By Jean Ronnei, SNS, SNA President 2016-04-05 04:19:15
Growth Through Opportunities Whether you’re new to school nutrition or have a lifetime of experience, continuing to learn is vital to professional growth. Learning opportunities come not only with promotions and new responsibilities, but also when people ask you to become more involved in projects on the job and off. When I was asked to become more involved in SNA by co-chairing the School Nutrition Industry Conference (SNIC) in 2010, I immediately doubted my ability to do the job. Still, I agreed and was surprised by how much I learned through the planning process alone! Opportunities to grow pop up all the time; the question is whether you’re ready to seize them when they arise. Despite decades of experience in school nutrition, Kathy Burrill, SNS, still pushes herself to learn new things every day. “You have to keep yourself moving forward,” she explains. Kathy was serving as a local chapter president when she was asked to serve on Minnesota SNA’s Education Committee. “I thought, ‘I can’t be on a committee, because only directors are on it, and I still work in a kitchen,’” she remembers. “But then I thought, ‘I can just listen to them and try to learn more about their jobs.’ I learned so much on that committee, and I eventually became the chair.” She now serves as Education Committee Chair on SNA’s Board of Directors. Indeed, Kathy has been recruited a number of times to serve the national Association. Each time she is asked to help in a new way, she worries that she isn’t qualified. Then, she says, she realizes that someone asked her to do this because they believe she has the skills to succeed. SNA is a valuable source of information, training and mentorship for emerging leaders like Shannon Gleave, RD, SNS. “I don’t know if I’d be here without SNA,” Shannon notes. When she was hired as director for the Glendale (Ariz.) Elementary School District, she had very little school nutrition experience. Shannon worried that her staff would doubt her leadership abilities, so she used SNA to connect with other directors in her area to serve as mentors. “Go to national conferences, get involved at the local level and seek out opportunities to meet national leaders,” Shannon recommends. “Getting to know them makes it feel less intimidating to get more involved.” I, too, credit my leadership journey with a willingness for taking risks. But you might be surprised to learn your Association president continues to wonder if she’s qualified for new leadership roles. Yes, each time I do take one of those risks, I still get butterflies!
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