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L-R: Timothy Diemert, Joan Wade and Wade Hensel were honored with the Cooperative Builder Award on Tuesday evening, November 13, for their contributions, loyalty and service to the cooperative movement.

Cooperative Network directors, members, family and friends gathered at the Radisson Hotel La Crosse in La Crosse, Wis. on November 13 and 14 for the organization’s 2018 annual meeting. The conference theme, ‘Cooperatives See the Future,’ was exemplified throughout the two-day event with updates on recent elections and upcoming legislative agendas, a look ahead to changes in the workplace and positioning for opportunities and challenges that cooperatives will face down the road.

Addressing the Cooperative Network membership, President & CEO Daniel Smith shared that he is aware of the great responsibility his position holds. “Cooperative Network supports cooperatives of all sizes, from a dozen business sectors across two states. While that presents a great challenge, it also presents a great opportunity to engage on behalf of all cooperatives.” he said, adding, “The cooperative business model is not just a means of providing goods and services. It is a model of cooperation, communication and community.”

Those three cooperative components were witnessed during a pinnacle of the meeting on Tuesday evening, when Timothy Diemert (Friendship, Wis.), Wade Hensel (Mankato, Minn.) and Joan Wade (Ripon, Wis.) were bestowed the 2018 Cooperative Builder Award, the association’s highest honor. The award is presented to individuals who have made outstanding contributions at the local, state, or national level to advance cooperative philosophy and ideals. Diemert, Hensel and Wade are true cooperative builders in the fields of agriculture, energy, food, research, education and beyond. They have served as mentors and coaches, always leading by example and keenly aware of their responsibility to build up the next generation of leaders for future success.

Future leaders were recognized as the conference wrapped up on Wednesday morning, with the seating of the 2018-2019 Cooperative Network Board of Directors under the leadership of Board Chairman Bill Zuhlke (Land O’ Lakes). The Board welcomed six new members: Jeremiah DeGollon (Summit Credit Union); Sadie Frericks (Land O’ Lakes); Perry Aasness (Compeer Financial); Jeff Nielsen (40 Square Cooperative Solutions); Scott Cordes (CHS Inc.); and Patrick Laws (Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies).

Cooperative Network – the trusted voice for cooperatives – is committed to protecting and promoting Minnesota’s and Wisconsin’s cooperative businesses and their shared cooperative principles by providing advocacy, education, public awareness, and development services to a diverse variety of cooperatives. Visit or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube for more information.