News Roundup Prior to 2008

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

Elroy Webster

Elroy Webster

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


Scholarship Winners from University of Kansas

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.

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale

Former Vice President Walter F. Mondale

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.