The Federated Youth Foundation (FYF) marked its 40th year in 2011 with record contributions, record income, and record distribution in educational efforts and charitable contributions. Among the education efforts was a first-of-its-kind cooperative education program initiated by Taylor Electric Cooperative and developed in partnership with the Taylor County Association of Cooperatives for the Medford School District. FYF sponsored the project.
Taylor Electric Director and FYF Board Member Brian Kulas spoke about the cooperative education program at the FYF annual meeting, held in conjunction with Cooperative Network’s annual meeting Nov. 14–16 in Rochester, Minn. The two-day curriculum was presented to Medford School District fifth-graders and consisted of a day’s worth of education about the cooperative form of business, culminating with a hands-on exercise in cooperation in which students broke into small groups to create a 30-second radio ad posing the question, “Why should someone be a member of a cooperative?” Leaders from each of the county’s six co-ops chose one student group’s ad to be recorded at the local radio station. The winning commercial was aired 126 times during October for Co-op Month.
“We think it’s a real great program,” Kulas said. “It’s been a real success for us and we had a great time doing it.”
The six county cooperatives involved in the project provided the funds for all the program’s costs, including the $100-per-day stipend for a substitute teacher who was trained to teach the curriculum. Curriculum materials were distributed at the meeting for other co-op leaders to take back to their own districts.
“We’re very hopeful that maybe two or three more cooperatives will take this program to their own districts,” said FYF Executive Director David Erickson in his remarks. “After all, these young people are our future members and future leaders.”
In addition to sponsoring the cooperative education program, FYF awarded 480 scholarships totaling $294,350 and made 133 charitable contributions to support community causes in 2011.
FYF President Todd Rosvold, of Pulaski Chase Cooperative, noted the foundation continues to run efficiently, with the $427,183 in total 2011 distributions accounting for nearly 23 percent of the foundation’s portfolio. He also said a priority for 2012 is increasing statewide communication efforts with an enhanced and updated web site.
Erickson also listed membership development as a priority, with the goal of adding three new members in 2012. He said with declines in donations of unclaimed funds, thanks in part to mergers resulting in fewer cooperatives, the foundation must also emphasize that co-ops can designate sources other than unclaimed funds as FYF donations, and individual contributions can be accepted as well.
Cheri Gibeaut, Adams–Columbia Electric director and FYF secretary/treasurer, presented Erickson with a proclamation of appreciation from the Adams–Columbia Electric board of directors for his service to FYF. The proclamation also acknowledged Erickson’s honorary FFA degree, which he received in 2011 in recognition of his work with youth. Rosvold was also given a plaque of appreciation for his service as president of the FYF board.
In elections, Kulas was unanimously re-elected to the board, and Brad Welp of Richland–Grant Telephone Cooperative was elected to fill Rosvold’s seat. Kulas was elected board president. Oconto Electric’s Tony Wagner, representing the Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, was elected vice president, and Gibeaut was re-elected secretary–treasurer.