Monthly Archives: January 2016

#nwafuturisticfridays – Keep Your Eyes on the Screen

eye health

Keep your eyes on the screen… or better yet, don’t! At the end of the day, do you suffer from headaches, dry eyes, neck or back pain, blurred vision, eye twitching or red eyes? These are all common symptoms of what is now referred to as ‘digital eyestrain’ or ‘Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS).’ Digital eyestrain is the direct result of overexposure to digital devices, such as laptops, smartphones, tablet, and even televisions. A recent report from the Vision Council, states that symptoms of digital eyestrain occur when people use devices for two or more hours daily. It goes on to report that young adults (those under 30 years of age) are more likely to suffer from these symptoms than older adults – which is not surprising.

Some other statistics from the report include the following:

  • 90% of Americans use digital devices for more than 2 hours daily;
  • 60% of Americans use digital devices for more than 5 hours each day – and the majority use two or more devices at one time;
  • 65% of Americans report experiencing symptoms of digital eyestrain (36% experience neck/shoulder/back pain; 35% complain of eyestrain; 25% suffer from headaches; 25% report blurred vision; and 24% experience dry eyes). (Associations Now)

Although overexposure to digital screens is said to be the cause of eyestrain, it’s the exposure to high-energy (HEV) artificial blue-light, focusing fatigue, and glare that are major contributing factors. “Cumulative exposure to artificial blue-light can contribute to vision problems such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration.” (GUNNAR Optiks) When working at a computer, people blink 30% less than normal; dry, irritated, red eyes is the direct result.

Our dependence upon digital technology at work and at home is on the rise. The majority of Americans use their smartphones and computers to get directions, look up recipes, read books, shop, and check the weather. We can only imagine what the cumulative effect will be on the eyes of our children. These statistics are not encouraging, however the future for our eyes is not hopeless.  There are common sense practices that can alleviate eyestrain and new devices to bring relief to our tired eyes.

All About suggests ten things we can do to bring relief to our digitally strained eyes. Closing blinds, working away from windows, replacing flourescent lightbulbs with those which approximate natural light, and adjusting computer display settings can all be effective ways to reduce glare in the workplace and relieve eyestrain.

Exercising your eyes, taking frequent breaks, and modifying your workstation can also inhibit the symptoms of digital eyestrain. Simple exercises, like the ’20-20-20 rule’, reduce fatigue that is caused by constantly focusing on your screen. Every 20 minutes, look at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Taking a 5-15 minute break away from your computer screen, a couple of times a day, has not only reduced eyestrain, but has also been shown to improve productivity. Improving posture and position at the computer screen have also been effective at warding off computer vision syndrome. The center of the computer screen should be approximately 15 degrees below your eyes and 20-24 inches away.

Lastly, companies have designed eyewear that prevent some of the most common symptoms of digital eyestrain or computer vision syndrome. These glasses have special lenses that add additional contrast to ease viewing, filter high-frequency blue-light emitted from digital devices, eliminate visual distractions with anti-reflective coatings, and wrap around the head to keep moisture in the eyes reducing dry eyes. (GUNNAR Optiks)

While future technology may take consumer comfort into consideration, we need to be aware of the consequences of our dependence upon it. It is my hope that you will employ some of the suggestions herein and enjoy for many years to come.

Nicole Schrader



Smith, Ernie. “Report: Digital Screens Still a Sight for Sore Eyes.” RSS 20. Associations Now, 15 Jan. 2016. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

Heiting, Gary, and Larry K. Wan. “Are You Spending Too Much Time Looking at Digital Devices? Learn How It Can Affect Your Eyes.” All About Vision. All About Vision.Com, 7 Jan. 2016. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

“Why You Need Computer Glasses | GUNNAR Optiks.” GUNNAR Optiks. N.p., 03 Feb. 2014. Web. 21 Jan. 2016.

