Over the past year the Gen-O Executive Committee has been diving deep into the meaning and purpose of the program. Over the years, the program has served different roles within the co-op, but one thing that has remained constant is the goal to connect and unite the next generation of farmers from all over the country.
With the guidance and support from leaders in the cooperative, the executive committee created the Gen-O work plan. The plan is designed to set the groundwork for goals and initiatives that will help the Gen-O program be dynamic and successful.
Three pillars were created to focus on the areas that can develop and strengthen the connection among Gen-O members and provide opportunities for learning and growth. The three pillars of the plan are guidance, engagement, and networking. The pillars managed by three executive committee (EC) members so that specific attention can be paid to each.
EC members spent a lot of time redefining the mission and vision for the Gen-O program. Since our membership represents young farmers with diverse backgrounds, it’s important that everyone is represented. In forming the work plan, committee members felt a fundamental responsibility to reflect the Gen-O mission. In regard to the Gen-O vision, the EC members wanted the work plan to reflect a future that all members can continue to engage in and work toward together.
It’s been a long process, and committee members are excited to put the Gen-O work plan into action and start receiving member feedback! As always, we encourage everyone to reach out to Maija or an EC member with ideas and suggestions on events. If you’d like to learn more about the work plan, reach out! We are looking forward to a great year with exciting opportunities!
Pillars of the Gen-O Work Plan
G is for Guidance by Julia Hudyncia
We are always seeking advice and guidance from the experts within the co-op. The “G” pillar is guidance, and the goal of the committee is to develop educational opportunities for taking on leadership responsibilities and decisions, and to find ways that Gen-Os can have an impact at regional meetings and offer skills training.
One goal of the Gen-O “G” committee is to develop a better understanding of the structure of Organic Valley cooperative. Another is to showcase the opportunities Gen-O events offer members at our regional meetings. Our third goal is to create more skills trainings and workshops that focus on the growth of our young Organic Valley farmers, our co-op’s next generation of leaders.
Our goals are works in progress, and we seek your ideas or input; please feel free to reach out! “G” pillar committee members are Julia Hudyncia, Matthew Choiniere and Ben Turnbow.
E is for Engagement by Ross Bansen
The “E” or engagement pillar was put together to provide Gen-Os with opportunities to interact with consumers and others in the organic industry. Ross Bansen, Jordan Settlage and Nathan Koester are the leads for this pillar.
The idea of the engagement pillar stemmed from the idea to start a podcast—interviewing young co-op members and telling their farm stories. We also wanted to grow our relationship with Organic Valley’s Farmers in Marketing group and seek out continued opportunities there.
We met with marketing staff and learned what they are doing to help market our products and what resonates with consumers. From these conversations, we found ways to assist the marketing department with some of their objectives.
We also learned about the challenges of starting a podcast—the resources and skills we needed to be successful. So at this time, instead of going forward with that program, we are going to put our focus toward helping the marketing department connect with and publicize some of the outstanding farm projects our Gen-O members have come up with.
If you would like to help out with marketing projects, or have ideas to share through stories, photos, videos or social media, please let us know and we will definitely keep you in mind as opportunities to get involved come up! Don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the Gen-O Executive Committee members or Maija if you have any questions.
N is for Networking by Lauren Perkins
The “N,” or networking, pillar of the Gen-O work plan is being led by EC members Andrew Ranck, Bob Osterloh and me. The goal of this pillar is to foster relationships within CROPP.
The initiatives we set for this goal include sharing among Gen-O members things such as farm hacks or on-farm projects, planning and hosting Gen-O Gatherings, producing Gen-O Rising and providing Gen-Os with expanded opportunities to engage in the co-op.
The group aims to keep Gen-O members current with important information and provide educational articles through Gen-O Rising and social media outlets. We met with Farmer Communications and Outreach Manager Jenny Bernhardt and discussed the role of the Gen-Os within the co-op’s broader membership.
The questions we discussed serve as guides to help us choose article topics and know what opportunities to share with the members based on their locations and potential interests.
The group is considering moving Gen-O Rising toward quarterly publications with issues in March, June, September and December.
With all of these potential changes coming, we want to hear from you! We encourage anyone who has suggestions on topics to write about or that would like to write an article for Gen-O Rising to reach out to Maija, Andrew, Bob or me.
Be sure to check out our Facebook page, Farmers of Generation Organic to see discussion posts and connect with other Gen-O members from across the country!