Fifth annual UEP future leaders: action packed agenda

June 29, 2017

More than 30 Future Leaders from egg farms and allied organizations gathered in mid-June in Stowe, Vt., for the fifth annual UEP Future Leaders Conference. This year’s focus, Critical Conversations, was designed to position participants to successfully engage in essential communications with stakeholders.

Participants had a robust agenda – from team-building adventures high in the trees of the Green Mountains to media and crisis training, and from interactive role-plays about Congressional visits to better understanding of current issues facing America’s egg farmers.

Chad Gregory and Oscar Garrison led the opening session, guiding the conversation through examples shared under the theme of Bowling Alone, a groundbreaking study conducted in 2000 that explored how Americans are disconnecting from each other more and more. The benefits of collaboration and risks of “going it alone” are demonstrated in real-life illustrations from UEP’s experiences with hen housing, legislation and regulatory issues.

A facilitated session about how to have a successful critical conversation followed under the direction of the Context team. Participants provided day to day examples of situations where they faced a challenging conversation, and small groups worked together to identify ways to more effectively have those conversations. The “SLEDGE” approach was outlined and then incorporated into the small groups, and it included the principles of Speak the truth, Lead and Listen, Examine, Decide, Get moving and Evaluate.

Future Leaders began day two with media and crisis training led by Hinda Mitchell. Participants were challenged with two different on-farm crisis scenarios, worker death and tornado, and encouraged to work through their communications response to those scenarios with various stakeholders.

As a follow-up to the May UEP meetings in Washington, D.C., a role-play and discussion was conducted on how to effectively present information about issues to members of Congress. “Good” and “bad” visits were demonstrated for participants, and then the group discussed best practices for legislative engagement.

The afternoon of day two divided the Future Leaders into three groups for team building, with challenges of rock wall climbing, an extensive and physically tough high-ropes course and a paintball competition.

Recognizing that Future Leaders also are egg company managers and executives, day three focused on ways to be better leaders within their own organizations and within UEP. The day began with a session on mentoring and coaching employees, following a proven model for engagement with employees and relying on group interaction, role play and reporting.

Chad and Oscar then led a session following the acclaimed Steven Covey process, themed “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective UEP Committee Members” that helped position the participants to take a more active role in committee roles for United Egg Producers. This is an important step toward getting young leaders more engaged in the ongoing advocacy work of UEP.

The final work session focused on best practices for strategic planning, including presentations to the group and interactive breakout sessions. Within an egg company and within leadership groups like UEP, it is critical to understand how to build a strategic plan and then incorporate the plan’s recommendations across an organization.

While the agenda was full of insights, learning and skills-building, Future Leaders also provided the group with ample opportunities for fellowship, friendship and fun. The value of this kind of camaraderie cannot be overstated, and as always, UEP is grateful to its many sponsors for continued support of such an important program for the egg industry.