Co-op Application Info, Tips, & Tricks

By: Jenny Webb, Illinois Farm Bureau Membership and Program Specialist

Local cooperatives are something that farmers and consumers count on in Illinois. In order for FFA members to learn the value of cooperatives and develop an understanding of the cooperative way of doing business, Illinois Farm Bureau and Affiliates created the Cooperative Activities Program.

Through this program, students are given the opportunity to participate in cooperative buying, selling, use of credit, and other cooperative functions. They learn the important role that cooperatives, as a type of business, serve in today’s economy. In addition to the knowledge and experience that students gain, chapters, schools, and communities also reap the benefit of a good Cooperative Activities Program.

The program also offers an award tour, which consists of a trip to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. for the top chapters competing in this program as well as the IFB & Affiliates Heritage Program.

Heritage and Cooperative Activities tour award winners visited SEEDWAY’s vegetable trial farm in Hershey, Pennsylvania, in June 2016.

How do you earn a spot on this trip? The answer is in the application itself. In order to be eligible for awards, chapters must complete ALL of the forms that make up the application:

  1. Basic Information Form
  2. Certification Form
  3. Form I
  4. Form II

The application is based on points, so it is ideal for each chapter’s program to mirror the application closely in order to earn the most points. For example, in Form I, you receive points for each “Yes” answer, including items such as selecting a Board of Directors, informing your Section President about the program, developing a budget, etc.

If your chapter is just beginning the program, taking a look at the application is the best way to design the program to be successful from the beginning.

Other helpful tips –

  1. Stay organized! Keep track of each activity your chapter does throughout the year so that you aren’t scrambling to find information from months earlier when filling out the application.
  2. Start early! Begin working on the application as soon as it is released. The application is pretty long, but it is much more manageable if you work on it a little at a time.
  3. Designate an individual student or small group of students to be in charge of the application. They can then collaborate to work on individual portions and review each other’s work. Having too many people involved in putting information in to the actual application can complicate the process.

Applications are currently live in a new online format at and must be completed by March 15, 2017. Good luck!