Over the past year and a half, MCDC has hosted six Cooperative Impact Weeks across the state. Each week-long event has involved community activities for the general public and youth to come and learn more about the economic benefits cooperatives bring to rural towns in the form of jobs, services and community projects.
MCDC Program Director Marilyn Besich has
helped host many of the events. She
says, “We have discovered that there may be some things we could improve upon
for the next round of events.” “The one
thing that we learned was that Montana’s youth really don’t know that much
about cooperatives,” adds Besich
She is currently involved in planning to
improve future Cooperative Impact Weeks.
“We are going to retool our goals and our efforts to focus future events
on informing and educating Montana’s youth,” Besich explains. She plans to develop a one-week curriculum
that could include “activities and events that students could engage in” to learn
more about the cooperative business model.
The co-op focused content would be designed to augment the current
business curriculum taught at colleges and high schools. It would include course work focusing on: the
legal structure of the cooperative business model, how it is governed/operated,
and how it compares to the other business models.
In addition to the cooperative education
curriculum, each school would have the option to include interactive events
that might involve inviting co-op leaders from their communities to speak to
their students in the classroom or put on a co-op career fair.
Besich has already discussed the cooperative
business curriculum with career and technical educators at Montana’s Office of
Public Instruction (OPI). After
listening to Besich’s proposal, the OPI advisors recommended that she present
it to educators at the Montana Teachers Conference in October. Besich is currently awaiting approval to
present her proposal at the conference.
The conference planning board plans to finalize the agenda sometime in
In the past few months, Besich has also
reached out to several student organizations, to include: the Future Farmers of
America (FFA), Business Professionals of America (BPA), Distributive Education
Clubs of America (DECA), and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
(FCCLA). She recently attended the
Montana FFA State Convention in Bozeman to engage with FFA leaders and
encourage them to get involved in the project.
For the third time in a row, CHS Foundation has
awarded MCDC a cooperative education grant to fund another round of cooperative
impact weeks. In addition to building
new relationships with educators and student organizations, MCDC continues to
rely on partnerships with Montana State University Extension and cooperatives
throughout the state to refocus and improve the program that began in