The Last Four in the Class of 2016 – National Watermelon Hall of Fame

nwa hall of fame

The National Watermelon Association has a long history of remarkable leaders from the watermelon industry that have contributed their time, energy, and expertise to the Association and its members. 
The Association’s Hall of Fame has been created to honor the lives and contributions of these members, both past and present.
We will inaugurate the Hall of Fame and recognize the first class of inductees during the National Convention in New Orleans, February 25th-27th, 2016.
The following is the Class of 2016!
Gordon Etheridge
Raleigh, North Carolina
Lifetime Council member, Gordon Etheridge, has been a member of the National Watermelon Association for over 40 years. He has served on many committees in that time and was the President of the North Carolina Watermelon Association at its onset. Owner of Etheridge Produce LLC, Gordon began in 1958 as a watermelon broker. He worked his way up the east coast and is now ‘at home’ in Raleigh, North Carolina. Gordon’s still in business today and is a faithful member of the Association.
Known for being honest, hard-working, and ‘hands-on’ has given Gordon a reputation that precedes him. Michael Bunch has known him most of his life and describes Gordon as, ‘the Grandfather of the watermelon business.’
Ralph Meitin
Zellwood, Florida
Ralph Meitin was the president of Zellwood Fruit Distributors; established in 1943, Zellwood Fruit Distributors was in business for 71 years!
Ralph served on the Executive Council of the NWA in 1969. He was a Lifetime Council member of the National Watermelon Association and was an actively engaged member for over 30 years.
Ralph helped to found the Tangerine Bowl, which supported the Elk’s Harry-Anna Crippled Children’s Hospital in Umatilla.  Meitin’s children said they were inspired by their father’s involvement in philanthropy. Ralph Meitin was a well-respected leader in business as well as in his community.
Howard  E Sorrells
Arcadia, Florida
Howard Sorrells was born in Hiram, Georgia. He moved to Arcadia, Florida and later attended and graduated from U of F with a BA in business administration in 1951 on a GI Bill. He moved to Atlanta and operated Sorrells & Chapman (a wholesale business that sold citrus and watermelon in the off-season) for 6 years.
Howard returned to the family packing house in Arcadia, Florida in 1957 where they grew watermelon as well as citrus. Howard served in both the Florida Watermelon Association and the National Watermelon Association.
From 1968-1980, Howard Sorrells proudly served on the School Board of DeSoto County serving as chairman of the board from 1971-1973. He was appointed to the Florida Citrus Commission by Governor Lawton Chiles and served from 1991-1998. In 2008, Howard received the NWA Lifetime Achievement Award.
Nancy Childers
Morven, Georgia
Nancy Childers served as the executive secretary-treasurer of the National Watermelon Association from 1976-1991, when it was based in Morven, Georgia.  She was always willing to go the extra mile with her support, hard work and selfless interest in the watermelon business. When she left, the Association’s membership stood at about 600.
After leaving the NWA, Nancy remained entrenched in her Georgia roots by helping growers from multiple crop industries to organize the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association in August 1996, where she remained for a number of years as the organization’s secretary-treasurer.  To this day, the GFVGA serves its constituents in addressing common issues with and for the industry.


#nwaFuturisticFridays – Issues that Matter to Millennials

People waiting to vote

Although presidential candidates have been in the news for a couple of years already, 2016 is election year. Advertising and campaigning will ramp up as we get closer to significant primaries and the November election date. Candidates target Millennials as they make up the majority of the voting population – that is if they are registered and actually vote. There have been many articles published, including some of mine, that maintain that Millennials don’t have a great deal of confidence in the government as a means to social or economic improvement. They don’t trust the rhetoric of the politicians and don’t feel that their votes matter. The candidates, however, know the importance of their votes and are using every communication tool available and popular with Millennials to try to get their attention.

