Monthly Archives: February 2016

‘Experience Never Gets Old’ – #nwafuturisticfridays


Value of experience is the premise of the 2015 movie, The Intern. In this film, a successful startup online clothing company CEO (Anne Hathaway), is pleasantly surprised by the wisdom and contribution of her new intern (Robert DeNiro). The film highlights both the exciting, creative, Millennial workforce as well as the value of age and experience in the realm of business. Although the clash of generational cultures is very amusing, the emphasis on the friendship between generations is the most rewarding.

This is not a movie review, nevertheless, the film touches on a real concern regarding the future of leadership in our nation. It has been said that as senior management in businesses and associations retires, there will be a leadership vacuum that their Millennial replacements will not be adequately trained to fill. As satisfying as it may be to retiring managers to know that their experience is invaluable, the future success of the businesses hang in the balance, unless the next generation is sufficiently trained and mentored.

Highly educated and tech savvy Millennials may have the edge on their predecessors in regard to technology, but they are also the first to admit their need of education and training on the job. A recent workplace survey conducted by public relations firm, Finn Partners, states, “New research finds that Americans believe the most important initiative companies can undertake is investing  in their employees through training and growth opportunities, followed by recruiting and retention of talent.” Results also state that the majority of every age group would go back to school for more education if given the opportunity, with 74% of Millennials surveyed in the lead.

A study of our own membership, conducted in 2015, corroborates these results. Our Millennial members expect us to provide them with current industry trends and information. One younger member writes, “Value for me is education at this point in my career. Therefore, the educational sessions (at the National Conventions) are what I want to see and hear.”

Expert speakers and educational seminars may be venues for conveying industry trends, but the education and training needed to develop leadership must be taken on by senior members/leaders in companies. Mentoring programs, internships, and shadowing opportunities provide the framework for such training.  So if you’re a Millennial reading this article today, look for a mentor and take initiative in the relationship. If you are the seasoned supervisor, it is your responsibility to prepare the next generation to take your place. Give these young, eager Millennials the guidance and opportunities they need to blossom under your tutelage. As Ben Whittaker (DeNiro) would say, “You’re never wrong to do the right thing.”


Nicole Schrader






Bascuas, Katie. “Tapping Training and Development For Top Talent.” RSS 20. Associations Now, 04 Feb. 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

“The Intern – Official Movie Site – Trailer, Film Synopsis – Own It On Digital HD 12/22 Or On Blu-Ray™ 1/19.” The Intern – Official Movie Site – Trailer, Film Synopsis – Own It On Digital HD 12/22 Or On Blu-Ray™ 1/19. 2015 Warner Bros, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

The Convention Provides Common Ground – Marketing to Millennials #nwafuturisticfridays


The vitality of a trade association and its meetings requires a fully engaged membership, including professionals of all ages. But the long-term vitality of the organization requires a particular focus on millennials, aka Generation Y…”

It is true that the future of all associations depends upon their ability to engage the Millennial generation in its ranks, and the National Watermelon Association is no exception. But this is not a one-way street. For an association to be vital and effective, the senior members must draw Millennials into the workings, providing guidance and support; and the Millennials must actively seek out those seasoned professionals in order to glean from their experience and encouragement.

If they do not see sufficient value in membership and meeting attendance, they will not likely become the lifelong participants the association needs in order to maintain its numbers decades from now.”

As the annual National Watermelon Association convention fast approaches, it is significant that all of its members understand their importance to the vitality and longevity of the Association. Its value and the value of its meetings should never be overlooked or underestimated. The National Watermelon Association is ‘dedicated to making a positive difference in the business and lives of its members.’ This mission is accomplished by the active participation of our members. Our Committees invest in research taking place at universities and institutes nationwide to increase yield and prevent disease; they keep an eye on litigation and government regulations that impact business and labor in order to keep our members in good standing and aware of the laws; they sponsor events that promote watermelon and the industry as a whole; and they sacrifice their time and resources supporting all our members.

Millennials don’t just want electronic networking; face to face is still of a very high value to them, and the conference is a really good place to do that.”

Our conventions are like no other association’s. The focus of our event is not the exhibit hall, but rather educational sessions, opportunities to connect and encourage our members, and recognition for outstanding service. This year’s convention in New Orleans will feature impactful general sessions led by experts that will address issues like drones in agriculture, crop insurance, Phytophthora solutions, FDA food safety rules, seed certification, bees and bee health, and more! During the convention we will introduce the first class of the National Watermelon Association’s Hall of Fame and recognize the significant contributions of members in our long history. The National Watermelon Association is often compared to a family, as its members are concerned and invested in the welfare of all its members – young and old.

So, Millennial or veteran member of the association, both need to be intentional if ‘a positive difference’ is the goal. In 24 days, the National Watermelon Association will convene in New Orleans providing opportunities to learn, grow, support, connect, and lead. Find common ground on the golf course, in a tour bus, during the opening event, or over lunch after a general session. Make a plan today to attend, to engage others in conversation, to ask questions, and to make friends in the watermelon industry. It is your opportunity to become a ‘family member.’

Nicole Schrader


“Marketing to Millennials –”Wwwthemeetingmagazinescom. N.p., 30 Nov. 2015. Web. 01 Feb. 2016.

#nwamembermondays – Lee Wroten

Lee and Debbie WrotenFrom childhood, Lee Wroten wanted to work in the fields with his father, Al Wroten of Global Produce Sales, Inc. His mother, Debbie, recalls him turning watermelon vines alongside his dad when he was ten years old. In high school, Lee put together a crew of his own to work out in the fields with Al. Throughout  his college career, Lee spent summers working in the family fields in Cordele, Georgia. His educational interests also focused on preparing him for the family business. Lee majored in international business, focusing on economics, with electives that included organic gardening and Spanish. Lee studied abroad in Barcelona where his Spanish became second nature to him.

In the fall of 2001, Lee and his new bride Debra, returned to Lakeland where he began to work for his father in earnest. Lee started in the office, but summers were spent in the fields and in the packing house. Lee’s Spanish allows him to communicate easily with his Spanish-speaking co-laborers, as well as translate. His mother notes that it is not unusual for the Mexican workers to speak to Allen in English and turn to Lee and return to Spanish.

Lee Wroten has grown up in the National Watermelon Association family. It is a natural transition for young watermelon farmers, like Lee, to become members and leaders in the Association. Lee has made that transition with capability and ease. He currently sits on our Executive, Food Safety, Research, Public Affairs, and Y Generation Committees! We are privileged to have Lee Wroten as a member and are confident that he will add insight, energy, and strong leadership to the Association.

Co-owner and friend, Steve Nichols, adds this about Lee:

Other than being an Auburn grad, he’s okay.  He was lucky in marriage like me when he found Debbie (also an Auburn grad).  They have three active boys (I’m not sure there are any other kind).  Lee is a deacon at Christ Community Presbyterian Church.  Loves to hunt.  Lee is a third generation watermelon man following in his Grandfather Lee and Father Al’s footsteps.  He is bilingual (which aggravates all of us who aren’t).  He has always done whatever was necessary to serve his co-workers at Global, our growers, harvesters, carriers, and customers.  He gives me great confidence for the future of Global.

We close with this quote from his mother, Debbie Wroten:

I am so proud of Lee. He has such a good work ethic and helps everyone. I am so glad he lives nearby, I love watching him be a dad.”