Back to N. Dakota... to the Farmers' Union & Red Raven!

After a few training stops in North Dakota in 2014 that weren’t well attended, Youth TCI didn’t anticipate returning to ND this year. However, after meeting with the new North Dakota Farmers' Union Education Director at the recent Association of Cooperative Educators’ Institute out in Amherst, Massachusetts in July, all that changed! Emily, Youth TCI’s Program Director, went to Jamestown, ND for the afternoon to meet with NDFU’s education staff, member relations staff, and some #coopyouth camp counselors to discuss how Youth TCI could serve their state-wide constituency.

After touring the NDFU headquarters and looking at the rich history posted on the ways in the form of old coop gas station signs and framed newspaper clippings, Emily got to sit down with eight farmers union folks and learn about the opportunities available to young people through NDFU. The five college-aged #coopyouth who had just finished serving as counselors at the NDFU summer camp shared how they had all been elected to the State Youth Advisory Council (SYAC) and/or National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC) - and, what a tremendous honor they considered it to be to take on a leadership role through an election by their peers. They also elaborated on what roles the SYAC and NYAC had in steering the content and direction of programming for both summer camps and year-round education - this included picking a central discussion topic for the latter, which was “diversity” for 2015.

Emily then presented on the history of Northcountry Cooperative Foundation and the (Youth) Traveling Cooperative Institute, and closed by sharing a number of opportunities through which NDFU could partner with NCF to make use of the program and its curricula to serve their constituents, as they see fit. The opportunities were warmly received by staff and the following ideas for partnering came up:

  • Provide a Train the Trainer retreat for state and county education staff, so they can independently use the curricula with their groups throughout the state.
  • Partner with the collegiate FU chapters on college campuses throughout the state to provide trainings.
  • Attend a state-wide convention and provide some training as a breakout session.

Overall, this meeting was a great first step to building a relationship with an allied organization that has maintained tremendous cooperative education programs for decades. Partnering together is a way to add capacity and value to both organizations in a mutually beneficial way. We look forward to the coming months (and years) as we can work together to strengthen the cooperative community throughout the Upper Midwest.


And, on the way there and back, Emily stopped to visit Red Raven Espresso Parlor in Fargo, North Dakota! They are celebrating their 10th birthday this month, and are managing transition in their cooperative after some senior members departed and new members have come on board. The space remains welcoming, the food delicious, and the worker-owners awesome!