Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
H A RT TO H E A RT
Co-ops & community
by Barry Hart | firstname.lastname@example.org
very October I am reminded of the beneﬁts of
cooperatives during the annual celebration
of National Cooperative Month. This truly is
an exciting time to be part of a cooperative.
The more things change in our world, the more the
cooperative business model applies to providing the
goods and services we need.
Take the demand for broadband internet service.
There was a time when access to the Information
Superhighway was optional. I even remember when
dial-up service got the job done just ﬁne, as long as
you were patient.
Those days are gone. That's especially true for
students who now must take online classes and
for businesses that promote their services through
In some rural areas, a cooperative solution is
meeting the need for high-speed connections. Missouri now has four electric cooperatives providing
high-speed ﬁber to the home, and more are studying the pros and cons of offering this service to their
They know the only answer for some areas may
be a non-proﬁt, cooperative provider.
Last month in Rural Missouri you read about a
cooperative based in Alton that helped small livestock producers and artists ﬁnd a market for their
products in a sparsely populated area. These types
of cooperatives are one of the fastest-growing segments of the cooperative movement. They offer an
opportunity for people in rural and urban areas to
live their dreams, whether that dream is to earn a
living from handcrafts or
from the land.
The theme for this year's
Cooperative Month is "Cooperatives Build." I think that
is an appropriate term for
what co-ops do. Years ago, I
was heavily involved in economic development while
Electric Cooperative. The
board at my co-op strongly
supported anything that
would help local businesses
expand or that would attract
new jobs to the region.
On page 4 of this issue
you can read how Crawford Electric Cooperative
partnered with USDA Rural Development to help a
local community college expand its job-training program. These success stories are just another day at
the ofﬁce for cooperatives.
Cooperatives build better leaders too. You can see
that every summer when the Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. comes along. I like to follow the careers
of those selected to attend this "trip of a lifetime."
They become some of the best and brightest leaders, with many returning to help out the rural areas
where they grew up.
I am especially pleased when one of the rural
youth we help - through scholarships from local
co-ops or our involvement with 4-H and FFA - goes
to work for a cooperative. Now is an excellent time to
consider a cooperative career. In the next ﬁve years,
we will see a huge number of job openings due to
retirements. Those who ﬁll these jobs will discover
that co-ops are like family, lifting up those going
through tough times and helping new employees
reach their potential.
Whenever I have a choice, I try to use a cooperative business, whether that is MFA Oil's Breaktime
gas stations for fuel or REI for outdoor equipment. I
know that a portion of the money I spend here will
ﬁnd its way back to me as these co-ops practice
their "Concern for Community."
During Cooperative Month, keep your eyes open
for cooperatives you may have overlooked. And don't
forget to tell your co-op, "thanks for a job well done."
Hart is executive vice president of the Association
of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.
Cooperative curriculum builds leaders
by Matt Staley | email@example.com
to learn the curriculum and how cooperatives can
bring strength and success to communities. All
ctober is National Cooperative Month. instructors are encouraged to use the curriculum
This year's theme, "Cooperatives Build," to instill in their students an understanding of the
spotlights the many advantages coopera- cooperative form of business. Richard Brummett,
tives offer to their members and the com- an agriculture instructor and FFA advisor at Arcamunities in which they live and work. The Missouri dia Valley Career Technology Center, has incorporated the unit into his lesson plan.
Institute of Cooperatives is an associa"The cooperative business model is
tion of local and regional cooperatives
one that my students often have diforganized to provide education on the
ﬁculty grasping the basics of," says
cooperative form of business. RecentBrummett. "I used to jumble together
ly, MIC launched a new curriculum
resources from the internet to share
that provides current, comprehensive
with my students to help prepare them
information for high school students
for the public speaking competitions
to learn about cooperatives.
and the Create Your Own Cooperative
The Cooperative Essentials Unit
Contest sponsored by the Missouri
includes two lessons on cooperatives
Institute of Cooperatives. The new
with a classroom visit guide to facilicurriculum MIC developed puts all of
tate presentations from local coopthose resources, and more, into one
erative leaders, a cooperative month
convenient package. The structured
classroom poster and an e-learning
delivery of the materials is more engagactivity to engage students. The addiMatt Staley
ing for my students than approaches
tion of the cooperative unit to MisI've taken in the past. The developsouri's
Economics and Sales curriculum provides 28,000 ment of this curriculum shows MIC's continuing
students in 341 Missouri schools the opportunity to commitment to the cooperative principle of showing
develop a thorough understanding of the coopera- concern for their communities."
The inclusion of the e-learning component is a
tive business structure.
In July, about 75 agriculture education teach- modern way to involve today's youth who learn in
ers attended workshops during the Missouri Voca- different ways than they did 20 or even 10 years
tional Agriculture Teachers Association conference ago. E-learning and the opportunity to hear from
cooperative leaders enable students and instructors
to connect with communities.
In addition to the curriculum, MIC offers two
youth contests. The lessons in the Cooperative
Essentials Unit are designed to complement these
contests with a goal of increasing students' knowledge of cooperatives while making it easier for them
to participate in the contests. You can learn more
about the FFA Public Speaking and Create Your
Own Cooperative contests on the MIC website at
The Cooperative Essentials Unit was developed
by Vivayic, a learning solutions ﬁrm, in close cooperation with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and is made possible
through generous donations from MIC's members
including FCS Financial, MFA Foundation, CoBank
and Missouri's electric cooperatives.
MIC is dedicated to promoting learning and discussion on cooperatives. The curriculum not only
fosters education but is preparing the next generation to lead cooperatives by providing a solid foundation of knowledge. I believe cooperatives build
trust, jobs, economy, communities and more. This
October, I am certain cooperatives build leaders.
Staley is president of the Missouri Institute of
Cooperatives and an employee of FCS Financial, a
cooperative that provides credit and ﬁnancial services to farmers, ranchers, rural residents and agribusinesses.
OCTOBER 2016 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - October 2016
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Intro
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Contents
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 4
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 6
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 7
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 8
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 9
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 10
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Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover4