Monthly Archives: September 2015

#nwafuturisticfridays – What Excites Expertise in Your Workplace?

working relationships

How does your business train its young talent? Do you leave your employees on their own to grow their skills? Do you employ mentoring relationships to raise young leaders up within your organization? Are team projects your preferred means of developing skills like goal setting and management?

Upon graduation from the University of Illinois with a BS in Business Administration, I realized that I had relatively few marketable skills. My first job was working in computer printer retail sales. I had to become familiar very quickly with the specifications of over 50 computer printers, as well as understand the applications and computer compatibility of  each of them. The two computer science courses and a couple of marketing classes I had taken did not adequately prepare me for success in this field. Nevertheless, my boss was convinced that taking young college graduates, training them quickly, and entrusting them with a great deal of responsibility was the best way to succeed in the sales of rapidly changing  technology. Four of us were hired and trained by the CEO and his technicians, and within weeks we were sent out to the stores to learn sales skills in one-on-one relationships with the branch managers. I don’t think my boss had read studies about the best training methods or strategies. He just seemed to understand that the most effective way to train employees quickly was in personal relationships.

Successful mentoring relationships, those between people who can communicate their expectations clearly and have a mutual respect for one another, can have a lasting impact in the lives of both the mentor and the mentee. The most influential mentoring relationships, according to a recent survey conducted by the Internet Marketing Association, are parents, bosses, sought-after mentors, and teachers. These interpersonal relationships provide the mentee with the occasion to  work closely and observe their mentors in everyday business situations. They receive direction as well as correction in a monitored setting. As trust is developed in these relationships, the mentor is free to give greater responsibility and less direction to the mentee – inevitably working toward a more equal division of labor.

Although group projects in a school setting might have been characterized by one person carrying the weight of the workload, in a business setting a team project can truly be a collaboration of efforts. According to Wendy Axelrod, PhD and author as well as recognized  expert in manager-driven, work-centered people development, team projects are the best way to develop the greatest number of people at one time. In her article, ‘Leverage Your Team Projects for Talent Development,’ Axelrod shares that projects provide opportunities for members to:

  • develop group problem solving skills
  • grow in multiple disciplines
  • encourage collaborative development
  • expand perspectives that inspire new approaches
  • desire to work with colleagues again
  • continuously and comprehensively evaluate methods, performance, etc.

Wendy Axelrod encourages managers to regularly assign team projects. She maintains that if the experience positive, the members will be eager to participate again. Meeting and overcoming challenges successfully and taking advantage of the skills and abilities of all its members, is truly the goal of every organization.

How did your most exciting learning experience impact your future performance? Were you inspired by a teacher who was passionate about their subject? Perhaps you were a part of a group that challenged you to be your very best.

Whatever method of staff development you choose to employ in your workplace, research suggests that the key ingredient for success is involvement in purposeful personal relationships.

Nicole Schrader

“New Internet Marketing Association Survey Addresses Importance of Mentoring in Empowering the Next Generation.” New Internet Marketing Association Survey Addresses Importance of Mentoring in Empowering… PR Newswire, 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 25 Sept. 2015. <>.

Axelrod, Wendy. “4 Steps to Turning Projects into Development Opportunities.” SmartBlogs. SmartBrief, 14 Sept. 2015. Web. 25 Sept. 2015. <>.

#nwamembermondays – Gerald Funderburk

gerald funderburkThe National Watermelon Association is over 101 years old and has a rich history. Throughout those years, our members have made a significant impact in their communities and in the watermelon industry. This legacy of leadership is the result of an understanding that leadership is passed from generation to generation. Our experienced members care about the future of the industry and the Association enough to invest in the lives of those who are new to the Watermelon family. Gerald A Funderburk (1929-2014), of Jefferson, South Carolina was one such leader. He encouraged and advocated the advancement of others within the Association.

Although much of Mr. Funderburk’s time was spent in the wholesale selling of seeds, fertilizers, and chemicals, he made it a priority to be actively involved in both the South Carolina and National Watermelon Associations. His loyalty and service to the South Carolina Association placed him on their Lifetime Membership.  Gerald was also a leader in the National Watermelon Association serving on the Executive Committee and later on the Council in 2006. Mentors like Gerald Funderburk, make membership in the National Watermelon Association a meaningful and valuable experience. These men and women are not soon forgotten. We are grateful to them and applaud their example.

