Young Cooperators

2020 Young Cooperator Tour

March 31 – April 1

Join fellow young cooperators to experience downtown life and the entire dairy processing chain in a jam-packed two-day exploration of the Grand Rapids area. From farms to plants to everything in between, explore West Michigan’s nooks and crannies to find more than tall buildings and downtown lights. Attendees will tour an MMPA customer’s cheese plant, chat about sustainability tactics on fellow members’ farms and discover the inner workings of Zeeland Farm Services.

Since 1950, MMPA has been identifying future leaders through the Young Cooperator and Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator program. The purpose of the program is to strengthen leadership abilities in young farmers, broaden young farmers’ knowledge of milk marketing and MMPA and recognize the abilities and stewardship of our young dairy farmers.

The program involves the OYDC award program which selects an individual or couple to represent MMPA nationally each year and an annual conference for younger members, the Young Cooperator Conference.

2019 OYDC James Weber

Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperators

Younger members (under 41 years of age) can increase their involvement with the cooperative through the Outstanding Young Dairy Cooperator (OYDC) program. Each year, MMPA selects a couple or individual to represent the cooperative in the dairy industry.  The winning and runners-up OYDC are selected every August at the OYDC conference. The two-day long conference welcomes the OYDC finalists each nominated by MMPA local associations to the MMPA headquarters. The conference also offers the opportunity for members to gain a broader understanding of various dairy industry and association issues.

After selection OYDCs:

  • Invited to attend National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) Annual Meeting, held in different locations across the county (Phoenix in 2018 and New Orleans in 2019)
  • Invited to serve on the MMPA YC Conference planning committee
  • Designated as honorary members of the MMPA Advisory Committee
  • Opportunity to serve on the NMPF Young Cooperator Advisory Council and visit Washington, D.C.

Selection for each year’s OYDC starts during the winter local meeting season. If you are an MMPA member interested in participating in the 2020 OYDC program, please contact your local officer or call Jessica Welch at 248-474-6672, ext. 303 or email

Past OYDCs

2019James Weber of Vassar, MichiganBrad and Nicole Wren of Prescott, Michigan
2018Paul and Nancy Pyle of Zeeland, MichiganJeremy and Deanna Beebe of Alger, Michigan
2017Nate and Jenny Elzinga of Zeeland, MichiganJarris and Rebekah Rubingh of Ellsworth, Michigan
2016 Darrin and Barbara Siemen of Harbor Beach, MichiganDave and Gretchen Tolan of Ossineke, Michigan
2015 Shawn and Beth VanDrie of Lake City, MichiganDarren and Regina Coffey of Allegan, Michigan
2014Brian and Carrie Preston of Quincy, MichiganKen and Kristen Sparks of Cassopolis, Michigan
2013Mike and Jordan Noll of Croswell, MichiganJeff and Chriss Carmichael of Hersey, Michigan
2012Kris and Karla Wardin of St. Johns, MichiganJosh and Lesley Lott of Mason, Michigan
2011Jeremy and Jody Sharrard of Peck, MichiganChris and Michele Daniels of Whittemore, Michigan
2010Burke and Lisa Larsen of Scottville, MichiganScott and Alissa Ferry of Litchfield, Michigan
2009Jeremy and Summer Werth of Alpena, MichiganTom and Heather Wing of Bellevue, Michigan
2008Brad and Tonia Ritter of Byron, MichiganScott and Kristie Lamb of Jeddo, Michigan
2007Aaron and Andrea Gasper of Lowell, MichiganBrad and Monica Crandall of Battle Creek, Michigan
2006Tom and Diane Cook of Pewamo, MichiganDoeke and Melissa Prins of Lakeview, Michigan


Young Cooperator Tour

This conference has been held annually since 1995 and is planned by the winning and runner-up OYDC’s from the current and prior years. All young dairy farmers and employees are invited to attend. The 2019 YC Tour left from Lansing and visited stops including Middlebury Cheese Company, dinner on an Amish member farm, MMPA’s Constantine plant and a member farm in southwest Michigan.

The 2020 YC Tour will be based in Grand Rapids, Michigan and include stops at a customer’s cheese plant and West Michigan member farms.

Learn more about the 2020 tour »