October 23, 2019 by Julie Elliott, President
Co-ops are in my blood.
My earliest memory of a co-op was growing up on the farm where we were not served by the co-op but my Uncle Dale across the road was. I remember when the power would go off, my dad would head to the dining room window to see if Uncle Dale’s lights were on and have some colorful comments if they were.
Fast forward to age 20, now a junior in the Missouri School of Journalism, I wrote a feature article on the 50th anniversary of Boone Electric and I was officially hooked. I created an internship and worked at Boone through the rest of my time at Mizzou, helping out with communications and mowing the lawn for extra income. The opportunities there cemented my career pathway. Actually, I had two co-op internships – the other with Today’s Farmer Magazine, an MFA publication, where interestingly I wrote a feature article about Cooperative Month.
After nearly 10 years as Manager of Marketing and Communication at Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, I launched Inside Information and now work with more than 300 co-ops across the country helping them better understand and communicate with members. It’s the perspective of a co-op vendor partner that I want to comment on for Cooperative Month. At Inside Information, we find co-ops to be:
Trustworthy – The people and the co-ops we work with are marked by integrity. The genuine concern for not only the members they serve, but also in the partner relationships like ours is quite evident and much appreciated.
A Joy to Work With – Our staff members who didn’t have previous co-op experience are now co-op people even though they haven’t worked at a co-op! We say we are an extension of our clients’ staff, and our employees truly feel they are part of Team Co-op.
Innovative – Our clients are committed to continually improving processes and services. We have firsthand experience with co-ops leveraging data and technology to better understand and serve their members.
We all have our own co-op stories. As I reflect on mine, I am thankful for all the people who invested in me as an intern, an employee and now as a vendor partner. Cooperative Month is a great time to think about the seeds that have been planted in our careers and in the lives of those we serve.
I recently found the paper I submitted after my internships which contained these prophetic words: “I found it interesting to learn about the cooperative principles of member ownership,” I wrote. “I’ve known about co-ops but never understood how they worked until this summer.” Boy have I had the opportunity to continue learning more about how cooperatives work!
Most cooperatives have now passed their 80th anniversaries which gives a clue about how long it’s been since my junior reporter days at MU. One of these days I’ll be retiring (not too soon), and it makes my heart happy to think that Inside Information has a vibrant future working with, and for, the cooperatives I’ve grown to love so much.