MECA celebrated National Co-op Month with a series of “Cooperative Foundations” workshops in October, which focused on co-op history, principles, and purpose.

“We used to offer a similar half-day workshop in partnership with NRECA,” says Doug Snitgen, Executive Vice President at MECA. “But, when we discovered that NRECA no longer offers their course, Great Lakes Energy asked if MECA could develop something to fill the training gap.”

Word spread quickly, and Snitgen was soon booked to deliver six workshops at multiple co-op locations throughout the state. A total of 134 employees from 5 co-ops participated in the sessions.

“The workshops were originally designed for newer employees to learn about the cooperative difference,” Snitgen says. “But, about a quarter of the participants have been with their co-op for more than 5 years, and their feedback was also very positive.”

Participants explored how co-ops are different from other types of businesses, discovered the economic impact of co-ops in the United States and around the world, and even took a “virtual road trip” to discuss what’s unique about each of Michigan’s electric co-ops.

“The workshops were designed to be fun and interactive,” Snitgen continues. “Everyone seemed to really enjoy the co-op case studies from around the world, live team trivia, and food prizes that were produced by co-ops.”

Snitgen is a 20-year electric co-op employee, and no stranger to teaching about the unique business model. He’s facilitated the NRECA Board Leadership Certificate (BLC) course on co-op structure and strategic advantage, and taught more than 200 high-school students about co-ops as part of the annual Cooperative Youth Tour program in Washington, D.C.

“I really hope everyone left the workshop feeling like they learned something, had some fun, and are a little more inspired about the work they do every day at their co-op,” he says.

MECA provided the Cooperative Foundations workshops to member co-ops at no charge, and expects to offer more sessions again next October.