Wednesday, February 12, 2014

YDLI Day 4: Understanding the Public Policy Process, and Our Final Fiesta!

The final morning session for YDLI Class 8 was led by YDLI alum Bonnie Burr, walking the class down the trail of the public policy process. Burr covered the general structure of our government, and shared her real-life experience with lobbying for various agricultural issues. After the foundation was laid, each group was given an actual bill that had come before a state legislature, and tasked with deciding their position and preparing how they would lobby for that position in front of elected officials.

Every class member participated in a mock hearing, where they presented their positions on each bill to a group of "state legislators," with hopes of influencing their opinions. Participants were empowered to realize the impact they can have on the state and national governance process, and all finished with a better understanding of how to represent agriculture's best interests on the legislative stage.

At lunch, the Holstein Foundation staff was pleased to honor retiring Advisory Committee member Denise Skidmore, who has been a part of the YDLI program for several years, being a Class 2 graduate herself.

Holstein Foundation Programs Manager Jodi Hoynoski with
outgoing YDLI Advisory Committee member Denise Skidmore
At the conclusion of the remaining YDLIers' Phase 2 reports was the closing session led by Ty Bennett, where he talked about "The Power of Influence."  Ty shared strategies that everyone in the room could use to become a more effective leader - someone that others are excited to be associated with and want to follow. Some of the key take-home messages included:

  • "Leadership is not about's about the people that you lead."
  • "Do what you said you would do, when you said you would do it, the way you said you would do it."
  • "Invest in your people."
  • "Focus on being interested, not interesting."
  • "Practice the 'Platinum Rule': Treat others the way they want to be treated."
Closing speaker Ty Bennett
After ending the formal training on a high note, with all participants receive their graduation plaques, the group headed out to one of Albuquerque's most established Mexican resturant's, Sadie's, for a competitive chile cook-off, and delicious buffet to round out the evening. We certainly look forward to seeing what the group will be able to accomplish in the coming years with the skills they have learned and put into practice over the past twelve months. 

The Holstein Foundation and Young Dairy Leaders Institute participants would like to sincerely thank the many gracious sponsors who made the experience possible. Platinum sponsors include Allflex USA, Inc.; DairyBusinesss Communications; Dean Foods Foundation; Farm Credit System Foundation; Hoard’s Dairyman; and Land O’Lakes, Inc. Foundation. Gold-level sponsors were AFACT, Cargill Animal Nutrition, CHS Foundation, Dairy Management, Inc.; Elanco; Holstein Association USA; Northeast Agricultural Education Foundation; and Zoetis. Silver sponsors were Accelerated Genetics; Center for Dairy Excellence; GEA Farm Technologies, Inc.; and Merck. Bronze-level sponsors included Chobani; Church & Dwight Co., Inc.; COBA/Select Sires; Cooperative Resources International; Farm Credit Northeast Ag Enhancement; Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc.; Robert L. Cain Memorial Fund; and Select Sires Canada, Inc.

To learn more about Young Dairy Leaders Institute, or to obtain an application for Class 9, which will be held in February 2015 and 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz., visit the official YDLI page on the Holstein Foundation web site! Class 9 applications are due August 1, 2014. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

YDLI Day 3: Constructive Conflict Management & Lively Debate

Everyone deals with conflict in life at some point or another. Whether discussing business decisions with a partner on the farm, working with someone in your office on a project, or discussing family finances with a spouse, disagreements occasionally arise.

The focus of today's YDLI training focused on conflict resolution techniques with Dr. Wes Jamison, Associate Professor of Communication at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Jamison spent the morning reviewing reasons for conflict, and the different techniques that can be applied to constructively resolve disagreements.

YDLI 8 participant Julia Hudyncia and Advisory Committee member participant Matt Nuckols practice their conflict resolution techniques in front of the crowd.
At lunch, the Holstein Foundation was pleased to honor Ray Prock, Jr., of California as the 2014 YDLI Distinguished Alumni Leader Award recipient. Watch for more news about this award next week.

Holstein Foundation Chairwoman Judi Iager and Holstein Association USA CEO John M. Meyer present Ray Prock with his YDLI Distinguished Alumni Leader Award
After lunch, a highlight of the day was a debate between Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau President, and Joe Maxwell, Vice President of Outreach and Engagement for the Humane Society of the United States. The pair had a respectful discussion surrounding modern agriculture practices and policy, and several class members had the opportunity  to ask their own questions.

The session wrapped up with participants working together to create pro-dairy advertisement ideas to connect with consumers and share our story in a positive manner.

