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This content was featured in the September 2023 issue of Kansas Country Living.


Layton Johnson, Phillipsburg, and Erin Schmitt, Beloit, attended the 46th Annual Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp (CYLC) from July 14-20, 2023. The leadership camp was held near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and hosted 43 student leaders from Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Wyoming, sponsored by 25 participating cooperatives. 

Johnson and Schmitt were selected by Prairie Land based on the leadership skills, academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and character demonstrated in their application, which was comprised of both written submissions and an interview. 

This year, Prairie Land was proud to have a winner from last year, Sophie Imm, Phillipsburg, returning as a camp ambassador. 

During the camp, Johnson and Schmitt learned how an electric cooperative is organized and operated by developing a model cooperative with their fellow students, empowering the campers to elect a board of directors, appoint a general manager, establish committees, and attend daily membership meetings. Camp participants also attended educational seminars on leadership, online reputation management, conflict management, and co-op careers, in addition to presentations on high voltage electricity, raptors and avian protection with HawkQuest, and tours of the Craig Power Station and the Yampa Valley Electric community solar array. 

Along with its professional development programs, CYLC included a visit to Mount Werner and downtown Steamboat Springs, whitewater rafting on the Colorado River, and other fun activities such as a volleyball tournament, swimming, talent show and a dance.

“Something that impacted me the most is the family aspect throughout camp,” Johnson said. “Everyone made me feel included. I want to take this back to my own leadership activities.”

“I wish I knew how much work was put in by our co-ops to get us to this camp,” Schmitt said. “This camp is not about the ‘now’ but instead about the future. It’s about preparing the next generation to take over and make the world a better place. In order to do that, we need leaders to guide us to success.”

“Prairie Land is proud to continue our sponsorship of our co-op’s student leaders at the Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp,” CEO Kirk Girard said. “It is an honor to help provide students opportunities to grow in their leadership potential and develop the knowledge to further engage in our cooperative community.”

Prairie Land sponsors the trip for two students each year. For more information on how to attend/send students to camp, contact Kenzie Griffiths in member services at 800-577-3323.