More than 100 students from 16 states and Canada learned about cooperatives from experts across the country Feb. 15 to 17. Students participated in the National Farmers Union (NFU) College Conference on Cooperatives. Two students from the Cornell chapter, Gianni Parente '14 and Nicole Huynh '13 attended the conference.
"This is an opportunity for Farmers Union and the cooperative community 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. "Cooperatives continue to be viable and successful business models in almost every sector of the U.S. economy.”
To bring cooperative education to life for the participants, students visited CHS Inc. headquarters and heard from cooperative leaders, farmers, and government experts who explained current challenges they face. In addition, participants toured housing, retail, and marketing cooperatives in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives; speakers from electric, housing, and worker-owned co-ops; as well as consumer cooperatives such as credit unions, REI, and natural foods co-ops. Representatives offered insights on cooperative development here and abroad including efforts involving the Peace Corps and the Minnesota National Guard, which completed a mission to Afghanistan to work with farmers and their cooperatives.
The event was sponsored by the CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farmers Union Industries Foundation, NFU Foundation, SPIRE Federal Credit Union, CHS, Inc., Minnesota Cooperative Education Foundation, Federated Youth Foundation, and Organic Valley.