Alan Green

Episode 1 - Getting Started with the NAAE My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules / Transcript

Blog Post created by Alan Green on Jun 29, 2020

https://www.naae.org/profdevelopment/podcast.cfm

 

Alan Green:

Welcome to Connect, a podcast by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. No matter how long you’ve been in the classroom, we as agricultural educators know the power that connections play in bettering ourselves as educators and strengthening our profession. Connect is a podcast by the National Association of Agriculture Educators and works to educate listeners about NAAE resources, inform them of new and innovative practices, and connect current and future agricultural educators and supporters. I'm your host, Alan Green - we are excited that you're here, so let's get started.

 

Hey there, welcome to the very first episode of Connect, which is a podcast that's produced by the National Association of Agriculture Educators. We are so excited to be launching this podcast series specifically for agricultural educators across the United States. This episode is made possible by the CHS Foundation, which is the charitable giving arm of CHS, Inc. In today's podcast, we'll be talking about the new NAAE My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules and learning more about the CHS Foundation and the resources available to you as agriculture educators. Now, before we get started, let's talk a little bit about one end of NAAE’s newest initiatives, which is called My Local Cooperative. My Local Cooperative is an initiative of the National Association of Agriculture Educators with funding support from the CHS Foundation as a special project of the National FFA Foundation. The initiative works to educate the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs about the benefits and opportunities of agricultural cooperatives.

 

Now, you might have never really thought about including cooperatives into your curriculum before, and if you have, there's a good chance that you weren't 100 percent sure where to start. Since its inception in 2018, NAAE has been working with talented curriculum writers and teachers to develop the My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules, which are free resources available to you as educators to teach about cooperatives in your classroom. Our first guest on today's episode is Mr. Wes Crawford, who is an agricultural educator at Sutherland High School in Oregon. Wes played a critical role in the development process of these modules and also facilitates workshops at National FFA Convention and NAAE Convention, introducing other agricultural educators to the modules. Wes, thanks for joining us!

 

Wes Crawford:

Good morning. How are you?

 

Alan Green:

Good. How are you?

 

Wes Crawford:

I'm well. We're just, you know, making it through this crazy spring that we're all dealing with. That's fine. And get ready for summer and moved on the next steps

 

Alan Green:

For sure. And thank you again for joining us. We talked a little bit about what the NAAE My Local Cooperative is and why NAAE launched the initiative. Wes can you talk specifically about what the My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules are?

 

Wes Crawford:

Absolutely. So the My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules are intended for teachers as well

as extension agents and others that are engaged in agricultural education, whether it's through school or outside of other programs as well. In order to help students and others understand about cooperatives, a lot of people might have heard that word, but they don't really know what it means or how it sits in our lives and don't realize just how often we are. We interact with cooperatives. And so these modules are instructional pieces that provide teachers, instructors, and presenters with the tools to help people understand what is an important part of agriculture. And it affects one in every three Americans every day.

 

Alan Green:

Awesome. Thank you. And, you know, one thing I think is important about why we have this is is a lot of people, when you think about the basics of agricultural education, you think about that, you know, the core things that we as ag teachers teach cooperatives don't come up very often. We don't necessarily always think about them. But you're right. They play a critical role in our economy, in our communities and in so many people are impacted by cooperatives that really it is an important part. We want our young people to understand the cooperative business model, to understand the career opportunities as well. My Local Cooperative consists of three modules. Each of those modules provides all of the information, all the tasks, the assessments. Can you talk a little bit about those three modules, what they include, maybe some of the topics that they brush up on?

 

Wes Crawford:  

Absolutely. So the first module, it's all about introducing a topic that, again, a lot of people aren't familiar with and probably couldn't differentiate what is the difference between a cooperative versus a corporation or any other business that they might interact with. And so the first step is to help understand what that means and what those components that make a cooperative unique. And like you say, they're an important part of the industry as well as that, especially in times of difficulty and perhaps uncertainty. They are a business model that can help operations and agricultural businesses and other businesses as well survive and make it through, as well as create opportunities that maybe they wouldn't have otherwise. And so it's just understanding what those might be. And what they do is up first module there. The second module then moves on to the application component of where does this fit? What does this look like? How can we start to do to learn with this? And then the third one takes it to a point where students actually go so far as to design, develop and launch their own cooperative, in an accessible but yet meaningful experience that they could do there at their school.

