|The College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives seeks a collaborative, organized, and goal-oriented individual to serve as a cooperative development specialist and to contribute to the applied research, teaching, and Extension functions of the Center.
|For questions, please contact Hannah Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or Beth Rigsby at email@example.com.
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Developing the cooperative economy in Central Appalachia is no easy task, but the CFAES Center for Cooperatives at Ohio State is working toward that goal with the Appalachia Cooperates Initiative. Shifting to virtual programming throughout the pandemic, the Center has been able to reach more cooperators across the Appalachian Region.
The Appalachia Cooperates Initiative (ACI) is an education and peer-learning network for community, business, and economic development practitioners interested in the cooperative model.
“Whether the model is used in food and agriculture, housing, workplace ownership, or other areas, cooperatives can help community members solve problems and build wealth locally,” said Hannah Scott, Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives.
ACI programs develop awareness of the cooperative business model and share resources to help communities recognize and act on cooperative opportunities. Programs have featured guest speakers from Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives, a co-founder of a community-owned broadband cooperative, cooperative attorneys, and more.
Under the ACI, the center is also working to develop connections and relationships among cooperative practitioners. “Our ultimate goal is to facilitate joint cooperative development activities in Central Appalachia, allowing practitioners to better utilize existing resources,” Scott said. Creating community-based employment and supporting workplace democracy are some of the areas of focus for ACI.
Recently the Center developed an online page devoted to hosting recordings of ACI learning sessions. Cooperative Development Specialist Ryan Kline stated, “this new webpage is a great place for those looking to make change in the region through cooperation! From topics like the history of Appalachian cooperation to changemakers in rural broadband, our recordings can be instrumental for economic, community and cooperative developers to learn more about co-op development in the region.”
More information about the ACI and past program recordings are available at go.osu.edu/appalachiacooperates .
October is National Co-op Month in the United States! The annual celebration is an opportunity to lift up the values and impact of the cooperative community. To celebrate this year, our team at the CFAES Center for Cooperatives is sharing resources for learning about the co-op model. This focus is fitting given that Co-op Principle 5: Education, Training and Information highlights the importance of life-long learning across the global co-op community.
The cooperative community’s diversity and innovation create seemingly endless opportunities to learn about how member-owned enterprises are solving problems and “building back better” in their communities.
Whether you’re new to cooperatives or a seasoned co-op developer, you’ll find unique stories about the cooperative business model in the co-op podcast playlist below!
- For ag and food enthusiasts
- “Cooperative strength: Combining national scale with local community impact” from the Something Greater podcast by Land O’Lakes
- “How a fishing co-op formed with friendship” from Meet the Co-op Farmers by the Australian Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals
- “Narendra Varma of Our Table Cooperative” from Collab Farming by No-Till Market Garden Podcast
- For learning about workplace democracy through cooperation
- For global perspectives on cooperation
- For learning about new models of cooperative enterprise
- “Multi-stakeholder co-ops: When are they the right fit?” from The Common Share by Co-operatives First
- “Unions and Co-ops” from All Things Co-op from Democracy at Work
- For perspectives on policy initiatives to support cooperative growth
- For examples of how co-ops are helping address challenges with rural broadband access
- For perspectives on empowering community members through cooperatives
- “Dr. Jessica Gordon-Nembhard discusses how Co-ops are being used to ‘Build Back Better’” from Everything Co-op with Vernon Oakes
- “Making Solar Power Accessible to Low-Income Members” from Along Those Lines by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
September 21 at 10:30 a.m. in the Small Farms Center at the Ohio Farm Science Review. The Small Farms Center is located at the west end of Equipment Avenue.
We will be sharing info about the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online. This is a resource featuring innovative and exciting ag co-op career content that teachers can easily build into classroom learning during the 2021 school year and beyond. The open-access format also allows students to visit the website outside of class to learn from leaders in the agricultural industry.
With funding from the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation, The Hocking County Farm Bureau and Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Center for Cooperatives partnered to create this online experience for high school students to discover and explore careers in agricultural cooperatives.
The virtual program is free and available to all educators and students, but was designed to speak the unique challenges students face in rural Appalachian counties.
If you are at the FSR on Tuesday morning, be sure to stop by to learn about the Youth Cooperative Leadership Experience Online and how it can be a first-step for your school ag program to explore forming a student-led cooperative.
For more information about the Farm Science Review, visit: https://fsr.osu.edu/home
Over the course of the last year, many businesses and organizations have recognized their lack of diversity. Harvard Business Review reported that “in a fall 2020 analysis of the 3,000 largest publicly traded U.S. companies found that just 12.5% of board directors were from underrepresented ethnic and racial groups, up from 10% in 2015. The report also found that only 4% of directors were Black, while female directors held 21% of board seats.”
As directors, management, and employees address the lack of diversity on their board, the co-op community has developed more and more research about the benefits of board diversity. From individual cooperatives sharing their success with building diverse boards to development organizations researching the impact of diversity on cooperative boards, the response has led to more diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives hoping to create more representative cooperative boards.
