Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience goes online thanks to Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation grant

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.

MEATing a Need – Resource kit available for those exploring meat processing business

By Joy Bauman

beef carcasses

A team of Ohio State business and meat science specialists have compiled a Meat Processing Business Tool Kit for people who are exploring the meat processing business. Designed as a decision-making aid for people exploring investing in or expanding a meat processing facility, this online tool kit can help entrepreneurs evaluate the business and navigate business planning. The Meat Processing Business Tool Kit is available in the Business section at the OSU South Centers webpage and at the OSU Extension Meat Science webpage.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers saw shortages of meat in large supermarkets caused by disruptions in large packing plant operations. “As a result, consumers started shopping at smaller, local meat shops, that didn’t have shortages of meat,” explained Lynn Knipe, PhD, associate professor of food science and technology at Ohio State who worked with the team to develop the meat processing business tool kit. “This, in turn, increased business for the smaller meat processors to a point that people who were used to taking animals to their local slaughterhouse, had to schedule their animals much farther out than normal,” Knipe said.

Knipe explained that entrepreneurial people who either raised livestock or had some past experience with slaughter or cutting of meat, have decided to consider opening their own meat businesses. Knipe and his colleague, Lyda Garcia, PhD, assistant professor of animal science began receiving more calls than usual, with people finding them either through their Extension Meat Science website or by referral from meat inspection people they had contacted.

Likewise, many of the same people were reaching out for guidance from the business development specialists at OSU South Centers and the specialists at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, which is also based at the OSU South Centers. While gathering information to assist clients in summer 2020, the Center for Cooperatives team members reached out to OSU Extension meat science specialists Knipe and

Garcia. Soon, a working group was formed with team members from the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, the Small Business Development Center at OSU South Centers, the Extension Meat Science Program, and the OSU Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics.  Together, the group developed and compiled resources to help guide entrepreneurs interested in the meat processing business.

“It only made sense that we work together as Ohio State colleagues to better serve our clientele,” said Garcia. “Instead of individuals contacting one OSU source and getting a bit of information and then needing to contact another OSU source for more information, we can all point them toward this fantastic online resource that will help answer their questions and guide them in the decision-making process,” Garcia explained.

On the webpage housing the tool kit, users will find information to help get started, including understanding the capacity for such a business, maps of federal and state inspection facilities and auction sites, as well as livestock inventory. To aid in decision making regarding business models, there are samples of cooperative and corporate business models, with business planning templates, financial worksheets, and information about funding sources. Contacts are also listed for those using the tool kit and seeking additional assistance with their business planning.

“The materials lead entrepreneurs to investigate critical considerations during the planning process, including collecting livestock data, gathering financial information, financial modeling, and business planning. That means that the tools are adaptable and intended to be changed to the user’s unique circumstance,” said Ryan Kline, Cooperative Program Specialist for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.

A business plan is helpful as a decision-making tool for entrepreneurs and it becomes a tool they can use when talking to potential lenders, investors, or future key employees. CFAES Center for Cooperatives program manager Hannah Scott explained, “In our experience, entrepreneurs don’t usually look forward to business planning, but many of them are already going through the business planning process mentally as they consider a new business or ways to expand their current operation. We encourage entrepreneurs to write down their plans – and to use tools and coaching that can help them approach the process in a systematic way without being overwhelming – because it can help them identify potential issues and consider topics they might not have before.”

“There is lots of assistance for entrepreneurs going through the business planning process, from templates like the ones in this tool kit to assistance from business development specialists like our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives or the OSU South Centers Business Development Network, which houses a multi-county Small Business Development Center (SBDC),” Scott said. The SBDC program is a nationwide network of business development specialists who provide no-cost business consulting for entrepreneurs. Readers can locate their nearest SBDC here.

“We hope that the tool will be intuitive as entrepreneurs move through the planning process,” Kline said. “When visiting the website, people will find a self-guided and self-paced exploration of Meat Processing that we hope will help anyone interested in starting a meat processing facility.”

To find the Meat Processing Business Tool Kit online, visit: southcenters.osu.edu/meat-processing-business-toolkit or meatsci.osu.edu/programs/meat-processing-business-toolkit.

Christmas Morning Co-op Cinnamon Rolls

For Christmas morning, why not make a cinnamon roll recipe using some of our favorite co-op products, like King Arthur Flour, Land o’ Lakes Butter, and Pioneer Sugar.  Our staff member Joy makes this recipe she adapted from a King Arthur Baking Company recipe.  These soft cinnamon rolls can be made fresh or prepped ahead* and baked on Christmas morning.

Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients

Starter

5 tablespoons water

5 tablespoons whole milk

3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon King Arthur bread flour

 

Dough

All of the starter (above)

4 cups + 2 tablespoons King Arthur Bread Flour

3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk

1 ¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

¾ cup lukewarm whole milk

2 large eggs

5 tablespoons unsalted Land O’ Lakes butter, melted

 

Filling

½ cup Pioneer white Sugar

¾ cup brown sugar, packed

4 teaspoons cinnamon

½ cup Land O’ Lakes unsalted butter, softened

 

Icing

3 cups confectioner’s sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons Land O’ Lakes unsalted butter, melted (or use salted butter and omit the ¼ teaspoon of salt)

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

3-4 tablespoons whole milk or cream, enough to make a thick but spreadable frosting

 

Instructions

To make the starter: Combine all of the starter ingredients in a small saucepan, and whisk until no lumps remain.

Place the saucepan over medium heat, and cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until thick and the whisk leaves lines on the bottom of the pan. This will probably take only a minute or so. Remove from the heat and set it aside for several minutes.

To make the dough: Mix the slightly cooled starter with the remaining dough ingredients until everything comes together. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes; this will give the flour a chance to absorb the liquid, making it easier to knead.

After 20 minutes, knead the dough — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a smooth, elastic, somewhat sticky dough.

Shape the dough into a ball, and let it rest in a lightly greased covered bowl for 60 to 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

To make the filling: Combine the white sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon, mixing until the cinnamon is thoroughly distributed.

Gently deflate the risen dough, divide it in half, and working with one piece at a time, shape each piece into a rough 18” X 8” rectangle and spread with ¼ cup of the softened butter.

Sprinkle half the filling onto the rolled-out dough.

Starting with a long edge, roll the dough into a log. With the seam underneath, cut the log into 12 slices, 1 1/2″ each.

Repeat with the second piece of dough and the remaining filling.

Lightly grease a 9″ x 13″ pan. Space the rolls in the pan.  *If prepping the cinnamon rolls to bake later, at this point, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until 90 minutes before baking to allow the dough to come to room temperature and rise.

If planning to bake immediately, cover the pan and let the rolls rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until they’re crowding one another and are quite puffy.

While the rolls are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the bottom third of the oven.

Uncover the rolls, and bake them for 22 to 25 minutes, until they feel set. They might be just barely browned.  It’s better to under-bake these rolls than bake them too long. Their interior temperature at the center should be about 188°F.

While the rolls are baking, stir together the icing ingredients, adding enough of the milk to make a thick spreadable icing. The icing should be quite stiff, about the consistency of softened cream cheese.

Remove the rolls from the oven, and turn them out of the pan onto a rack. Spread them with the icing; it will partially melt into the rolls.

Serve the rolls warm. If you have any left over (you probably won’t) you can store completely cooled rolls for a couple of days at room temperature in a sealed container.

Still time to enjoy OSU Farm Science Review learning sessions and field demonstrations

The weather was not a factor for this year’s Farm Science Review (FSR) hosted by the Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. The virtual FSR allowed viewers to sit at their farm office desk, easy chair, tractor seat, or classroom to participate in the many educational offerings.  This was the 58th annual FSR, but due to COVID-19 health concerns, it was the first one held entirely online.

According to FSR manager Nick Zachrich, the virtual event was a success, with the FSR website recording more than 40,000 visits according to initial statistics.  Zachrich pointed out that number does not include additional people who were watching on a shared screen.

While you may not have had the chance to engage with the events on the FSR website during the official dates of the show September 22-24, many of the educational sessions, field demonstrations, and scheduled events were recorded, so you can still access the them on the FSR website https://fsr.osu.edu/.  You can find sessions from more than 120 speakers, 17 field demonstrations, and more than 100 new products and technologies. Take a bit of time to browse the selections and find some topics of interest that might benefit you in your farm operation or business.

Finding Innovative Approaches to Co-op Annual Meetings During a Pandemic

Co-op principle seven: “Concern for community.” With this in mind, many co-ops are considering the health and safety of their members when deciding whether to postpone or attempt to hold annual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. Holding annual meetings while respecting social distancing guidelines due to COVID-19 can seem challenging for co-ops. The democratic process is important to cooperatives and members have the right to vote for your board of directors at the annual meeting. Directors make decisions on the members’ behalf, so it is important for members to stay engaged and cast their votes. Below are some ideas that your co-op might consider if your annual meeting needs to occur before large gatherings are once again permitted in your area.

As a co-op board is exploring options for virtual meetings, online voting, and other innovative approaches, they should understand whether the co-op’s bylaws allow for a virtual meeting, electronic voting, or other types of non-traditional meetings. It is always advised that the board seek the advice of the co-op’s attorney to be sure they are within the parameters of what their co-op bylaws allow.

