Student Board Member

Derek Franklin

I first heard of Wheatsfield three years ago, when I told my advisor where my partner and I would be living in Ames. “Oh, you’ll be really close to Wheatsfield,” he told us. “You really need to check that place out.” So, it was one of the first places we explored after moving to town and it’s been a staple for us ever since. And for the past 10 months I’ve been honored to be the student representative on the Wheatsfield Board of Directors, where I’ve learned a great deal about the history of the co-op and what it takes to keep Wheatsfield humming. My position is to ensure that students have a voice at Wheatsfield, as the leadership at Wheatsfield wants to be mindful of students’ perspectives.

I came onto the Board with an appreciation for Wheatsfield. I love that there is a patio where cold beverages and food can be enjoyed on-site. I love that Wheatsfield has a teaching kitchen where people can learn about how to prepare and preserve food, because these are hard skills to learn and major barriers to changing eating habits. I love Wheatsfield’s Tiny Deck Concerts (a witty reference to NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts). And my absolute favorite part of Wheatsfield is its coffeeshop and bakery, where my go-to order is an Americano and a brownie. The Wheatsfield breads are also amazing, along with the local cheeses—my favorite is Lost Lake Farm’s Iowa Alpine!

Most of my time on the Board has been spent learning, and I’m really grateful for the patience of fellow board members who have been willing to explain financial terms and backstories to me throughout our meetings. Here are some of the things I’ve learned (and appreciated!) so far:

· Wheatsfield recognizes that students are an integral part of this community, and Wheatsfield’s managers and Board value student voices and input.

· Wheatsfield has been around for (nearly) 50 years! And it has evolved, expanded, and even changed locations.

· Wheatsfield’s managers, Board, employees and members care deeply about the community, environment, social justice, and honoring the dignity of anyone who walks through Wheatsfield’s doors.

· How amazing the hot bar is! You can try all of the things!

· COVID-19 has presented all businesses with challenges and on many scales, and Wheatsfield has met these challenges while doing its best to keep guests and employees safe.

· Wheatsfield is itself a member of a co-op of cooperative grocery stores—this co-op of co-ops helps stores across the country learn from one another and better serve their members.

· Linda Johnson (Wheatsfield’s General Manager) is good at pretty much everything.

I still have a couple months left on the board, so students please let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the co-op, or questions about serving on the board in this role. I’ve learned a great deal and thoroughly enjoyed the experience; there are many wonderful people in and around Wheatsfield. I thank you for this opportunity.