The Future is Bright: Raising up the Next Generation of Cooperative Leaders


The past and the future

  1. The Dust Bowl: Farmers in the Midwest experienced widespread and sustained drought. It was an ecological and environmental calamity that we haven’t seen before or since.
  2. The Great Depression: The stock market crash devasted the economy for all Americans, especially farmers.
  3. The mechanization of farming: A technology revolution made farmers more efficient, but also more dependent on external sources of energy to run their farm operations.


  1. The non-farmers. I’m not a farmer. I didn’t grow up on a farm. It turns out that many FFA State Officers are similarly situated. They are passionate about agriculture and wanted to talk to me about careers that support agriculture in technology, cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, business, sales, and accounting.
  2. The future interns. I talked up our internship program, and I think we’ll have a lot of FFA State Officers applying when we post our 2023 internships this fall.
  3. The future cooperative leaders. Most that I talked to had a general familiarity with cooperatives but were truly inspired with a new understanding of the power of the cooperative system.
  4. The podcast fan. One FFA State Officer stopped me in the stairwell and told me that he loves my podcast. I was shocked. These are 17–19 year-olds. I had no idea I had any reach with that audience. Even if he was the only one, that was still 100% more than I thought there would be.




Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Zach Hughes

Zach Hughes


Technology Leader at CHS. Passionate about leadership and innovation. Posts are my own.