University News

Illinois Cooperative Council Youth Conference June 4-5 at WIU

April 20, 2015

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MACOMB, IL — The Illinois Cooperative Council (ICC) will hold its annual two-day youth conference June 4-5 at Western Illinois University (Macomb campus). Geared toward fall 2015 high school sophomore, junior and senior students from across the state, the event is designed to increase awareness of cooperatives, according to Jolene Willis, associate manager of the Illinois Cooperative Development Center, a program of the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs at WIU. The WIU School of Agriculture will co-host the conference with the Illinois Cooperative Development Center, Willis noted.

Due to the generous sponsorships made available from co-op businesses, students are invited to attend the conference free of charge.

"For nearly 25 years, the conference has been held on the Southern Illinois University campus in Carbondale, but beginning this year, ICC officials decided to rotate between the WIU and SIU campuses, to make attendance more accessible to northern Illinois students," Willis explained. "Attendees will receive a better understanding of the purpose and structure of cooperatives, along with leadership-development opportunities for future cooperative leaders."

Approximately 75 students attend each year to learn how Illinois cooperatives began, Willis added. The students gain an understanding of the unique principles, governance and operation of cooperatives; how they benefit communities; and why they are important.

Students will also have the opportunity to network with cooperative industry leaders from various business sectors and tour local cooperatives. Additionally, they will have an opportunity to stay overnight on WIU's Macomb campus to experience college life.

WIU college students and ICC board members will serve as chaperones and mentors throughout the event.

In addition, officials at the ICC and in the WIU School of Agriculture are pleased to offer a continuing-education opportunity for agriculture teachers who will accompany students to the conference. Jennifer Waters, program advisor for Facilitating Coordination in Agriculture Education (FCAE, District #3), is providing a professional-development workshop that will coincide with the youth conference. Teachers attending the workshop are also invited to an ICC-sponsored networking dinner with ICC board members Thursday, June 4.

"The ICC is fortunate to have the support of so many dedicated cooperative-minded institutions throughout the state," said Nancy McDonald, ICC chairman and Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC) marketing administrator. "It is our hope through widespread cooperative business support, students will see all seven of the cooperative principles demonstrated, but especially number five, 'Education, Training and Information'; number six, 'Cooperation among Cooperatives'; and number seven, 'Concern for Community.'"

The ICC was organized in 1966 to promote the growth and development of Illinois cooperatives. The council is dedicated to promoting a positive business climate for cooperatives, increasing the public's understanding and awareness of the value of cooperatives and recognizing excellence exhibited by Illinois cooperative businesses.

For more information about the ICC Youth Development Conference at WIU, contact Willis at (309) 298-2835.

To learn more about the ICC's member organizations and initiatives, visit or on Facebook at

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