The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives has rolled out a new online platform for youth education about cooperatives and agricultural careers. Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online (YCLE Online) is the result of a collaboration between the Center for Cooperatives and the Hocking County Farm Bureau, who were awarded an Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation Youth Pathways Grant in 2019. The grant funds would provide Appalachian high school students an opportunity to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives and build leadership skills in an immersive, in-person two-day experience. Students would visit Ohio State’s Columbus campus to experience college-style learning, discover educational and career paths in agriculture, connect with leaders and engage in hands-on leadership and team-building activities. The trip would also include tours of agricultural cooperative businesses in the state. When Covid-19 lockdowns made the in-person experience impossible, the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience was transformed to a bigger, better and more impactful virtual experience!
The virtual experience website features innovative and exciting ag co-op career content that teachers can easily build into their classrooms to help inspire students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives. The virtual program materials target students in middle school through high school and can be incorporated into agriculture classrooms, 4-H or other youth activities, or accessed by individual students.
“I’m happy that we were able to collaborate with Ivory Harlow and the Hocking County Farm Bureau to move the YCLE to an online platform,” said Joy Bauman, Program Specialist for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives. “The Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grant gives us the opportunity to reach even more students with cooperative education and information about agricultural careers.”
“The YCLE Online seeks to help youth see the many career paths available to them in Ohio’s food and agricultural sector, understand the opportunities for educational pathways to those careers, and begin building a network of leaders and educators to help them along those paths,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager CFAES Center for Cooperatives.
Many will be the first generation in their family to pursue higher education. While the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online aims to remove physical and psychological barriers to continuing education, it also helps students to see that there are many careers and leadership roles in the agriculture industry that do not require post-secondary coursework.
The YCLE Online will be available broadly to any young person interested in exploring agricultural careers through the open access website where materials are housed. The project partners will also recruit teachers, youth agriculture advisors, and other educators to incorporate the learning materials into their classrooms and activities. The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience will be provided free of charge because of the generosity of the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation.
The virtual experience is available at go.osu.edu/YCLE. Educators can incorporate the videos, hands-on activities, and learning materials from YCLE Online directly into their classrooms or youth activities. Through the generosity of the OFBF Youth Pathways grant, educators can both access the free online materials and request hard copy workbooks and supplies for hands-on activities at no cost while supplies last.
The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience encourages students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives and support industries. The goal of the program is to ignite career ideas, reveal pathways, and inspire student action.
Participants will have virtual Co-op tours and hear from leaders at Heritage Cooperative, Nationwide Insurance, and Casa Nueva – a worker-owned restaurant and cantina, as well as farmer co-op leaders.
There are hands-on Activities in STEM with OSU experts including tomato grafting and fruit DNA extraction, career exploration activities, and leadership activities. Additionally, there is opportunity for virtual tours of Ohio State’s CFAES Campuses and the Ohio State University South Centers.
The Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience program is available now at go.osu.edu/YCLE. Educators can both access the free online materials and request hard copy workbooks and supplies for hands-on activities at no cost while supplies last. Ag teachers can learn about the program and visit with Center for Cooperatives staff at the trade show during the Ohio Agriculture Educators summer conference.