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#nwafuturisticfridays – Are Your Meetings Millennial-Friendly?



I attended a convention recently and entered a seminar on social media strategy. Hoping to blend into the crowd of Millennials that filled the room, I casually slipped my tablet from its sleek case and positioned it in my lap. Once ‘connected’ to the network, I sat poised with my hands over my tiny keyboard and waited. Turning my attention to those sitting around me, I noticed that the majority of them were drinking coffee, checking their phones, and comfortably chatting with one another. As soon as the seminar began, I became quickly aware that the generational chasm between us was widening and I would fall in if I could not keep up. While I furiously took notes, many of which I hoped to understand more fully later, my peers simply snapped a couple of photos of the screen and listened attentively. Later, I found that all the slides, as well as an audience response system was available online.

The largest segment of the workforce, known as Millennials (those 25-35 years), has great expectations. Having grown up with rapidly changing technology, they are accustomed to version updates and take them in stride. In the workplace, they expect access to the most advanced tools to get their jobs done well. They are extremely reliant and comfortable with technology. In spite of their inexperience, they bring a refreshing confidence in technology to the meeting table, where older generations, like myself, can often be cynical and clumsy.  Nevertheless, the generational challenges must be faced and bridged in order to join experience and leadership with the enthusiastic and energetic Millennial.

How this is accomplished will vary from organization to organization, however, there are some suggestions to bridge the gap that have been offered to benefit all. In regard to meetings, where there is a gathering of generations at the table, ease of access to high-speed wifi is a necessity, both on-site and off. These days it’s not just the ‘digital natives’ that rely on the internet to gather information, calendars, mail, etc. In light of this, providing good lighting and charging stations are simple alterations that show consideration to all.

With digital document libraries available, less printed material can be generated which appeals to the ‘green’ sensitive Millennial. It saves time, money, and trees.

Responsive computer software systems are wonderful tools that enable two-way communication during and after meetings. Although some programs are expensive, the investment communicates to the younger generation that their responses are valuable and that you want their input.

Telecommuting and remote attendance with live streaming allow those off-site to participate in daily business. Millennials are often willing to take less salary in lieu of a more flexible work schedule. Working outside the office provides the flexibility they desire in maintaining a balanced work and personal life.

A willingness to make changes in your work environment, even at some expense, will pay off in the long run. Attracting and retaining young talent in your organization is and should always be a priority to the companies that wish to remain relevant and successful.


Nicole Schrader


Beall, Alex. “To Retain Millennial Workers, Groups Must Embrace Tech.” RSS 20. Associations Now, 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.

Byrne, Jeffrey C. “Leverage Technology to Engage Millennials | Smart Meetings.” Smart Meetings. N.p., Nov. 2015. Web. 21 Nov. 2015.



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

What’s New?

news source

In an article by Rob Stott March 23, 2015 (iStock/Thinkstock), a recent poll taken of 1046 Millennials surveyed around the country, 88% say that they get their news from social networks at least occasionally. The majority of those young people also admitted to be unwilling to pay for the news they do seek out.  Facebook and YouTube were the most common sources noted, although 50% did identify Instagram as an occasional source of news. Very few of those surveyed (less than 20%) actually pay for news in print.

You might ask how this information affects the way the National Watermelon Association should communicate with this generation Y – those 40 years and younger. In the same article, John T. Adams III, executive director of Association Media and Publishing made the following suggestion.

The smart organizations are putting their content wherever their members, prospects, and other stakeholders are likely to be. If their members are on Facebook, they should go to Facebook; if they can find members on YouTube, they may want to consider doing videos; if they can find members through Twitter and drive them, through tweets, to other sources of association content, they should do that. Associations have to adapt…

Until recently, The National Watermelon Association was not available on any of these social networks – but those days are gone and we’ve ‘adapted!’

We will continue to inform, support, educate and connect with you – our members – on all the venues available to us! So, visit us on Facebook at and ‘Follow’ us; tweet us on Twitter at; share photos from your business on our Instagram site at www.instagram/nwawatermelonag; pin on our boards on Pinterest at

Most importantly, don’t forget to visit our new website for your digital Vineline magazine and news that involves the National Watermelon Association as well as the watermelon industry.

We are and always will be Dedicated to making a positive difference in the business and lives of you – our members!

USDA Specialty Crop Grants

USDA Grants.jpg

The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced the introduction of new grants this week. Two of the  grants that may be of interest to our members could provide over 80 million dollars!

AMS Grant: Specialty Crop Block Grant Program or SCBGP, offers $63.2 million that will be allocated through the states and territories based on a formula that will take both specialty crop acreage and production value into consideration. Interested applicants must apply directly to their State Department of Agriculture. A listing of the State contacts and application due dates can be accessed at the following link:

AMS Grant: Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program or FMPP & LFPP, will be offering a combined total of $26.6 million – divided equally between the two segments. The FMPP is designed to promote marketing projects that go directly from the farmer to the consumer. Projects that would be considered for this grant could include farmers markets, community-supported agricultural projects, roadside stands, and agritourism.

