Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5

RM | PERSPECTIVES H A RT TO H E A RT Co-ops & community by Barry Hart | E 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 social media. 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 members. 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 working for Platte-Clay 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. GUEST COLUMN Cooperative curriculum builds leaders by Matt Staley | 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 Agricultural Management, 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 O 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 5 http://www.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
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Rural Missouri - October 2016 - 5
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Rural Missouri - October 2016 - Cover3
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