I served with Gerald as a charter member of NWPB, he was supportive when I was president of NWA, and he loved both organizations. He was a true gentleman. ”  – Anita Field

Mr. Gerald Funderburk was a great friend  to me from the time I started working for NWA. He took me under his wing.  The month after I started, we had a budget meeting in Atlanta at which Mr. Gerald told the board that we should be exhibiting at the United Convention and PMA. He was like a father, always looking out for me. ”  – Eleanor Bullock

#nwafuturisticfridays – 2016 Convention Children’s Coloring Contest

In anticipation of our upcoming annual convention in New Orleans – February 25-27th, 2016 – the National Watermelon Association is sponsoring a Children’s Coloring Contest. There will be lots of winners. The cover of this year’s Convention Program will feature the winning entry! A gift card to Toys R Us will also be presented to the winner. All the entries will be on display at the Convention.

Theme (For children up to 12 years old): Watermelon with a Hint of New Orleans

Contestants may use crayons, colored pencils, markers, or paint to decorate their entries. Every child who submits an entry will receive a watermelon book for participating, and their artwork will also be on display at the Convention.

All entries must be submitted on or before 5pm on Thursday, December 10th, 2015. 


Rules of the Competition:

  1. Entry information
  • Artist’s full name
  • Age
  • Hometown
  • Email address or telephone number (with area code)


  1. Eligibility and restrictions
  • Submissions must be in the National Watermelon Association office no later than Thursday, December 10th, 2015. Submissions will become the property of the National Watermelon Association and may be used on the Association website or social media sites.
  • Applicants will submit artwork on paper 81/2 inches by 11 inches (standard paper size).
  • Only National Watermelon Association family members are eligible to enter.
  • Only one entry will be accepted for each contestant.
  • Crayons, markers, paint, and colored pencils may be used to create submissions.
  • Watermelon must be incorporated in some form in all entries.
  • Contestants must incorporate New Orleans into their theme (e.g. history, monument, tradition, colors, etc.).


  1. Winners and Prizes
  • Prizes will be presented at the national convention opening event, Thursday, February 25th, 2016. If the winner(s) cannot be present, a representative may receive their award at the presentation in their place. Please let us know who will be representing you prior to the 25th.
  • Winners will be contacted no later than January 4th, 2016 by email or telephone, depending upon the preference stated with the entry.
  • All competitors will receive a watermelon children’s book for entering.
  • The winner will have their artwork featured on the cover of the 2016 National Convention Program and will receive a gift card to Toys R Us from the National Watermelon Association.
  • All entries will be on display during the convention in February.


  1. Entries must be submitted by December 10th:
  • By Mail to: The National Watermelon Association, 190 Fitzgerald Road, Suite 3, Lakeland, FL 33813;


Questions can be directed to Nicole Schrader, at, or


#nwamembermondays – Wanda Letson

wanda letson TxwaWanda Letson began her journey in the watermelon industry in 1972 when she became a member of the Texas Watermelon Association. In 1981 she took on the Secretarial responsibilities for the Texas chapter at the request of Joe Mark Mahan and never looked back. Soon afterward she added the responsibilities of Queen Coordinator and served both Associations faithfully for over 30 years. Wanda, as well as our other Promotion Coordinators, promote watermelon locally and nationally at festivals, schools, grocery stores, etc. Chaperoning Watermelon Queens (our ambassadors), they educate and inform the public of the benefits of watermelon. These Coordinators also submit their photos and experiences with the greater membership by way of our quarterly Vineline magazine. Wanda Letson retired from her position in the Fall of 2011. We appreciate Wanda and thank her for her dedication to the National Watermelon Association.

“I first met Wanda at the National Convention in Orlando in 2005. She was the Coordinator of to be three national queens in a row from Texas – a legend of sorts. As the years progressed, we developed a great relationship. I affectionately referred to her as ‘Momma’ and we got along very well. I have so many stories that I could share, but will simply say this…Wanda has been and will always be a huge part of our Watermelon family; always welcome at our doorstep to join us. We are all better because of Wanda. She is the bomb!”  –  Bob Morrissey

“I truly love Wanda. She had our association at heart. She was a true and lasting friend.”  –  Paul Teague

Wanda Letson, like so many of our members in the past, served wholeheartedly and without hesitation.  They are an integral part of the community we refer to as the National Watermelon Association ‘family’ and we will never forget them.