 

Alan Green:

As I was reading through the third one, I thought it reminded me of when I was in high school and our economics class in and we had to create a business or sell a product. But, you know, looking through the Instructional Modules, it's so applicable, like students are electing leaders, they're brainstorming, they're doing some financial planning. All of those are things that are so critical for our young people to understand and to have a grasp on it. I think that the modules do such a fantastic job of putting it into such an applicable lesson for our students. So we talked a little bit about the modules. Why were they developed in the first place? Can you brush up on that a little bit?

 

Wes Crawford:

For sure. Just like you mentioned earlier, when we talk about agricultural education and maybe some things that we focus on and some things that perhaps aren't always at the forefront, cooperatives is one of those. It's easy to get so busy with so many other things that that we have good resources for. Did the resources exist, to, for teachers to successfully teach cooperatives? And what we've seen, too, would presenting about this and sharing this with other teachers at the National FFA Convention, the National [Association] Agricultural Educators Convention, is that a lot of people aren't including that because they will have a lot of experience with it. They know what that is and they know how it fits, but they don't necessarily know how to teach that. And so giving teachers those tools and resources more than just a hundred page PDF of what cooperatives are, but actually crafting that and having it designed and the way to make it easily applicable to the classroom is really the goal of the modules and what they're put together for. And so that we can increase literacy about the ag industry and then specifically about cooperatives, as well as to help understand the job opportunities that come through cooperatives and why perhaps working in a job through a cooperative which that job might exist other places, but maybe there's some additional benefits, additional value, and values that come with working for a cooperative.

 

Alan Green:

For sure, and I'd like to come back on that good resource note that you added in there, because I think that that's such a critical part as for why ag teacher should include this in their lesson plans, where can teachers find My Local Cooperative modules?

 

Wes Crawford:

The modules can be found online through the NAAE website, www.naae.org, as well as going directly to to MyLocalCooperative.org.

 

Alan Green:

Perfect. And we'll also include a link to those modules in the show notes for this episode as well. Wes can you talk a little bit about how teachers can use the modules? You know, one thing is they're not necessarily an entire semester, entire course, but they are in a provide some really deep content. Where can teachers fit those in. nd how might a teacher use those in their curriculum?

                     

Wes Crawford:

There's some really flexible ways to do this. And so the modules being scaffolded the way they are, you could start with the beginning and perhaps it's just module one and maybe module two you use or maybe that's used with younger students, or you could be using all three with perhaps, older students, it kind of depends on your situation. But that's also one of the benefits of it, is that we're talking about a few days instruction here that really fits well into a whole range of courses and talking with teachers to and brainstorming, where can we use this?

 

Obviously, an ag business class or and ag leadership class makes a lot of sense. But there's also, depending on your region and the agriculture there, absolutely it could it be fitting into plant science, animal science or other general ag classes because of the fact that so many cooperatives that are involved in those different segments of the industry and so when it comes that this has flexibility to be as bigger, is more specific and focused as teachers want to use it, as well as be able to plug into a lot different areas that they're already teaching.

 

 

Alan Green:

Absolutely, and we're talking about the plant science and the animal science classes, I think it's important for students to understand not just that the science behind it and the basic information that we teach, but also understand how does it connect to the business level? How does it look like in terms of our local economy? That's a great point. West, one of the big things that agriculture teachers are in need of right now are resources is that can be transferred online, especially obviously, you know as  we're wrapping up this school year. But, you know, as we're looking at next year, some schools are looking at how do we provide a completely online format or a blended model. In your opinion, do you think that these materials transfer well online? How might you guide a teacher to adapt these modules to an online format?

