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Cooperatives: A positive impact on communities

Published: Oct. 15, 2021 at 10:57 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Local cooperatives not only support producers, but the employees of these cooperatives give back to local communities in many ways.

During a recent visit to a field days event with Aurora Cooperative, we caught up with Dawn Caldwell to talk about this subject. “When we think about Aurora Cooperative, we are in some 86 communities across the U.S.,” Caldwell said. “We work really hard to be big enough to supply our farmers the speed and technology they need to be extremely successful farmers. Yet, we act small in their communities. That means giving back, being on those local fire departments, working as EMTs, contributing to community benefit programs, schools, FFA programs and all of those things that matter to the members who are a part of our cooperative.”

Our interview took place at Aurora Cooperative’s ‘owners acres’. “This is a unique site for Aurora Cooperative,” Caldwell said. “Here we utiltize different seeds, different traits and genetics, and you see Prairie Valley, our seed brand behind us. We use all of the fertilizer techniques, and other crop protection techniques, to know what we can do to best advice the farmer-owner. We have research plots like this across the U.S. So we can advise best where the farmer lives.” The ‘owners acres’ concept is another example of how cooperatives benefit producers.

We also talked with Danielle Scheele, who is an employee with Aurora Cooperative. She is another example of the kind of employee who enjoys working at the cooperative, and gives back the small town she calls home. “I grew up in a rural community,” Scheele said. “Some things aren’t there anymore like they were years ago. We need young people to come back. I believe that’s important. That’s why I serve on the local fire department. We have three generations on there right now. If I’m not there to do it, and these guys are getting older or retiring, who’s going to be there? I see the value in that. I do little league softball coaching. All of those volunteer things that now my kids are learning, and I learned that from my grandparents. We have 800 employees at Aurora Cooperative, and many of them are involved locally, to keep rural America going.”

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