Setting the record straight on pork production

As a fifth generation family farmer and proud owner of a CAFO (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation), I want to set the record straight on the often distorted views of my farm and other farms like mine. The term “CAFO” is often used to scare people into believing that these farms are bad. CAFO is a […]

Is $15 million enough?

On Feb. 29, 2012, tornadoes swept across the Midwest and an EF4 ­tornado leveled much of Harrisburg, Ill., killing eight people and causing millions in damages. Kentucky and Indiana received federal assistance but Illinois was denied. In the fall of 2013, a rare storm ­system ripped through Illinois ­uprooting trees, destroying homes, and devastating Gifford […]

Encouraging rural entrepreneurship

Rural communities in Illinois are confronted with a growing problem – or, rather, a shrinking one. Rural towns are shrinking and aging as college ­graduates move in pursuit of career oppor­tunities they believe do not exist in the corn and coal fields of their hometowns. This is a symptom of a larger, statewide problem: 6,000 […]

Leveraging the cooperative advantage

By Barbara Nick and Kenric Scheevel Friends and family have asked me why I came out of retirement from an Investor Owned Utility (IOU) to work at a G&T cooperative. I came to “Co-op Nation” because I am excited about the competitive advantage cooperatives have and wanted to put my leadership and experience to work […]

Facing the next big challenge: EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Electric cooperatives are no ­strangers to challenge. In fact, co-ops are quite adept at ­embracing change and making the most of it, as ­evidenced, for example, by co-ops’ leader­ship in advancing new tech­nologies to meet the changing needs of consumers and the electricity grid. The next big challenge is upon us. It takes the form […]

Visiting co-op youth helped senator take on challenges

One of the greatest pleasures of my job as a state senator is meeting with my constituents. I realized at a very young age how important it is to meet with folks and talk to them one-on-one. As a teenager, a number of my ­siblings and I, walked door-to-door with my Dad as he helped […]

Cooperatives: A constant in a changing industry

Outside the Illinois Agriculture Association (IAA) building in Bloomington is a bronze statue of a man pushing a plow. Inscribed on a tablet nearby is the quote: “to plow a furrow, you must look ahead.” I’ve always liked that statue, and think often of the meaning behind that statement. If we as a cooperative, as […]

Overcoming challenges and changes is what co-ops do

“We had a simple mission and still do – ­provide reliable electric service to our ­cooperative members at an affordable price.” I have enjoyed my 36 years with Wabash Valley Power Association and rural electrification with the last 10 years as its CEO and I confess I’m also looking forward to enjoying my family more now […]

The Cooperative Way

During October we celebrate Cooperative Month. But why? Are cooperatives still relevant? Do they impact your life today? Do they help improve life in the communities they serve? Since you are reading this column in an electric cooperative sponsored magazine, I’ll assume you belong to at least one cooperative. Electric service came first to rural […]

Creating jobs in the heart of the heartland

I attended a conference at the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank on economic competitiveness in the Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana region — yet downstate Illinois was never mentioned. The focus was on that great ­metropolitan region of about 12 ­million people, centered in Chicago. In addition, four major economic development plans have been done solely for that […]