 

Wes Crawford:

Obviously, these modules were designed to be taught in person with the classroom teacher and students to be able to do that. With that said, a lot of the content does have the potential and the ability to easily transfer online. I think that if we were totally online, there's some core content there that's put together that isn't just “sit and get” lecture heavy, but has the components there and the resources and links for our students to do some exploration on their own. And so with some pretty easy modification, the links already set up, the resources already set up, a teacher could move that to an online format. If they're doing a blended model, which for people that haven't heard that, that's where students are maybe there every other day and on their off day they’re at home with the intention of trying to decrease the number of students in the building at a time for distancing, depending on your situation where you’re at.

 

I think that also becomes actually pretty easy because some of those pieces can be done at home on their own. If students have access to resources and the ability to do that, of course, that would be the key thing. They would need to have probably internet access. I would say to access this as distance model, but I know a lot of students and school districts that work hard to do that. But then also because of the fact you're meeting some that time, the face to face in the interaction components, which are so important to the way some of this is taught, as well as just the concept of a cooperative and working with others makes it really doable. And even if you were a total distance, there's ways to, you know, facilitate student interaction at a distance. And that's real world right now is conducting businesses and coordinating in an online or in a virtual format. So we're really just demonstrating another way that they can, you know, people are overcoming these challenges and still getting the job done where it's needed. And doing that. So I think both are definitely doable. It just takes a little bit work on the teacher's part, but the content is  already there. It's just a matter of deciding, OK, how am I going to approach this now where they used to collaborate and how can I set that up? Either in that blending model or that total online that you describe there.

 

I would say probably the third module, you could still be doing something there where they design their own cooperative. That's probably the one that also could be farther down the road as we get through this. So when we get to a spot where we're able to reengage and maybe with some changes, and hopefully a more traditional format, then that could still absolutely be reached with a module where they do design their own and implement their own cooperative.

 

Alan Green:

Fantastic. These are what I would classify as a really good resource. I know as a first year teacher, I entered the classroom as an alternately certified teacher. One thing that was very challenging was finding resources that were more or less complete, that had everything in one package, in one spot. It gets very difficult when you're trying to, like, plug and play different things. Can you talk a little bit about the structure of the modules and what's all included if the teacher goes and downloads them?

 

Wes Crawford:

Yes, I totally agree that they did a great job putting these together with the total package in mind, that it's easily accessible to the teacher and easily to implement. I think that not only just for that first year teacher, which is great, who's developing that content and figure out where they want to put things, and nothing is more frustrating those first couple of years and just, you know, downloading a PowerPoint and calling out a lesson plan, that's really not it. Or you start finding stuff for sure. Here's a lesson plan. Here’s an outline and the outline say things like come up with an activity where they apply this. Will, thanks a lot. That's what I was looking for, as you live in survived by Google.

 

But here you have one that is ready to go. So the teacher notes are there on what to prepare for. And the pacing guide, as well as the PowerPoint visuals, which are all very short that you would utilize. And then the handouts for students, the guides for students, the materials that you would need are all listed there. And this one is very low intensive in terms of materials. Very easy to implement. Not talking about a lot of lab equipment or anything here. It's more about the content and then the creativity and the application that your students do. So I think that's great. I think also for the experience teacher and you know, it didn't take long before you really fill up your teaching calendar and you know, you know, the general things you want to do from August, September all the way through June.

 

But we also know that we kind of get complacent sometimes. We have these pieces that we've got in there. We put it in there and said, OK, that's good enough for now. But this is a good opportunity to upgrade that and to kick it up a notch and to have a resource that's there ready to go and to just improve what we're doing, because I don't have a lot of extra space in my teaching timeline. It's not like I was looking for something to do for a week or two.

 

But if I can improve what I'm doing and it gets easier on me as well, it's better for my students. And hey, that's a great plan. So that's where these modules are easy to use. And it definitely should be considered that way.

 

Alan Green:

Absolutely. And I would say, too, that for anyone who's listening, if you've ever been to a CASE institute or you're using CASE in your classroom, the modules follow very similar setup. The material list is there. Everything's provided. It is as complete as you can get. Wes, my last question for you today is, why do you think agriculture teachers should be including these modules in their classroom?

