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Beth Ford Speaking To A Group Of People

The Privilege of fulfilling our community commitment

Beth Ford, Group EVP and COO of Land O’Lakes, Inc., offers three words that drive the company's commitment

We are headed into my favorite time of year at Land O'Lakes. This is truly when the company shows up in our most authentic way, as a group of people who care about our fellow human beings near and far. Through our United Way campaign, the company extends into our Twin Cities community and in other locations in which we do business, working to assist those in need. The way we go about it defines our culture as one focused on building strong communities, consistent with the rural values of our farmer owners. It is the same rationale that led them to found our co-op in 1921. I've had the opportunity to work at seven companies in six industries and I have truly never seen anything like it.

As a leader in a large company, I see community commitment and nonprofit leadership as a privilege...an opportunity for executives to allow themselves to both develop and to give back in areas that are most important to them.

At Land O'Lakes, United Way gives us the opportunity to do both, and also have some fun. From a 5K walk/run around our campus to a much contested and very competitive volleyball tournament; from an online auction (including a tour of member coops with our Chief Marketing Officer and SVP of Ag Customer Accounts) to a bake sale from our very own kitchens, from a golf tournament in California to a charity sale in Texas, we all look forward to the interesting ways we can come together to contribute and make life a little better for those around us.

As you look for ways to plug in and embrace the privilege of your community commitment this season, I'd offer three words that drive our Land O'Lakes commitment: Passion, Personal and Privilege.

Passion

I encourage everyone to dive in with passion to help those in need. The best people I know in business have a passion for people—learning about them, enabling their success and helping them enrich their own lives. More than half of our employees at headquarters volunteer, many helping with the work of our foundation in alleviating hunger, enabling education and connecting with communities. Others work on projects outside our traditional focus but that are spot-on with current concerns like pollinator gardens. All with a passion for their cause.

Personal

Make it personal. When you are considering giving your time, your talent or your treasure, pick something of significance to you. Last year, I led the Twin Cities “Go Red for Women” campaign. It was personal for me as we had lost our 39-year-old communications director to a tragic stroke the year before.

Privilege

Our team at Land O'Lakes considers it a privilege to give back to our community—however we may define it. Some of us define our community locally, here in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Many of us define our community as the world, as our farmer owners did more than 35 years ago. They began helping small holder farmers throughout the globe through our International Development organization. Closer to home, they continue to volunteer in their communities and in Minneapolis/St. Paul when they are here for meetings and events. However you choose to define it, we need to be accountable and embrace the privilege of helping our communities.

At Land O'Lakes, we believe in feeding human progress—in our business, in our community and in our world. Enjoy the progress you help make possible.