On Cusp of Its Second Century, Watermelon Group Focuses on Generation Y

At its recent annual meeting, the 101-year-old National Watermelon Association addressed the importance of engaging with younger members and outlined the steps it’s taking to ensure the future of the organization.

The National Watermelon Association is facing a challenge not unlike many other associations—how best to engage the next generation.

It’s an issue that was front and center at NWA’s annual convention in La Quinta, California, last week.

“We have to understand how to nurture and build for the next generation,” NWA Executive Director Bob Morrissey said at the meeting, according to The Packer. “We want to be on the leading edge of this and engage future leaders.”

Having hit its 100th birthday last year, NWA has seen flat or declining membership over the last several years, and with the association’s leadership aging, NWA staff were growing concerned about the organization’s future, said Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University, who delivered the keynote address at last week’s conference.

“The watermelon industry as a whole is struggling to engage Generation Y/millennials,” Sladek said in an email. “Bob Morrissey is on a mission to understand why this is happening and what this generation wants and needs.”

NWA has already taken steps to address the age issue by launching a new logo and website and increasing its social media outreach with a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. The association has also put together a Generation Y working group, led by millennial members who will reach out to their peers and provide insight to the organization, said Sladek, whose firm has been hired by NWA.

Over the next several years, the two organizations plan to work together to create strategies and research initiatives aimed at attracting younger members and to position NWA as a resource in an industry in need of engaging younger workers.

“For 101 years, NWA has played an integral role in the growth and distribution of watermelon, and they have every intention to be around for the next century and the many generations to come,” Sladek said.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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