Millennials may be less engaged than earlier generations in the political process, however that does not mean that they are uninformed or that they are not interested in the future of the country or its leaders. These young Americans have been well-educated at great expense and find themselves underemployed or unemployed. They are beginning to understand, first hand, the impact that decisions made in Washington, DC have on their lives. If candidates desire their support, they must listen to them and speak to the issues that matter most to them.

Last week Ipsos, a public affairs research company, polled 1141 Millennials between the ages of 18-34. It’s important to note that 77% of those who participated in the poll were registered voters and 50% of them voted in the last presidential election.  Although about 75% of those polled agreed that voting is a responsibility and a way to impact important issues, only 53% thought their votes changed an election.

When asked to prioritize the issues that the next President should concern him/herself with, the Millennials gave the following answers:

  • Economy/Jobs/ Minimum Wage/ Paid Leave (35%)
  • Education/ College Affordability/ Student Debt (28%)
  • Foreign Policy/ Middle East/ Terrorism/ Homeland Security (25%)
  • Health Care/ Health Insurance (24%)
  • Gun Laws/ Gun Safety (23%).

The majority of those polled agreed that by 2030 the US should transition to mostly clean or renewable energy. However, this issue showed up lower on their list of priorities for the next President (13%).

From these findings, we can see that Millennials care about the issues that are significant to the majority of Americans. So if there are any presidential candidates reading this article, your job seems pretty clear – you need to convince this eager voting block that you are going to follow through with your campaign promises.

I leave you with the most promising finding from the Ipsos poll, 65% of those polled said that they encourage their friends and family to vote.


Nicole Schrader


“Rock the Vote / USA Today Millennial Poll – January 2016 | Ipsos.” Ipsos In North America. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Jan. 2016.

Only Eight More in the Class of 2016 – National Watermelon Association Hall of Fame

HOF banner with slice

The National Watermelon Association has a long history of remarkable leaders from the watermelon industry that have contributed their time, energy, and expertise to the Association and its members. 
The Association’s Hall of Fame has been created to honor the lives and contributions of these members, both past and present.
We will inaugurate the Hall of Fame and recognize the first class of inductees during the National Convention in New Orleans, February 25th-27th, 2016.
The following is the Class of 2016!
Percy Bunch
Murfreesboro, North Carolina
Percy Bunch began growing watermelons as a hobby farmer in the late 1950s. His watermelon wholesale business, Murfreesboro Farms Inc., officially opened seasonally in 1973 on Union Market in Washington, DC. Percy and Frances moved the business back to their hometoFrances and Percy Bunchwn, Murfreesboro, North Carolina, in 1984. Percy was president and general manager of the company until he retired in 2009 at which time his son, Michael Bunch, took over the operation and continues to do so today.
Throughout his career in the watermelon industry, Percy and the Bunch family have been active members of the National Watermelon Association. Percy served as President, started and led the North Carolina Watermelon Association, and presided over the National Watermelon Promotion Board. Percy Bunch has served in the National Watermelon Association for over 30 years. He currently sits on our Lifetime Council.
Vernon F Highley
Fresno, California
President of Highley Associates, a federal relations firm founded in 1985, in Washington, DC – relocated to Fresno, CA in 2000. He represented the National Watermelon Association as a federal lobbyist. He began his career in agriculture marketing  and later joined the US Dept of Agriculture where he became the Special Assistant to the Secretary of Agriculture, Clifford Hardin.
In 1982, Vern was persuaded to return to Washington, DC to serve as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service. He went on to become Executive Director of the Farmers and Ranchers for the Reagan-Bush and Bush-Quayle Presidential campaigns before forming Highley Associates.
Vern led the USDA operations in the Western states and the Pacific Trust Territories, before opening his own firm, Highley Associates. He represented various organizations including the Cotton Growers Warehouse Association, National Watermelon Association, Imperial County California, and the Imperial Valley Conservation Research Center.
Vern was honored twice with the National Watermelon Association’s Outstanding Service Award.
Josephine Hughes
Houston, Texas
Josephine Hughes was instrumental in starting Canino Produce Company in 1958 on Airline Drive in Houston, Texas.  She worked tirelessly as the co-founder and co-owner for over 25 years.
She was chairwoman of Vegetable Day Celebrations that the Farmers Market held for many years. Josephine was an active and then honorary member of the Texas Watermelon Association and the National Watermelon Association.
Josephine won many 1st place ribbons for pecans that she and Charlie harvested on their property in the Texas hill country.
Harmon R Lawson
Morven, Georgia
Harmon Roy Lawson operated the H R Lawson Farm Supply in Morven, Georgia. He served as the President of the National Watermelon Association from 1966-1967 and served on the Executive Committee for 25 years. He was a faithful member of the NWA for over 40 years!
Harmon served as Executive Secretary-Treasurer for the National Watermelon Association from 1968-1991 and was given title of Executive Secretary Emeritus upon retirement.


