MADISON, Wis. (December 3, 2012) -- Charitable giving by the Wisconsin cooperative community’s educational arm closed out a record year in 2012, setting milestones for total assets, contributions from member cooperatives, and gifts awarded.
At the Federated Youth Foundation (FYF) annual meeting held in conjunction with Cooperative Network’s November annual meeting in La Crosse, FYF Treasurer Cheri Gibeaut announced that total assets exceeded $2 million for the first time and contributions from member cooperatives reached $661,099, an increase of almost 10 percent over the prior year’s giving. That generosity resulted in the disbursement of 541 scholarships and 133 charitable contributions totaling $601,072, breaking the record set in 2008 by almost $40,000.
Among FYF-sponsored educational efforts was a successful 5th-grade cooperative education curriculum launched last year in the Medford School District. This garnered a 2012 National Community Service Award for Taylor Electric Cooperative from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The two-day curriculum—for use by substitute teachers paid and trained by the sponsoring co-ops—culminates with a hands-on exercise in which students working in small groups create 30-second radio announcements about cooperatives for broadcast by local radio stations.
FYF president and Taylor Electric board chairman Brian Kulas, a retired educator who conceived the program and steered its development, said it has expanded this year to include more schools in Taylor Electric’s service area. He added that other area cooperatives have joined the six that originally sponsored the program.
Kulas noted that Bayfield Electric has led a group of Bayfield-area cooperatives establishing a similar program in the Mellen School District, with plans to expand into the Ashland School District. In addition, Kulas has met with a number of co-ops interested in starting their own programs and has offered to visit other co-op boards and provide guidance as needed.
A new FYF-sponsored educational effort is an endowment established in honor of Madison attorney Charles “Chuck” Van Sickle, who died in September. FYF Executive Director David Erickson said Van Sickle led the development and revision of Wisconsin co-op law over many years and was instrumental in the passage of legislation allowing co-op members’ unclaimed patronage credits to be used for educational purposes. Erickson noted that much of the $7.2 million awarded in the FYF’s 42-year history was given out in the past 25 years, after the law was enacted. “We can thank Chuck for that,” he said.
FYF also continues its support for the Wisconsin Agricultural Education and Workforce Development Council and the Wisconsin Agribusiness Foundation’s book, “This Business Called Agriculture” which annually reaches about 85,000 fourth graders in the state.
Serving on the 2012-2013 FYF board of directors will be:
- Brian Kulas, board president, Taylor Electric Cooperative, Medford, Wis.
- Tony Wagner, board vice president, Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, Cecil, Wis.
- Cheri Gibeaut, board secretary/treasurer, Adams-Columbia Electric Cooperative, Endeavor, Wis.
- Greg McFarland, Jackson Electric Cooperative, Black River Falls, Wis.
- Clarence Boettcher, Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, Fairchild, Wis.
- Jason Brancel, Landmark Services Cooperative, Cottage Grove, WI
- Brad Welp, Richland-Grant Telephone Cooperative/La Valle Telephone Cooperative, La Valle, Wis. (Representing Cooperative Network)