Virtual Meetings – A co-op board can explore their options to authorize a virtual member meeting. With a commitment to maintaining the health and safety of members and employees, and following Ohio Governor Mike Dewine’s directives regarding coronavirus, the Consolidated Cooperative board of trustees decided to hold their 2020 annual meeting virtually, and provided a link to the meeting via SmartHub, the app that provides utility and telecommunications customers account management at their fingertips. The annual meeting notice with log-in details was sent to members using the application, which also allows customers to view their usage and billing, manage payments, and notify customer service of account and service issues. Cooperatives might also consider options for providing online streaming of a business meeting, with one of the more popular options being Zoom.

Electronic Voting – A co-op board may be able to authorize electronic voting in conjunction with an annual member meeting. There are free and reasonably priced options for online voting, such as Election Runner which is great for small cooperatives and uses a unique identifier for each person voting.  Election Runner allows up to 20 voters for free and it is only $15 for up to 100 voters

Drive-in meeting –Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, some cooperatives have found unique ways to host annual member meetings that adhere to physical distancing guidelines. One electric co-op in Wisconsin held a drive-in annual meeting with members listening to the proceedings on the local radio station and honking to signal votes of approval.  Planning the annual meeting without meeting face-to-face themselves, the board and staff of the Wisconsin co-op did not know what kind of response to expect, and even offered bill credits to the first 50 members in attendance to ensure a quorum. Many co-op leaders may be concerned about their members’ ability to participate in online meetings when their community has limited access to reliable high-speed internet. Holding a drive-in meeting might offer an internet-free solution that could even be fun.

These are all options that cooperatives can consider for ensuring they are upholding cooperative principles through their annual meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have seen other innovative approaches, feel free to share!

If you would like to cooperate with the Center for Cooperatives at the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at Ohio State, please email us at osucooperatives@osu.edu or visit our website at go.osu.edu/cooperatives.

Ohio State University and Mid America Cooperative Council explore alignment

The Center for Cooperatives at The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and the Mid America Cooperative Council (MACC) are exploring a potential arrangement for the Center for Cooperatives to provide educational and management services for MACC, which represents cooperative businesses in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan.

“The Mid America Cooperative Council is a multi-state, non-profit trade association that was founded in 2003 by a group of like-minded individuals with an understanding of the impact that cooperative principles have on the sustainability of co-ops,” said Rod Kelsay, the Executive Director of MACC, who expects to retire in the summer of 2020.  Ohio State and MACC are currently developing details of the arrangement and it is expected that the MACC Board of Directors will contract with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives to manage membership and conduct educational programs on its behalf.

“Our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is excited about the opportunity to serve our region’s co-ops and to build the co-op community,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.  At this point, Scott stressed that the proposed approach is aspirational and that many details must be further developed by both MACC and Ohio State.  However, after a recent meeting between the MACC Board of Directors and the CFAES Center for Cooperatives management team, Scott said, “I think we all believe that there can be mutual benefits to the MACC membership, the Center’s stakeholders, and the broader cooperative community under the proposed arrangement,” and that the work to bring this arrangement to fruition in the summer of 2020 is expected to continue.

Kelsay echoed those sentiments. “This opportunity brings access to additional educational resources, the breadth of The Ohio State University network, and additional capacity to provide important resources to MACC members, including access to future employees and co-op leaders,” Kelsay said.  “This will help MACC to further expand what has already been developed.”

Dr. Tom Worley, the Director of the Ohio State University South Centers, an agricultural research and Extension center near Piketon in south central Ohio, also serves as Director of the Center for Cooperatives.  Worley shared that the Center for Cooperatives staff will work to continue the mission of MACC and to share cooperative advantages across all co-op sectors with members, employees, and all who are vested in cooperative business.

Kelsay explained that all sectors of cooperatives were involved in establishing MACC in order to strengthen cooperatives through education. MACC educational programs range from introductory cooperative education for new cooperative employees to professional roundtable programs for financial professionals and leaders.

Dennis Bolling, retired CEO of United Producers, Inc., and longtime leader in the cooperative community in the Midwest and nationally, facilitated the exploration of the management agreement. “With the leadership supplied by the Center for Cooperatives, combined with the efforts of the MACC membership, the shared mission of education will be enhanced and have excellent potential for expansion,” said Bolling.

For questions, contact Tom Worley at 740-289-2071 ext. 113 or worley.36@osu.edu.

Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience

Preparing the next generation of scientists and leaders is a challenge upon which The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) is laser-focused. One way in which the college is meeting this challenge is by introducing students to the many career opportunities in the agricultural industry. The OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives recently conducted a pilot program, Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience, with Agriculture Business Management students from the Ohio Valley Career and Technical Center in West Union, Ohio.  Whitney Hill, the Ohio Valley FFA student reporter, prepared an article about the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience which was shared on the main cfaes.osu.edu website front page.

Read the Youth Cooperative Learning Experience article.

Contact Joy Bauman at the Center for Cooperatives if your business would like to sponsor the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience in the future. 

Joy Bauman

bauman.67@osu.edu

740-289-2071 ext. 111

 

Free webinar: “Worker Ownership – A Strategy for Strengthening America’s Middle Class”

Join the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA and the American Sustainable Business Council for a FREE WEBINAR on Thursday, October 24, at 1 p.m. for a conversation on how the era of shareholder primacy is being replaced by a focus on how a broader set of stakeholders can own a piece of the economy.

During the webinar, you’ll learn:

  • Current trends in the worker ownership movement
  • Federal, state and local legislative efforts to support worker owned businesses
  • The culture of leadership within worker owned businesses
  • The benefits of worker ownership to communities, retirement security and creating a sense of belonging

Register now.

Community-owned co-op grocery stores key in revitalizing food deserts

Community-owned Grocery in Detroit

Detroit People’s Food Co-op, opening later this year in a food desert, is an example of a community-driven project.

Food insecurity and lack of area grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods hold much blame for hunger in America. Local and state governments, along with national leaders have prioritized the elimination of “food deserts,” with large retailers promising to open or expand stores in underserved areas.  Some got past the planning stage or closed shortly after opening. The article “Why community-owned grocery stores like co-ops are the best recipe for revitalizing food deserts” looks at 71 supermarkets that had plans to open in a food desert since 2000, and explores why some groceries succeeded while others failed.

The supermarkets driven by government or commercial interests had a mixed track record, but nonprofits and those driven by community involvement tended to succeed.

Author Catherine Brinkley, Assistant Professor of Community and Regional Development at the University of California – Davis noted, “Importantly, 16 of the 18 community-driven cases were structured as cooperatives, which are rooted in their communities through customer ownership, democratic governance and shared social values.”

Policymakers and officials interested in improving wellness in food deserts should consider community ownership and involvement. If you are involved in efforts to bring a supermarket to an underserved community and want to consider cooperative business options, contact the OSU CFAES Center for Cooperatives by calling 740-289-2071 ext. 111.

Job Posting: Program Coordinator for CFAES Center for Cooperatives

The CFAES Center for Cooperatives has a job posting online at jobsatosu.com/postings/95501 to fill the full-time Program Coordinator vacancy at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives headquarters at the OSU South Centers near Piketon, Ohio.  Interested applicants must apply online by 11:59 p.m., Sunday, June 16, 2019.

Program Coordinator Duties: The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives seeks a collaborative, organized, and goal-oriented individual to serve as program coordinator to support and coordinate the research, teaching, and Extension functions of the Center; the coordinator will facilitate the planning, organization, and delivery of a cooperative development program consisting of technical assistance to groups and businesses, training and education, and the transfer of cooperative development information to other organizations and states; the coordinator will be responsible for preparing and delivering educational programming on the cooperative business model and business development through a variety of methods and media, including planning, organizing and directing workshops, conferences, seminars, and short courses to inform and train prospective and current cooperative members, new and experienced cooperative managers, as well as employees and directors; program development may include preparing and monitoring program expenses; the coordinator will assist in the preparation of articles, proposals, reports, and educational materials for publication and act as a liaison to faculty and organizations inquiring about the Center and will disseminate program information and other materials (manuals, training aids, and technical papers) to foster rural cooperative development; the coordinator will contribute to the overall goals of the Center, which include developing new cooperatives, strengthening existing cooperatives, and educating the next generation of cooperative leaders; the coordinator will perform duties in close collaboration with the Centers staff as well as various partner units within and external to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, including the Centers stakeholder advisory committee, Ohio State University Extension, West Virginia University Extension Services, USDA Rural Development, and rural community and economic development organizations; the coordinator will communicate with the Centers Program Manager in administering programming and be responsible for reporting impacts and project updates to the Program Manager; this position will include travel and may include some evening and weekend work as well as overnight travel with potential flexibility for remote work.

Required Qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in business, business education, agriculture, economics, sociology, or related field or an equivalent combination of education and experience; strong verbal, written and electronic communication skills; demonstrated coordination skills; experience developing and administering educational programming such as webinars, seminars, or conferences; experience in the development and organization of program materials; demonstrated ability to work in a team atmosphere; willingness to work with diverse audiences.