Category Archives: Association News

Letter from the Executive Director, Bob Morrissey


To all of our Friends and Family:

Words cannot be expressed of how overwhelmed Betsy & I are for the 
love and prayers that are being sent for the kids and our little
Gabby. The outpouring from so many communities that encompass Carrie
and Brad, our friends and extended family(ies) are expressions of love
that verify for us that God loves us all. We thank you all so very much
for your kindness. Carrie & Brad are strong, and are surrounded by family already, with
many more coming in today and tomorrow. Under these circumstances,
the kids are strong and doing okay. The service that will celebrate 
Gabrielle’s life will be held at 10 am (visitation) and 11 am (service) on
Saturday, May 30,  at the Victorious Life Church located at 6224 Old Pasco Road
in Wesley Chapel, Florida. Pastor Ed Russo, a wonderful friend of the
kids, will preside with his wife Janice. There will be plenty of food 
following the celebration. Many of you have been asking what you can
do, and we talked to the kids last night about it.

One of their high school friends set up a fundraiser online in Gabby’s name
( and another one ( The kids are
overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from old friends and
family. Another friend of theirs set up something called a Meal
Train, which has meals now committed to them through June 6th. Jesus
is truly in our lives with expressions like these. The expressions of 
love and kindness are lifting us all up. We have a rather unique request,
if you would consider it.
Rather than flowers or food or other material things, we ask this on Gabby’s behalf:
When you see your child, your grandchild, your great grandchild, your
niece or nephew, your sibling, your Mom or Dad, anyone that is a 
family member or good friend, give them a hug and tell them that it is
from little Gabby, and that you love them. You can help us to share 
that little baby girl’s smile through your expression of love for 
them. Your expression of love on her behalf will lighten the burden, 
and open our hearts even wider than they are. Share Gabby’s love 
today, and always. For in the end, love for Jesus and for one
another are truly the only things that matter. May God Bless you, and
somehow help us to thank you for your love, your prayers and support. Have
a wonderful, blessed day today.

Bob and Betsy Morrissey

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.

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




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!

Watermelon Political Action Committee


Make a personal statement

Help to create future solutions

Support Friends of the Industry

 Today more than at any other time in our lives is the time for all of us to come together to shape federal government policy that will drive the watermelon industry for growth and success.  For over 100 years NWA members have come together to accomplish more than any one company could alone.  Today, we face threats of punitive legislation, regulatory burdens and a lack of some key legislation that challenge our profitability and long-term viability as watermelon businesses.

Your commitment is needed to make a difference!  Say Yes!  Decide TODAY to make an impact and help the Watermelon Political Action Committee to support federal candidates that defend and pursue our industry’s interests.  You are free to contribute to this cause, and will become one of the contributing members that will decide on any distributions from the fund.

One item to keep in mind, please, Federal Elections Commission rules will ONLY allow a PERSONAL check for contributions to our PAC.  Business checks are not allowed by federal law.

Please make your commitment today, and become part of our solution.

Go to the Public Affairs page on our website,, and sign up today!

Thank You!

Opening the doors to new avenues of communication

open door

As we open the door to the new office of the National Watermelon Association in Lakeland, we are also opening new avenues in communication with you, our members. Our website (  and the Vineline magazine have been the official vehicles for our communication in the past, but in the coming months we hope to engage you in conversation with us on several other social media sites.

This WordPress blog will provide us with a means of informing you regularly of those issues that affect your business and your industry. We will include you in conversations we have with elected officials, alert you to the latest legislation regarding issues that affect watermelon production and distribution, and inform you of the latest developments in production research and disease prevention and discovery.

Our presence on Facebook will provide you with an opportunity to communicate with us and with other Association members. The Twitter account will alert you to breaking news as well as facilitate activities at our National Convention in La Quinta, California in February. (By the way, you won’t want to miss that fabulous event. We are working to make sure that it is the best convention yet! Online registration is live on our website!)

We look forward to having a presence on Instagram by February as well. This will give us all the opportunity to see the professional photos taken throughout the convention on a daily basis!

As you can see, we are busy opening many new doors. Nevertheless, the traditional programs we treasure will remain and perhaps even grow stronger than ever. Our chapter Queens will have the opportunity on Instagram to share photos and experiences from some of the highlights of their year.

So, take a deep breath with me and welcome in the breeze that the new year has in store for us all at the National Watermelon Association.

Nicole Schrader

Team Member, Lakeland, Florida