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Caitlyn ConnerAugust 8--  Altamaha EMC sponsored Caitlyn Conner as a participant at the 2018 Georgia Cooperative Council Youth Leadership Conference in Covington, GA. The conference is an engaging leadership and learning experience for students that highlights the impact of cooperatives on communities.

The camp-like conference, held July 16-20, gave the attendees a week of leadership, learning and laughter and provided them the opportunity to grow in areas of leadership, problem-solving, relationship building and communication. Caitlyn stated, “This camp has given me a new perspective on leadership, new lifelong friends and a newfound appreciation for cooperatives.”

Electric cooperatives from all over the state sponsor the conference because it provides a unique way for students to see exactly what 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 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 Tammye Vaughn, Marketing and Communications for Altamaha EMC.

Students not only learned about the different types of co-ops and their impact, but they also learned more about themselves and what it takes to be a leader. Caitlyn reflects on her time at the conference by saying, “Being a good leader takes lots of practice. This week has given me a good foundation to build on my leadership skills.”

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.

In addition to activities onsite at the Georgia FFA/FCCLA Center, the group also went on a field trip to Walton EMC and Godfrey Dairy to see firsthand what they had been learning.

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.

Altamaha EMC is a consumer-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to over 20,000 members in Toombs, Montgomery, Treutlen, Emanuel, Laurens, Johnson and Tattnall counties.

For staff use only.