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.