#nwafuturisticfridays – Facebook First for Foodies

Facebook foodies

My husband’s co-worker from Italy came to our home for dinner recently and taught us to make gnocchi from scratch. While the pasta was boiling, she placed a serving bowl over the pot and melted goat cheese, a little milk and some parmesan. She drained the fresh gnocchi, poured the cheese sauce over it, and we enjoyed the wonderful dinner together. Making the pasta together was so much fun. But just prior to cooking the gnocchi, our daughter and her friends pulled out their phones and posted photos onto Facebook displaying the pasta for all of their friends. My husband and I chuckled as they all temporarily vacated our kitchen and shared with their internet community.

According to a global study of ‘foodies’ surveyed in the US, Germany, France, Japan, China, and the United Kingdom, their behaviour is not unusual. Sopexa, the agency that performed the survey, defines foodies as ‘consumers who repeatedly look up food content.’ Apparently, of the 18,000+ questioned, over 81% said they used Facebook for food information, to get recipes, and to share food related photos. Pinterest has been considered the #1 source of recipes and food information, but the study found that although Pinterest has a considerable wealth of food information, there are fewer that take advantage of these boards – only 36% studied used Pinterest as their primary source of information.

Only 17% of the worldwide population surveyed said that they frequented Instagram, but 71% of the American people polled went to Instagram for photographs, links, and recipes. Not surprisingly, younger foodies are more likely to share pictures of their food than those of older generations. Nevertheless, this trend of going to the internet for food information and new product sourcing is growing steadily. Of those polled, 39% said that they went online to see where to purchase products.

The visual impact of sites like Facebook are powerful marketing tools for those who are interested in promoting their products, tools, publications, etc. Customized advertising on these sites leads to promising returns – especially among the Millennials that make up the largest consumer base.

These foodies get inspired by the images they see and are motivated to get the ingredients and get cooking.

Nicole Schrader

Johnson, Lauren. “Facebook Beats Pinterest as Foodies’ Go-to Social Platform.” AdWeek. N.p., 1 Sept. 2015. Web. 11 Sept. 2015. <>.


#nwafuturisticfridays – Paying for Loyalty

Middle-aged couple standing on American dollar bills.

Growing up I remember hearing the expression, “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” It seemed funny at the time because there were lots of kids at my school – myself included – that received free lunch tickets. It was much later that I understood the meaning of the expression, and used it myself.

If your experience is like mine, you probably have received invitations to ‘free’ dinners, hotel stays, vacations, sandwiches, desserts, flights, etc. as incentives to get our foot in the door of various establishments hoping to gain additional sales. These freebies often have strings attached. Often percentage discounts only pertain to purchases above specific dollar amounts; dinners require you to sit through sales presentations; hotel stays are dependent upon participating in facility tours; and sandwiches require the diner to purchase a second sandwich or another menu item. There truly is no such thing as a free lunch.

These give-aways are not the only method used to gain customer loyalty. I find myself being asked on a regular basis if I have a store’s discount card or membership card. These cards are sometimes given away freely, as with Walgreens, CVS, and most department stores. Other establishments offer their ‘special sales’ to those who’ve paid into their loyalty program. Sam’s Club, Cosco, and Amazon Prime, are just a few examples of paid loyalty programs. In these days of customized or personalized advertisement, these programs enable a company to offer discounts that are tailored to the shopping habits of their customers.  At Walgreens, for example, a coupon is created at the time of sale for items that you regularly purchase to use on future visits to their store.

These are creative ways to increase sales and customer loyalty, and they are very effective. What is surprising to me is that these paid loyalty programs seem to be more effective than the free ones. In an article published recently in Associations Now, a study shows that paid loyalty programs are especially appealing to Millennial consumers. In their study of 1000 respondents, 61% felt that fee-based reward or customer-loyalty programs were better than the free ones. Seventy-six (76%) percent of the Millennials surveyed were convinced that the paid programs were more likely to provide rewards specifically corresponding to their needs and would consider joining.

Although this trend is intriguing, you may wonder how it pertains to the watermelon industry and more specifically to the National Watermelon Association. If the growing consumer base is predominantly Millennials, then the fact that these customers can be wooed by personal invitation to fee-based reward programs has many applications. Perhaps incentives in all our businesses may be customized to produce increased customer loyalty.

The beauty of membership in the National Watermelon Association is that its leaders are all personally involved in the industry as well as each other’s lives and are continually seeking creative new ways of serving their greater Watermelon Family. Be sure to save the date of the upcoming National Watermelon Association Convention – February 25th-27th, 2016 – in New Orleans to experience membership yourself!


Nicole Schrader


Dehahn, Patrick. “Study: Millennials Most Likely to Pay for Loyalty Programs.” RSS 20. ASAE, 20 July 2015. Web. 04 Sept. 2015.