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Co-ops bring young leaders to Nashville

More than 45 high school juniors from across the state attended the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Youth Leadership Summit March 13–15 in Nashville.

Sen. Jim Tracy on Tuesday, March 14, greeted delegates attending the three-day leadership and government workshop. Tracy welcomed the young leaders to the Senate Chamber of the Tennessee State Capitol where Alan Whittington, assistant chief clerk of the Senate, explained the process required to pass legislation. Students had the opportunity to debate and vote on a mock bill.

Reps. Mike Bell and John Ray Clemmons joined Sen. Tracy for a town hall meeting with attendees. The three discussed the legislative process and answered questions posed by summit attendees. Delegates then had the opportunity to listen in on debate in House and Senate committee meetings in Legislative Plaza.

In addition to a hands-on look at state government, delegates to the event learned team-building and problem-solving skills and developed a better understanding of their local electric cooperatives.

“I have learned a lot about the Senate and House of Representatives and how laws are passed,” says  Sarah Shoate, a junior from Adamsville High School attending the Youth Leadership Summit. “I’m really grateful for the opportunity to come here and improve my leadership skills. I’m grateful for Pickwick Electric Cooperative. My co-op really does a lot to make sure leaders of tomorrow get the opportunities they deserve.”

Delegates to the Youth Leadership Summit are encouraged to be leaders and use their talents to improve rural Tennessee. “Local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors chose these deserving students to attend the summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and director of the Youth Leadership Summit. “They will be the next generation of leaders in rural Tennessee, and we want to prepare them for the challenges and opportunities they will face.”

“We want these students to share our passion for rural Tennessee and help them appreciate the things that make our rural communities special,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “Each year we are encouraged by the caliber of young people who call rural Tennessee ‘home.’”

 

TECA likes NICE

The 2012 National Institute on Cooperative Education (NICE) Conference was held July 28- August 1 on the campus of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. The theme for this year’s conference was “The View is NICE at the Top.”

Tennessee 4-H was represented at this event by Lynsey Jones and Holly Nehls, both are Senior 4-H members from Knox County. These students were awarded the trip as runners-up in the Level II leadership and citizenship competition at Tennessee 4-H Congress in Nashville last April.

FFA was represented by Cheyenne Hanloh, Daniel Deas, Spencer Sanders, and Station Camp High School Agriculture Teacher – Brad Kirkham. These students were selected because of their achievements in the State FFA Star Agribusiness and State Proficiency Competition which was held in Gatlinburg last April as well.

The NICE Conference is intended to provide a deeper understanding of cooperatives to the youth participants who are the cooperative members, customers, employees, directors, and leaders of tomorrow. Participants gained an understanding of how cooperatives differ from other business forms and will hear cooperative success stories in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. In a team setting, attendees will serve as managers of a simulated cooperative store, competing with other stores in their market area for sales and profit. Teams will also analyze case studies, develop their own student-run cooperative or STUCO and participate in team-building and leadership development activities. The closing session will recognize the teams that have been the top performers in various conference activities. The Youth Scholar Program provides both educational and social activities.

The youth and adults attending the NICE conference also toured the McCormick Farm & Workshop in Raphine, VA. Cyrus McCormick, founder of the McCormick Harvest Machine Company which became part of International Harvester Company is credited as the “inventor” of the mechanical reaper. The group also visited the Natural Bridge and the Natural Bridge Caverns all located in Virginia.

The trip was sponsored by the Tennessee Council of Cooperatives (TCC). Mr. Todd Blocker, Director of Member Relations at TECA and a member of the TCC Board of Directors accompanied the students on the trip. Youth from Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and South Dakota also attended the conference.