VICE 2019: Learning the Ins and Outs of Cooperatives
Three local students recently attended the 2019 Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education Conference held at Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria, Va.
In early April, Nandua High School’s Venah Hargis, Broadwater Academy’s Travis Northam and Arcadia High School’s Sarah Wenzel were sponsored by A&N Electric Cooperative to attend the conference. The three students were selected through the cooperative’s annual essay contest, which is also used to determine Washington Youth Tour participants. The contest was open to juniors from every area high school, with one spot available to each school.
Students are required to visit the sponsoring cooperative business and complete an interview form. This allows them to learn about the size and operation of a cooperative in their community. Participants are also provided with a booklet on cooperatives, which they are asked to read prior to the conference.
While at the conference Hargis, Wenzel and Northam participated in team building exercises, were taught about the cooperative model of business and were tested on their knowledge about cooperatives.
The conference also features a condensed business simulation game developed by Perdue University. Students were split into teams and simulated the operation of a cooperative feed store through 5 fiscal quarters. Teams competed against one another to increase their own store’s net worth.
“This is a great opportunity for local students to learn about what it takes to run a business,” said Jay Diem, the local VICE Conference Coordinator for A&N Electric Cooperative. “Students come away with a better understanding of what a cooperative is, and what makes the cooperative form of business unique.”
This was the third consecutive year A&N Electric Cooperative has sponsored three local students to attend the conference. The cooperative is hoping to increase participation among the local schools next year. The annual VICE Conference is just one of the educational opportunities the cooperative offers to local students.