BAILEY, Colo. – Farmers Union youth members from across the country gathered here last week for the 81st annual National Farmers Union (NFU) All-States Leadership Camp. Hosted each June at the NFU Education Center, All-States Camp encourages youth to explore their leadership potential, discuss issues important to their generation, and identify ways to affect positive change in their communities.
Throughout the week, campers between the ages of 17 and 20 years participated in programs that emphasize leadership, teamwork and cooperative education while also enjoying traditional camp activities. In addition, campers gained hands-on experience in Denver, Colorado while volunteering at Re:Vision, a food and farming cooperative co-founded by NFU Beginning Farmer Institute alum Eric Kornacki.
“Farmers Union has a long and effective history of providing young adults with tools and opportunities to lead. For 81 years now, All-States Camp has been the place where our young members from across the country can come to learn more about the organization, the cooperative model, and leadership. As a proud former All-States camper myself, I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm and high regard that our young members have for attending the camp each year,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.
This year’s camp, themed “Stewardship: Care for the Land, Care for the People,” featured a number of notable speakers and presenters. Some of the speakers have been esteemed All-States guests for many years; Olympic Gold Medalist Rulon Gardner, a camp regular, spoke about overcoming the odds to become an unlikely wrestling hero. Retired CHS, Inc. Vice President William Nelson explained the value of cooperatives in agriculture. Rocky Mountain Farmers Union staff members Harrison Topp and Aubriel Jones discussed leadership in agriculture with the group, while NFU Government Relations Representative Matt Perdue walked the campers through NFU’s grassroots policy process and led a short policy simulation.
This year’s camp also featured Brendon Rockey, a biotic farmer in Colorado, who led an interactive session on soil health and carbon cycling. NFU Foundation Director Tom Driscoll closed the week’s festivities at the camp’s banquet, addressing the future of Farmers Union and the importance of youth involvement.
The campers also elected six of their peers to NFU’s National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC), which represents thousands of Farmers Union youth across the country. NYAC will further hone their leadership skills at a learning session in Washington, D.C., through presentations at NFU’s 116th Anniversary Convention, as well as by planning next year’s All-States Camp.
This year’s NYAC includes: Hunter Cardinal, Minnesota; Marissa Holinka, South Dakota; Jessica Jurcek, Wisconsin; Ben Lehman, Iowa; Shaun Heier, North Dakota; and Kirsten VanDerPol, Minnesota.
“NYAC builds leaders in the agriculture industry and ensures the voice of younger generations is heard and respected in what the organization does,” said Johnson. “For the next year, these six youths will serve as representatives of their peers, learn about the legislative process and lobbying, and present in front of hundreds of NFU members and press at the NFU convention. I’m confident they will be strong advocates for both the organization and young people in agriculture.”
For pictures from this year’s All-States Leadership Camp, visit https://www.flickr.com/photos/nfudc/.
National Farmers Union has been working since 1902 to protect and enhance the economic well-being and quality of life for family farmers, ranchers and rural communities through advocating grassroots-driven policy positions adopted by its membership.