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.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Don't Just Take Our Word for It....

While we at the Holstein Foundation have a lot of fun talking about our programs and how meaningful they are to the industry, it's great to know that others who have actually been through the programs can testify to that!

A few of our YDLI 8 participants have blogs where they wrote about their Phase 1 experiences. You can check them out here:

They provide some great candid thoughts about YDLI and photos from Albuquerque. Check them out!

Monday, February 11, 2013

YDLI Day 4: The Last Hurrah (For Now!)

Saturday of YDLI focused primarily on preparing particpants for their Phase 2 projects!

The morning started with a session led by YDLI alumni Denise Skidmore, Laura Daniels and Matt Nuckols, where they provided inspiration and helpful ideas and resources for the required Phase 2 advocacy projects.

Following the opening session, the day transitioned quickly into a very interesting workshop on "Communicating - Leading - Influencing," led by Monty Miller and Jennifer Garrett. First, YDLIers learned about individuals' different learning styles, based on "brain pathways" - whether people are primarily Visual, Kinesthetic, Auditory learners and either Sequential or Global thinkers, greatly influences how they absorb new information being presented.

Monty Miller visits with Lana Olson (MN) and Ashley Abbott (NY)

Several tips for putting together successful presentations were presented, based on the brain pathways concept:
  • Presentations should include elements to appeal to all learning styles for maximum impact.
  • Incorporate "fun" elements to get people engaged and activate their brain. People learn better when they're having fun!
  • Take the "high road" - engage peoples' neo cortexes with helpful and healing words versus taking the "low road" and eliciting a fight or flight response (activating the amygdala)
  • Don't overwhelm your audience; pick two to three key messages to focus on during a presentation
  • Know your audience and think about potential triggers and what they will respond best to.
After lunch, the focus shifted to the physical aspects of making presentations - how to project energy to an audience. Making eye contact, adding inflection to your voice and exhibiting good confidence with your body language were all concepts the class had the opportunity to practice. We also discussed effective ways to handle questions with the "three R's": Repeat, Rephrase and/or Relay.

Aaron Horst (PA) and Alise Sjostrom (MN) practice their presentation skills.
Matt Mitchell (TN) explains his ideas to the class.

Lucas Fuess (IL) tells a story to his table, practicing making good eye contact!

To close out the day, the class divided up into their peer groups and met with their mentors to discuss ideas for their Phase 2 advocacy projects, and start to put some of their action plan ideas on paper. So many great, interesting and ambitious ideas were discussed - we can't wait to see how the group puts their plans into action! Stay tuned - we will keep you posted as the reports come in!

Learn more about YDLI and how to become part of the next class at the Holstein Foundation web site! Also, keep up with YDLI and the rest of the Holstein Foundation activities on our Facebook page.

For more information, contact Jodi Hoynoski.

YDLI Class 8

Friday, February 8, 2013

YDLI Day 3: Budding Dairy Spokespeople Blossom!

Friday of YDLI Phase 1 is always an intense one, with the focus being on communicating about the dairy industry effectively. Media maven Joan Horbiak, David Pelzer of Dairy Management, Inc., and Michele Ruby were on hand to put the participants through the wringer and teach them tips to successfully and confidently navigate any interview or conversation with consumers. 

Joan's session started by laying down some fundamentals, built around "the six C's":
  1. Connect (with your audience)
  2. Consistent (messages)
  3. Clear
  4. Compelling
  5. Control (the conversation)
  6. Call to Action
After getting an outline of the basics, the group had a chance to practice their key messages and interview techniques on-camera, with a series of questions built around real-life scenarios. It's always fun and amazing to watch YDLIers gain confidence and successfully master the art of telling their story.

Joan Horbiak reviews key concepts with the class.

YDLI Advisory Committeee member Frank Conyngham checks in with Lynsay Beavers (AB) and Lucas Fuess (IL)

Lana Olson (MN) practices her key messages on camera.

Lavaun Janney promotes dairy products in a mock interview.

 Next, the class put their skills to practice in real life, doing some consumer interviews at the University of New Mexico campus. The class members had some interesting conversations, ranging from college football players whose trainer advised them to drink milk after each workout, to college professors who had influence over a large number of students, but knew little accurate information about the dairy industry. It was eye-opening to group to learn about the range of opinions and amount of misinformation that exists in the consuming public.
Brad Pacey and Michelle Rauf conduct some consumer interviews.

Ben Cloninger (PA) and Lynsay Beavers visit with a woman on the UNM Campus
After an action-filled day, the class had the chance to hear from a YDLI alum who further fueled their fire. Laura Daniels provided a dinner keynote about using your personal values to connect with consumers and tell dairy's story. She inspired the group to find their inner passion, what drives them, why they do what they do, and use those common values to bridge the gap with consumers, asking the class to "let your passion lead you."

Laura Daniels delivers her inspiring message

Tomorrow marks the final day of Phase 1, and will focus on "communication, influencing and leading" with a workshop presented by Monty Miller, and then the class members will get to work on making plans for their Phase 2 projects. 

Want to learn more about YDLI? Visit the Holstein Foundation web site!