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The Foundation’s Purpose

A major challenge for cooperatives serving any sector of rural America is the perpetuation of formidable leadership, both governance and managerial. The viability of cooperatives is a mirror image of those they are designed to serve and are deeply affected by the fundamentals of changing demographics, low economic return on investment, changing business structures, and lifestyle desires. To sustain this economic and social environment, cooperatives must apply resources toward maintaining a leadership development system that stimulates ongoing participation and hones the intellectual capacity of the willing.

The life and work of Ralph K. Morris exemplified the visionary, dedicated, practical leadership needed by cooperative enterprise in the future. The Ralph K. Morris Cooperative Leadership Fund has been established by the Ralph K. Morris Foundation to support the development of future cooperative leaders. See The Foundation’s Mission.

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Foundation News

 

Lyon keynotes 2013 Nilsestuen Event

What attributes do agriculture’s future leaders need?

That question was explored by students, faculty and agricultural leaders at the third annual Nilsestuen Legacy Event at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls Friday, April 4, 2014. The event is supported by a grant from the Rod Nilsestuen Legacy Fund, administered by the Ralph K. Morris Foundation. It honors the legacy of Rod Nilsestuen, a cooperative and agricultural leader who died in 2011.

For more information, please click here.

 

Morris Foundation Appoints New Director

Daryn McBethAt the recent Annual Meeting of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, Daryn McBeth was appointed to a three-year term on the Board of Directors. Mr. McBeth currently works at Land O’Lakes, Inc. as the director of State Affairs & Industry Relations. For entire press release, click here.

 

Tamara Kass receives 2013 Elroy Webster Coop Studies Fund Scholarship

Bill BerryThe 2013 recipient of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation -- Elroy Webster Coop Studies Fund scholarship is Tamara Kass from Hudson, Wisconsin.  In addition to beginning her career at CHS, Tamara is also continuing her studies in a dual-degree program awarding a Master of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Purdue University and a Master of Business Administration from Indiana University.  For entire press release, click here.

 

Lyon Receives Land Conservation Award

Bill BerryPast Ralph K. Morris Foundation director and longtime cooperative leader Tom Lyon was recently saluted by Gathering Waters Conservancy of Wisconsin for his dedication to land conservation.

Lyon received the 2013 Rod Nilsestuen Award for Working Lands Preservation at the group’s annual awards celebration. Lyon and his wife, Barbara, were on hand to receive the award at Monona Terrace in Madison. Numerous friends joined them for the event.

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Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund Now Accepting Applications for 2013 Scholarship and Honorary Award

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is now accepting applications for a scholarship from the Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund. This Fund provides a scholarship and honorary award to graduate students or law students interested in agriculture and cooperatives. For more information on the guidelines of the scholarship fund and application forms, please click here. Applications are due September 31, 2013, with the winner announced by October 15, 2013.

 

CooperationWorks! Conference in Madison, WisconsinKeith Taylor

Michelle Schry, Morris Foundation Board member, recently spoke at the CooperationWorks! Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Michelle addressed the group of emerging cooperators on the topic of: From Theory to Practice: Cooperative Business Development Case Studies. As general manager of People’s Food Cooperative in LaCrosse, WI, she recently led her coop through a large expansion and had many ideas to share with the group. The Morris Foundation also provided scholarships to nine emerging leaders attending the program.

 

Morris Foundation Appoints New Director

Bill BerryAt the recent Annual Meeting of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation, Bill Berry was appointed to a three-year term on the Board of Directors. Mr. Berry currently works as a self-employed writer, editor and communications specialist. His major areas of emphasis are conservation, agriculture and forestry. For entire press release, click here.

 

Kathryn Taylor receives 2012 Elroy Webster Coop Studies Fund Scholarship

Keith TaylorThe Ralph K. Morris Foundation announced the winner of the Elroy Webster Coop Studies scholarship.  The 2012 winner of the $2,500 award is Kathryn Taylor, a law student at the University of Oklahoma.   Congratulations Kathryn! Read more.

