BAILEY, Colo.– Farmers Union youth members from across the country convened last month for the 83rdannual National Farmers Union (NFU) All-States Leadership Camp. Hosted each June, the event encourages young adults to explore their leadership potential, discuss current events and important issues, learn more about the power of cooperatives, and identify ways to affect positive change in their communities.
“Education is the foundation of Farmers Union’s 117 years of success,” said NFU President Roger Johnson, an All-States Camp alumnus. “For the last 83 of those years, All-States Camp has been an essential part of that foundation. By providing an opportunity for our young members to learn about Farmers Union, the cooperative model, and advocacy, this program and others like it help build the next generation of agricultural leaders and ensure a bright future for Farmers Union and all of agriculture.”
Over the course of the week, campers ranging between 17 and 20 years old participated in programs that emphasize leadership, teamwork, and cooperative education while also enjoying traditional camp activities. In addition, campers gained hands-on experience while volunteering at Sprout City Farms, an urban operation in Denver, Colorado.
This year’s camp, themed “Making Changes,” 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. Former camper and National Youth Advisory Council member Brittany Jablonsky, who now serves as the Senior Director of Communications at Farm Credit, shared with campers how embracing her roots as a North Dakota farm girl has helped her succeed in an agricultural career off the farm. Former camper and National Youth Advisory Council member Ben Lehman discussed leadership in agriculture with the group, sharing with them the tools to create collegiate Farmers Union chapters. And NFU Government Relations Director Matt Perdue, with the help of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s Director of External Affairs Nick Levendofsky, walked the campers through NFU’s grassroots policy process and a mock policy debate.
The campers also elected six of their peers to NFU’s National Youth Advisory Council (NYAC), which represents thousands of young Farmers Union members across the country. NYAC will further hone their leadership skills at a learning session in Washington, D.C., through presentations at NFU’s 118thAnniversary Convention, as well as by planning next year’s All-States Camp.
This year’s NYAC includes Erin Elsner of Wisconsin, Nick Foss of Minnesota, Maria Fatz of Minnesota, Marcus Iverson of North Dakota, Emily Ketelson of North Dakota, and Josiah Zapf of Minnesota.
“This year’s Youth Advisory Council have already demonstrated initiative, strong management skills, and determination. Over the course of the next year, those qualities will only grow,” said Johnson. “These exceptional young people have the unique opportunity to serve as the 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 all young people in agriculture.”
See photos from this year’s All-States Camp here.
National Farmers Union advocates on behalf of nearly 200,000 American farm families and their communities. We envision a world in which farm families and their communities are respected, valued, and enjoy economic prosperity and social justice.