Friday, October 27, 2017

Members Make the Difference

Members are the grease to our gears, the milk to our cereal and the yee for our haw. Without our members we fail to exist. Members own GENEX, which is one of the things that make a cooperative  business model so special. 

Co-op membership is simple and rewarding and includes benefits such as:
» Voting privileges and a voice in the governance of the cooperative
» Invites to member appreciation meetings and events
» Earning equity in the cooperative
» Opportunity to become a delegate or director

GENEX has a long history of acting on the needs and concerns of its members. Two of the most recent examples are the Ideal Commercial Cow (ICC$) index and RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement. 

The ICC$ is a Holstein sire ranking tool developed to meet the demands of GENEX members and customers for a healthy, medium-sized cow. It addresses the needs of commercial dairy producers using real-time economic indicators, scientific principles and data-driven genetic evaluations from multiple sources. A Jersey ICC$ is also in the development phase with plans for release soon.

Members came to us wanting a sustained release, once-and-done calcium supplement for transition cows. GENEX once again came through and introduced RumiLife® CAL24™ nutritional supplement. This new product allows producers to forget the worry of catching cows several times to administer boluses treating low blood calcium. This one treatment with two boluses provides the 24-hour coverage that is needed.

The grass-roots structure of a cooperative such as GENEX, means its members' voices are heard. GENEX is currently conducting its Fall Delegate Meetings where delegates and alternates from across the country are gathering to provide feedback and ideas. These are the very meetings where many of the new GENEX initiatives come from.

It truly is you, the GENEX member, who makes the difference in our cooperative. Thank you for your continued support and guidance as we fulfill our purpose to be the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Knowledge is Power

As a kid, I remember watching a show called School House Rock. The opening jingle had a character who would yell out, "Knowledge is power." (Sorry if that jingle is now stuck in your head, child of the '80's!) The individuals responsible for creating the seven cooperative principles understood the enormity of knowledge and what those with it were capable of accomplishing. That is why principle number five is education, training and information.

GENEX takes this principle to heart and strives to be a source of information for our members and customers in both the dairy and beef cattle industries. I talked about some of the ways GENEX is currently educating members and customers in my last blog post Education Isn't a Four Letter Word.

Today I would like to spend a little time talking about training for GENEX employees, delegates and board members.

GENEX employees, along with others working for other Cooperative Resources International (CRI) brands, have the opportunity to participate in the cooperative's professional development program called REACH. Employee enrichment is important as the industry we work in changes quickly. To ensure a rapid response, employees also participate in webinars, listen to podcasts, are provided with internal newsletters and belong to a GENEX employees Facebook group. 

Many employees take their learning and teaching to the next level, such as the experience below, where Dairy Sire Procurement Specialist, Dan Bauer, spent time in Brazil in partnership with the American Jersey Cattle Association, AgSource and the USDA to study the emerging Jersey industry in the country. Dan was able to share some insight into our Jersey industry, while networking with Brazilian farmers.

Delegates are the very heart of GENEX. They provide GENEX with the grass-roots direction it requires to operate from year to year. Over 150 delegates and alternates gather each year at one of eight delegate meetings to learn about the cooperative and industry, as well as to provide the GENEX board and senior management with recommended changes for the coming year. 

In addition, delegates and alternates attend the annual meeting each January, where they have the opportunity to network with other delegates and attend break-out sessions. Session topics vary from year to year and can include titles from Cooperatives 101 to Using Social Media on Your Farm/Ranch to Brazil Beef (below).

Board Members
GENEX is governed by a 13-member board consisting of dairy and beef producers from across the U.S. A policy exists to encourage structured participation in programs designated to enhance director knowledge and experience. Three days of basic training is provided for all new directors, and three to five days of education and training is expected of each director yearly. This is in addition to their regularly scheduled meetings. There is also the opportunity for more advanced training, if a director should choose to receive it. These learning experiences are in business management, cooperative education or other agricultural topics associated with GENEX, with many of them being graduate-level courses. Below, past GENEX Board President, Paul Greene, addresses the delegates during the 2017 Annual Meeting.

