CFAES Center for Cooperatives Launches Co-op Mastery

(Shared by Ivory Harlow, Program Specialist, CFAES Center for Cooperatives)

The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives launched Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101, a new and innovative online training course designed to educate cooperative members, boards, management, employees, and students.

Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 is made possible by a grant from the CHS Foundation 2017 Cooperative Education Grants Program. The training is housed in The Ohio State University’s public-facing online education platform. It is free and can be accessed online at

Caption: Co-op Mastery is a new online learning tool launched by The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives.

“Co-op Mastery curriculum focuses on mid-level knowledge about the cooperative business model,” said Center for Cooperatives Program Manager, Hannah Scott.  “Training modules build on existing fundamental materials by providing an in-depth look at governance, finance, taxation and other areas not typically covered by courses in fundamentals, yet challenging topics for stakeholders.”

The training features eight modules which include video interviews with numerous leaders in the cooperative movement:

  • Logan County Electric Cooperative General Manager Rick Petty discusses cooperative principles and various functions of cooperatives.
  • Dennis Bolling retired President and CEO of United Producers Cooperative shares the benefits cooperatives provide members.
  • Mid-America Cooperative Counsel Executive Director Rod Kelsay discusses effective education and training the Board of Directors.
  • Ohio State Univerisity Extension Educator Dr. Chris Bruynis gives insight to key factors that contribute to a cooperative’s success.
  • Nationwide’s VP of Sponsor Relations Devin Fuhrman shares the story of Nationwide’s history as a mutual cooperative company.
  • Agricultural attorney Carolyn Eselgroth of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham and Eselgroth, LLP addresses legal considerations when forming a cooperative business.
  • Co-Bank Senior Relationship Manager Gary Weidenborner leads users through an interactive financial document exercise.
  • David Hahn, Professor Emeritus the Ohio State University, explains cooperative taxation.

“We invite folks to ask questions and receive answers from our Center staff in the online Co-op Forum,” said Joy Bauman, Program Coordinator.  “They can also browse an extensive collection of online resources in the Cooperative Library.”

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives offers customized in-person workshops to complement the online training. Workshops are designed to serve the requesting cooperative’s needs. Examples include: new employee education, board of director education, strategic plan development, cooperative marketing and policy development. Workshop participants receive a companion workbook with activities to fortify learning. They gain on-going access to Co-op Mastery online training materials, which they may work through at their own pace or search for specific information to meet immediate needs. Users can return to the Co-op Mastery online materials at any time to troubleshoot cooperative issues and they can receive ongoing technical assistance from CFAES Center for Cooperatives staff. To request a workshop or more information, visit or contact the Center for Cooperatives at or 740-289-2071 ext. 111.


Ohio Agribusiness Community to Benefit from New CFAES Center for Cooperatives

(Shared by Hannah Scott, Manager, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Ohio Agribusiness Community to Benefit from New CFAES Center for Cooperatives
Published on October 26, 2017
Matthew Marx
Hannah Scott
740-289-2071 x227
Shared from osu cfaesnews listserve email

Alissa Armstrong of FLM+ (left) and Janice Welsheimer of the Ohio AgriBusiness Association were among the 40 guests celebrating the new CFAES Center for Cooperatives at an Oct. 18 reception in Columbus.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio’s agribusiness community, agricultural cooperatives and students in The Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) will have greater access to research, educational opportunities and technical expertise through a new, college-wide Center for Cooperatives.

The center, with staff based at CFAES’s Ohio State University South Centers in Piketon, will have a faculty presence on the Columbus campus. It will integrate the college’s current activities and operations that support cooperative business development, will engage directly with long-established cooperatives, and will provide education both in the classroom and through CFAES’s Ohio State University Extension program and other outreach activities.

“The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is expected to be comprehensive and bring together all three mission areas of the college — teaching, research and Extension,” OSU South Centers Director Tom Worley said. “We are pleased to be well positioned to serve the cooperatives community in Ohio through the combined faculty and staff resources of the center.”

Worley will oversee the center, with Ani Katchova, associate professor and farm income enhancement chair in CFAES, leading its research programs. Hannah Scott, program manager at the South Centers, will lead the new center’s Extension and outreach activities.

Programming for the center will occur within all major CFAES mission areas with a goal of extending knowledge to emerging and established agricultural cooperatives in Ohio and supporting rural economic development. The center will also provide future agricultural professionals with interdisciplinary training and research opportunities.

About 40 guests including CFAES faculty, cooperative leaders, and state and federal government representatives attended a reception celebrating the new center Oct. 18 in Columbus. In addition, Debbie Rausch from the Ohio office of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program announced that CFAES has been awarded a Rural Cooperative Development Grant totaling nearly $200,000 to improve rural areas of Ohio and West Virginia through the development of cooperatives and other mutually owned businesses.

