WASHINGTON –National Farmers Union (NFU) hosted 76 students and educators in Minneapolis, Minnesota, last weekend for its annual College Conference on Cooperatives (CCOC). The three-day conference provides an interactive learning experience for American agriculture’s next generation on the importance, structure, and operations of various types of cooperative groups.

“Cooperatives have long played a vital role in bolstering rural and urban communities alike – which is why Farmers Union established this program decades ago” said NFU Senior Director of Engagement Emma McCormick. “By engaging tomorrow’s agricultural leaders in hands-on application of cooperative business principles and structures, we can help inform them of and prepare them for the many opportunities available to them through the cooperative model.”

Representatives and farmers from both long-established and emerging cooperatives offered their insight on cooperative careers, leadership, and development. Students heard from representatives from Compeer Farm Credit, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), CROPP/Organic Valley, Northcountry Cooperative Foundation, and National Co-op Grocers, as well featured speakers from several universities. In addition, participants visited several area cooperative organizations, including Seward Community Co-op, Riverton Housing Co-op, MY Credit Union, and REI Co-op.

“NFU was founded on the core principles of education, civic engagement, and cooperation, and we proudly build on that foundation today with in-person learning experiences like CCOC,” McCormick added. “Thanks to the support of our sponsors, NFU is able to provide cooperative education beyond the farm and ranch gate to young leaders from college campuses across the United States.”

This year’s conference was made possible by premier supporters CHS Foundation, Federated Youth Foundation, Blaze Credit Union, and NFU Foundation. National Farmers Union also appreciates the generosity of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, which provided travel scholarships for several students and hosted the Louis Doering Keynote Luncheon, featuring remarks from Minnesota Agriculture and Rural Leadership (MARL) program executive director Brad Schloesser.

Photos for use from the event can be found here.

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