#nwafuturisticfridays – Happy New Year! 2016 Forecasts

#nwamembermondays – The List Continues: Hall of Fame Class of 2016

nwa hall of fame
The National Watermelon Association has a long history of remarkable leaders from the watermelon industry that have contributed their time, energy, and expertise to the Association and its members. 
The Association’s Hall of Fame has been created to honor the lives and contributions of these members, both past and present.
We will inaugurate the Hall of Fame and recognize the first class of inductees during the National Convention in New Orleans, February 25th-27th, 2016.
The following is the Class of 2016!
Buddy Leger
Cordele, Georgia
Buddy Leger
Buddy’s career began in the early 1950’s when he worked for the Federal State Inspection Service grading fruits and vegetables. In the ’60s, he managed Cordele’s Farmers Market operated by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, but it was in 1964 that he set foot in the watermelon business for himself. In the late 1970s, Buddy recognized the need for watermelon producers and shippers to come together to support watermelon promotion and research. Buddy naturally became first leader of the newly formed National Watermelon Promotion Board.
Buddy has held leadership positions in Georgia’s Watermelon Association as well as serving as President and Chairman of the National Association. Today Mr. Leger sits on the National Watermelon Association’s Executive Council.
Wallace Luffman
Salisbury, Maryland
Wallace was a lifelong innovator, adopting new farm practices influential in the agricultural industry in Delmarva. In 1972, he was awarded the Certificate of Merit by the Governor for agricultural achievements. In 1990, he represented the US Dept of Agriculture in Armenia to assess that country’s ability to grow and distribute vegetables.
Wallace served as the president of the Mar-Del Watermelon Growers (precursor to the Association) and was a board member of the National Watermelon Promotion Board.
He received a lifetime achievement award from the National Watermelon Growers and Distributors Association (precursor to the National Watermelon Association). He farmed all his life.
Robert Brian Bloebaum
Clermont, Florida
Bob Bloebaum was born and raised in Vincennes, Indiana and moved to Florida in 1961. In 1968, he graduated from the University of Florida.
Bob was the owner/operator of the Dal-Don Produce, Inc. (brokerage and shipping) in Clermont, Florida for over 40 years. The company shipped more than 3000 truckloads of watermelon during its peak years.  Dal-Don handled products from about 2500 acres in several states in the South and the Midwest.
Bob served on the Executive Committee of the National Watermelon Association.
Dallas Jones
Clermont, FL
Born in Washington, Indiana, Dallas Jones moved to Clermont, Florida to partner with long-time friend Don Bloebaum.  Over more than 40 years, Dal-Don Produce grew into a substantial fruit-distribution venture nationwide.
Dallas was a pioneer in the produce industry and a man of unwavering character. Dallas embodied the most beautiful and enduring qualities of his generation; achievement through hard work, service to those in need, and a deep commitment to provide for, love and cherish his family.
Dallas retired in 2002.  His sons, Danny, Billy, and Bobby all continued in the watermelon business forming Sun State Produce Sales, Inc, and  Jones & Jones Enterprises, Inc.