George Secor, the Sunrise Cooperative President and Chief Executive Officer, and Ethin Bendickson, the first recipient of the Recruiting Innovative Sunrise Employees (RISE) FFA Career Program. Photo provided by Ethin Bendickson.

Stepping into a career with Sunrise Cooperative

By Meredith Oglesby, OCJ FFA reporter

During the 2020 Ohio FFA Celebration, Sunrise Cooperative announced the first recipient of the Recruiting Innovative Sunrise Employees (RISE) FFA Career Program. Ethin Bendickson, a 2020 graduate of Miami East High School, has secured a full-time position with Sunrise Cooperative along with a signing bonus of a 2019 Chevrolet Colorado truck.

Bendickson’s position is a four-year commitment. In the first two years, he will rotate through different divisions learning about Sunrise Cooperative and in the following two years, he will be evaluated and placed into a position based on interests and expertise. Sunrise, based in Ohio, is a leading agricultural and energy cooperative.

“I am very excited to have the opportunity to work for the cooperative and learn about all the aspects of being a part of a great company,” Bendickson said.

Currently, he is working in the agronomy division and is located at the PCT branch in Kettlersville, Ohio. PCT is a liquid fertilizer facility so Bendickson mixes fertilizers, delivers fertilizers and assists in any other ways the facility may need, including maintenance on fertilizer tanks.

The RISE program was developed to provide an opportunity for students who are interested in entering a career after graduating high school.

“This was a great opportunity for me because I wasn’t exactly sure I wanted to go to college so now I am in a great workplace that is willing to train and that is really beneficial,” Bendickson said.

The program also supports the Ohio FFA State President during their year of service. Before the truck was presented to Bendickson, Holly McClay, the 2019-2020 State President drove the truck across the state as she served 25,000 Ohio FFA members.

“The truck is amazing,” Bendickson said. “It is great to have such a nice vehicle that is reliable, and I don’t have to worry about having a truck payment.”

To be considered for the position students filled out an application and wrote an essay on how the FFA prepared them for a career with Sunrise Cooperative. Bendickson’s FFA advisor and agricultural education instructor, Marie Carity, shared the opportunity with him.

“I’m so happy to say I was pushed into a great opportunity,” Bendickson said.

He grew up on a small farm where he helped raise Holstein steers for beef and baled about 59 acres of hay. Bendickson was an active member of the Miami East FFA chapter where he served as the chapter president and secretary and was involved in the food science and dairy cattle judging career development events.

In the future, he would like to continue his career with Sunrise Cooperative and own a small dairy farm. The FFA taught Bendickson to step outside of his comfort zone and take advantage of opportunities he may never get again. Now working with Sunrise Cooperative, he can combine the lessons he learned in FFA with his new career.

Students can apply for the 2020-2021 school year. To quality students must be an Ohio high school graduate and an active member of an Ohio FFA chapter. The application will open in the fall. For more information about the RISE FFA Career Program visit the or the Ohio FFA website at

“To those applying next year, do it! I personally didn’t think I, in a million years, would have gotten an opportunity like this,” Bendickson said. “Just take the risk. No one will ever shame you for applying, but you’ll never know unless you try.”

Ethin Bendickson is in his 2019 Chevrolet Colorado at the Sunrise Cooperative corporate office in Fremont, Ohio. Photo provided by Ethin Bendickson.

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