The LFPP will provide the balance of the $13.3 million to the intermediaries in the supply chain.  Those businesses that process, distribute, aggegate, and store food products would apply for this grant.

To apply for these funds, applications will be taken electronically through with a deadline of 11:59 pm EST on May 14, 2015.

The AMS has provided technical assistance grant workshops in conjunction with the National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) through the Agricultural Marketing Service Technical Assistance (AMSTA) Project that will help anyone interested in applying for these grants understand, develop, and submit their Federal grant applications.

For more information about the FMPP or the LFPP grants, go to the following links:

Feed A Bee


A world without the bees would be a world without watermelon. According to Albert Einstein more than watermelon is at stake if the bee population should disappear, he said that ‘if the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would only have four years of life left.’

Jim Blome, CEO of Bayer Crop Science of North America, doesn’t worry about the bee population disappearing from the surface of the globe, but he is concerned about their reduced habitat and decreasing food supply. This is especially a concern as the world population is expected to grow to over 9 million people requiring the production of 70% more food by the year 2050. According to a news release from Bayer Crop Science, bees are considered to be the world’s most heavily traveled livestock. ‘Bees are transported to pollinate crops where resources are challenged to sustain large bee populations. Bees are working harder and need more food and more food diversity.’

Bayer Crop Science has come up with a solution – the Feed A Bee initiative. Through the Feed a Bee program, Bayer is giving out free packets wildflower seeds, in an effort to encourage people across the nation to plant and grow wildflowers, resulting in greater bee forage areas.

More bees will also mean more watermelon, which brings us home to the National Watermelon Association. We would like to encourage you, our members, to join the effort and feed a bee. To obtain your free packet of 200 wildflower seeds, go to and request yours today.


California, Here We Come!

la quinta 2

Registration for the  National Watermelon Convention – aka NWA 2015 – is in progress and the initial deadlines are fast approaching. (January 25th is the special convention rate deadline for La Quinta and on February 1st the registration rates increase!) If you are like me, until your registration is complete, your travel arrangements in place, and your calendar cleared, it’s difficult to get excited about the actual event.

It is my intention, therefore, to help you get excited about NWA 2015 and encourage you to make all the arrangements necessary as soon as possible, so that you will be able to eagerly anticipate the pleasures that await you.

This will be my first Watermelon Convention. From the first interview I had in the national office until now, I am continually reminded that the annual convention is like nothing I’ve previously experienced. I have to admit that as I’ve written the emails that come to you each week promoting the convention, I too have been swept away with the excitement.

Not only is the location of the event glorious at this time of year – when most of the country is freezing and dealing with stressful weather conditions – but it’s also awe-inspiringly beautiful. The Santa Rosa Mountain range is visible from every prospect of the La Quinta Resort & Spa. Vast blue skies during the day and the deeper star-studded moonlit skies at night are quite common there. The gloomy overcast days in Florida have stirred a longing in me for those fresh and clear southern California vistas.

I am also looking forward to staying at the La Quinta Resort. It is so much more than a hotel. The individual red-tiled casitas and the flower-lined pathways give the grounds of the resort a lovely village feel. Comfortable heated swimming pools are scattered throughout and make sun-bathing a more private affair. The Spa itself is a luxurious addition and provides more refreshing and restful ways to be pampered. Sounds very inviting!

I have been to conventions in the past, but as I look over the agenda and prepare for the special events, I am beginning to understand how unique the National Watermelon Convention is in comparison. Dancing, casino games, Queen competitions, auctions, banquets, sight-seeing, and excursions to the desert, mountain top, golf course, and polo grounds, are not the usual activities of conventions that I’ve attended.

I see now that the membership of the NWA is more like a family working together for the benefit of all, rather than a group of members with a common business goal with no other concern for one another. I have heard Bob Morrissey say that the NWA conventions are a special time of fellowship, camaraderie, and networking. The seminar presenters and keynote speaker are not the focus of the convention, but rather another way in which the Association desires to prepare the watermelon industry for longevity and success. I have been reading Sarah Sladek’s book, Knowing Y, about engaging the next generation now – it seems to me that the NWA has always been aware of the value of the next generation. I am eager to hear what she has to say once she encounters the NWA.

I have been working on membership lists and invitations and emails for the last couple of months and your names are becoming familiar to me. I am thrilled and eager to finally meet the family! I feel a little like I did when I was going to meet my prospective in-laws for the first time.

Looking forward to my first National Watermelon Convention, and to meeting all of you!

Nicole Schrader

Communications for the NWA