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ImageREAL Solutions Showcase:
Co-op education, thanks to a local partnership


Peoples Choice and Taylor Credit Unions are working with other co-ops in Central Wisconsin to bring cooperative education to local elementary students.


Working in partnership with the Taylor County Association of Cooperatives – which includes the electric, farm-supply, and farm credit co-ops – the credit unions are co-funding a program that teaches fifth graders about co-ops and culminates in the students writing radio ads that promote them and are aired during Co-op Month in October.


Co-op leaders come into the classroom to explain how individuals benefit from owning the cooperatives where they do business.


On a day when a substitute teacher is required, a substitute who is paid by the Association presents the lessons. The first day focuses on the cooperative business model, how co-ops operate, co-op history and the benefits to their member-owners and communities.

The next time a sub is called in, the students build on the knowledge they've gained by working in groups to write their 30-second radio ads, which explain why people should join and use co-ops. The students record the spots on the school's computers and the best are selected for air time, something that adds competition and excitement to the lesson.


"The kids really get into it," said Deb Woods, CEO of Taylor Credit Union. "Their ads show a real understanding of the value co-ops deliver to members."


Woods says the program helps the district fulfill its financial education component in a way that is relatable because there are so many cooperatives in the area. Executives from each of the participating co-ops help present specifics about each type of co-op.


"Teaching kids about co-ops instills community value that can be carried throughout a lifetime," added Matt Selke, CEO of People's Choice Credit Union.


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