Suffolk youths attend state conference

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2005

Staff report

Jessica Estienne and Stephanie Norfleet, both of Suffolk, recently represented the area in the 2005 Virginia Cooperative Youth Leadership Conference.

Sponsored by the Virginia Council of Farmer Cooperatives (VCFC), this year’s conference, &uot;Exploring Cooperatives through Education,&uot; gave high-schoolers hands-on experience in running a farm-supply cooperative store. Conducted by several of the state’s cooperative leaders, the seminar also provided real-world advice on the day-to-day operations of supply, marketing, farm credit and electric cooperatives.

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Hugh Harris, VCFC executive secretary, said this type of training is critical in teaching youths how cooperative businesses operate.

&uot;It’s important that each generation understand cooperatives’ unique characteristics and how they work,&uot; said Harris. &uot;Few people today were around when most co-ops were formed, so it’s essential that newer generations have the chance to learn the things that their grandparents saw first-hand.&uot;

VCFC also awarded eight scholarships for students to attend this year’s National Institute of Cooperative Education (NICE) conference at the University of Kentucky. Some 49 high-schoolers from around the Commonwealth participated in the three-day meeting, held at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria.

VCFC represents farm-supply, electric, farm credit and production cooperative throughout Virginia to promote an understanding of the contribution these businesses make to the economy, generating more than $1.6 billion in economic development that directly benefits all citizens of the commonwealth, whether or not they are members of cooperatives.

-Submitted by Southern States