Inspiring the Next Generation of Ag Leaders

October 10, 2023
CHS supports education programs designed to educate the next generation of ag leaders and demonstrate the value of cooperatives.

Deciding what career path to pursue is not easy for many young people. Agriculture and the cooperative system hold many opportunities for students with interests in areas from technology and biology to sales and finance –they just need to be introduced to the possibilities. Megan Wolle, senior director of stewardship with CHS, talks about why it’s important to educate youth about agriculture and cooperatives and how CHS is helping to develop the next generation of ag leaders.

“As the largest farmer-owned cooperative in North America, we’re believers in the cooperative business model. It’s critical that students understand the benefits to ensure a strong cooperative system going forward,” Wolle says. “This is an important way to build talent pipelines for agricultural cooperatives and to plant the seed for future cooperative members to participate in the system.”

Supporting cooperative education

CHS has been a long-standing supporter of youth leadership and cooperative education programs.

“We’ve supported the cooperative education efforts of farmers unions at both the national and the state levels for decades. This often looks like a summer camp or an educational cohort,” Wolle says.

More recently, these efforts have turned toward developing online curriculum for teachers so they can educate students across the U.S. on the importance of cooperatives. Together with its partners, CHS has introduced more than 150,000 students to the power of co-ops since 2020.

One example is Cooperative Minds, a website developed with Discovery Education to give students a virtual look at the cooperative business model and cooperative careers.

“Once they’re on the Cooperative Minds site, [students] can participate in a virtual field trip hosted by an FFA member who talks with a farmer and cooperative employees about their career paths, and then dives into the business of how crops are grown and how they move through the supply chain within our cooperative system,” Wolle explains. “They’ll also find six profiles of careers students might not consider as a part of the cooperative business model.”

Two girls wearing FFA shirts pouring a liquid onto seedlings in a greenhouse