On Saturday, my family and I leave for my second trip to Costa Rica. Yes, I’m taking my family. Two little boys, Henry 3.5 years old, and Emmet 20 months, and husband Craig. Although we have been preparing for this big trip for a while, any travel with little kids has its unique challenges. Fortunately, Craig is a good traveller and a patient, creative daddy.

I was a member of the October 2011 team that worked with APOT. While I was not anticipating a return trip, I am so pleased to have this opportunity to be going back to continue the great work that Purdue and APOT have been undertaking together. I am excited to see familiar faces and to get to know new ones–especially my teammate Miranda!

On my mind are the many challenges facing APOT as they continue to work through the diffuculties of strengthening their leadership, formalizing their structure, and gaining ahold of their finances. For every success in one area, there seems to be a setback in another. I’m constantly reminded of how hard what they are trying to do really is. They are not just building a business, they are building a voluntary community of families who structure their own lives and farms around membership in this cooperative. APOT members are doing all this with limited resources, few available models, and legacy debt from prior abuses of leadership.

We’ll do our best to provide some tools and facilitation to keep building a sound business plan, formalize internal policies and practices, and develop leadership campacity.

Wish us luck! We’ll let you know how things go.

Kris Parker