October is National Cooperative Month.

Ohio Cooperative Week Proclamation

(Shared by Ivory Harlow, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Rod Kelsay, the Executive Director of Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC), accepted a proclamation from the Office of Governor John Kasich to honor Ohio Cooperative Week October 15 – 21, 2017.

Your Sept.-Oct. Rural Co-ops magazine, from USDA

(Shared by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Sept.-Oct. 2017 Rural Cooperatives magazine

Or link to the Rural Co-ops home page (current and past decade of magazines)

Among the articles in the new, Sept.-Oct. Rural Co-ops magazine are:

• “More than a Fire Drill” examines how critically important it is for cooperatives to develop a crisis plan before a disaster hits. Co-op leaders share their experiences and lessons learned from real life crisis situations, from fires, to floods, to tornadoes.
• “Crossing the Merger Finish Line” focuses on several recent co-op mergers, with co-op leaders sharing their insight into the steps they took to prepare the membership for a vote.
• “Why We Celebrate Cooperative Month” begins a special section of a dozen articles that report on a wide variety of co-op development and conversion efforts around the nation.

To subscribe, please go to:

NCB Co-op 100 list of the largest cooperatives in the U.S.

(Shared by Hannah Scott, Manager, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

The NCB Co-op 100 Reports Top Producing Cooperatives with Revenues of $208 Billion
Oct. 3, 2017, 01:12 PM

Arlington, VA, Oct. 03, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Arlington, VA (October 3, 2017) — National Cooperative Bank, known for providing banking solutions tailored to meet the needs of cooperatives nationwide, released its annual NCB Co-op 100®, listing the nation’s top 100 revenue-earning cooperative businesses. In 2016, these businesses posted revenue totaling approximately $208 billion. The NCB Co-op 100® remains the only annual report of its kind to track the profits and successes of cooperative businesses in the United States.

“The economic impact of cooperatives is critical to our economy”, stated Charles E. Snyder, President and CEO of National Cooperative Bank. “Cooperatives can be seen in just about every industry across America, including local food, finance, housing and energy. Whether its brining fresh local food through a food co-op or affordable homeownership through a housing cooperative, cooperatives help strengthen communities.”

This year’s theme for Co-op Month is “Cooperatives Commit.” In addition to ranking the top 100 co-ops by revenue, the report also highlights the many ways co-ops commit to their members, sustainability, education, impact, kindness and their community.

The following are the top revenue producers in 2016 for the NCB Co-op 100’s main sectors:

•CHS Inc., based in Saint Paul, Minnesota reported $30.3 billion in revenues in 2016 and maintained its first place position on the NCB Co-op 100 list.
•Dairy Farmers of America, based in Kansas City, Missouri, reported $13.5 billion in revenues, earning the number two ranking this year.

•Wakefern Food Corporation/ Shoprite, based in Keasbey, New Jersey reported $12.8 billion in revenue, earning the fourth ranking this year.
•Associated Wholesale Grocers, Inc., based in Kansas City, Kansas reported revenue of $9.2 billion and earned the fifth position on the list.

Hardware & Lumber:
•ACE Hardware, based in Oak Brook, Illinois earned $5.1 billion in revenue and came in at number nine on the list.
•Do-it-Best Corp., located in Fort Wayne, Indiana earned the 12th place on the list, with $3.0 billion reported in revenue.

•Navy Federal Credit Union, headquartered in Merrifield, Virginia, earned $5.4 billion in revenues and is number eight on the list.
•CoBank headquartered in Greenwood Village, Colorado earned $2.8 billion and came in 14th on the list.

•HealthPartners, Inc., located in Bloomington, Minnesota earned $6.0 billion in revenue and is seventh on the list.

Energy & Communications:
•Basin Electric Power Cooperative, located in Bismarck, North Dakota earned the 18th position with a reported $2.0 billion in revenue in 2016.
•Oglethorpe Power Corporation, located in Tucker, Georgia earned the 27th position with reported revenue of $1.5 billion in 2016.

While the companies and rankings change each year, the cooperative sector continues to advance, playing an increasingly influential role in the national and global economy. Released annually in October during National Co-op Month, the NCB Co-op 100® is just one way the Bank strives to educate and promote the importance of this sector.

Read more …

OCDC cooperative client spotlight: Preston County Growers Co-op

(Shared by Hannah Scott, Manager, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

Published on September 21, 2017
In Preston County, West Virginia, five farmers came together to form a cooperative to access new markets created by Farm to School programs that bring farm fresh food into school cafeterias.

