Cooperative Network presented awards, seated a new board, reviewed its legislative agenda and looked ahead at challenges for cooperatives during the organization’s annual meeting held in November in La Crosse. The conference theme was “Cooperatives See the Future.”

Timothy Diemert of Friendship, Wade Hensel of Mankato, Minn., and Joan Wade of Ripon received the 2018 Cooperative Builder Award, the association’s highest honor. The award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions at the local, state or national level to advance cooperative philosophy and ideals. Diemert, Hensel and Wade are cooperative builders in the fields of agriculture, energy, food, research, education and beyond. They have served as mentors and coaches, leading by example and keenly aware of their responsibility to build up the next generation of leaders for future success.

Future leaders were recognized with the seating of the 2018-19 Cooperative Network board of directors under the leadership of Board Chairman Bill Zuhlke, Land O’Lakes. The board welcomed six new members: Jeremiah DeGollon, Summit Credit Union; Sadie Frericks, Land O’Lakes; Perry Aasness, Compeer Financial; Jeff Nielsen, 40 Square Cooperative Solutions; Scott Cordes, CHS Inc.; and Patrick Laws, Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies.

In addressing the membership, President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel Smith shared that he is aware of the great responsibility his position holds: “Cooperative Network supports cooperatives of all sizes, from a dozen business sectors across two states. While that presents a great challenge, it also presents a great opportunity to engage on behalf of all cooperatives. The cooperative business model is not just a means of providing goods and services. It is a model of cooperation, communication and community.”