Co-ops Make an Impact on Youth in Northeastern Montana

By Guy Gregory
MCDC Communications Specialist


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GNDC Executive Director Tori Matejovsky speaks to Wolf Point Junior High School students about local co-op career opportunities.

Cooperative business leaders from across three Northeastern Montana counties celebrated Cooperative Impact Week May 7-9, which highlighted the economic impact their co-ops have on the region. The Great Northern Development Corporation (GNDC) and the Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) traveled to four communities (Poplar, Glasgow, Wolf Point, and Scobey) and three schools (Fort Peck Community College, Wolf Point High School, and Scobey High School) to tell the history of cooperatives in Montana and local co-op careers that are available to young people in this area.

On Monday, May 7th, MCDC Executive Director Janice Brown and GNDC Executive Director Tori Matejovsky were morning guests on RezKast, the new online radio station broadcasting from Poplar.  Brown and Matejovsky met briefly with the Fort Peck Tribal Council as well as the Tribe’s planning and economic development staff where they identified needs for potential new cooperatives. A lunch presentation at Fort Peck Community College’s Poplar campus drew students and faculty interested in learning more about the co-op business model.

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NorVal Electric Cooperative Manager Craig Herbert (center) speaks to a public gathering.

Later that afternoon in Glasgow, NorVal Electric Cooperative hosted a public reception where Manager Craig Herbert detailed the electric services NorVal provides to almost 2,000 member-owners in Valley, Daniels, and Roosevelt counties.   The first day concluded with a public “meet and greet” at the Cattleman’s Cut Restaurant east of Wolf Point.  GNDC and MCDC led a public conversation on the economic impact of cooperatives in Northeastern Montana.

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Students at Wolf Point High School learn about different types of cooperatives while watching “Montana Co-ops 101: Introduction & History”.

On Tuesday, May 8, MCDC and GNDC were guests at both Wolf Point and Scobey High Schools.  Brown spoke to junior high finance and high school business classes at Wolf Point and addressed an all-school assembly in Scobey.

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Scobey High School students learn about the different types of co-ops in Montana, to include Crucible, the state’s newest worker-owned cooperative.

Students learned about Montana cooperative history and career opportunities as well as the benefits of co-op membership.  During her presentation, she showed each class videos that highlighted the different types of cooperatives currently operating in the state.

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Panel Discussion on Economic Impacts of Northeastern Montana’s major cooperative sectors at Nemont Headquarters.

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A public panel discussion at Nemont Headquarters (pictured left to right are: Nemont Sales/Marketing Manager Leif Handran, MCDC Executive Director Janice Brown,  PRO Co-op General Manager Tanner Trower, and Sheridan Electric Co-op Marketing/Member Services Manager Scott Westlund

Later that evening, Brown moderated a panel discussion among three area co-op leaders hosted at Nemont headquarters in Scobey.  Nemont Sales and Marketing Manager Leif Handran spoke about the telecommunication co-op’s role in providing multiple services to their rural member-owners that include land and cellular phone services, internet and television.  PRO Co-op General Manager Tanner Trower briefly described the history of how seven cooperatives in Northeastern Montana came together to form the current co-op that serves agricultural producers across three counties.  Scott Westlund, Marketing and Member Services Manager for Sheridan Electric Co-op, emphasized the importance of cooperative principle #7, “Concern for Community”.  Westlund shared how employees at Sheridan Electric Co-op volunteer in many different community service organizations.

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A public panel discussion at Nemont Headquarters involved local co-op leaders. (pictured left to right are: GNDC SBDC Director Shandy Hanks,  Nemont Sales/Marketing Manager Leif Handran, PRO Co-op General Manager Tanner Trower, MCDC Executive Director Janice Brown, Sheridan Electric Co-op Marketing/Member Services Manager Scott Westlund, and GNDC Executive Director Tori Matejovsky.

Cooperative Impact Week concluded with an appreciation BBQ sponsored by CHS/AG Partners at which local cooperative managers and employees learned more about the range of services and job opportunities afforded by cooperatives.

The Northeastern Montana Cooperative Impact Week was funded in part by a Cooperative Education Grant from the CHS Foundation (funded by charitable gifts), the Montana Farmers Union, and the Montana Council of Cooperatives.


MTCOOPIMPACTWEEK webpage header  ⇒MONTANA COOPERATIVE IMPACT WEEKS PAGE (click here)

 

About Montana Cooperative Development Center (64 Articles)
The Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote and develop cooperatives to meet the economic and community needs of rural Montana.

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