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Conference Steering Committees

Each year, FCC Services delivers a series of exceptional, targeted conferences designed to enhance skills, introduce leading-edge concepts, foster alignment and build relationships among Farm Credit attendees and the organizations they represent. Guiding this process are steering committees or workgroups consisting of Farm Credit employees from across the System, selected based on their experience, knowledge of the topic areas and willingness to commit the time that the role demands.

“This is my fourth time on a steering committee for an FCC Services Conference, and I can assure you that the amount of planning, effort and discussion that goes into planning conferences helps guarantee that they are always a great learning experience for the attendees,” says Jason Hoagland, Farm Credit East Vice President and member of the Learning Conference steering committee. “FCC Services does a great job of addressing our learning needs and helping develop a conference that is not to be missed.”

Conference content planning starts 10 months in advance, beginning with a discussion of the conference theme followed by a series of calls during which the Steering Committee members review the previous year’s evaluations and discuss targeted questions to identify issues that they or their organizations are facing or industry trends they see emerging. This brainstorming phase leans on the experience of previous year attendees, though all committee members are also encouraged to solicit input from coworkers and their System network.

Once common issues are identified, members work in teams based on their alignment to a specific conference learning track to consider content around each issue, and potentially to suggest new topics. This longer list of topics – which could number up to 30 – is then culled based on a survey of all the committee members.

“Our steering committees work with us to help shape the agenda for the upcoming Conference so that it meets the ongoing and emerging knowledge and needs of the System, and the individuals who volunteer their time for this process are critical to the quality of our programs,” says Joette Cross, Vice President of Event Management at FCC Services. “Without their insights, our educational content wouldn’t likely cover the full scope of the true learning and educational needs in the System.”

Once the topic list – which then transitions to the session titles for the conference program – is finalized, the committee identifies qualified speakers and provides them with an overview of the topic and desired outcomes.

“Customer preferences are changing at an unprecedented rate, and this change provides new opportunities and challenges for lenders. The FORUM for Ag Lending gathers industry experts from across the country to share new ideas and best practices so attendees can better position themselves in the marketplace,” says Chase Smith, Credit Officer with Capital Farm Credit and a member of The FORUM for Ag Lending steering committee.

Steering committees typically include 10 – 12 representatives. The RISK 360 Conference, formerly known as the RAAW Conference [see related Risk Management Corner article], is informed by the 18-member Farm Credit Review, Audit and Appraisal Workgroup (RAAW). Committee and workgroup members can serve for multiple years, and often recommend the experience to their colleagues when they decide to step down.

“All of the members of the workgroup bring a spirit of cooperation and dedication to making the conference better every year,” says Steve Leonard, Vice President of Portfolio Risk Management with AgFirst and a member of the RAAW. “Planning and executing the RISK 360 Conference is Farm Credit at its best.”

Farm Credit employees who are interested in serving on a conference steering committee can contact Joette Cross via email or at a conference.

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