The growing need for more diverse cooperative boards has led to new research analyzing issues, needs, and benefits to creating a diverse board. Below, I will explore recent research revealing the benefits of diversity on boards.
Better Understand and Represent the Co-op Community
Diverse boards bring together more backgrounds, experiences, and ages to engage in the decision-making process. When directors better represent their member-owners, their decision-making can better reflect the cooperative members, emphasizing democratic member participation, the second cooperative principle. By bringing together directors with different geographic backgrounds, sexual orientations and genders, and/or races or ethnicities, among many other characteristics, boards that foster diversity better represent their community and make better-informed decisions for the cooperative and its member-owners.
Oklahoma State University’s Dr. Phil Kinkel found in “The Need for Board Diversity in Agricultural Cooperatives” that board diversity can help a board “relate to its internal and external stakeholders.” For example, women are an important part of the employee teams at cooperatives and “female representation on the board gives those employees a greater sense of connection with the cooperative and improves the perception of a career path.” Board diversity allows cooperatives to understand and serve both their member-owners and employees.
Better Change Styles
Another benefit of building a diverse board of directors is the advantage that the diversity of experiences and knowledge brings to change management. The unique perspectives that each director brings to the board room can help guide the cooperative through both low risk change and high risk change that may threaten the sustainability of the business.
Dr. Phil Kinkel has found that cooperative diversity led to better change management. In his study of gender diversity on agricultural boards, Kinkel stated, “[b]oards with greater gender and age diversity appear to make better decisions, particularly when dealing with strategic issues or organizational change.” This research pushes boards to think about how diversity of ideas and experiences can benefit the entire cooperative.
In a recent blog about the value of board diversity, Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business shared research findings indicating that by having more diverse human capital, companies can better navigate “disruptive change.” The study conducted in 2018 by Bernie, Bhagwat, and Yonkers found that the “aggregate skillset” and diverse experience on more diverse boards changed the outcome of more volatile changes in the company. By including individuals with a diversity of experiences, boards can lead better together through economic, business, and social change.
As recent research has shown, cooperatives have both a social interest and a business interest in building diverse, equitable, and inclusive boards and many cooperatives are approaching board recruitment and development with renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion to build more representative and sustainable enterprises. Harkening back to the seven guiding cooperative principles, diverse boards better serve their members by staying true to the democratic foundations of cooperation.
For more inormation:
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.
Over the last year, team members with the CFAES Center for Cooperatives have collected, reviewed, and verified information from industry trade organizations, the Ohio Secretary of State, and other public sources to develop a census of almost 1,100 cooperative locations across the Buckeye state. From credit unions to food co-ops, Ohio is covered in new and established cooperatives that contribute to the state’s economy.
In partnership with the CFAES Knowledge Exchange team at Ohio State, the data was built into an interactive map that will be available to the public. The Center is releasing a self-guided exploration of the cooperative economy that highlights the interactive map and the diversity of Ohio’s co-ops. The map will allow co-op leaders, community ownership advocates, policymakers, cooperative developers, and entrepreneurs to find cooperatives in their area and locate cooperative models to learn from as they develop new co-ops. The data will also create opportunities for the team at the Center for Cooperatives to conduct comparative historical analyses and other applied research on Ohio’s cooperative economy.
To build the cooperative database, Center staff gathered data from numerous public sources, including industry trade associations such as the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, the Ohio Credit Union League, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, as well as federal and state sources including the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Farm Credit Administration, and the Ohio Secretary of State, among others. Center staff verified each cooperative in the database by assessing whether the entity was mutually owned by multiple members, operated on a non-profit cooperative basis, or provided bulk purchasing on a cooperative basis. Center staff also verified whether each cooperative was still active, using public sources like websites, social media, and news articles.
The project revealed the true diversity of cooperatives in Ohio. From breweries and laundries to financial services, agriculture, and housing, each cooperative plays an important role in the state’s cooperative community and economy.
Out of the 452 cooperatives headquartered in Ohio, 228 are credit unions. The figure below shows a breakdown of cooperatives headquartered in Ohio by sector. The 1,088 physical co-op locations included in the map of Ohio’s cooperatives include cooperatives headquartered in Ohio, branches of co-ops that are headquartered in Ohio, and branch locations in Ohio of co-ops not headquartered in Ohio.
According to the National Cooperative Bank, of the largest 100 cooperatives in the U.S. in 2019, three were headquartered in Ohio, including United Producers, Inc. (#80) headquartered in Columbus, Heritage Cooperative (#83) headquartered in Delaware, and Buckeye Power, Inc. (#84) headquartered in Columbus.
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.
5 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons whole milk
3 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon King Arthur bread flour
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
½ cup Pioneer white Sugar
¾ cup brown sugar, packed
4 teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup Land O’ Lakes unsalted butter, softened
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
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at go.osu.edu/cooperatives.