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CHS Foundation spreads cooperative know-how

Group of children at summer camp

The CHS Foundation is working to ensure that future generations understand how farmer-owned cooperatives work and the value they bring. This year, the foundation awarded nearly 20 grants through its Cooperative Education Grant Program to help educate the next generation about this unique business model.

“The cooperative business model is core to who we are at CHS,” says Nanci Lilja, president, CHS Foundation. “These grants to support cooperative education teach students of all ages about cooperatives and the vital role they serve in the agriculture industry.”

One new project is My Local Cooperative, a partnership with the National Association of Agricultural Educators. Although designed for teachers, the My Local Cooperative website is a great resource for anyone interested in learning about cooperatives. With completion expected by December 2019, the website will contain free resources, including standards-based curriculum, videos and an interactive map to help locate a nearby cooperative. 

Long-standing, popular grant recipients supporting cooperative education include Farmers Union programs that provide fun, interactive learning activities combined with recreational overnight or day-camp settings. Campers of all ages learn about cooperatives by operating cooperative camp stores. The campers elect a board of directors, sell goods and then donate their patronage to a worthy cause.  

"Since the 1930s, our camp programs have brought cooperative principles to life for kids from early elementary school on," says Cathy Statz, education director, Wisconsin Farmers Union. "Kids understand the basic notions of commerce. At camp, they learn about the cooperative business model and have fun doing it.

Learn about CHS Foundation cooperative education grants.