Advancing Professional Development in the U.S. Virgin Islands About the Cooperative Business Model: A Training and Mentorship Program

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $87,833.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipients: University of the Virgin Islands; The Federation of Southern Cooperatives; The West Georgia Farmers Cooperative
Region: Southern
State: U.S. Virgin Islands
Principal Investigator:
Louis Petersen, Jr.
University of the Virgin Islands



Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, technical assistance
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives

    Proposal abstract:

    This project represents a collaborative effort between the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, and the West Georgia Farmers Cooperative to address training needs in the U.S. Virgin Islands regarding the cooperative business model. The first objective is to increase the level of knowledge and awareness among the trainees. The second strategic goal is to increase the number of local trainers who would be better prepared to assist producers with cooperative business development to enhance economic profitability and sustainability. The third goal of this proposal is to foster the development of a long term mentorship connection between the trainees, the Virgin Islands farming community, and a successful model of a cooperative enterprise outside of the territory. The final goal is to encourage the formation of cooperatives.

    The target audience will consist of agricultural professionals and mentor farmers. The method of training will involve a comprehensive five day course comprised of 5 modules. The final day of sessions will consist of group activities in which participants will use the lessoned learned during the previous four days to form mock cooperative businesses. All training activities will emphasize an interactive, role-playing approach to stimulate group dynamics and encourage behavioral change.

    The second phase of this project will focus on building a mentorship initiative to facilitate long term support for local cooperative development efforts. The project results will be evaluated primarily through pre and post training surveys that are designed to collect qualitative and quantitative data.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The proposed project has four distinct objectives as described below.

    1. To increase the level of knowledge and awareness among agricultural professionals and mentor farmers regarding the cooperative business model, including the steps involved in forming a cooperative
    2. To increase the total number of local trainers (outreach staff and mentor farmers) that can provide technical assistance to farmers regarding the cooperative business model
    3. To develop a mentorship program between trainees and technical cooperative advisors to foster long term support and encouragement to Virgin Islands producers seeking to develop cooperative business enterprises
    4. To encourage the subsequent formation of at least one agriculture-related cooperative in each of the two territorial districts.

    Desired behavioral change(s) according to objectives listed above

    Objective 1: Demonstration of an increased capacity to respond to cooperative related inquiries and provide assistance to producers.

    Objeective 2: N/A

    Objective 3: N/A

    Objective 4: Demonstration of action steps taken and expressed commitment to organize or join a cooperative venture


    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.