Editor: October is national Co-op Month. Millions of co-op members nationwide are expected to hold festivals, open houses and contests to celebrate how co-ops connect with each other, the communities and the world. This year’s theme is “The Co-op Connection.” Cooperatives are owned and governed by their members. Those same members also use the co-ops’ goods and services and either share or collectively reinvest profits.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A $645,000 donation to Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences has established a new agribusiness cooperative center that already has been called a national model.
The gift from five founding partners — CHS Inc., CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farm Credit Mid-America, United Producers, Inc., Luckey Farmers and Ag Credit — creates The Center for Cooperative, Business and Community Education and Development.
“We’re very excited about this cooperative business model and what it can offer the state of Ohio and what it can offer to Ohio State University,” said Chuck Conner, president and CEO of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. The Washington, D.C.-based organization represents the nation’s cooperatives and other farm-owned enterprises.
“This is the model going forward for that connection between our co-ops and our research and education community,” he said. “We think that connection offers enormous benefits for a world of food production and a world of sustaining ourselves through the best possible food system that we can create on this planet.”
Housed in the college’s Department of Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics, the center is charged with improving economic conditions for the state’s farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs by teaching business principles, collaborative leadership development and shared research.
The new center will jump-start educational efforts to support research, scholarships and programs, said Bruce McPheron, dean and vice-president, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
“The center itself really has come about because of a few key partners who stepped up early to be a part of this: CHS, CHS Foundation, CoBank, Farm Credit Mid-America, United Producers, Luckey Farmers and Ag Credit have all come to the table early on to be financial supporters of this initiative,” McPheron said. “That commitment is really allowing us to move forward today.”
Returning to Ohio State to serve as the center's new director and as the college's Farm Income Enhancement Chair is Ani L. Katchova. An alumna of the college, Katchova has been serving as an associate professor at the University of Kentucky, where her successes merited an award by the governor there as an honorary Kentucky Colonel, an honorary title bestowed upon those who exhibit outstanding community service to that commonwealth.
“I’m very glad to be here and very glad to be a Buckeye again,” Katchova told about 50 people, many of whom work in the agricultural industry, during a recent reception at Farm Science Review.
Set to begin in January, Katchova plans to spend her first three months in the position “setting the stage for the future and establishing the cooperative center and its presence.”
Last summer, she met with other university cooperative center directors and discussed how best to establish such programs.
“Let’s look for opportunities to collaborate, find those projects of mutual interest, especially those projects that have student involvement,” she said.
More information about this gift and others to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences can be found at cfaes.osu.edu/development.