USSA Strategic Planning

The United Suffolk Sheep Association board of directors (including both the outgoing and incoming members of the board who were able to participate) came together in Des Moines on October 28, 29, and 30th for an internal strategic planning session.

As the board reviewed the discussion topics that had been submitted ahead of time by the meeting participants and past five association presidents, our internal SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis, the membership needs assessment that was conducted in 2020, the notes and take-aways from the 2016 strategic planning session, and the 2013 membership survey, we approached the meeting with the overarching thought processes of:

  • What needs to be done to keep the USSA financially viable, and
  • What can we do to address the needs and wishes of our membership

The following are the committees for the coming year, and their assignments as well as respective committee chairs.

Digital Suffolk Committee, Diane Russell, Chair
With the transition to the new registry program and associated data management capabilities, there is an immediate focus on what can be done to train and educate Suffolk breeders on the additional features and how to use them, an understanding of what cost and benefits could look like if we were to pursue outside opportunities, and finalizing the automatic uploading of performance and genetic measurements and testing.

A Suffolk Event, Tom Begg, Chair
For the last few years there has been an identified need and desire to organize an all-encompassing destination breed event that incorporates the diversity of the breed and all aspects of the membership (both junior and senior).  The intent is to boldly and proudly showcase the breed and convey our excitement about the future. It will be an event for all Suffolk breeders to come together to network, learn, and have fun celebrating our breed.

Marketing & Outreach, Brenda Reau, Chair
We need to do more to reconnect at a grass roots level with state sheep organizations, for both the breed and the larger sheep community.  We can do a better job onboarding of new members as well as communicating and engaging with our existing members.  Our online and industry presence will receive the attention that it needs to promote our great breed.

Breed Improvement, Lloyd McCabe, Chair
Tremendous strides have been made via the breed improvement committee over the last few years, and with the committee chair change to Lloyd, we expect this to only continue.  We have identified and can all agree that the breed should be fast growing, structurally sound, heavy muscled, and look like a Suffolk.  The one significant item that came out of the meeting is that as a breed, we see no place for the “D” or dwarf gene, and believe that is counter to the breed’s larger role in the industry.  As such, there will be no tolerance for sheep carrying the D gene at association sanctioned shows or sales. 

Budget, Carol Heupel, Chair
With the operating budget as well as the investment account, the responsibility of looking after finances for the breed will continue to exist under the budget committee.  The Digital Suffolk program and the opportunities it presents, as well as researching the best way to provide service to our membership and the associated fee structure will be under the oversight of this committee.

Education, Bill Zwyers and Dennis Sorensen, Co-Chairs
Lots has been done, and lots more needs to be done as we look at how we can better serve our membership and the sheep industry at large.  We have heard from you that education is an important role for USSA. There will be significant overlaps between this committee and The Digital Suffolk, Marketing and Outreach, Events, and Breed Improvement committees to provide the best educational efforts to meet your needs.

Strategic Planning, Jeremy Geske, Chair
We have identified some significant undertakings, and know that we have to hold ourselves accountable to what we pledged to one another in the meetings.  We also owe it to our membership to aggressively pursue forward momentum for the breed and association.  As chair of the strategic planning committee, Jeremy and this committee will help us hold one another accountable to the necessary deliverables as well as continue to look out front to see what else we need to get done.

The final significant take away from the session is that we will be reaching out to the membership for their vote on an issue that has been discussed, surveyed, and talked about for years.  We will be performing a membership vote during the month of January on how they want to see sheep presented (slick shorn within 30-days of the event or make no change) at the association sanctioned events. The board will implement based on the outcome of the vote, with the potential modifications happening in calendar year 2024.  As has always been the case, we are not seeking to tell the membership what type of sheep they can raise.  We are simply asking the voting membership how they want to see animals presented at their national events, and will respect the outcome of that vote.

All committees, with the exception of Budget and Strategic Planning, are open to add some interested association members.  Additional information will be immediately forthcoming on how to express interest and pursue involvement. We welcome the talents and commitment of the membership in partnering with board members on the committees.

Board Discussion Points

2004 Survey Results
2006 Survey Results
2013 Survey Results
2020 Needs Assessment

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