My WiN/APIO Conference Experience by April Wilson

It is always a little unnerving to travel to a city to meet people I have never met before and pay $500 for a conference I’ve never attended before. However, that was the best money I have ever spent on my career!

I was adamant on attending since it is in my WiN Region and this was our first WiN /Conference ever but I didn’t really know what to expect. The conference far exceeded my hopes. Each session, plenary or break out, was relevant and purposeful. The meals and hospitality times were perfect for networking.

From these three days, I came away with a renewed sense of purpose, new career goals, and ideas to take back to my WiN Regional members as well as my landowners in my counties. I would highly recommend the conference. I am looking forward to this year’s conference!!

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The Conference

by Sharyn Alvarez

When I held an impromptu meeting at the APIO Annual Training Conference in Sacramento, California in 2008 to discuss the establishment of an NRCS women’s organization, little did I know that we would actually establish this organization and that a few women would work hard and never give up on the idea.  Seven years later we had our first annual conference again with APIO in St. Louis and I am sure that it will be the first of many training conferences.  Why, because women are used to working hard and persevering, we just don’t give up.  And by not giving up and by persevering we make progress.

So save your money every pay period and ask a few friends to join you in driving once again to St. Louis MO for our second annual training conference in August.  Look forward to seeing you again!

Once We Get Back To Work ~ By Sharyn Alvarez

We are getting closer.  A deal will be made and we will go back to work.  Start preparing for the first few days back in the office.  Yes, you will have to review emails and phone messages but you really need a plan for how you will deal with two things:  Your co-workers and customers

Your Co-workers

We all have co-workers, managers and supervisors.  We all have a variety of views, personal and political.  Start preparing your strategy for dealing with comments that “may be made” regarding what has happened over the last couple of weeks.  Remain calm, professional and avoid being pulled into a debate.   Perhaps your office staff has already made a pact not to talk politics at work, if so, great.  If that is not the case, then it is up to you to determine how you will deal with political comments that may come up on the first day or so back in the office, be prepared.

If you are a supervisor of staff, they will look to you and see how you proceed.  You must show leadership and professionalism.  Welcome them back, let them know that you’re happy to see them and focus on what steps need to be taken to get the work done for the week.  If you see or hear employees making comments about the politics of the shutdown, gage the reactions of the other staff members.  If you see signs of discomfort or anger, step in and refocus the conversation on work.  You may have to make a “short” speech reminding the staff that we are all government employees with a variety of views that we are entitled to, however, let’s not make each other uncomfortable.

If you are the employee and your supervisor is not taking the lead in ensuring that political talk is not getting out of hand, you take the lead in stating the same.  We are all government employees with a variety of political views but we share a common goal in our dedication to helping people who help the land so let’s get back to work.  Don’t be bashful, don’t be shy, be firm and it won’t be long before things will calm down and we will get passed this.

Your Customers

It is possible that when you come back to work you may have to deal with some irate customers.  You will have to hear comments on any number of topics.  You need to be prepared.  It would be a good idea if you and the office staff are all using the same talking points.  But if that is not the case, prepare your own.  Keep your comments simple, you can say something like, “You regret the inconvenience, how can I help you now, and smile.”  You are a government representative and some customers may feel that they can vent their frustration to you.  I know that it may be hard, but try not to take their comments personally.   Admit that you do understand their frustration:  “if we can put it aside and focus on what you need now, we can take steps to help you.”   It may be a good idea to have another employee listen in and come to the desk to back you up if necessary.

We are living in unprecedented times, however, if we think ahead and are prepared we can and will deal with it effectively.   If you have some ideas to share with WIN members, please feel free to share them.

Welcome to the WiNnrcs Blog Site

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As an organization, we want to ensure that we are using every means available to get information to our members.  By creating a blog site, we will be able to discuss a topic at length.  If you have any topic that you feel we should address in a blog, please let us know. We may even ask some of our members to submit a blog to be posted to the site.

Please think of the many ways you can use your talents to volunteer for your organization.  We can always use fresh ideas and suggestions to address the many needs of our organization and its members.

For those of you that do not know, WiN is the Professional Organization for Women in NRCS.  For more information about WiN, please visit our website at:  www.winnrcs.org.