LIVE from the CFAES Center for Cooperatives, it's Co-Op Mastery

By Ivory Harlow
Program Specialist, CFAES Center for Cooperatives

On June 1st, 2018, the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives, based at the OSU South Centers, launched Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101.

Co-op Mastery is an engaging, online cooperative course for a variety of co-op stakeholders, including steering committee members of new and emerging co-ops, students of co-ops, and new co-op board members or employees. 

“Co-op Mastery curriculum focuses on mid-level knowledge about the cooperative business model,” said Center for Cooperatives Program Manager, Hannah Scott.  “Training modules build on existing fundamental materials by providing an in-depth look at governance, finance, taxation and other areas not typically covered by courses in fundamentals, yet challenging topics for stakeholders.”

The training features eight modules which include video interviews with numerous leaders in the cooperative movement: 
•    Logan County Electric Cooperative General Manager Rick Petty discusses cooperative principles and various functions of cooperatives. 
•    Dennis Bolling, retired President and CEO of United Producers, Inc., shares the benefits that cooperatives provide to members. 
•    Mid-America Cooperative Counsel Executive Director Rod Kelsay discusses effective education and training for a co-op’s Board of Directors.
•    Ohio State University Extension Educator Dr. Chris Bruynis gives insight to key factors that contribute to a cooperative’s success.
•    Nationwide’s VP of Sponsor Relations Devin Fuhrman shares the story of Nationwide’s history as a mutual cooperative company.
•    Agricultural attorney Carolyn Eselgroth of Barrett, Easterday, Cunningham and Eselgroth, LLP addresses legal considerations when forming a cooperative business.
•    Co-Bank Senior Relationship Manager Gary Weidenborner leads users through an interactive financial document exercise. 
•    Dr. David Hahn, Professor Emeritus at the Ohio State University, explains cooperative taxation.

During the first 30 days the program was live and available to the public, Co-op Mastery directly impacted 268 individuals, through website visitors and cooperative education workshops taught by Center staff in Ohio and West Virginia. Workshop participants also received Co-op Mastery workbooks, a 48-page compilation of activities and examples, to supplement their online learning.
Co-op Mastery is a valuable digital tool for cooperative education. Microfarmers in northwest Ohio have used Co-op Mastery to learn about co-op governance. Co-op Mastery workbook business and financial worksheets help simplify the business planning process for farmers exploring the formation of a co-op. 

In July 2018, Program Manager Hannah Scott and Specialist Ivory Harlow presented Co-op Mastery as a tool for cooperative developers and educators at the 2018 Association of Cooperative Educators Institute in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Attendees from across North America learned how to utilize Co-op Mastery as a digital tool for cooperative education and development.

Co-op Mastery: Beyond Cooperatives 101 was made possible by a Cooperative Education Grant from the CHS Foundation. The training is free and can be accessed online at 
go.osu.edu/coopmastery.

To request a workshop or more information, visit go.osu.edu/cooperatives or contact the Center for Cooperatives at osucooperatives@osu.edu or 740-289-2071 ext. 111.