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Decorative ImageTri-County EMC recently sent Hunter Swanson, student at Jones County High School, to the Georgia Cooperative Council Youth Leadership Conference. The conference is an engaging multi-state leadership and learning experience for students that highlights the impact of cooperatives on communities.

The camp-like conference, held July 16-20 at the FFA Center in Covington, promised the attendees a week of leadership, learning and laughter and gave them the opportunity to grow in areas of leadership, problem-solving, relationship building and communication.

Electric cooperatives from all over the state sponsor the conference because it provides a unique way for students to see what exactly EMCs do and why they are vital in their communities. Various encounter sessions and workshops from co-op representatives, including Georgia EMC and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, are just a few of the ways that this was accomplished.

Throughout the week students heard different perspectives from other co-ops as well, including representatives from the Georgia Cooperative Development Center, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Middle Georgia EMC, GEMC Federal Credit Union, Walton EMC and the Farm Credit Associations. 

The conference also emphasized the Seven Cooperative Principles all cooperative businesses follow: voluntary and open membership, democratic membership control, members’ economic participation, autonomy and independence, education and training for members, cooperation between co-ops, and concern for local communities.

“This weeklong conference brings the seven cooperative principles to life for these teenagers while fostering leadership and soft skills in a fun environment,” says Kim Broun, Communications Specialist at Tri-County EMC.

Leading and learning took place throughout the week, but it wasn’t without moments of fun and games. A ropes course, mud course, and team building exercises are just a few of the activities that brought students together and helped them build meaningful friendships that made the goodbyes at the end of the week so hard.

The 2018 Cooperative Council Youth Conference was made possible by generous support from the electric cooperatives of Georgia, the Georgia Cooperative Council and the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

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