Cold weather couldn’t break the spirits of 32 students who traveled to Graves Mountain Lodge on March 25-26 for the Virginia Institute on Cooperative Education, better known as VICE. After learning about their personality types, students participated in a team competition to run cooperative businesses. In doing so, they learned how to make difficult marketing and financial decisions and interpret the results of their decisions through operating statements and financial reports.

Following two days of learning, teamwork, fun activities and great food, scholarship winners were announced. Regan Jackson, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, was awarded a $1,500 scholarship, and Katie Powell, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, received a $750 scholarship. Both plan to attend the North Carolina Cooperative Leadership Camp in June at Camp Monroe in Laurel Hill, N.C., with eight other VICE peers.

“VICE gave me a chance to step out of my comfort zone and make new friends and memories that will last a lifetime,” said Alivia Martin, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative member and future forensic scientist.

Virginia’s electric cooperatives were represented by students from service areas of Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative. Adult leaders included Dustin Francis, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative; Brian Wolfe, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative; and Jim Robertson, Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, who also provided a keynote presentation of the VMDAEC Powerful Careers initiative.

“We want to increase participation next year from 32 to 50 or more students,” said Mary Howell, executive secretary for the Virginia Cooperative Council. “We would greatly appreciate more support to avoid having to use council reserve funds. We are very grateful to the members whose staff contribute knowledge and talents directly to the institute as adult leaders.”

VICE is offered at no cost to students, thanks to member cooperative contributions of $350 scholarships in addition to membership dues.

—Report by Jim Robertson, Director of Special Projects, VMD Association