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Co-op tour taught 4-H’ers leadership, business skills
STARKVILLE, Miss. -- A group of 34 elite 4-H’ers toured part of northeast Mississippi July 18-21 learning about leadership and business cooperatives.
The first-place winners in the senior level of 4-H competition at this year’s 4-H Club Congress, state 4-H Ambassadors and the state 4-H Council officers participated in the 2016 Cooperative Business Leadership Conference. Mississippi State University was home base for the group as they took a bus tour to Mayhew, West Point, Greenville and Greenwood.
The 4-H’ers spent time learning about the structure and goals of business cooperatives and experienced one firsthand by establishing and operating their own soft drink cooperative. They traveled to see four business cooperatives in action, completed a community service project, and participated in workshops to review, practice and reflect on leadership competencies.
“The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Hands for Larger Service,’ which is the third line in the 4-H pledge,” said Laura Lemons, assistant professor and Extension specialist in agricultural leadership at MSU. “This is fitting, as the cooperative business model is really built on service to its members, and 4-H strives to instill a sense of service in the youth leaders we are developing for tomorrow.
“The goal of this conference is to introduce students to the cooperative business model and provide them an opportunity to identify and connect with those businesses in their communities and around the state. But more importantly, this conference is primarily about enhancing the leadership capacity of 4-H youth in Mississippi,” she said.
The 4-H’ers toured the Clay County Farmer’s Cooperative in West Point, 4-County Electric Power Association in Mayhew, Farmer’s Grain Terminal Inc. in Greenville and Staplcotn in Greenwood.
4-H is the youth development program of the MSU Extension Service, open to students ages 8 to 18. 4-H opportunities are available in all 82 counties.