The 2019 Faces of Leadership Conference took on a new face this year with a revamped mission of creating leaders, collaborating, and cultivating opportunities to grow the young minds of the Hereford cattle industry. The recently renovated Nebraska Innovation Campus at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) was home to 70 National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) members as they gathered in Lincoln, July 30-Aug. 3, for a week of networking and leadership.
With the generous support of the Hereford Youth Foundation of America (HYFA), the Coley-Malir Leadership Endowment and Sullivan Supply, Inc., Hereford juniors were in store for a whirlwind of leadership and team-building exercises.
For the feature activity of the conference, juniors worked through the challenging task of creating a business. Under the coaching of Tom Field, Ph.D., director of the UNL Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneur Program, juniors utilized strong teamwork, creativity and problem solving skills to create entrepreneurial concepts like Teflon™ nozzles for adhesive cans, informational resources for NJHA members and dissolvable tabs for water filters to supplement water with vitamins and minerals. New this year, attendees completed the Clifton Strengths Assessment to identify their top five personal strengths, which they leveraged in team settings under the mentorship of Lindsay Hastings, Ph.D., Clifton professor in mentoring and research and director of the Nebraska Human Resources Institute.
“It was neat to watch the NJHA entrepreneurs in action as they worked together on their projects,” says Amy Cowan, American Hereford Association (AHA) director of youth activities and foundation. “You could see them grow throughout the week as they identified an industry problem, conducted real customer research and formulated a solution.”
The other key piece of the conference was providing outlets for networking and exposure to future opportunities. Hereford youth heard from a strong lineup of motivational speakers, including keynote speaker Chuck Schroeder, retired industry leader, who presented a strong message about the importance of individuality and standing up for personal beliefs. During a breakfast overlooking the Cornhusker’s football field at the UNL Memorial Stadium, UNL Associate Athletic Director Matt Davison described how leadership generates social influence and how people become a reflection of who they spend the most time with.
Sullivan Supply Inc., the official industry partner and show supplier of the NJHA, hosted attendees at its headquarters in Dunlap, Iowa, to tour the Sullivan Supply warehouse, manufacturing facility and Sullivan Farms. John and Dede Sullivan shared their family’s entrepreneurial story, while Matt Burkhart, Mark Sullivan and Luke Bolin gave a panel discussion about their career experiences.
Cowan was excited about how the initial vision of the conference had truly come to life. “What struck a chord with me most is that NJHA members were challenged and, as a result, were provided with some great tools to add to their box that they will continue to build off,” she says. “These tools will help them navigate through college and their career paths.”