College Conference on Cooperatives

Each February, Farmers Union hosts the College Conference on Cooperatives to educate, motivate, and inspire the next generation of leaders.

Over the course of this three-day conference, participants will hear from experts in the field, participate in interactive learning activities and workshops, and tour co-ops right here in the Twin Cities. The event attracts students from across the country and is beneficial to those new to co-ops as well as those with some previous co-op education.

The College Conference on Cooperatives was fully virtual in 2022. 

Virtual Conference Agenda| February 18, 2022

8:30 - 8:50 AM (all times CT)
Conference Welcome
Charlie Michel & Cathy Statz, Farmers Union

9:00 - 10:00 AM
Co-ops 101
Courtney Berner, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives

10:00 - 10:45 AM
Decision-making in Cooperatives: How Would You Act?
Dr. Todd Schmit, Cornell University

What is the Solution?
Present your group's solutions to win prizes!

11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
Concurrent sessions
Panel: Cooperatives in Agriculture

Panel: Consumer Cooperatives

12:30 - 1:00 PM
CCOC / CoMinnesota Keynote Luncheon
Welcome & Introductions by hosts Ralph K. Morris Foundation / CoMinnesota
Keynote Speaker TBA

Virtual Conference Agenda| February 19, 2022

10:00 - 10:20 AM (all times CT)
Next Steps in Your Co-op Journey
Erin Hancock, Saint Mary's University (Halifax, Nova Scotia)

10:30 - 11:00 AM
Co-op Advocacy

11:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Concurrent Sessions
Leadership in Co-ops: Board Roles & Responsibilities
The Co-op Career Advantage

12:00 - 12:30 PM
Conference Wrap-Up: So, How Did That Turn Out?
William Nelson, Ralph K. Morris Foundation

12:30 - 1:00 PM
Co-opportunities & Next Steps
Charlie Michel & Cathy Statz, Farmers Union 


Featured Video: Inside the Twin Cities Co-ops

During NFU's 2021 virtual College Conference on Cooperatives, participants got a behind-the-scenes look at Fair State Brewing Cooperative, a 1,500-member craft beer co-op, and Seward Community Co-op, a beloved local institution which celebrates its 50-year anniversary next year.

Takeaways from Past Participants

“I learned a lot from this program. As someone who has not had much exposure to the world of co-ops and agricultural business, it was extremely interesting to learn more about these topics. These are lessons that I will take with me going forward in my academic and professional life.”

“The chance to get to talk one-on-one with professionals in the cooperative space was really valuable for me. I was able to discuss my particular skills and experience in working with co-ops and it has definitely made it seem like a promising career option.”

“College students need to take ownership of their communities because they won't prosper unless we make them prosper. In so many small towns, the youth either don't get involved or move away. I think it is so important that we all come together to try and meet the needs where we are if possible – co-ops are a good way to accomplish that in many situations.”