CRAWFORD COUNTY - Every year the farmer-owners of CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley gather for their cooperative annual meeting. Always a highlight of the event is the Ray Haas Organic Pioneer award. Haas was one of the founding farmers of the cooperative.
In 2020, a new award was added to the line up, honoring another of the cooperative’s founding farmers – the Jim Wedeberg Heart of the Co-op Award. Although the cooperative’s annual meeting was not held in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wedeberg himself was the first farmer-recipient. Another resident of Crawford County, Mickey Keeley, was the first employee-recipient of the award. Both were recognized at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the cooperative held last week in LaCrosse.
The ‘Jim Wedeberg Heart of the Co-op Award’ is given in honor of the many people who have dedicated so much heart and soul to this incredible co-op. The award was established to recognize those who have demonstrated their commitment to the cooperative’s mission, and inspired others to be a part of it. This award is named after the person who has been the heart of this co-op in so many ways, inspiring countless farmers throughout the countryside and countless employees who have worked tirelessly for our mission.
Vermont farmer Travis Forgues has traded in the dairy barn to move to LaFarge and step into the role formerly occupied by Jim Wedeberg of overseeing the various agricultural pools. Euxective Vice President of Membership Travis Forgues had this to say about the farmer who preceded him:
“There is not one person at CROPP Cooperative who has not been impacted by what Jim Wedeberg has accomplished,” Forgues said. “Jim is a hero, and we need heroes. His dedication inspires us to make sure we are here for the next 30 years, to make sure that every one of us is willing and able to be a hero for someone else, so together we can continue to grow a movement that cannot go away.”
Executive Vice President of People Jerry McGeorgev oversees human resources at the cooperative, and had this to say about Keeley:
“Last week, it was my great honor to present Organic Valley’s ‘Jim Wedeberg Heart of the Co-op Award’ to longtime employee Mickey Keeley,” McGeorge said. “Mickey has worked at the cooperative for 29 years, and in that time he has worn many hats. In an unofficial capacity, however, he has always jumped in to do whatever was needed, and always with a smile on his face.”“More importantly, however, Mickey is a wonderful human being. His unofficial title here is Spirit Lifter, as he always has a smile, or a hug, or a kind word for just about everybody,” McGeorge said. “Every day, he reminds us that even in a business, it is important to stop for a moment and acknowledge the humanity in us all.”