is a nightmare at its worst.  They desperately need to convince Gen Y to buy (and support).  Gen Y lives in the ‘cloud’ of digital space where media, internet and entertainment reside, and they are seemingly content and unfazed by most advertising.

The fact is ….. Gen Y is the largest consumer market in the USA, and their arrival is redefining the consumer market for everyone.  Their unique interests, needs and values are influencing how every generation buys, and how products and services will be sold for all consumers regardless of demographic, geographical are or industry.

Gen Y 1

Generation Y is all about ‘trust’.  Trust that their involvement and support will provide ‘value’ back to them.  To build that trust, a business or associations must:

  •  be open about Gen Y’s contribution to the association;
  • use and respect technology, where they live every day, and have it up to date;
  • demonstrate our gratitude of their participation, support and contributions;
  • invite them to participate in decision-making processes (with an open mind); and,
  • respect and encourage their input. They will not ‘wait their turn’.

Our focus with GEN Y here at the National Watermelon Association, through our newly formed Generation Y Working Group, is to listen, discuss, learn and plan for the near future with our up-and-coming leaders (Gen Y).  This approach is challenging and very exciting.