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Roundtable Roundup:
Takeaways from the 2017 Conference


Nearly two hundred HR professionals, collegiate staff, and association representatives gathered in Kansas City two weeks ago to network over hot topics in agricultural recruitment and retention. The 15th annual Ag & Food HR Roundtable was held August 1-3. Participants gained valuable knowledge surrounding legalities in human resources, recruiting the next generation, and campus recruitment.

The event kicked off with keynote speaker Diana Kander on Bringing Innovation into the Workplace. Kander explained the danger of becoming too much of an “expert” and reminded the crowd to continue to learn and rework, saying, “If you settle, you will never peak.” Next Andrew McPeak from Growing Leaders got audience members buzzing with The Future of our Workforce: Generation Z. Andrew led a discussion around how Generation Z differs from previous generations and how to provide positive mentorship to young recruits. Participants then enjoyed networking with a great view of the Kansas City skyline during a welcome reception.

Attendees started Wednesday morning early with an optional table topics breakfast complete with networking. Morning sessions began with The Government’s Influence on Human Resources by Lynne Hinrichsen from the Kansas Department of Agriculture. Lynne gave a presentation around how political shifts could change the workplace. This was followed by the first panel discussion of the 2017 Roundtable regarding Recruiting for Non-Exempt Roles. Panelists shared their viewpoints regarding how community colleges and employers can better collaborate to gain a stronger workforce in skilled trade and non-exempt roles.

During lunch, attendees had the opportunity to visit with university representatives about their respective academic programs via a poster session. Once those discussions wrapped, participants joined together for a presentation by attorney Mackenzie Wilfong on Thinking Legal When It Comes to University Recruitment. Mackenzie reviewed some upcoming changes to legislature surrounding recruitment for attendees to keep in mind this fall while on campus.

Afternoon concurrent sessions from which attendees were free to choose from included the university favorite Beg, Borrow and Share, Communicating through Mergers and Acquisitions, and Productivity Accelerators for the Workplace. Following the conclusion of Wednesday’s sessions, participants were shuttled to Kansas City’s famed Boulevard Brewing Company for networking, drinks, and dinner catered by local barbecue giant Jack Stack BBQ.

Thursday, the final day of the Roundtable, began with a second optional breakfast for participants to “ask the expert” at each table regarding a specific topic. Following breakfast, a panel discussion, Accelerating Key Partnerships Between Employers and Universities, featured input from both agribusiness and university professionals. Panelists were asked about their thoughts on the value and importance of campus recruitment, especially in terms of budgeting.

Attendees then picked from three concurrent sessions: Work Doesn’t Have a Syllabus, Managing Employee Data through the Hiring Process, and Mental Illness in the Workplace.

Thank you to all of our sponsors: Seaboard Foods, Bunge, Agriculture Future of America, Bayer, Cargill, CHS, FFA, ADM, Merck Animal Health, Valent USA, Wilbur-Ellis, Culver’s, and Tyson Foods. We would not have been able to present this educational conference without your support.

If you were unable to make it to this year’s roundtable, you can catch up with the discussion on Twitter at #AgRT or join the Ag & Food HR Roundtable LinkedIn group. Mark your calendar to join us August 7-9, 2018 for the next Roundtable in Tulsa, Oklahoma hosted by Oklahoma State University!