Agenda & Sessions

Event Location • Agenda & Sessions • RegistrationOptional Events • Communications ContestSponsors

Saturday, June 4, 2015

Registration in convention area 12-5 pm

5:00 pm – 6:30 pm • Welcome Reception

6:30 pm • Leave for Taste of Omaha

Enjoy the Taste of Omaha, a community celebration showcasing Omaha’s great foods and live entertainment. The festival, located within walking distance of the hotel, is open to the public and free to attend. Free concerts are scheduled all weekend long.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Registration in convention area 8 am-1 pm
Complimentary cooked-to-order hotel breakfast

7:00 am • Optional Golf Outing

Dodge Riverside Golf Club, Council Bluffs, Iowa Course fees, rentals and transportation are the responsibility of the golfer. Reservation deadline May 13. To RSVP, contact Jim Rodenburg at

10:30 am – 11:30 pm • New Member Orientation

12:30 pm • Welcome to the Growing Season!

12:45 pm – 2:00 pm • Growing into GREATness: Unleashing Your Best Self

Paul Wesselmann, The Ripples Guy

Is there a way to enjoy deeply engaging work while embracing a satisfying life? This warm, captivating speaker shares his stress-reducing, energy-infusing presentation that has helped thousands of people in hundreds of organizations think more purposefully about their personal leadership potential.

2:15 pm – 3:30 pm • Bringing Your Co-op Story to Life

Moderator: Anne Reynolds, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Panel Participants: Robin Marohn, Heartland Credit Union
Allan Reetz, Hanover Co-op Food Stores
Jim Rodenburg, Ag Processing Inc.

Developing a good understanding of your co-op amongst members, employees and the community is possible by bringing to life what you do through compelling stories and outreach. In this panel discussion moderated by Anne Reynolds, executive director for the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, recognized co-op story-telling experts share their successes and lessons learned.

3:45 pm – 4:45 pm • CCA Business Session

4:45 pm – 5:00 pm • Visiting the Big O!

Janelle Armstrong, Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get the lowdown on Omaha’s sights to see, things to do, events and exhibits to attend and, of course, the food! Did you know Omaha is the birthplace of the Reuben sandwich?

6:15 pm • Grow Your Network

Leave for group dinners (Dutch treat). Sign up for restaurants during registration.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Complimentary cooked-to-order hotel breakfast

8:00 am – 8:45 am • Regional Family Time

Start the day the co-op family way! Meet with cooperative communicators from your CCA region for area updates and more.

9:00 am – 10:00 am • Stepping off the Mundane Train: Becoming a More Creative Co-op Writer

Chris Villines, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative

Review the elements that come together to make writing sparkle. Remember, we’re not just reporting the facts … we’re telling a story in the process.

9:00 am – 10:00 am • Effective Print Design

Swanson Russell Communications Agency

Whether you majored in design or get your design ideas from billboard ads, grow your design understanding with this workshop that touches on the basics and explains the trends.

10:20 am – 11:20 am • Marking Milestones

Donna Abernathy, DLF Communications
Amber DuMont Sheridan, Maryland & Virginia Milk Producers Cooperative

By its very nature, a co-op is first and foremost about people, and so a story about its past should reflect this. In this session, co-op history book author Donna Abernathy shares tips for collecting data, stories and images that can transform mundane statistics and lists into a compelling narrative that entertains while it informs about your co-op’s history.

If done well, an annual report can become a distinctive marketing piece that strengthens your engagement with members and others throughout the year. Learn from CCA member and veteran annual report writer Amber Sheridan how to produce a creative, effective and successful annual report.

10:20 am – 11:20 am • Designing for the Digital Platform

Swanson Russell Communications Agency

A lot of times we’re called on to move print pieces and other projects online. But it’s not a one-to-one transition. There’s a lot to consider in terms of formatting and how to best translate to digital properties. This workshop leads attendees through the process to consider what the best digital platform is – should that ad be on the website as a banner ad or the message be part of an email – and how to make the work being done really shine.

11:30 am – 1:30 pm • CCA Contest Awards Luncheon

Co-op communicators started from seed and watered and cultivated their work over the past year before entering the annual communications contest. The awards luncheon provides the opportunity to recognize outstanding communicators for their best work and inspires others to nourish their seeds of creativity.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm • From the Ground Up: A Guide to Project Execution

Swanson Russell Communications Agency

Tips and tricks for effective and efficient project execution to operate like the mini ad agency you are, presented by team members from Swanson Russell, an Omaha, Nebraska, agency.

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm • Who Can Predict a Crisis? 10 Critical Things You Should Do NOW to Prepare

David Pelzer, Pelzer Communications Resources Inc.

