By Guy Gregory
MCDC Communications Specialist
In celebration of National Co-op Month, the Montana Cooperative Development Center brought to Eastern Montana four days of activities, dialogue and presentations focused on the cooperative business model. Co-op leaders from Dawson, Richland and McCone counties spoke to high school and college students about the history of cooperatives and their future role in rural Montana, which would have to include leadership from the next generation.
Events for Montana Cooperative Impact Week included a public forum on the campus of Dawson Community College in Glendive. Owners of “Crucible” all addressed the challenges of incorporating their design and fabrication studio into a worker-owned cooperative. Following their presentation, leaders from CHS/Ag Partners LLC, McCone County Federal Credit Union, and Mid-Rivers Communications discussed the large economic impact co-ops have had on the region and its rural customers.
Crucible next traveled to Sidney to tell their co-op story to Sidney High School students during an assembly the next day. Employees from five local cooperatives later discussed career opportunities with students during the school’s co-op career day. Lower Yellowstone Rural Electric Cooperative (LYREC), Mid-Rivers Communications, Richland Federal Credit Union, Northwest Farm Credit Services, and CHS Farmers Elevator all had booths at the co-op career fair and visited one-on-one with students interested in hearing about what types of jobs were available at their co-ops.
Montana Cooperative Impact Week wrapped up with a presentation to Circle High School students. Employees from McCone County Federal Credit Union and McCone Electric Co-op explained to students how co-ops were structured, governed, and how their members and customers owned them. They reiterated to students that as many co-op leaders and employees get set to retire, there could be many new career opportunities opening up for them.