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More than 400 people from across the state met in Franklin for the Tennessee Young Leaders Conference, an annual event that educates and equips leaders in cooperative and agricultural issues.
The Tennessee Council of Cooperatives and Tennessee Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Ranchers sponsored the conference. The TCC is an organization composed of a variety of cooperatives including farm electric, dairy, farm supply, telephone and tobacco co-ops, as well as farm credit banks and Farm Bureau.
Local attendees were Katherine Burke, sponsored by Fayetteville Public Utilities; Josh, Julieanna, Levi, Abi and Travis Ogle, Lincoln Farmers Co-op; J.W., Jennifer, Case and Cole Brown, Vince and Allison Ogle, Amy Taylor, and Jack Carey, YF&R.
The Young Leaders Conference brings couples and individuals together from rural communities to learn about cooperatives, share their views about agriculture and discuss current issues facing rural Americans. The theme of the conference, “Cooperatives: Building a Better Tennessee,” was also the theme of a video produced by the TCC last year in observance of 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives. The video was shown to kick off the conference on Friday night, followed by rousing entertainment by the YF&R Band.
TCC board member Keith Harrison, Tennessee Farmers Cooperative marketing, advertising and promotions coordinator, said delegates to the Young Leaders Conference are the future leaders of cooperatives across the state.
“It’s amazing how most of the attendees have connections to all the cooperatives that are part of TCC,” Harrison said. “And it’s important for these future leaders to be involved and trained to prepare them for their leadership roles when their turn comes. The networking among all the conference participants enhances cooperation in the long term.”
Those attending the 2013 conference attended sessions that ranged from media relations to building strong community and cooperative leadership. Mike Keith, the voice of the Tennessee Titans, was also a keynote speaker at the event. At lunch on Saturday, the TCC also presented a $1,000 contribution to the John Willis Memorial Scholarship Fund to honor Tom Purkey, longtime president of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. The fund provides financial assistance to deserving college agriculture students in the state.
The 2014 conference will be held next February.