There were many highlights throughout my internship at Red Willow Farm amidst all the chaos the pandemic provided. One of my main goals throughout the internship was to be able to educate Taos Pueblo and the surrounding communities on cooperative development, and I was able to fulfill that by creating a powerpoint and reaching out as much as possible to those who were listening during the pandemic. We held a full day in person seminar to inform interested tribal members on what a co-op is and how it could potentially benefit the community, it was a success and with the opening and loosening of covid restrictions future outreach should be much easier with all the info, resources, and networking I was able to obtain throughout my internship.
During my internship I was able to conduct a lot of research and development in not only what went wrong with the previous attempts at a co-op, but what it takes to develop and maintain a functioning community co-op. I was able to compile all this information and knowledge into a potential model/module for the future Red Willow Center’s Grower’s Co-op to reference upon continuation of the formation of the co-op. Interested community members were identified and we are all on the same page that education of what a co-op is to the community is the foundation which was not provided efficiently in previous attempts of forming a co-op.
I was definitely able to achieve the 3 goals to some extent, which I wrote in a previous post concerning communication, leadership, and professional network expansion. I overcame my fears of communicating over zoom and email and held multiple zoom meetings with community members, co-workers, mentors in the co-op field and many others mainly because the pandemic forced us to. I am so much more of an in person/hands-on kind of guy and this was a major concern initially but I worked through it. I feel as though I was able to effectively purvey the reasons the tribe would benefit from a co-op and its recorded for future reference as well. There is also a binder for the Red Willow co-op with all past, present, and future information as well as a new network database of community members interested in the co-op. My own personal network as a farmer interested in co-op development within my community has increased tenfold thanks to this internship and the opportunities it has created/provided. I look forward to seeing how everything continues to blossom with coming of spring and the subsiding of the pandemic on all of our daily lives.