Hall of Fame Spotlight: Everett M. Dobrinski
Advocate – Vocal champion of cooperatives before state and federal legislatures advocating on cooperative taxation, retail wheeling and territorial integrity for rural electric cooperatives and a financially sound and nimble farm credit system
Community Champion – Worked to attract commercial businesses to the local electric cooperative thereby maintaining affordable, high quality electric services for all customers
Statesman – Led the boards of CoBank and Verendrye Electric Cooperative, served in the North Dakota House of Representatives, and recognized by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change for Rural America
A third-generation grain and oilseed farmer, Everett M. Dobrinski from Makoti, ND recognized at an early age the value of cooperatives in providing essential services that his family farm needed to compete in a global marketplace. His personal commitment and leadership within the cooperative sector are a testament to his belief that cooperatives empower farmers.
A natural leader, Everett became active in Verendrye Electric Cooperative eventually becoming Board Chair in 1990. Everett understood that the cooperative needed to attract commercial business, such as the Minot Air Force Base, in order to maintain affordable, high-quality electric service for all customer-owners. Catering to the local community’s needs, Everett’s guidance was instrumental in financing a new daycare and convenience store in the more rural parts of Verendrye’s territory.
Everett is an advocate of cooperative education in the boardroom, schools and universities and the statehouse. He frequently educated members about cooperatives and championed the need for cooperative director education in other industry sectors. As an Advisory Board Member of the Quentin Burdick Center for Cooperatives at North Dakota State University, Everett provided valuable advice to develop curriculum about cooperatives for high school and college students. As a former member of the North Dakota House of Representatives, he championed political engagement and advocated on issues of cooperative taxation, retail wheeling, and territorial integrity.
Elected to the CoBank Board of Directors in 1999, Everett served as Board Chair from 2008 to 2018. His understanding that the mission of a dependable cooperative lender was to be there for customers during turbulent times, helped CoBank and the Farm Credit System weather the U.S. financial crisis in 2007-2008. His leadership enabled agricultural cooperatives to maintain access to credit. As the Chairman of CoBank and a board member of the Farm Credit Council, Everett played a key role in ensuring that Farmer Mac had enough capital to comply with the minimum regulatory capital requirements. CoBank and other Farm Credit System banks provided a $60 million investment to Farmer Mac when many commercial banks were unable to lend to each other. If it weren’t for leaders like Everett, the Farm Credit System could have looked very differently today.
Everett understood that meeting borrower needs, building financial strength and improving diversification and enhanced long-term capacity were critical for customer-owners. He led the merger between CoBank and US Ag Bank so that there would be greater opportunities to support rural America. Under CoBank’s Growing Rural America Initiative, Everett spurred the creation of the Sharing Success program where charitable contributions of the bank’s customers are matched from an annual fund of $4 million and the Co-op Start program that provides flexible financing up to $250,000 to early growth stage agricultural cooperatives. Everett’s guidance has positioned CoBank well to meet the needs of rural America today and into the future.
As a tireless champion for rural America, Everett has been a recipient of numerous prestigious awards such as the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperative’s Cooperative Leadership Award and the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives Director of the Year Award. Everett was also honored for his contributions to rural America by the Obama White House as a Champion of Change for Rural America.