 

$50,000 Nilsestuen Gift Benefits UW-River Falls

The Morris Foundation provided a gift of $50,000 to the University of Wisconsin River Falls to honor Rod Nilsestuen on Friday, March 30, 2012.  The $50,000 gift will create the Rod Nilsestuen Visiting Scholar Program, a program that will carry out Rod’s legacy of land stewardship, farmland preservation and sustainability.  In addition, the Morris Foundation announced at the Nilsestuen Legacy Event, that it intends to expand its mission to incorporate Rod’s interests into other programs and future activities of the Foundation. Read more.

 

Joel Nilsestuen appointed to the Morris Foundation Board

Keith TaylorJoel Nilsestuen, son of Rod Nilsestuen, was appointed to the Ralph K. Morris Foundation Board of Directors at its Annual Meeting held in Rochester, MN on November 14, 2011. Incumbent directors Connie Cihak, Martin Lowery, Michelle Schry and Doug Wilson were also appointed to another three-year term. Read more.

 

Keith Taylor receives the 2011 Elroy Webster Coop Studies Scholarship

Keith TaylorThe Ralph K. Morris Foundation announced the winner of the Elroy Webster Coop Studies scholarship.  The 2011 winner of the $2,500 award is Keith Taylor, a doctorate student in the Human and Community Development Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.   Congratulations Keith!

 

Rod Nilsestuen’s legacy lives on as cooperative, conservation organizations establish fund

Rod NilsestuenLongtime Wisconsin agriculture, cooperative and conservation leader Rod Nilsestuen’s legacy will live on with a fund established in his name. Nilsestuen died earlier this year in a drowning accident. more

 

Elvis Nyame - Winner of the 2010 Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund Honorary Award

Elvis NyameThe Ralph K. Morris Foundation/Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Elvis Nyame, a Master's student in the graduate program in the Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics at North Dakota State University.  more

 

Morris Foundation Receives $7,500 Grant From The Cooperative Foundation

The Cooperative Foundation continues their support of the Morris Foundation by providing a $7,500 grant for the Cooperative Leadership Scholarship Fund.  more

 

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is Now Accepting Applications for 2010 Scholarship and Honorary Award

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation is now accepting applications for a scholarship from the recently established Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund.  This Fund provides a scholarship and honorary award to graduate students or law students interested in agriculture and cooperatives.  For more information on the guidelines of the scholarship fund and application forms, please click hereApplications are due June 1, 2010, with the winner announced by August 1, 2010. 

 

Morris Foundation Receives $10,000 Rural Leadership Grant

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation received a $10,000 grant from The Farm Credit System Foundation's Douglas D. Sims Fund for Rural Leadership.  more

 

dJason Massoth - Winner of the 2009 Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund Scholarship

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation/Elroy Webster Cooperative Studies Fund awarded a $2,500 scholarship to Jason Massoth, a Master's student in the graduate program in the Department of Agricultural Economics at Kansas State University in August of 2009.  Agricultural cooperatives have been a part of Jason's family for generations and his long-term career goals include working at or with cooperatives in some way. 

The Elroy Webster  Fund was established in 2008, and was created to provide a scholarship and honorary award to graduate students and law school students interested in agriculture and cooperatives. 

 

Two Morris Foundation Board Members Receive Honorary Awards from the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE).

 Dave Swanson received  an award from ACE recognizing his professional contribution in advancing the stature  of cooperative education and training.    Dave is a lawyer with the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, specializing in cooperative law.

William Nelson received the Reginald J. Cressman ACE Award recognizing commitment to staff development.  William is the President of the CHS Foundation. 

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Morris Foundation Board Members Re-Elected to the NCBA Board and Appointed as Board Officers for 2009.

Congratulations to Morris Foundation Board members Michelle Schry and William Nelson who were recently re-elected to the NCBA Board in a heavily contested election.  Michelle Schry is the General Manager of People's Food Cooperative in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and William Nelson is the President of the CHS Foundation.  In addition, Morris Foundation board members Martin Lowery of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association was appointed NCBA Board Chair and David Swanson from the law firm of Dorsey and Whitney, will serve as the 2nd Vice Chair. 

 

fCurt Eischens Receives FFA Hall of Fame Award                      

The Minnesota FFA Association and the Minnesota FFA Alumni Association inducted Morris Foundation board member and Cooperative Network board member Curt Eischens into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame on April 27, 2009.  He joins the 177 members who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame the past five years.  Eischens was honored because of his influence and support of Minnesota FFA and demonstration of service to agriculture. 

