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"Salute to 2010 College Graduates" from
From: Eric Spell, President of

Recently, Erika Osmundson and I had the opportunity to attend and participate in the NAMA Conference in Kansas City, MO. As always, it's very exciting to be in an environment with college students-watching the "up and coming future" of our industry receiving professional development and competing in a team-based atmosphere!

For those of you not familiar with NAMA, I encourage you to take time to learn about the associations' purpose and contributions to our industry. Congratulations to the staff and professional member volunteers for such a great conference! Thank you for allowing me to present and be a part of this professional event!

Reflecting on my recent experience, I thought that it would be fitting to offer a salute to those students graduating and provide a few tips as you enter the next phase of your career:

  1. Realize that generational gaps exist….but embrace the opportunity to narrow the gaps! Focus on ways to learn from Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists. All of us in each generation have had things that shape us-be optimistic about our differences and exercise patience.

  2. Establish a new mentor! Perhaps you have established one or two great mentors in college (a teacher, advisor, career services professional, etc), but make an effort to identify and add a new mentor to your network. This may or may not be your new boss at work. It could be someone that is five to seven years ahead of you and that you admire for how they carry themselves at work and in the community. Take time to get to know this new mentor and ask for their advice.

  3. As you settle into your new job, you will begin to quickly miss the social aspects of college. Rather than allowing this to be a distraction, look for ways to get involved in the community you live in. Consider the following:

    • a. If you’re into sports, consider being a volunteer coach
      b. If you were in scouts, consider being a scout leader
      c. 4-H volunteers are always welcome
      d. Consider local civic organizations

    Such community involvement offers two advantages—these are excellent ways to meet new people and can offer unique opportunities for you to develop your leadership skills. It also demonstrates your willingness to help the people within your community.


  4. Be patient during your first two years of employment! There will be times of frustration and you will consider quitting or seeking a different job. For those of you that use Wikipedia, look up the definitions of “assertive” and “aggressive”….there is a difference, I would recommend assertive over aggressive during these times! One of your main goals during this time period in your life should be to establish yourself as being trustworthy, patient, and a dedicated young professional. Also, while you’re on Wikipedia, have a look at “humility” and reflect on its meaning.

  5. Have fun! This is a great period in your life! Your life will greatly be shaped by the choices made during the two years following graduation. Enjoy the ride but seek wise responses related to your personal and professional life situations.

  6. Share the opportunities with those outside of agriculture! This is a superb time to be in agriculture---share how other young and experienced professional might become involved in our industry.

  7. Thank your parents, friends, and educators! Handwritten notes or face-to-face thank-you mean a great deal to those who have had an influence on your arrival to this point in life!


Again, we would like to salute the graduates of 2010. Thank you for supporting and our industry. We wish you all the best!


Eric Spell