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Serving: IN

4 Generations At Work

4 Generations At Work
Training wide variety of age-groups a challenge.

How would you like to have Jane Hardisty's job? She is the head of the Natural Resources Conservation Service in Indiana. In fact, the Hoosier native is in her 10th year in the position.

Speaking recently at the annual meeting of the Johnson County Soil and Water Conservation District, she noted the difference amongst generations of Hoosiers in everything from attitudes to the environment they grew up in. Most generation Y people, born in the last 25 years or so, don't know what a rotary dial phone is, for example.

On the other hand, what she describes as the 'traditionalists,' born form 1922 to 1945, don't have a clue about Facebook, Twitter and other social media. There may be exceptions, but not everyone in that age group even knows how to operate a computer, or access the Internet.

It's not right or wrong- it's just different, Haridsty says. What makes it complicated is when she has to figure out how to develop and provide training for all the employees on her statewide roster.

"We had a training meeting and there was a 72-year old employee in the room with a 24-year old," she recalls. "The session was on computer training. You can imagine how that went."

The difference in generations also affects how people value money, what kind of activities they do, and their attitude toward government and conservation, she says.

"The bottom line is that we have to blend the skills and talents of each generation into what we do," she says "It takes everybody to keep the soil conservation movement forward. Conservation crosses these generational boundary lines."

Hardisty is originally from Greene County in southwest Indiana. However, her family moved to a farm near Greenfield while she was in elementary school. The farm is still there.

She's a Ball State University graduate who has devoted her career to soil conservation work. She served as state conservationist in Michigan before returning to take the same position in Indiana. She occasionally spends time in Washington, D.C. on special projects of the Chief of NRCS.

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