Last week I wrote about the importance of family communication and holding regular family business meetings. Successful family business meetings don't just happen; they take some planning and organization. Every meeting should have an agenda that defines the purpose of the meeting. What are we trying to accomplish in this meeting? What decisions need to be made or what information needs to be presented? Is this a meeting to discuss farm business such as crop rotation, fertilizer purchase, building plans, equipment repair/purchase, livestock marketing, etc. or is it a meeting to discuss relationship issues/personality conflicts etc.? Is the purpose to discuss the future and succession planning or day-to-day operation topics?
Meetings should have a beginning time and a set ending time. I really do not enjoy going to open-ended meetings that will last for "as long as it takes." Most people function better and stay more engaged in a meeting if there is a set end time that is adhered to.
In addition to providing an agenda and time-frame for the meeting, successful meetings create an atmosphere of trust and safety. This is best accomplished by setting some ground rules and sticking to them. Some common ground rules include:
-- Only one person speaks at a time. The other people in the meeting listen. Side conversations should not be allowed. It takes practice and effort to be an effective listener and distractions should be avoided.
-- Don't allow personal attacks, blaming and finger pointing. These statements and conversations stir up emotions and cause divisions. The goal is to encourage reasonable, rational conversations.
-- Everyone is provided an opportunity to speak. Strive to build an environment in which everyone's opinion and thoughts are listened to.
In some situations it may be wise to use someone from outside the family or farm business to facilitate the meeting, especially if the topic is difficult or likely to generate strong emotions. This person should have some experience in running meetings and can help keep the meeting moving in a positive direction.
Dairy Service Unit annual meeting, banquet
The 2017 Wayne-Ashland Dairy Service Unit annual meeting and banquet will be held Thursday, March 23 at OARDC Fisher Auditorium in Wooster. The evening begins with a social time at 6:30 p.m. and a meal served at 7 p.m. During the evening, dairy farms are recognized for production and management, an election of dairy service unit board members takes place, and the Wayne County Dairy Princess is crowned. All dairy farm families, as well as industry and support people connected with the dairy industry, are invited to attend. Reservations need to be called in to the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722 by Thursday, March 16.
The Dairy Service Unit is looking for dairy producers or dairy industry personnel to serve on the board. If you are interested in having your name placed on the ballot, please contact the Wayne County Extension office by March 1.
Dairy herd owners interested in the lifetime production recognition award must submit an official individual cow test page with the last completed lactation between January 2016 and December 2016 to the Wayne County Extension Office by Feb. 15. To be considered for the lifetime production award, Holsteins must have 225,000 pounds or more of production and colored breeds need to have 175,000 or more pounds of production. Lifetime Production Recognition for cows achieving these milk production levels includes both a framed certificate of achievement and recognition in the banquet program.
Dairy Service Unitscholarships/outstanding youth
The Wayne-Ashland County Dairy Service Unit offers several scholarship to provide financial assistance to students in Wayne and Ashland counties that intend to go on to post-high school education in the field of agriculture, with a special interest in the dairy industry. Scholarships typically range from $500 to $1,000 and are awarded at the annual meeting at Fisher Auditorium on March 23.
Applicants for the scholarship must be a resident of Wayne or Ashland county at the time of application, have graduated from an accredited high school program or be in their senior year, and have an agricultural background with interest toward continuing in agriculture. Special consideration is given to those applicants with a dairy background, involvement in a 4-H or FFA dairy project or having employment in a dairy based business. Preference will be given to first-time recipients.
The Wayne-Ashland Dairy Service Unit will also present an Outstanding Dairy Youth Award ($250) at its annual meeting. The recipient of this award must be nominated by a FFA or 4-H adviser who has some knowledge of the individual and their work with a dairy project and/or contribution to the dairy industry.
Applications for the Wayne-Ashland Dairy Service scholarships and the Outstanding Dairy Youth are due to the Wayne County Extension office by Feb. 15.
Applications are available on the Wayne County Extension website at: http://go.osu.edu/agwayne or at the extension office, phone: 330-264-8722.
Rory Lewandowski is an OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.