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2007 US Ag HR Roundtable – Informational and Fun!
August 15, 2007

More than 160 agribusiness human resource professionals, career services staff and association professionals gathered in Johnston, Iowa for the 2007 US Ag HR Roundtable last week on August 6-8.

This year’s conference, hosted by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, brought speakers and events focused on developing recruiting and retention strategies within the agribusiness industry. Participants of the conference had an opportunity to listen to several main sessions, concurrent sessions that fit their needs, and fun networking events.

Thank you to our great line-up of speakers this year! The conference kicked off with an entertaining keynote address from the Iowa Secretary of Agriculture, Bill Northey. Melinda Mullenix,, then walked the group through some of the upcoming trends and industries that may affect recruitment and retention within agribusiness. Heidi Ciha with John Deere shared a case study on how John Deere has gone about developing talent within their organization. A panel discussion with a member from each generation, provided an enlightening and entertaining close to the first day. Thank you to panelists, Al Christian, Iowa State University; JoAnn Alumbaugh,; David Purdie,; and Ashley Schmidt, Texas A&M/ Finally, Franci Phelan of Pioneer Hi-Bred talked about the effects of globalization on the human resource function on the last day.

In the first set of concurrent sessions, speakers Kim Erwin, Clemson University, and Karol Pelletier, Clougherty Packing, shared thoughts on how universities and employers can work together to enhance the ability to recruit youth into colleges and then into agribusiness organizations. Tammy Winnie of The Kellogg Company took session participants through a case study of how Kellogg’s handles on-boarding. Heidi Ciha of John Deere and Dan Clemens of The Center for Talent Retention gave session participants a number of pointers that can help organizations to increase retention.

The second set of concurrent sessions included a talk from Bernhard Mueller of Ogletree Deakins on work exchange programs and how exchange programs can work. Jackie Bass of Murphy-Brown, LLC discussed recruiting for diversity and practices she has seen work within her own organizations. Finally, Paula Beecher of Clemson University opened session participant’s eyes by reviewing the number of technologies, such as MySpace and Facebook that youth are using and how employers have been using them in their recruiting process.

Beyond the educational aspects, participants had plenty of time for fun and networking. The conference kicked off with the first ever golf outing. That night all participants were invited to the Opening Reception, which was sponsored by Becker Underwood. Both mornings group breakfasts were held to discuss OFCCP regulations (Tuesday) and The rise of Biofuels (Wednesday). On Tuesday evening, Murphy-Brown, LLC sponsored a nice barbeque dinner at Living History Farms. At the conclusion of the event, Pioneer Hi-Bred sponsored a corporate tour of their facilities. Thanks also go to ADM for sponsoring the group transportation for the event.

Thank you again to our participants, speakers, host and sponsors! If you missed out on the US Ag HR Roundtable, you can still take part in the action by attending the 2007 Canadian Ag HR Roundtable to be held September 24 – 26 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario. Click here for more information.

Picture: Eric Spell, President of with several of the Roundtable sponsors. Left to right – Case McGee, ADM; Brian Bowman, Pioneer Hi-Bred; Eric Spell,; and Brock McCloskey, Murphy

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