NICE

Summer Cooperative Leadership Conference 

Each summer, top participants in the Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education (VICE) earn an expense-paid trip to an out-of-state Cooperative Leadership Conference. This year, the Georgia Cooperative Council will be hosting us at their FFA  Center from July 17-21, 2023.

A bit of history: For nearly 75 years, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (NCFC) offered the National Institute on Cooperative Education (NICE), or its predecessor, the American Institute of Cooperation (AIC). The last NCFC-sponsored event was held in August of 2002. Seeking to continue this event’s youth component, the Virginia Cooperative Council hosted the 2003 Diamond Anniversary NICE on the Virginia Tech campus, seeking to rotate the conference to different universities in future years. This event was held at the University of Tennessee in 2009 and 2010, Purdue University in 2011, and returned to Virginia Tech in 2012 thru 2016. The University of Kentucky hosted in 2017 and 2018. Georgia hosted Virginia students in 2019 at their FFA Center before the COVID-19 pandemic closed this event in 2020 & 2021. After accepting an invitation from the Cooperative Council of North Carolina in June 2022, Virginia students will return to Georgia for their July 2023 event.

The conference is intended to provide a deeper understanding of cooperatives to the youth participants who are the cooperative members, customers, employees, directors, and leaders of tomorrow. Participants will gain an understanding of how cooperatives differ from other business forms and will hear cooperative success stories in both the agricultural and non-agricultural sectors. In a team setting, attendees will serve as managers of a simulated cooperative store, competing with other stores in their market area for sales and profit. Teams will also analyze case studies, develop their own student-run cooperative, and participate in team-building and leadership development activities. The closing session will recognize the teams that have been the top performers in various conference activities. The Youth Scholar Program provides both educational and social activities.

Program Objectives

  • Increase the understanding of basic cooperative principles, how cooperatives are organized and operated, and how to use cooperatives
  • Develop an understanding of the issues creating challenges and opportunities for cooperatives today;
  • ¬†Provide opportunities for participation and leadership development
  • Encourage youth scholars to explore career possibilities with cooperatives
  • Provide opportunities to become acquainted with cooperative leaders, members, educators, and other youth.