30 SOURCE | Summer 2022
Illinois Cooperative Council Raising Awareness About Cooperatives
Karen Jones , Youth and Young Producer Specialist kjones @ growmark . com
Two important cooperative principles are Education , Training , and Information and Cooperation Among Cooperatives . The Illinois Cooperative Council ( ICC ) was formed in 1966 to fulfill both of these by promoting a positive business climate for cooperatives in the state , increasing awareness and understating about cooperatives , and recognizing excellence exhibited by Illinois cooperatives and their leaders .
Currently , the Council membership includes regional cooperatives such as GROWMARK , CoBank , Compeer Financial , Farm Credit Illinois , and the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives , along with local cooperatives including the Neighborhood Grocery in Carbondale . Other Council members include Illinois
Farm Bureau , the Illinois Department of Agriculture , and the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs .
“ Much of the value of ICC membership comes from the connections made and ideas shared with fellow members ,” said Beth Bolger , who works for Farm Credit Illinois and currently serves as the ICC chairperson . “ Having more co-ops involved allows for additional input , ideas , and resources all co-ops can benefit from .”
While the Council works to promote cooperatives throughout the year , its flagship event happens in June . The Youth Conference has been held for more than 25 years and brings together FFA members from across the state to learn about cooperatives and experience campus life at one of Illinois ’ s agricultural universities .
“ Southern Illinois University ( SIU ) enjoys hosting the Cooperative Youth Conference because it gives students the opportunity to experience campus life and beautiful SIU campus with the overnight stay on campus , connect with our current students , and visit the SIU University Farms , all while learning the importance of cooperatives in the agricultural industry ,” said Susan Graham , Director of Development for the College of Agricultural , Life , and Physical Sciences at Southern Illinois University .
During the conference , students work in groups to learn about and present