Botetourt County FFA members (from left) Andrew Newcomb, Andrew Seibel, Faith Settle and Ellie Holter attended the recent Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education.
Submitted Photo

Four Botetourt County FFA members recently attended the Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education (VICE) at the Graves Mountain Lodge in Syria March 29-31.This event was hosted by the Virginia Cooperative Council (VCC), and the members were sponsored by Rockingham Cooperative in Troutville.

The primary objective of the VICE conference is to educate Virginia high school students about the unique cooperative business model through an interactive, educational and entertaining weekend-long conference. Before attending, the students visited Rockingham Cooperative to learn more about the size and operation of the cooperative. During the conference, they studied the history and importance of cooperatives and how they differ from other forms of business.

Faith Settle and Andrew Seibel from Lord Botetourt and Ellie Holter with Andrew Newcomb from James River attended the conference. The members had opportunities to make new friends l before studying began for their first test on cooperatives. Before the test, members went to presentations from Farm Credit, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, and speakers Laura Jackson and Randy Clark. These presentations helped these members grasp the importance and the value of cooperatives. The members heard a very important message from Robert D. (Bobby) Orrock whose talk was simple and meaningful, “it’s all about perspective.” In everyday and in every situation, don’t be afraid to get a different view before you jump to conclusions. He also talked about the importance of lack of harsh judgment and how everyone has worth and something they can bring to the table. After dinner, the members then learned about the informative educational game “Who’s Minding the Store?” and got placed in randomly generated teams for the next day.

The second day started off at 6:30 a.m. with breakfast and an activity. The members found out through this activity the type of leader they are and how they can be beneficial to their team. Next, they began the educational simulation entitled “Who’s Minding the Store?” This was a realistic simulation of what is involved in the day-to-day operations of a farm supply cooperative. Students had to view past sales history, evaluate future markets, and evaluate past sales. They then had to make business decision for each quarter as to what they would need to purchase for inventory, determine what capital investments needed to be made, oversee the hiring and firing of employees, determine whether they should take out operating loans and how much, set retail prices, and any patronage refund. Once they had made their decisions for the quarter the information would be entered into a computer that would then tell them how there cooperative had done for that quarter. This continued until they had simulated a complete year of operation.

At the end of the conference results were announced with Ellie Holter placing in the top 10 against 50-plus other participants. She is an alternate for the team that will be attending the National Conference in Atlanta, Ga. this summer.

Sponsoring local students to the VCC youth leadership conference is one of many educational opportunities that local cooperatives has offered young people in the community for many years.

For more information about VICE go to: