Recently, leaders from cooperatives across the Commonwealth of Virginia took part in the 59th Annual Meeting of the Virginia Cooperative Council (VCC), which was held virtually. During the business portion of the meeting, members elected Dustin Francis, Community Relations Coordinator for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), to serve a 3-year term on the VCC’s Board of Directors. The VCC’s mission is to promote the understanding and appreciation of farmer and consumer-owned cooperative businesses across the Commonwealth, and their contributions to the state economy through youth and adult education. Formerly known as the Virginia Council of Farmer Cooperatives, this not-for-profit organization was formed in 1962, and is headquartered in Richmond.
One of the primary development programs the VCC sponsors is the annual Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education (VICE). This youth leadership conference is held each spring at Graves’ Mountain Lodge in Syria, Virginia and educates 16 through19-year old youths on cooperative business principles and management plans. This three-day workshop includes live business simulations, as well as, opportunities to enhance teamwork, leadership, and communication skills, all while having the opportunity to receive up to $2,000 in educational scholarships.
Francis, a Halifax County resident, began his career with MEC in 2018 and served in an interim position with the VCC board since March of 2020, before being elected to his current 3-year term on the VCC Board. His current and past experiences with local 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapters and agricultural-based groups contributed to his election to the VCC Board.
Regarding his opportunity to serve, Francis states, “The Cooperative business model is genuinely unique and represents the opportunity of community members to collectively provide a solution that is most often impractical and unaffordable for individuals, areas or even entire regions. Introducing youth to the Cooperative business model ensures seemingly impossible opportunities for rural areas can be accomplished by combining resources to meet previously unmet needs just like electricity decades ago or high speed internet for today.”
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) proudly powers over 31,000 homes, farms and businesses in the counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton, and Sussex in Virginia and portions of Granville, Northampton, Person, Vance, and Warren counties in North Carolina. It is headquartered in Chase City and has district offices in Chase City, VA.; Emporia, VA.; Gretna, VA. For more information, please visit www.meckelec.org.