15 agricultural students and their professors from 3 different Nebraska Colleges traveled to Minneapolis, Minnesota February 14-17 to learn about cooperatives under the guidance of Nebraska Farmers Union (NeFU). The participating colleges included Northeast Community College at Norfolk, Southeast Community College at Beatrice, and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture at Curtis. 71 students from across the nation attended the College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC).
The CCOC participants learned about different types of cooperatives from consumer and producer driven co-ops to senior living co-ops. “Nebraska cooperatives create nearly 14,000 jobs while contributing $2.2 billion in annual economic impact through sales and investments. The CCOC engages tomorrow’s leaders through a unique platform that teaches them about cooperative business principles and the opportunities available through the cooperative model,” said NeFU President John Hansen.
Students heard from cooperative leaders, farmers and government experts who explained current challenges they face. Presenters ranged from members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives to representatives of housing and worker-owned co-ops. “I have never attended a conference like the CCOC before and I had no idea that tons of other co-ops existed outside of the typical grain co-ops. I’m glad I went out of my comfort zone and attended the CCOC” said McKenna Lauenroth a Southeast Community College student from Crete, NE.
All of the Nebraska attendees are from rural areas and towns. “Attending the CCOC was an amazing opportunity and greatly expanded my knowledge about cooperatives,” said Morgan Curran, a student attending Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture in Curtis.
NeFU CCOC Representative Camdyn Kavan concluded “The feedback I received was overwhelmingly positive. From the tour of the Mill City Museum to the general surprise that co-ops are so much more than just places to buy feed and fertilizer or sell grain. These students learned about how cooperatives can be used to improve lives and serve society everywhere as well as serving rural communities.”
The annual College Cooperative Conference is co-sponsored by the CHS Foundation in cooperation with the National Farmers Union Foundation. Nebraska Farmers Union was awarded a grant from the National Farmers Union Foundation to help defray the attendance costs for the Nebraska participants.