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Western Human Resources Roundtable Leads to..
May 20, 2009

Western Human Resources Roundtable Leads to Constructive Conversation 

Approximately 50 agriculture industry and educational professionals participated in lively discussion about employment topics at the Western North America Ag & Food Human Resources Roundtable in Monterey, CA.
The Roundtable took place May 4-6 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey and was hosted by, the leading supplier of human resource services to the agriculture and food industry. Among those in attendance was the California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura. He welcomed participants and encouraged them to be proactive in addressing future changes.
“Our industry is facing significant challenges, especially on the subject of human resources,” Kawamura said. “The retirement of baby boomers, indifferent perceptions of agriculture careers, climate change and energy needs are just a few, and we need to address these things now so our industry doesn’t just survive the future, but thrives in it.”
In addition to Secretary Kawamura, other presenters included Franci Phelan, chief human resources officer of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Julie Venierakis, senior human resources manager at Valent; Jim Welch, president and founder of The Growth Leader, Inc.; and many others.
“The quality of the speakers and the diversity of the attendees provided for excellent dialogue about a number of issues facing all human resources professionals in the ag industry today,” said Anne Cleary, director of human resources at Wilbur-Ellis.
Participants attended a variety of sessions on topics such as strategies for effective human capital management, linking universities and employers to create success, and implementing new, innovative retention strategies.
Amie Hammond, career counselor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, said she enjoyed learning about the timely topics and having the opportunity to network with other professionals.
“It was very helpful to hear firsthand what employers are seeking in qualified candidates,” Hammond said. “As a university career counselor, I always encourage students to develop strong communication skills, gain internship experience, and learn how to work as part of a team. Experiences like this reinforce these lessons and provide additional credibility for these messages coming directly from potential employers.”

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