 

Wes Crawford:

We have available to us a great resource that was put together by talented writers as well as ag teachers teachers, that I was not one of those put together, so not to sell goes blown, you know, blown up my own reputation here. I've just been involved with being able to utilize it as well as help teachers understand it. But we have great industry support in putting this together, as well as great teachers that have helped write it. And that makes it usable.

 

It makes it relevant for sure, with what's going on in our industry. The opportunities for students and the focus on not just what cooperatives are, but the careers available in cooperatives is another great way to implement this into what we're doing and make it applicable and relevant to your students are looking to do in their near future. And so with those things in mind, it just makes it really easy to add this to what we're doing top grade, what we're doing in the classroom, and just improve the content  we're delivering to students, that also is going to help them with whatever it is they plan to do as they move forward. And the biggest thing we could do for students is just expand their horizons and help them understand the possibilities that are out there. And that's why agriculture education's so important in this day and age to help students recognize and realize just how many different things they can engage with and be part of as they move forward. They may maybe didn't know about. And this is a great example of that.

 

Alan Green:

Well Wes, thank you so much for joining us today for this podcast. Thank you for everything that you're doing for NAAE and for the work that you put in to make the My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules a reality.

 

Wes Crawford:

Thanks, Alan. Appreciate it.

 

Alan Green

Now that we've talked about My Local Cooperative and the Instructional Modules that are available for you to use in your classroom, we'd like to spend more time talking about our sponsor partner who's made My Local Cooperative possible, which is this CHS Foundation. Our next speaker is Ms. Nanci Lilja, who serves as the president for the CHS Foundation. Nanci, thank you so much for joining us today.

 

Nanci Lilja:

I'm happy to be here. Thanks for having me.

 

Alan Green:

And of course, as we mentioned before, Nanci is the president of the CHS Foundation, which is the charitable giving arm for CHS Inc. Nanci, for our listeners who may be aren’t familiar with or maybe who have never even heard of CHS or the CHS Foundation. Can you tell us a little bit more about the two of them and explain the difference between those two?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Yeah, absolutely. CHS, Inc. is actually the largest farmer owned cooperative in the United States supplying farmers and ranchers around the world with the inputs and outputs they need to be successful in their farming operations. The CHS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization, a charitable organization, and it's funded exclusively by charitable gifts from CHS, so our roots at the foundation are clearly, very deeply invested in agriculture.

 

Alan Green:

Wonderful. Can you talk a little bit about the mission of this CHS Foundation and what it does for the agriculture industry?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Of course. Well, given our roots in agriculture, we have a mission that really is all around making a lasting and a measurable impact on rural America and on the ag industry as a whole. And we do that by investing in programs that we believe are going to develop ag leaders for lifelong success in this industry. You've probably seen there was an employment outlook that was published by Purdue University within the last year or two, and that reported that the USDA is predicting that about 58,000 jobs involving food, and ag, and renewable resources are going to be open in the United States annually, but with only 35,000 qualified grads to fill those roles. So that's just about 60 percent of the need. So, we know that our mission to develop future ag leaders is really quite relevant and that there's just a clear need for a stronger pipeline of talent going into agriculture.

 

We believe we're working to help fill that pipeline by kind of focusing our work in four areas, and I'll tell you a little bit about each one of those. So, the first area is around cooperative education, where we're essentially just working to really advance the cooperative system by promoting education that is rigorous, that’s relevant, and that's engaging to this younger generation or this new generation that we're looking to develop.

 

And, of course, our work with National Association of Ag Educators fits pretty squarely within that focus. We're also working with a network of colleges and universities to support students who've already chosen that career in agriculture. And we're working to provide them with support in curriculum, support in programs. We provide many grants. We provide scholarships. I'm actually pretty excited to note that just this last week we announced that the foundation is going to make a $5000 contribution to the student emergency funds at each one of our 25 colleges and universities. And that's really to kind of extend the safety net for those students and assist them with some of the challenges caused by COVID19 and whether that's through loss of income or financial support, whether it's lack of resources to be able to engage remotely, just anything we can do to help keep those students in school and engaged. And I think that action probably demonstrates quite clearly are our very strong support of students in very difficult circumstances.

