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Objectives

Provide students with hands-on experience to learn the benefits and challenges of operating a cooperative business.

Encourage students to develop business and leadership skills.

 

Contest Rules & Awards

Any Missouri FFA chapter or class can enter the "Create Your Own Cooperative" contest by submitting a completed award application form by January 13.

The contest entry can be for a class project, club chapter activity or other appropriate school activity carried out by the students under the guidance of an instructor.

The contest awards will be presented at the winner’s annual school awards ceremony.
Participants will compete with other schools in their district.

The Missouri Institute of Cooperatives will award the top class or chapter in each district $500

The Missouri Institute of Cooperatives will select first and second place state winning teams from the district winners. A member of the first place and the second place teams will receive an expense paid trip to a selected Cooperative Youth Leadership Institute.  The state winner will be invited to MIC’s annual meeting in the first quarter of the calendar year. 

The winning entry for the state contest will be made available on request for review by future contestants. 

 

How to Begin

1. Visit the Curriculum Resources page as a starting place for helpful information on the cooperative form of business.  “Coops 101 - An Introduction to Cooperatives” is also available from USDA:  http://www.rd.usda.gov/files/cir55.pdf

Complete the contest entry form
Students may not be familiar with the concepts behind a cooperative business. It will be important for them to understand the basic principles prior to organizing a cooperative.

2. Organize a tour of a local cooperative or ask a local cooperative member to speak to the class about the basics of cooperative organizations. Find out why people in the community have formed cooperatives rather than another form of business.  A list of MIC member cooperatives is available here.

3. Have students determine a common need. The fundamental reason for establishing a cooperative is to enable a group of people to accomplish a goal or meet a shared need by working together. What are their goals? What problems are critical? How would cooperative business principles help to solve problems and reach a common goal? How does this differ from other business structures?

4. Set up a steering committee. If students indicate a strong interest in working together to solve a problem, they are ready to explore the formation of a cooperative by electing a temporary steering committee. The total class or chapter will be too large to plan, shape and draft a proposal for organizing a cooperative to achieve specific goals.

5. Obtain support and approval of the entire class. A cooperative can succeed only when the majority understand and share a commitment to make it work. The potential members need to discuss the specific goals, suggest changes, and finally approve their plan.

6. Form a new committee to draft the bylaws. A cooperative is a legal corporation organized according to Missouri laws. The bylaws explain what the cooperative can do and how it shall be organized and function as a business.

7. Have class members conduct an organizational meeting. At this time class members can decide if they want to adopt the bylaws. If they do, the process of electing a board of directors and signing up members can begin. When the board of directors has been elected, it is time to employ a manager and to approve policies to guide the cooperative’s activities.

8. The cooperative carries out its functions. The manager carries out the day-to-day operation of business and ensures that the policies adopted by the board are followed. The manager hires the staff to conduct the business operation. The board monitors the operation and initiates any changes in the policies necessary to strengthen the cooperative.

9. Keep members informed and actively involved in the operation of the cooperative. The board is the direct contact between the members and the cooperative business. It is essential that members understand and approve the actions of the board and management. Two-way communication is of utmost importance and should be encouraged through meetings — annual or special, newsletters, advertisements, etc.

 

There are several short videos that provide an excellent overview of cooperatives.

 

For more information on the Create Your Own Cooperative Contest, email Kristi Livingston at LivingstonK@missouri.edu.

For more information on MIC, please contact:

Kristi Livingston | Education Coordinator | University of Missouri | 125D Mumford Hall | Columbia, MO | 65211-6200

Phone: 573-882-0140 | Fax: 573-882-3958 | Email: livingstonk@missouri.edu