While representing Chippewa Valley Technical College earlier this month at a major conference focusing on farming cooperatives, Dylan Warzynski helped prepare himself for life after college.
Warzynski, a second-semester student in CVTC’s Agriscience Technician program, was among a group of more than 90 students from twelve states invited to Minneapolis to participate in the College Conference on Cooperatives. Sponsored by the Cenex Harvest States Foundation and hosted by the National Farmers Union Foundation, the event included participants from Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois, Texas, Vermont, North Dakota, Montana and Colorado.
“I learned how being a member of an agricultural cooperative can help my career in the future,” Warzynski said. “Someday I want to be part of a cooperative.”
During the four-day conference, experts from across the United States, including cooperative leaders, farmers, and government experts, explained the latest challenges facing farm co-ops. Conference participants also toured a variety of housing, retail and marketing cooperatives in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
“I learned that co-ops can be very different,” Warzynski said. “I learned about co-ops involving grocery stores, energy suppliers, even sporting goods stores.”
Conference presenters included members, directors, employees and managers of traditional and value-added agricultural cooperatives. Also offering their insights were representatives of electric, housing, and worker-owned co-ops, as well as consumer cooperatives such as credit unions and natural foods co-ops.
Representatives from recently-established cooperatives and the Peace Corps spoke about their experiences in cooperative development projects around the United States and abroad.
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson described the conference as “an opportunity to teach young people about cooperative business principles and history, to introduce them to a wide variety of co-ops, and to show them that there are great careers in strong, ethical and community-minded businesses.”
Warzynski grew up on the family farm in Almond, a small community south of Stevens Points, where he still keeps 30 head of beef cattle. At CVTC he is completing both the animal science and agronomy emphases in the Agriscience Technician program.