By Melody Aufill, AFR/OFU Member, Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Ag in the Classroom Coordinator
As I sat down to write this article, Oklahoma was in the middle of a massive weather event! An ice storm raced across the prairie bringing wide-spread devastation to trees, power lines, and structures.
In Oklahoma, we talk about the weather often because there is so much to discuss. The weather changes constantly. We have it all: Oklahoma is the land of 100 degree days in the summer, tornadoes in the spring, and ice and snow in the winter. And wind — every single day! Wind whips down the plains at a brisk pace pretty much every day of the year. Calm weather days are the exception not the rule around here. Does a certain weather phenomenon interest you? Come to Oklahoma, and you are likely to see it happen before too long. And sometimes several notable weather events happen in the same week! There is something for everyone.
American Farmers and Ranchers/Oklahoma Farmers Union’s (AFR/OFU) Women’s Cooperative has something for everyone as well. It builds community for AFR/OFU members by offering initiatives and educational opportunities throughout the year. Many of these activities build leadership skills and networking through cooperation. The Women’s Cooperative also identifies needs within the state and then works to implement solutions to those needs. For instance, in 2019, the AFR/OFUWomen’s Cooperative hosted 59 blood drive across the state, collecting enough blood to save 5,292 lives.
But that is just one of the many issues the cooperative works on. One in four children in Oklahoma has inconsistent access to healthy food, and more than 37 percent of the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma’s (RFBO) emergency food recipients are children. To help alleviate childhood hunger, the Women’s Cooperative began a partnership with RFBO in 2019 to establish the Feed Tomorrow’s Future Fund. To double our impact, the Women’s Cooperative teamed up with Farmers Union Foundation, which matched every dollar donated to the Feed Tomorrow’s Future fund in 2020.
Another new initiative in 2019 was a mentor/mentee program to pair members of the Women’s Cooperative with college women majoring in agricultural careers. This initiative provides me the opportunity to share my career as an Ag in the Classroom coordinator for the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food, and Forestry and give back to an aspiring young professional.
Just like wind is synonymous with Oklahoma, fun is synonymous with the Women’s Cooperative. Whether the women are working on a project to help others, or on a dedicated weekend for fun in a place like Ft. Worth or Pawhuska, Oklahoma to see the Pioneer Woman, laughter and friendship abounds.
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