 

The Fourth Annual Cooperative Leadership Symposium was held on Monday, November 12, 2007 at the Sheraton Bloomington Hotel, Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The keynote speaker for the event was former Iowa governor Thomas Vilsack.  The symposium was held in conjunction, with the MAC and WFC annual meetings.  Reception and dinner followed the symposium. 

Cornelius Blanding, a Morris Foundation scholarship recipient and marketing director at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, was recently selected as a Fellow of the Emerging Leaders Program (2007/08 Class) of the Centers for Leadership and Public Values at Duke University and the University of Cape Town (South Africa).  Congratulations Cornelius!

The Third Annual Cooperative Leadership Symposium was held on November 13, 2006 in conjunction with the MAC and WFC annual meetings.  The keynote speaker for the event was Tom Lyon, recent inductee into the Cooperative Hall of Fame.  For more information, please contact Jayne (Kincade) Wilgus at (888) 246-5601.

Curt Eischens, CHS Board of Directors and Minnesota Association of Cooperatives President, was appointed to the Ralph K. Morris Foundation Board at its August 29 Board of Directors meeting. 

The Foundation recently held election of officers and Chris Morris, son of Ralph Morris, was elected as Chair, William Nelson was elected as Vice Chair, Dave Swanson, Treasurer and Jayne (Kincade) Wilgus was elected as Secretary.e

Foundation Chair Elroy Webster, a nationally recognized cooperative and agricultural leader, died July 18 in Mankato, Minnesota, at the age of 72 following a lengthy illness.  Elroy was a founding Board member and Chair of the Ralph K. Morris Foundation and a passionate advocate of rural and cooperative leadership development.  Elroy retired as a director and former chairman of CHS Inc. in 2003, after five decades of involvement in cooperatives on the local, regional, national and global levels.  "Agriculture, cooperatives and rural America have lost a visionary, an unparalleled leader and a tireless advocate," said CHS Chairman Michael Toelle.  "Elroy Webster clearly stands out as one of the most influential figures in these sectors over the last half century."  Above all this, Elroy was a man of integrity and character, with a good heart and a sense of humor.  We are grateful for our time with him and feel enriched for having known him.

One of the main objectives of the Foundation is to provide scholarships to individuals seeking cooperative leadership educational training and who wish to contribute to the future of agriculture, rural America and the cooperative way of doing business. From March 7, 2002 through July 15, 2006, the Foundation has awarded 90 scholarships to men and women across the country.

Founding Board member Tom Lyon will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington, DC on May 3, 2006.  The Foundation Board members wish to congratulate Tom on this very prestigious honor and thank him for his many significant contributions to the cooperative enterprise and to the Ralph K. Morris Foundation.

On August 4, 2005, the Ralph K. Morris Foundation received an award for "Outstanding Contribution by an Organization to Cooperative Education" from the Association of Cooperative Educators, in Washington, D.C.c

The Ralph K. Morris Foundation recently granted scholarships to several graduate students from the University of Kansas  to attend the Michael Porter and the Economics of Industry Clusters.  This was a program that evaluated how co-ops have contributed to clusters in the United States.

Brent Bostrom, Corporate Counsel at GROWMARK, Inc., was recently appointed to the Ralph K. Morris Foundation Board of Directors. 

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The Foundation held its second annual Cooperative Leadership Symposium on November 15, 2005.  The Symposium was held in connection with the Wisconsin Federation of Cooperatives and Minnesota Association of Cooperatives annual meetings. Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale was the keynote speaker and presented to over 350 people on the topic “The Coop Ideal.”  The symposium is open to all people interested in cooperative leadership.

Foundation Chair Elroy Webster was recently honored at the 2005 Agriculture Future of America (AFA) Leaders Conference.  Mr. Webster received the Leader in Agriculture Award for his passion for agriculture and his long line of accomplishments throughout his 40-year career in cooperatives.  He provided leadership for development of CHS, Inc. and was the founder of the CHS Foundation, an organization that contributes more than $1.4 million annually in cooperative education, rural youth and adult leadership initiatives and farm-safety programs.

 
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