Cooperatives have celebrated Co-op Month in October for more than 50 years, and as a cooperative business ourselves, we are proud to participate here at CROPP. “It is a time for cooperative businesses to reflect on their shared principles and to educate others about the value of belonging to a cooperative,” says the Cooperative Network, one of the leaders of the movement.

A mural in the school hallway that says Power of We. We put our students on a pedestal. It's called education.

At Organic Valley, we believe it’s important to serve and give back to our local communities. We call this program the Power of We because when we all work together, we can change the world.

A mural of two wind turbines surrounded by pollinators and sunflowers, with the caption Windsome Way.

As part of their Co-op Month partnership with Organic Valley, the local schoolkids learned about wind power and other forms of renewable energy, and about the importance of pollinators and conserving their habitat.

Co-ops are in more places than you might think—agriculture, finance, retail, energy, insurance, and more. Nearly any service can be provided through a cooperative model. The primary defining factor is that the business is owned by its members, but beyond that, cooperatives can be incredibly different! As Adam Schwartz of the Cooperative Way says, “If you’ve seen one co-op, you’ve seen one co-op.”

Eight schoolchildren pose in front of a giant paper barn erected around the door of their classroom.

Local schoolkids had a great time doing Co-op Month activities with Organic Valley visitors. This group decorated the entrance to their classroom to look like a barn!

This year’s theme is “Cooperatives Commit.” At CROPP, we commit to co-ops in numerous ways.

We’re committed to giving our members a fair and sustainable pay price.

To giving our employees good employment and meaningful work.

To sourcing ingredients from other cooperatives whenever possible.

To preserving and reinvigorating family farming culture for future generations.

To doing our part to keep our planet healthy.

Theresa Westaby, CROPP dairy farmer from Illinois, says, “Why is Organic Valley special? Because we really do want to succeed financially, but even more, we want to succeed in how we live our lives and how we can affect others with that goodness.”

Organic Valley employees visit a local classroom to lead a discussion about what it means to be a cooperative.

We can say all sorts of good things about cooperatives, but sometimes the truest words come from the mouths of children.

So to conclude our Co-op Month celebration, we asked a few 4th and 5th graders near CROPP Cooperative’s Wisconsin headquarters, what cooperation means to them. Here is what they had to say:

“To me cooperation is working together, but in order to do that you need to communicate with each other. You have to be willing to step in and help each other. you have to cooperate.”

-Tinasha, 5th Grade

 

“Another way I think about cooperation is working things out, like making a deal between people that suits them.”

-Hailey, 4th Grade

 

“Cooperation to me means being helpful and to use teamwork like my family.”

-Chloe, 5th Grade

 

“I think cooperation is a wonderful thing that the world needs more of.”

-Evan, 4th Grade


Now its your turn! Comment below and share what cooperation means to you.