The Maturing Millennial ~ #nwafuturisticfridays

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As a parent of three Millennial adults, I have witnessed the gradual changes that inspire gratification and gratitude. Financial and emotional independence, consideration of consequences, and humble application for guidance in decision-making, are signs to me that they will be all right in the world. I am sure that mine are not unique reflections, in fact I recall my father-in-law saying that we all were wonderful when we reached 25!

As Millennials mature, their lifestyles also become more ‘grown-up.’  The disposable income that used to be spent on pizza, beer, and movies, begins to go in different directions.  Settling into jobs, homes, and perhaps marriage and parenting, necessitates larger purchases that require delayed gratification and savings.  Although they may be paying off school debt and living on a tight budget, they are making more money now and consider buying that new vehicle or home furnishings more of an investment than a financial burden.  They have come to understand the benefit of building credit for that first home.

Targeted for being the largest consumer population, Millennials have been the focus of retailers and online marketing for some time. But between college debt and difficulty procuring jobs, these young people did not have the funds for bigger ticket items. While car dealers have been poised, waiting to realize the benefit of the largest generation to come of age, there was a delay that caused dealers to despair. Millennials were not buying cars, they were taking advantage of public transportation, Uber, and ZipCar. Until only recently have some of those retailers begun to see returns from their marketing efforts. In comparison to previous generations, Millennials have been later to get licenses and are only now beginning to make up a greater percentage of car sales nationally. In 2015, Millennials purchased 4 million cars and trucks. Last year they represented 27% of new car sales – up from 18% in 2010. Millennial car buyers will soon pass baby boomers and make up the largest population purchasing automobiles.

Car sales are not only increasing because Millennials have more spending power having been in the workforce longer, perhaps the fact that nearly half of the women between 18-34 years of age are now mothers has something to do with the trend. According to an article in Millennial Marketing, there are 10.8 million households with children with parents 25-34 years old. Author Jeff Fromm acutely asserts, ” A large portion of millennials have grown up. By overlooking the fact that many millennials are now parents, brands could miss changes in behavior and consumption that directly impact their bottom line.”

So what can be said about these maturing young parents? These insights were shared in the article, The Millennial Generation Becomes Parents.

They are practical consumers. Prior to parenting these Millennials purchased high-quality brands they trusted, even if it meant a higher ticket price; but after becoming parents they are willing to give up some quality for price. “Before they were parents, their buying decisions were 57% on quality. After parenthood, they buy just over 50% on quality.”

The majority are raising their children as they were raised. This traditional bent also shows up in their belief that, “children do best if a stay-at-home-mom raises them.” In spite of the fact that over 60% of these mothers are a part of the workforce, they want to have the most significant impact on their children.

They are compassionate and are socially concerned. According to Millennial Marketing, 50% of these Millennial parents say that they prefer products that support causes or charities. “The brands that win with millennial parents often help them feel better about themselves through purchases and brand engagement,” stated Fromm. In the same article, when Millennial parents were asked to complete the sentence, ‘I want my kids to…’ 82% said that they wanted their children to know that they didn’t need possessions to make them happy.

Millennials are growing up, as Jeff Fromm stated, and as we look at them in light of their values and choices, I hope you are as optimistic as I am about their future and our own.

 

Nicole Schrader

 

 

Bershidsky, Leonid. “Millennials Are Buying Cars.” Bloomberg Gadfly. N.p., 04 Jan. 2016. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.

Fromm, Jeff. “New Research: “The Millennial Generation Becomes Parents” | Millennial Marketing.” Millennial Marketing. Futurecast, n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.

James Corden gives a Watermelon farewell to David Letterman

New Late Late Night Show host, James Carden, closes his show with a Letterman-style ending. Dropping a dozen watermelon off the CBS roof to the parking lot below. It’s a smash ending and fun to watch. We’ve added the link here for your viewing entertainment!

 

“Watermelon Sign-off – #ThanksDave.” Watermelon Sign-off – #ThanksDave. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.

‘Think Like a Farmer’ – the real innovators #nwafuturisticfridays

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I know that I’m ‘singing to the choir’ when I write that the real innovators of the 21 century are farmers. We just returned from the National Watermelon Convention in New Orleans, where over 500 members of the watermelon industry gathered to hear what is new in the industry. During a morning impact session, our growers were introduced to a variety of new innovations in agriculture, including the use of drones and precision technology, bee pollination services, and revolutionary nematode control.

Jim Carroll, a futurist and trend and innovation expert, points out that the multigenerational nature of agriculture, blending the experience of older farmers with technologically eager younger farmers, creates an opportunity for innovation and success. In his post, ’10 Big Trends in Agriculture,’ Carroll shows us how farmers are poised to meet the demands that are just around the corner. He states that the growth in the world population, an increase of over 45% by 2050, will inevitably create a huge demand for food and potential in the marketplace. Limited arable land will motivate those in agriculture to become more efficient. Perhaps drone technology, vertical farming practices, and robotics will play a larger role.

Carroll notes that new methods to improve crop yield as well as intelligent packaging are the direct result of rapidly developing chemical substances. Emerging methodologies, practices and partnerships will continue to rise as those in agriculture focus on growth, efficiency, and ingestion of new science.

Trends that encourage a focus on health and convenience have created a surge in fresh-cut produce as snack alternatives at home and in schools. Concern over food safety has inspired greater relationships between producer and consumer. Jim Carroll is convinced that, “…an increasing number of partnerships between growers and advisers, suppliers, buyers, retailers and just about everyone else,” will continue to increase in order to , “… deal with the massive complexities that emerge from rapid change and innovation.”

The most impactful trend that Mr. Carroll notices is that of generational transformation – he is convinced that the as the younger generation of farmers take over the family business a “sea-change in the rate by which new ideas in the world of agriculture are accepted,” will take place. No doubt change is already taking place.

The National Watermelon Association is preparing for this tidal wave by embracing its future farm leaders. During the convention, four Future Watermelon Farm Leaders were recognized as rising leaders who will ride the wave of transformational innovation.

Nicole Schrader

 

 

 

Carroll, Jim. “10 Big Trends for Agriculture.” Jim Carroll Futurist Trends Innovation Keynote Speaker RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Mar. 2016.

‘Experience Never Gets Old’ – #nwafuturisticfridays

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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

 

 

 

 

Lawrence, Chistopher. “REGARDLESS OF RACE, AMERICANS SIGNIFICANTLY VALUE TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES OVER DIVERSITY PROGRAMS, NEW STUDY REVEALS – Finn Partners.” FinnPartners.com. N.p., 26 Jan. 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.

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

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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 – Www.themeetingmagazines.com.”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.”

 

#nwafuturisticfridays – Keep Your Eyes on the Screen

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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 Vision.com 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 www.watermelon.ag 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

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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.’
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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.
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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.
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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.

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#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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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