 

A third area focus area for us is around growing youth leadership programs and those programs that are really engaging students, developing those soft skills and helping prepare them to be really meaningful contributors in the ag industry. And so that includes support of a whole host of organizations like FFA and National 4H, Ag Future of America, Ag in the Classroom and a variety of others. And then finally, we're working to accelerate the potential for careers in agriculture. And we're doing that primarily with the National Teach Ag Organization. And we know they're out there recruiting and retaining teachers at that high school level. And we know those are the teachers that are going to inspire and prepare students for success in the ag industry. So that's an overview of what our overall mission is and the areas we focus on in attempting to accomplish that mission.

 

Alan Green:

And I love that statement, developing future ag leaders, because as I think of what we do as agricultural educators and what the CHS Foundation is, ya know, they overlap there. They work together and it really provides that base for such a natural partnership. CHS Foundation has played such a critical role and has just been such a phenomenal partner for the National Association of Agricultural Educators to work with for many years on. The CHS Foundation has been the title sponsor partner for the NAAE National Teach Ag Campaign. They provide scholarships for teachers to attend CASE institute trainings and so many more opportunities. In 2018, the CHS Foundation provided funding for NAAE to launch the My Local Cooperative initiative, providing school based agriculture educators with resources to teach about agriculture cooperatives. Nanci, can you talk a little bit about why the CHS Foundation made the decision to provide the investment of cooperative education with NAAE?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Yeah, absolutely. I think going back to our roots, we just believe very strongly in that cooperative business model, in the cooperative principles that support that model and just the relevance of that model within the ag industry. We also think that educating young leaders around that cooperative model is really the key to maintaining the strength of that cooperative system just far into the future. As you mentioned, we provided that funding to end the NAAE in 2018 to really take some of those materials I talked about earlier that are out there and that exist around cooperative education, but are probably, for the most part in print form, quite dated, and just not particularly engaging or relevant to today's youth who often want to learn in a very different way.

 

So our idea was to invest in and just some newer and some more innovative approaches to coop ed, so we really just set out to invest in newer and more innovative approaches to cooperative education that incorporate digital and other relevant technologies, and that can provide for that kind of hands on and more visual learning that we hope is at least a bit more attractive and engaging to today's youth.

 

Alan Green:

Awesome. That's wonderful. One thing that we discussed with Wes who is on the podcast right before this interview is that when we're talking about agriculture cooperatives, they play such a critical role in our economy and our local communities. And quite frankly, a lot of people who maybe are disconnected from agriculture or students or other people, they don't necessarily understand that. They don't realize how critical they are to our industry. Why do you think it's important for students to learn about agriculture cooperatives?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Well, I think, first of all, the cooperative business model is quite unique, especially as you compare it to a much more common business model like the corporation or the partnership or the limited liability company that are much more familiar to people. We also know that the coop business model is very rarely included in the curriculum at the K through 12 or even at the undergrad level. So first, we believe there's just an education gap that needs to be addressed.

 

And again, we see agriculture and cooperatives as being extremely well tied together. There's a great partnership there in advancing farmers and ranchers and and their value to feeding the world, their value to their communities, their value to their local co-ops, in addition to larger co-ops at the regional level. There's just a great partnership there and the model works very, very well. And so we need students to understand that and to recognize it and to differentiate it, co-op model from other business forms and why it's different and how it's different and how that impacts agriculture.

 

Alan Green:

Nanci, the next question that I have for you is somewhat twofold. And you've talked a little bit about this, I think, in your first answer. First, does the CHS Foundation had any type of resources or programs that might be of interest for agricultural educators to explore or take advantage of?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Yeah, I think there's a number of programs out there, a couple come to mind. Certainly the My Local Coop program that and NAAE has developed for us. I mean, that's just a fabulous program that includes a website that hosts a variety of cooperative education materials. But more importantly, it has three complete curriculum modules that are available to educators across the country at no charge. And they focus on the co-op principles, the basics of that co-op business model and really the critical role that co-ops play in agriculture, which I think are all just critically important points to students and that educators can bring to them.

