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Davis Hosts First Field Listening Session on USDA Cultural Transformation

More than 220 USDA employees met Thursday at the Varsity Theatre in Davis, Calif. to share their thoughts during the first listening session designed to help implement a cultural transformation within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Members of the USDA Cultural Transformation Task Force were present to hear ideas and to ensure this effort results in a more diverse, inclusive and high performance organization.

“Our goal is to make USDA a model employer, provider and lender that is highly effective in its work, honors diversity and is an enjoyable place to work,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack in his opening statement via video.

The first of these five regional listening sessions was held in this historic, rural town and in the Varsity Theatre — a public venue built in the 1950s near the University of California at Davis, one of the first land-grant agricultural universities.  For two hours employees walked up to the microphones to share their comments on five transformational topics, that included employee development;  talent management; recruitment, retention, customer focus and community outreach.

Nearly 20 state, regional and local offices were represented at the session, including NRCS, RD, FSA, FSIS, RMS, APHIS and Forest Service.  USDA Assistant Secretary for Administration and Task Force Chairperson Perlie Reed was joined by task force members, Alma Hobbs, deputy assistant secretary for administration and Steve Silverman, acting general counsel.  Joining California Farm Service Agency State Executive Director Val Dolcini from the state office in Davis, Calif., was NRCS State Conservationist Ed Burton and RD State Director Glenda Humiston.

USDA staff leave the Varsity Theater after the Cultural Transformation Listening Session.
USDA staff leave the Varsity Theater after the Cultural Transformation Listening Session.

NRCS Fresno staff member Curtis Tarver expresses his thoughts for the Task Force.
NRCS Fresno staff member Curtis Tarver expresses his thoughts for the Task Force.

USDA staff came to Davis from as far as 100 miles to speak on cultural transformation.
USDA staff came to Davis from as far as 100 miles to speak on cultural transformation.

3 Responses to “Davis Hosts First Field Listening Session on USDA Cultural Transformation”

  1. W.V. (Mac) McConnell says:

    This message is prompted by a newsletter from the National Association of Forest Service Retirees telling of the”Cultural Transformation” effort that the USDA and F.S. has begun in an effort to improve the morale of it employees. As a member of the Forest Service family since 1943 who has maintained close contact with F.S, field personnel for the past 37 years and whose son has recently retired from the Agency, I have a very good idea of why the morale is so low. The Service is trying to reach a shifting goal with no hope of success. The field is attempting to accomplish a hopeless task with “hands tied” management. The National Forests are currently cutting about 7% of the gross annual timber growth while 38% dies. While accomplishing this remarkable achievement, they have lost the respect, support and, yes,the affection of the locals. While they can win some small skirmishes, the game is lost and they know it.

    Until such time as Congress (and the Forest Service) take corrective action to allow the field to effectively manage the resources, “morale building” will be an impossibility. Good luck!

  2. Ward Jordan says:

    Members of The Coalition For Change, Inc. (C4C)understand that “Cultural Transformation” cannot occur until federal agencies, like USDA, begin to impose mandatory discipline on managers who are found guilty of discriminating and retaliating against civil servants.

  3. Maxx Payne says:

    And where does the C4C stand regarding the agency’s current practice of hiring/promotion of minorites because of their minority status rather than their ability to do the job? Is that not discrimination? Then how do you deal with false claims of discrimination because a minority didn’t get the promotion they wanted?

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