Here is the new co-op curriculum for
high school students, thanks to a grant from the CHS Foundation. Some of you may recall the co-op
curriculum produced by USDA in the 1980’s. This is the updated internet
version. You can also obtain a free CD of the same materials. We have also added information specific to co-ops in Minnesota to
personalize the national curriculum.
You and your students may not realize it, but co-ops are
everywhere – in every community in Minnesota in almost every industry. This
version will talk about the different business industries co-ops operate in,
statistics from co-ops Minnesota, as well as the overview of the business
structure of a co-op and much more. We’ve included many photos of local
co-ops in MN to put a personal, local face on the businesses that you may
or may not know are all around you.
An excel spreadsheet listing every co-op in Minnesota by town is
included in the MN chapter version; if you want more information
including contact info for co-ops in your local area, please call us.
We’d encourage you to link up with the manager or other
representative of a local co-op in your area who might be able to come and
speak to your class. Parents or other relatives of your students may be
employees of or serve on the boards of local co-ops. This would be a good
activity for October, which is Co-op Month. There are many other activities
you can use during October to teach cooperative concepts.
Keep in mind that we host an annual Youth Cooperative
Leadership Conference. Photos and information from the most recent
conference are available on our website. We also offer $500 scholarships to
high school students interested in pursuing careers in co-ops. Information
about the conference and the scholarships is at the Cooperative Network website: Leadership Conference.
We will be periodically posting updates on
our website, as well as additional resource such as videos and radio
interviews. Please let us know if you need copies, on CD, if you have
colleagues that would like a copy. They are free of charge, thanks to our grant
from the CHS Foundation.
I can be reached by
Matt Hughes, Minnesota Managing Director of Cooperative Network
Introduction to Using This Program
This instructor's guide, Understanding Cooperatives, is designed for use by secondary and adult
teachers of agricultural education courses. It is also readily adaptable
for use by post-secondary instructors, as well as for other cooperative
educators. The units are designed to be generic in content, and should be
supplemented with local, state, or company examples and situations.
All informational and reference materials
are included online. However, teacher and student references
in the Cooperative Information Report (CIR) series are available in hard
copies at no charge upon request from USDA Rural Development's Cooperative
All PowerPoint slides corresponding to the
lesson guides may be used as is, or readapted as the instructor wishes to
fit into any cooperative education program.
For each Unit, all the applicable teaching
documents (i.e., the unit's introduction and directions, discussion guide,
index, handouts, case study exercises, and quizzes) are included in .pdf
format for easy printing by the instructor. The .pdf file is included on
the main page of the Unit. The entire teaching package (all units,
excluding PowerPoint slides and references) is printable from this Index
– Cooperatives in Minnesota.
Introduces cooperatives by profiling local co-ops across several
industries, and discusses recent trends and studies specific to Minnesota.
May be used as either an introductory unit to place the course in a Minnesota
context, or used in conjunction with later units (such as Unit 3).
Unit 1 -
The American Business Enterprise System. Teaches the student how businesses are organized in the United
States, identifies the characteristics of each form of business, and discusses
how the members and/or owners benefit from each.
Unit 2 -
Cooperative Business Principles. Identifies
the basic concepts that separate a cooperative business from other business
forms and explores cooperative principles.
Unit 3 -
The Structure of Cooperatives.
Teaches the traditional areas that classify cooperatives by financial,
geographical, control, and functional structures. The unit also explores a
variety of other structural arrangements modern cooperatives are using in
today's changing economic environment.
Unit 4 -
Finance and Taxation of Cooperatives.
Teaches about cooperative financing and how cooperatives are taxed. Special
emphasis is placed on the different methods used by members to finance
their cooperative business.
Unit 5 -
The Cooperative Business Team: Members and Directors - Policy & Control. Teaches the rights and responsibilities of
cooperative members as they participate in the cooperative either in their
role as a member/patron, or as an elected director of the cooperative.
Unit 6 -
The Cooperative Business Team: Manager and Employees - Coordination &
Operations. Teaches the
responsibilities of cooperative managers and employees. Instruction centers
on the separation of function between management and employees.
Unit 7 - Mini
Cooperative Business Experience.
Applying knowledge from the previous units, students work within the
framework of a select service or marketing project. Beginning with the
pre-organization activities and ending with the distribution of earned
income, the instruction becomes more than just classroom exercises.