This evening, the group will hear a dinner keynote speech from Holstein Foundation Trustee and Chairman of Board of Land O' Lakes, Inc. about "Exploring Your Leadership Frontier," sharing lessons he has learned throughout his career, and how your personal characteristics can build influence with others and grow your sphere of cooperation.

Tomorrow is the final day of the program, and a focus of the morning will be learning about the public policy process and how to become a part of it. After lunch, reports on Phase 2 projects will continue, and then Ty Bennett will provide a closing keynote on "The Power of Influence." The final fiesta will be a chile cook-off and authentic Albuquerque experience at the famous Sadie's restaurant.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

YDLI Day 2: Advanced Communications Training & Reporting on Phase 2 Successes

The first full day of YDLI Phase 3, Thursday, started off with a bang - Advanced Media and Communication Training lead by media mogul Joan Horbiak, David Pelzer and Michele Ruby. The participants were immediately thrown into a real-life crisis situation, with a [fictitious] scenario dealing with an alleged animal abuse video at a neighboring dairy farm. Horbiak and company walked the group through various positive communications strategies and key messages they could use to convey their story effectively to media of all types, as well as the consuming public.

The YDLI media training session is a perennial favorite for participants, and there is a great deal of interactive practice. Many class members were called up on stage or interviewed live on camera to put their skills to use.

YDLIers practicing how they would handle an impromptu phone interview from a news reporter.

Joan Horbiak kept all of the class members on their toes, putting new skills to the test.
At the end of the session, all YDLI participants committed to a personal action plan consisting of three things they could to do proactively communicate their animal care stories, including things such as:

  • Hosting an on-farm event for the community and media
  • Creating a farm brochure to show how their values guide them in providing excellent animal care
  • Sharing animal care videos and/or photos online
  • Making contact with local newspaper editors and/or radio hosts
After lunch, the focus turned to learning about and celebrating participants' Phase 2 successes. Phase 2 of YDLI is completed in the year between the face-to-face meetings in Albuquerque and consists of a series of projects in their home communities, including consumer interviews, presentations to local groups and capstoned by a personal advocacy project. It is amazing to learn about all that this impressive group has accomplished over the past 12 months. Here are just a few examples:
  • Lucas Fuess from Illinois went into an elementary school in a suburb of Chicago and educated a group of 3rd and 4th graders about nutrition and how they can make healthier snack choices including dairy products.
  • Brad Groves, Missouri, had the opportunity to take a cow and calf to a Bass Pro Shops and he and his family visited with thousands of consumers about the dairy industry and benefits of dairy products in a healthy diet.
  • Sarah Englebert of Wisconsin organized a dairy-themed night at her local Arena Football League team game, featuring several dairy-themed games and snacks, exposing a new audience to our industry.
  • Many participants took their YDLI training back to their local 4-H, FFA, college and other agricultural groups, providing "mini-communications training sessions" and ways they could better connect with consumers in a variety of situations.
Lucas Fuess really summed up the Phase 2 experience eloquently at the end of his presentation: 

This evening features dinner and a keynote by Terry Paulson on "Leveraging Optimism to Make Change Work." Check back tomorrow to hear more about our YDLI experience!

If you are interested in receiving an application for YDLI Class 9, which will take place in February 2015 and 2016 in Phoenix, Ariz., visit the Holstein Foundation web site. Applications will be due August 1, 2014.

YDLI Phase 3 Kicks Off in Albuquerque

Over 40 Young Dairy Leaders Institute Class 8 participants are in Albuquerque, N.M. this week for Phase 3 of their YDLI experience.

Several class members participated in a tour on Wednesday. The group visited H.A.W. Farms in Belen, N.M., a 2,600-cow dry lot dairy, operated by Luke Woelber and his parents. Woelber gave a great deal of interesting information about the New Mexico dairy industry, and everyone enjoyed being exposed to a way of farming that not many had explored before.

YDLI 8 Tour Participants in front of the milking barn at H.A.W. Farms

Luke Woelber talks to the group about his operation and dairy farming in New Mexico (Photo © Alise Sjostrom)

Long rows of headlocks and beautiful scenery at H.A.W. Farms (Photo © Ben Cloninger)

Next, the group headed to Old Town Albuquerque for lunch and a little bit of shopping, before going on to visit Casa RondeƱa Winery, which exposed them to a different segment of agriculture in Northern New Mexico.

Wednesday evening the group came together for the official start of the program - our Welcome Reception. Everyone enjoyed a southwestern-themed meal and plenty of time to get re-acquainted with their classmates.