UW-River Falls Professor Presents at Canadian Agriculture Symposium

August 13, 2012— Dennis Cooper, UW-River Falls professor of animal and food science, joined other leading professionals from across North America for the first Ag HR Symposium in Canada at the University of Guelph July 24 and 25. 

The symposium was split into three segments. First, each of the agricultural specialists gave a short 15-minute presentation on a related topic of their choosing. Second, non-academic/extension government and industry representatives were invited to present their concerns and issues regarding agricultural human resources. Third, the group identified a small number of specific problems to address through research, with a view to applying for a larger grant from Canadian governments to fund the research. Cooper participated in all three segments, as the sole representative from the state of Wisconsin.  

In his presentation, Cooper spoke about leadership development, emotional intelligence, and assertiveness education as core supervisory topics. Cooper stressed the importance of supervisors and leaders becoming "people whisperers," the ability to understand what makes people tick and the ability to provide them the guidance they need dispassionately and without fear. 

"Great leaders learn how to become people whisperers; that is, they understand what makes people tick and they respond with appropriate guidance and direction," said Cooper. They don't react emotionally, they don't seek approval, they are not afraid of conflict. This is a learnable skill. The question is how can we teach it?" 

The Ag HR Symposium participants are committed to staying connected. Their next venture is to develop a set of collaborative projects to meet the needs of farmers, advisors and educators worldwide. 

For more information, contact Copper at 715-425-3704 or email

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