Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative sent Nick and Tara Chapman to the annual Georgia Cooperative Council Couples Conference. The conference is a three-day event where couples across the state visit the North Georgia Mountains and learn more about the impact of cooperatives at the local, state and national level.
This year’s couples travelled to The Ridges Resort and Marina in Hiawassee on August 9-11 for a weekend of fellowship and learning. Carroll EMC is proud to send couples to the conference because they enjoy a relaxing getaway and learn about the work and impact of financial, telephone and electric membership cooperatives in the state.
“As a co-op, we strive to not only provide our Members with reliable, safe and affordable electricity, but to also enrich their lives with learning experiences and opportunities to network,” says Taylor Key, Community Relations Specialist for Carroll EMC. “This is accomplished at the Georgia Co-op Council Couples Conference each year.”
The conference activities and sessions are aimed at helping enhance the communication and leadership skills of attending couples. Throughout the weekend, couples participated in short, educational sessions that were led by Georgia EMC, Pineland Telephone, AgGeorgia Farm Credit and AgSouth Farm Credit. The cooperative sessions placed a special focus on the seven cooperative principles that apply to all business cooperatives which include voluntary and open membership, democratic membership control, Members’ economic participation, autonomy and independence, education and training for Members, cooperation between co-ops and concern for local communities.
Attendees were not only able to learn from presentations, but also from firsthand experience. The group travelled to Young Harris on Saturday to visit Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and tour the facilities to see how a local EMC functions. “It’s a pleasure to share my own experience while helping to educate others about the benefits of the cooperative business model and introducing them personally to the unique cooperation found among fellow cooperatives,” says Byron McCombs of Blue Ridge Mountain EMC. “Cooperatives exemplify perfectly what can be accomplished by working together for the benefit of all.”
When conference attendees were not learning about cooperatives, they were mingling during meal times and enjoying beautiful Lake Chatuge and the Blue Ridge Mountains. On Friday, all couples gathered for a dinner and mixer followed by s’mores at the resort’s fire pit. The conference schedule also allowed them time to explore the area on their own with free time Saturday afternoon and evening.
“My wife and I had such a great time. I already knew a lot about the co-op world but seeing firsthand how it affects and helps agriculture was new to me,” said conference attendee, Nick Chapman, about his experience. “Listening to Mike Reynolds speak was our favorite part, but we enjoyed meeting new people and touring the location during our free time. We rented a jet ski and explored Lake Chatuge.”
The Georgia Cooperative Council is a statewide, nonprofit cooperative association whose membership is composed of farm supply, financial, electric, telephone, marketing and service cooperatives. The Council membership includes approximately 50 cooperatives.