MINNEAPOLIS (Feb. 22, 2012) – More than 90 students from twelve states recently learned about cooperatives from experts across the country. The students were participants in the College Conference on Cooperatives, sponsored by the CHS Foundation and hosted by the National Farmers Union (NFU) Foundation. The four-day event included participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana and Colorado.
“This is an opportunity for Farmers Union and the cooperative community of the upper Midwest to teach young people about cooperative business principles and history, to introduce them to a wide variety of co-ops, and to show them that there are great careers in strong, ethical and community-minded businesses,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
To make cooperative education come alive for the participants, students visited CHS headquarters, heard cooperative leaders, farmers, and government experts explain current challenges facing co-ops, and toured housing, retail and marketing cooperatives across the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Presenters included members, directors, employees and managers from traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives, as well as perspectives from electric, housing, and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as credit unions, REI and natural foods co-ops. Representatives from recently established cooperatives and the Peace Corps provided perspectives on cooperative development here and abroad.
Additional supporters included CoBank, Farmers Union Industries Foundation, SPIRE Federal Credit Union, CHS, Inc., National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Education Foundation, Minnesota Cooperative Education Foundation, Federated Youth Foundation, and Organic Valley.
“Farmers Union’s activities involve cooperation, education, and civic activism, so it is valuable to have events like this one to help bring those topics together,” said Johnson. “Our own history is so closely tied with the cooperative movement. Cooperatives were made possible by legislative activity, and brought to life in communities both rural and urban. Farmers Union has a strong commitment to providing cooperative education not only to our own members, but also to the general public, and especially to young people.”