 

Another program that comes to mind is the AgCultures program that we developed in conjunction with the University of Minnesota that provides an opportunity for students to essentially take virtual field trips around the United States as well as in South America and Europe, to view agriculture from a different perspective and similar to the my local co-op platform, AgCultures also provides complete standard based curriculums to correspond with those field trips. So those are probably two that come quickly to mind, and there's probably others as well.

 

Alan Green:

We'll make sure to provide a link to both of those resources in the show notes for this episode. And the second part. What are some of those resources that the CHS Foundation has that high school students or college students might want to explore as well?

 

Nanci Lilja:

That's a great question, Alan. And I think there's probably a lot of resources out there for high school and college students, and I'm sure I won't think of them all. But a couple that come to mind are, as I mentioned earlier, we have partnerships with about 25 colleges and universities. And through those partnerships, we are providing scholarships and mini grants annually to students. And so if you go out to our website, you can see all of the colleges and universities that are in our program. And I would encourage students certainly to apply for scholarship dollars if they are attending one of those programs.

 

We also sponsor rural youth leadership development programs in many states. I think they're often referred to as LEAD programs, we host or participate in the New Century Farmer program, as well as a couple of spinoff programs from that that are more targeted to specific career paths. So those are the few of the opportunities that I would direct students to.

 

Alan Green

Thanks for sharing those resources and I know that our listeners and our teachers will find those extremely valuable. And as we're wrapping up our conversation about cooperative education and the CHS Foundation, my last question for you is, is what do you want agricultural educators and NAAE members to know about this CHS Foundation and their investment in agricultural educators?

 

Nanci Lilja:

Well, I think a couple things. First, we know that every day there is a decreasing percentage of our population that has a direct connection to the farm. So teachers are more and more becoming that connection to agriculture that students really do need. We also know the ag industry needs students that are learning those fundamentals of agriculture through hands-on, stem-based education. And so in order to meet that demand, we need we need well-rounded educators that can share those messages and foster that interest.

 

I think, secondly, we just plain believe in agriculture. And we also understand very clearly that it is those talented educators and the students they inspire who are going to lead this industry into the future.

 

We recognize the passion that ag educators bring to their roles and their ability to inspire students with that passion. So we know educators are playing just a really vital role in influencing the next generation of ag leaders. And so we want to support that role in a very strong and meaningful way.

Alan Green:

Well, Nanci, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for everything that you do and that your team does and the CHS Foundation does to support agricultural educators, cooperatives and the agriculture industry as well. Take care, Nanci.

 

Nanci Lilja:

Thank you very much. I appreciate the time.

 

 

 

If you're interested in learning more about My Local Cooperative, the instructional modules we discussed earlier, or about the CHS Foundation resources that Nanci just shared with us, we encourage you to check out our episodes show notes which can be found at www.naae.org/podcast. We'll be publishing a set of show notes that provides links and additional resources to the topics we discussed in each episode on our website. You can also learn more about the NAAE My Local Cooperative support grants, where agricultural educators can apply for a $100 dollar grant to purchase materials to support the delivery of these modules, or to help offset costs associated with off-site field experiences, as well as information about hosting My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules workshop at the state, regional and national level. Again, you can access these resources by visiting www.naae.org/podcast.

 

We'd again like to thank Mr. WesCrawford and Ms. Nanci Lilja for joining us for this episode and for the CHS Foundation for making the My Local Cooperative Instructional Modules possible. The CHS Foundation is funded by charitable gifts from CHS Inc. and since 1956 has been committed to making a long lasting and measurable impact on rural America on behalf of their farmer owners.

 

Thank you for joining us for the very first episode of Connect, a podcast by the National Association of Agricultural Educators. It's always hard to say goodbye, but we'll be back with more episodes to help you build even more connections to help you grow as a professional. If you'll like what you heard, we'd love to have you subscribe, rate, or give us a review on iTunes or whatever platform you used so we can connect more agricultural educators to our podcast. Until next time!

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