Youth leaders learn at ACCA summer camp | News & Events | UFA Co-operative Ltd.

Youth leaders leave ACCA summer camp with better understanding of co-operatives and community

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UFA’s support of the Alberta Co-operatives and Communities Association has helped educate and engage the next generation of youth leaders for more than 50 years. Through the ACCA’s innovative Co-operative Youth Education Program, UFA demonstrates support for rural youth in agriculture with financial and in-kind support. 

Each year, delegates in UFA’s 42 districts are asked to select a local youth to attend the leadership camp at the Goldeye Camp facility in central Alberta. UFA furnishes the cost of the camper attending camp, and also sends staff volunteers who share their understanding of and experience with co-operatives throughout a week of hands-on, collaborative experiences.Year-over-year, UFA staff report on the incredible development the campers experience, the beauty of the Goldeye facility and their suspicion that they get more form the camp experience than the actual campers! This year Olds Farm Store Customer Sales Representative Shealynn Houchin attended camp as a leader on behalf of UFA.

“I was encouraged to attend camp by my managers, Michelle Tennant and Scott Glendinning. They have been really incredible in supporting my career development and this was a really cool opportunity to explore that a little more,” says Houchin. “I liked that as leaders we each had the chance to develop a session for the campers. I developed one on agriculture and the kids came back with the best questions, like where they could go to school learn more, or what kinds of jobs they could find working in agriculture – even if they didn’t grow up on a farm.”

Houchin added that the session on co-operatives was a camper-favourite. The leaders came up with a scenario in which the campers had to work together towards a common goal by raising money and sharing resources.

“It reminded me how important it is to know how to work with different personalities and different agendas even when everyone is working towards the same thing,” she says. “I was impressed with how the kids handled the challenge!”

In her almost three years with UFA, Shealynn has progressed from working at the Olds Farm Store to working with local CAMs Bruce Kemmere and Allan Crawford to add value based on her experience growing up on a cattle farm. “It happened that the local livestock specialist is on maternity leave, and Bruce and Allan are helping me work with our customers to answer their questions and help them get what they need from UFA.”

Houchin already has her sights set on post-secondary education in animal science, and hopes to attend Olds College to formalize her education before advancing her career at UFA.

The ACCA Youth Leadership Camp is held at the unique Goldeye Centre near Nordegg, Alberta and is open to rural youth aged 11 to 18. At camp, they gain experience and insight into cooperatives, agriculture and their own leadership development. They also have an invaluable experience to connect with other rural youth to form lasting bonds and friendships that serve them throughout their careers in agriculture and life in rural Alberta.