Over the past year, we’ve all learned new ways to stay connected. High school students were particularly affected, as many school milestones and activities were missed. Students were forced to adapt to new ways of learning, communicating and staying social.
This year, the South Dakota Farmers Union State Camp brought back some of the old ways of doing things and added some new experiences.
“My first year at State Camp was a fun experience. I didn’t know anyone when I got there, but I made a lot of friends, ”says Bobbi Eide, eighth grader at Gettysburg. “The experience certainly couldn’t be recreated virtually. I’m glad it’s in person.
Cadence Konechne, a grade eight Kimball student, said: “It was nice meeting new people. I learned a lot about cooperatives and how they work. I also learned a lot about diversity and enjoyed meeting the new Junior Advisory Board.
Campers elected the Junior and Senior Advisory Board (JAC) and greeted them with a JAC induction ceremony. The ceremony did not take place last year due to COVID-19, so it’s a welcome return to a long-standing tradition for campers.
“I think it’s important to make this a special night for our new leaders,” said Director of Education Rachel Haigh-Blume. “It recognizes the work they have done to earn the title of leader and inspires young campers to do the same. “
JACs act as mentors and leaders for campers and help make key decisions and plan throughout the year. Meet this year’s elected JACs:
Alyssa Fordham (Groton, SD)
Alyssa is the daughter of Michael and Tina Fordham, and she can’t wait to return to camp as JAC to help plan and implement the team’s ideas. She believes the program allows campers across the state to come together and make good friends in a welcoming environment. Camp taught her many skills that impact her thinking and her life, including the cooperative business model and its impact on people at the local level. Alyssa has participated in one-act plays, oral performance, the Groton Leos Club and Destination Imagination.
Rachel Gerlach (Stickney, SD)
Rachel is excited to join the JAC team and meet the new campers. His ideas and ability to get along with his teammates make him a tremendous asset. Rachel believes that the SDFU camp has allowed her to gain confidence in who she is and not let others judge her for it. She enjoys dances, games, campfires and making new friends. Rachel participates in the FCCLA, National Honors Society, basketball, volleyball, track and field, choir and orchestra.
Victoria Havermann (Elk Point, SD)
Victoria is delighted to bring her thinking, listening and understanding to the planning team. She values leadership and role models and is excited to lead the next generation of Farmers Union campers. Her favorite memories are meeting new people. The camp has helped her become more confident and grateful for what she has. Victoria participates in cheerleaders, color guard, choir and 4-H.
Connor Hutcheson (Canistota, SD)
Connor is excited to bring his communication skills to the team and his ability to strike up conversations with anyone. His problem solving skills will be an asset and he enjoys seeing ideas come to life. His favorite thing about JAC is getting to know people better and building lasting relationships. He learned about co-ops and how they work and hopes to continue incorporating games and learning into the next camp season. Connor participates in the FBLA, cross country, basketball, track and field, the National Honors Society, and other volunteer opportunities in his hometown.
Levi Nightingale (White Lake, SD)
Levi is thrilled to have the opportunity to come back to see his friends and welcome new campers. His ability to work with others and create new and inventive plans will be a great addition to the JAC team. The camp helped him to become independent and self-sufficient, as well as to teach him cooperation and communication. He loves camp and believes he wouldn’t be what he is today without the last five years of camp. Levi participates in football, wrestling, athletics, marching band and choir.
Casey Tolsma (Stickney, SD)
Casey looks forward to helping new campers have fun at camp and getting them involved. The camp taught her to respect others, as well as to develop her social skills and self-confidence. She finds the camp to be a positive atmosphere filled with caring and friendly people who go through great adventures like tour days, lockouts, campfires, hikes, dances, skits and other memories together. Casey participates in basketball, volleyball, track and field, FCCLA and 4-H.
To learn more about the educational opportunities SD Farmers Union offers South Dakotas of all ages, visit www.sdfu.org.