OCDC client, the Preston County Growers Co-op! It also includes our friend from WVU, Tom McConnell. The video was featured at Farm Aid this year.

Create a culture of collaboration at work

(Submitted by Ivory Harlow, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

By Ivory Harlow, Cooperative Development Specialist

“Great things in business are never done by one person; they’re done by a team of people.”
– Steve Jobs, founder of Apple

Team work makes the dream work, but how do business owners create a culture of collaboration for problem solving? By bringing people together, identifying strengths, and encouraging participation with discussion techniques and digital tools.

Bring people together

Invite potential team members to a meeting to propose collaboration. is an online scheduling solution that finds the best time for people to meet. Although videoconferencing can make meetings more convenient, especially for groups that are wide-spread, in-person meetings are recommended at the beginning of a new project. Body language, eye contact and tone can be lost on video, but are critical to establishing group dynamics. Videoconferencing and online meetings can be used to bring people together once collaborators are well-acquainted, have developed a project plan and have a good sense how they will work together as a team.

Identify individual strengths

Honing in on individual strengths may seem counterproductive to creating a collaborative culture, but identifying how each collaborator can best contribute utilizes personnel resources effectively. Honoring individual strengths empowers collaborators to do their best work in an area they thrive. A football coach does not play the quarterback in a linebacker position; the coach optimizes each player to do what they do best for team success.
Don’t assume a person’s job title is their only strength. Instead, ask each collaborator what he or she is good at or what kind of work they enjoy doing. You may discover the front desk clerk has a knack for numbers, and the tech guy has a gift for design!

Encourage participation

Collaborators are more likely to contribute when they feel their voices are heard and their ideas are valued. Using discussion techniques like stop-watch brainstorming is fast-paced and fun. Collaborators are given a time limit to blurt out as many ideas as possible. A scribe records the ideas to return to after brainstorming is complete. This discussion technique inspires creative problem solving.

Sometimes it is necessary to tease ideas out of introverts or new team members who may not feel comfortable speaking up in the group. The around-the-room discussion technique gives every collaborator an equal opportunity to share ideas.

The digital age of business offers a ton of tools to create a culture of collaboration at work. Office 365, Google Hangouts and Google Docs, Dropbox, instant messaging and apps like Evernote and Slack are examples. These tools can be used to supplement in-person meetings, host working documents or track progress on a project.

Blog banner: public domain pic from

Meet Aubrey and Adam Bolender

(Submitted by Ivory Harlow, Ohio Cooperative Development Center, OSU South Centers)

YouTube – Published on Sep 22, 2017
Ohio Cooperative Development Center client spotlight:

Meet Aubrey and Adam Bolender, two beef producers in southern Ohio. Learn more about how strong partnerships with their co-op members and each other help their operation grow.

Local Meat and the Cooperative Business Model

(Submitted by Kimberly Roush, Program Assistant, Business Development Network, OSU South Centers)

Don’t miss the Co-op Center’s Farm Science Review presentation “Local Meat and the Cooperative Business Model.” Our workshop is this Thursday, 9/21, 11 a.m., at the Small Farm Center.

Consumer demand for locally produced food is sky high. A USDA Local Food Marketing Practices Survey identified over 167,000 operations across the nation selling food direct to consumers, retail, institutions and intermediaries; their sales accounted for $8.7 billion dollars in revenue. Ohio contributed $1.8 million to total direct food sales in 2015.

9.3 percent of U.S. livestock producers market products through direct sales channels. Beef, poultry, lamb, goats, pork, aquaculture and specialty animal products accounted for $648 million dollars in earnings according to the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture.

Challenges of moving meat from farm to fork:

There is a great opportunity to market local meat in Ohio and the region, but the opportunity comes with challenges. Raising animals for market takes a lot of time and effort. Farmers and ranchers have difficulty finding additional time to manage processing and distribution of meat products for direct sales.

Many farmers struggle to brand and package products in a way that appeals to consumers. They point out that agriculture, not marketing, is their area of expertise. Farmers may need to educate customers on the benefits of buying local meat. It can be a challenge to convince customers who are used to buying a tube of beef at a big box store for a fraction of the price and flavor that local meat is a better buy.

Securing a federally inspected meat processor is a major barrier to local meat production. The National Agricultural Statistics Service found the number of federally inspected cattle slaughter plants declined 12 percent between 2001 and 2013. As a result, producers have difficulty planning production to satisfy demand. They face long wait times; which may push an animal beyond target market weight range or maturity. Often farmers are forced to transport livestock long distances to slaughter.

Small operations may not produce a sufficient volume of meat to sell to restaurants, institutions and intermediaries. The alternative, selling local meat in low volume channels, may not generate enough revenue to support their livestock operation.

Read more …