While we try to anticipate and prepare for emergencies, time seems to get away from us, and we are left never feeling fully prepared. Have no fear! There are plans and practices we can put into place ahead of time that will increase our organization’s readiness, and our ability to put out fires when they happen.

3:00 pm • Explore the Old Market on Your Own

The Old Market is Omaha’s most historic, most entertaining neighborhood. The cobblestone streets are home to a diverse mix of shopping, galleries, restaurants and taverns.

5:15 pm • Load Buses for Evening Event

5:30 pm – 7:30 pm • Picnic and a Cruise

Hop on the River City Star, a 1940s era paddlewheel boat, and enjoy cruising the Missouri River while indulging in dinner, music and camaraderie.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Complimentary cooked-to-order hotel breakfast

8:15 am – 9:15 am • A Day in the Life of a Nerdy Cooperative Communicator

Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

This fast-moving, laugh-filled session takes you hour-by-hour through a day in the life of a tech-savvy co-op communicator. Learn how a professional nerd solves a security crisis before 10 am, makes more of a lunch hour with an extra set of virtual hands, saves money on software before a staff meeting and brings the team together online before the day is done. This session will help you:

  • Understand how technology fits into every part of your day
  • Learn about technology systems that streamline projects and tasks
  • Discover dozens of free and bargain apps and online tools for putting Institute ideas into action!

9:30 am – 10:30 am • 29 Tech Tools to Create Cool Content for Social Media

Beth Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend

The most popular posts on social media are pictures and videos, and with a few easy (and free!) tech tools, you can transform your messages into share-worthy graphics that will put your organization out in front. This action-packed session will give you dozens of sites and apps that will help you elevate the quality of your social media posts and other material. You’ll discover sites to turn quotes into graphics, transform ordinary photos into works of art and create infographics for little or no cost

9:30 am – 10:30 am • Storytelling: Communicating Beyond 30 Seconds

Ruben Musca, Touchstone Energy Cooperatives

The 30-second advert has been a mainstay in advertising on radio and television advertising for the past 50 years. Today, that’s not enough – with social media, online video, and a myriad of new communications medium, how do you truly communicate? Learn how to move beyond the sound bite and how to tell your own compelling story.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm • Engage the Eyes, Strengthen the Story & Uncover Your Visual Voices

Jason Jenkins, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

A true photo story is more than just a collection of images. Rather, it’s a series of photographs whose size, arrangement and sequence work in concert to provide deeper meaning and understanding to a story. Learn the elements every photo story should contain and gain strategies for success when the story calls for more than one image. efforts.

11:00 am – 12:00 pm • Growing Your Brand from the Inside Out

Nicole Carlson, Tri-State G&T

An effective internal communications program strengthens the employee experience. In this session, learn tips, tricks and lessons from the presenter’s experience building an internal communications program from the ground up with the goal of engaging a diverse workforce of 1,700 employees at 37 sites. Topics will include: Building a strategic plan and setting goals; determining appropriate types of content, channels and frequency; providing customer service; building the right team; and measuring success and tracking analytics.

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm • Lunch & Roundtable Discussions

Enjoy a lunch and then gather with fellow attendees to discuss current topics, ideas and issues.

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm • Become a One-Man Multimedia Band

Jason Jenkins, Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

The boss has discovered the DSLR you’re carrying captures both still photographs AND video. But how can one person do it all? Jason Jenkins shares his experiences as a one-man band who writes the words, shoots the photos and captures the video that together create engaging multimedia stories.

2:15 pm – 3:15 pm • It’s About Time! A Writer’s Workshop

Peter Fitzgerald, Pennsylvania Statewide and G&T

“If you want something done, ask a busy person.” Ever notice the more you get done, the more you get asked to do? With this 18th-century adage, Ben Franklin could have foreseen the plight of our modern-day multitasker. As technology makes us more available, how do we navigate the demands on our time and energy? In this session, Peter Fitzgerald explores effective ways to manage time in the digital age.

3:30 pm – 4:30 pm • Growing Inspiration for a Movement

Kaeleigh Barker Van Valkenburgh, Cooperatives for a Better World

In this closing session, hear about the “Cooperatives for a Better World” initiative, a global effort working to unite the cooperative community in building public awareness of cooperatives around the world. Recent survey data and discussions with cooperative leaders and influencers have revealed a significant opportunity to build the collective brand and identity for cooperative businesses. This bold initiative aims to build awareness and affinity for cooperatives tactically through education and inspiration, and the opportunity to begin is now. Learn more about the project at

5:00 pm – 6:00 pm • Honors Reception

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm • Honors Banquet

Enjoy great food and great camaraderie as CCA bestows its most prestigious awards on deserving co-op communicators.