In this day of social media and the digital world, a lot can happen in a day.
But for three days, July 6-8, 18 juniors and seniors from across South Dakota learned countless real-world things about cooperatives. The Minnesota trip rewarded their completion of three years of leadership activities through South Dakota Farmers Union.
South Dakota Farmers Union Education Director Rachel Haigh-Blume says, "It's important for them to see how cooperatives work in urban environments and get new ideas. Seeing different types of cooperatives first hand really open their minds."
One such cooperative was a housing initiative started by students at the University of Minnesota. The trip also included stops at an organic food cooperative, CHS Inc. and REI consumer cooperative, where students had the opportunity to ask questions, get professional and internship advice, and see each in action.
Justin Goetz, a 16-year-old junior from Selby, says, "I learned a lot from touring all the different types of co-ops out there. I especially loved learning more about CHS. It really opened my eyes to how much more goes into farming then just what the farmer does."
"The whole experience has helped me as a leader and how I can really help with the cooperatives in my own community," says junior Bree Weidenbach, a 17-year-old from Canistota. "I can teach others in my school and help them understand the benefits and join up."
To emphasize the importance of the trip, Haigh-Blume adds, "When farming in hard times, it's good for the kids to know there are other business models out there, like a cooperative to help keep small towns alive.as well as have a little fun."
Goetz agrees, "Going to the Twins game and getting behind the scenes was not only an amazing experience but also a learning venture too."
Youth who attended three-year cooperative education trip to Minneapolis include: back row, left to right: Megan Hanson, Britton; Karly Schaunaman, Aberdeen; Abby Dethlefsen, Stickney; Brenna Johnson, Groton; Haley Keizer, Plankinton; Jennifer Hanson, Britton; Caleb Nugteren, Canistota; Hannah Sumption, Frederick; Bree Weidenbach, Canistota; Jim Brockel, Shadehill; Nick Snedeker, Woonsocket; Skylar Cox, Frederick; Justin Goetz, Herreid; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney; and Joseph Nugteren, Canistota. Front row, left to right: Marissa Holinka, Watertown; Cassidy Keller, Cansitota; and Katherine Oberembt, Ethan.
by Christina Dexter, SDFU Communications Specialist
The 2017-2018 Junior Advisory Council were elected during Farmers Union State Leadership Camp. From left to right they include: Hannah Sumption, Frederick; Joseph Nugteren, Canistota; Marissa Holinka, Watertown; Jim Brockel, Shadehill; Dalton Gerlach, Stickney; and Haley Keizer, Plankinton.
What is an everyday hero? This was a question considered by campers during the 2017 S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp as they elected a six-member Junior Advisory Council (JACs).
Before ballots were handed out, campers were asked to discuss what being an everyday hero meant to them and how they could be an everyday hero in the lives of others. During the week-long camp, campers had the opportunity to put their thoughts into action, serving as everyday heroes in the lives of dozens of hungry families by assisting Feeding America. As a team, campers helped pack hundreds of pounds of food to be distributed to families in need.
"This year I really hope that campers take away the importance of being someone's everyday hero," explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "You can have a large impact on your neighbors without having to spend a lot of money. Our time at Feeding America hopefully showed the campers how much you can accomplish together in little time."
Rock hound and fourth-generation Dixon farmer, Terry Springer, 65, says when he's outdoors he's always on the lookout for a stone that catches his eye.
"Ever since I was a little boy, I've been walking around with my head down," explains Terry, who over a lifetime has amassed a rare and extensive rock collection.
Terry's collection boasts ancient arrow heads, mammoth bones, fossilized wood, rose quartz, moss rock and other unique geologic specimens.
Many of the rocks were discovered on the land his great-grandparents and great-great-uncle first farmed in the early 1900s - the land where today, he and his brother, Wayne, 60, continue the family's farming legacy. Together they raise corn, small grains, forage and a cow/calf-to-finish-direct-marketing beef operation, Springer Farms.
"I like living in the country and being my own boss. I enjoy working with cattle and being out working in nature," says Wayne, who at 19 bought the farm neighboring the land his great-great-uncle Hans homesteaded near Gregory.
When the neighbors were ready to retire, Wayne explains that they asked him if he was interested in the land because they knew he would take care of it.
"Even in the late '70s investors were buying up farm ground around here. They sold the land to me because, in their own words, "they wanted their farm to remain a working farm and didn't want it to become an abandoned homestead,'" Wayne says.
He adds that the land he owns was originally purchased by his great-grandfather Carl in 1904, one year after it was homesteaded.
Carl lost the farm during the Dirty Thirties.
The brothers can empathize with the challenges their grandfather faced.
HURON, S.D. - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue authorized the release of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota for emergency haying. The announcement follows urgent requests from National Farmers Union (NFU), state Farmers Union divisions, agriculture groups and legislators for the USDA to address severe drought conditions in the Upper Great Plains.
South Dakota Farmers Union President, Doug Sombke, was among a group of state Farmers Union presidents who sent a letter to Perdue June 20, 2017, urging him to release CRP acres.