By Ivory Harlow, Cooperative Development Specialist
Friends of Ohio’s cooperatives joined the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences and OSU Extension to celebrate the newly established CFAES Center for Cooperatives at the Nationwide & Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on October 18th, 2017.
The celebration commemorated the 2017 National Cooperative Month of October. The event also coincided with Ohio Cooperative Week designated by Governor John Kasich as October 15-21, 2017 in a Resolution presented to Mid-America Cooperative Council Executive Director Rod Kelsay at the event.
Dr. Graham Cochran, CFAES Senior Administrative Officer, welcomed cooperative leaders from United Producers, Select Sires, Nationwide, the Ohio Farm Bureau, and others to the event, and shared the college’s commitment to organizational development and workforce preparation. Associate Dean and Director of OSU Extension Dr. Roger Rennekamp highlighted the importance of cooperatives and how the Center will be part of the overall network of OSU Extension programming to reach stakeholders in all 88 counties of Ohio. Dr. Tom Worley, Director of the new Center, announced the University has been awarded a Rural Cooperative Development Grant totaling approximately $200,0000 to improve rural areas of Ohio and West Virginia through the development of cooperatives and other mutually-owned businesses. Debbie Rausch, from the Ohio office of USDA Rural Development spoke to the group, highlighting the College’s 18 years of USDA cooperative development efforts.
Along with Worley, Dr. Ani Katchova is leading research programs for the Center and Hannah Scott is serving as leader of Extension and outreach activities. Programming for the Center will occur within and link all major mission areas of CFAES, including teaching, research and Extension. This integration is expected to extend knowledge to emerging and established agricultural cooperatives and support rural economic development. Furthermore, the Center will provide students and agricultural professionals with more interdisciplinary training and research opportunities.
“The CFAES Center for Cooperatives is expected to be comprehensive and bring together all three mission areas of the College - teaching, research, and Extension. We are very pleased to be well positioned to serve the wider cooperatives community in Ohio through the combined faculty and staff resources of the Center,” OSU South Centers Director Tom Worley said.
The Center maintains staff based in Piketon, Ohio and also has faculty presence on the Columbus campus. It will integrate the College’s current activities and operations that support cooperative business development, engage directly with long-established cooperatives, and provide cooperative education both in the classroom and via Extension and outreach programs.