Education is not just a buzz word at GENEX. The cooperative truly believes knowledge is power. By providing learning opportunities to everyone involved with the company, GENEX can ensure its purpose of being the trusted provider of world-class animal genetics, progressive reproductive solutions, value-added products and innovative services to members and customers.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Education Isn't a Four Letter Word

When I was in school, I couldn't wait until I was done. The way I saw it, the word education was almost as bad as a four letter word! Looking back, I realize education got a bad rap. It wasn't the education I didn't like, but rather the methods of delivery and failing to realize where I would apply said knowledge.

Today education is something I yearn for. I make a daily goal of learning something new. Working for a cooperative and specifically GENEX has made this goal pretty easy. To be honest, it is a pretty sad day if I only learn one new thing. 

GENEX prides itself in providing education for its employees, board members, delegates, members and customers through several different outlets. 

Here are three great places to look for more information on the dairy and beef industries.

The Learning Center offers an online collection of over 100 dairy and beef related topics, arranged by category. This collection is added to and updated regularly. It can be found on the GENEX website.

Horizons is our magazine. The Dairy Edition is published three times a year (following each sire summary) and the Beef Edition is distributed two times a year (spring and fall). These periodicals are jam-packed with interesting articles from technical know-how to herd/ranch stories to working with your employees. If you don't get a copy mailed to you, check them out here.

Field Representatives are the heart of GENEX education. Everyday these men and women work hard to provide their customers with the most up-to-date industry information. After their day on farms has ended, they spend countless hours attending meetings, watching webinars, listening to podcasts and reading to ensure you will have the facts needed to make the best herd management decisions for your farm or ranch.

In next week's post, I will talk about all of the ways GENEX works to educate its employees, board members and delegates, so our cooperative can truly live up to the cooperative principle of education, training and information.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Co-ops Commit to Community

One of the seven cooperative principles is concern for the community. While focusing on member needs, cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members. 

Last year, GENEX adopted a volunteer time off (VTO) policy which enabled its employees to take one day per year to volunteer in their communities. Many of our employees embraced this opportunity as a chance to find a new way to give of their talents to neighbors in need, while others were able to spend a little extra time contributing to organizations they are passionate about.

Chelsea Garrison from Idaho was able to spend time at an animal shelter because of the VTO program. "I absolutely find VTO worthwhile because it gives us a chance to give to the community, and separates us from our busy, hectic lives for a day to focus our attention on a place in need of our help."

A few of those who participated in VTO projects are shown above:
1) Sarah Nugent, Outreach and Solutions Advisor and Anne Davison, Director of Dairy Sales Support, assisted in the dairy birthing center at the New York State Fair.
2) Public Relations Assistant Shelly Swan helped sort Girl Scout cookies.
3) Vice President of Communications Terri Dallas chaperoned a 4-H club trip to the zoo.
4) Bob Stratton, AVP International Marketing; Jayne Gilge, Mailroom Specialist; Dean Gilge, VP Wholesale Markets and Dave Goedken, VP U.S. Sales and Service, used their VTO as part of a mission trip to Budapest, Hungary. They helped with building and painting projects and spent time at a foster home. 
5) Chelsea Garrison, Dairy Consultant, volunteered at the Twin Falls, Idaho, animal shelter.
6) Customer Service Representative, Heidi Heller, took five junior members to the National Brown Swiss Convention in Canton, Ohio, where they competed in several national events.
7) Executive Assistant Karla Braun organized Sun Drop Dayz in Shawano, Wisconsin.
8) Genetics Administrative Assistant Teresa Wachtel chaperoned a school trip to the state capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.
9) Morgan Kliebenstein, Dairy Procurement Specialist, helped set up for the Lafayette County dairy breakfast.
10) Accounts Payable Supervisor Connie Viergutz assisted the Shawano County dairy exhibitors set up for the Wisconsin State Fair.

With over 950 hours of collective VTO from the cooperative in the program's first year, employees are certainly finding ways to make a difference in their communities.  

"VTO is an exciting part of working for GENEX. It feels great to be able to volunteer my time and get involved in community events I am passionate about. It’s amazing to work for a company that supports and encourages employees to  give back to their communities. VTO is about not only living and working in a community but being a part of the heart of it," remarked Anne Davison.