Farmers Union 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council Members Selected to Serve

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The 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council members include: AJ Schoenfelder, Parkston; Abbey Tschetter, Huron; Cole Van Gorp, Stickney; Jonah Murtha, Parkston; Shaun Snedeker, Woonsocket; and Madelyn Kline, Huron.

During the 2016 State Leadership Camp, a six-member Junior Advisory Council was selected by the Youth and Education Council to serve as leaders, role models and representatives in planning and conducting the 2017 State Leadership Camp.

The 2016-2017 Junior Advisory Council (JAC) who were announced during State Camp include: Cole Van Gorp, Corsica; Shaun Snedeker, Stickney; AJ Schoenfelder, Parkston; Madelyn Kline, Huron; Jonah Murtha, Parkston; and Abbey Tschetter, Huron.

In addition to coordinating, implementing and guiding State Camp, these individuals participate in a number of leadership development opportunities throughout the year.

They are involved in activities such as serving as a page at the Farmers Union State Convention, helping with Farmers Union events across South Dakota and assisting the State Education Director with promotion of education programs.

"SDFU offers a unique learning environment to the JACS. This is a safe way to test leadership skills by the youth creating a camp and agenda and then implementing all the moving parts until the event is completed. Normally students are given the opportunity to test or present in school but not always to coordinate and plan a four day event. This is truly the campers camp and I am just here to support the vision" explains Rachel Haigh-Blume, SDFU Education Director. "State Leadership Camp is developed to provide rural youth with leadership and professional development skills that will help them throughout high school and well into their future. The Junior Advisory Council plays an important role in making this happen." 

Read on to learn more about these young leaders:

Madelyn Kline, Huron

Madelyn, 17, is the daughter of Neal and Kristin Kline. She attends Huron High School. Initially she learned about Farmers Union summer camps online.

"My sister and I wanted to go to summer camp and that's when my mom found out about Farmers Union District camp online." 

Friendship and fun are what kept Madelyn returning to camp year after year, but leadership development is the reason she is excited to serve as a member of the Junior Advisory Council. "I love being around all my friends and getting to spend the whole week with everyone," she explains. "As a JAC I know that as I help plan camp for everyone, I will further develop my leadership skills." 

Although she does not live on a farm, Madelyn does raise cattle. Through Farmers Union youth programming she says she has been given insight into what it means to be a farmer or rancher. "I have learned that it takes a bunch of work to live and work on a farm and how much time and effort is needed." 

Jonah Murtha, Parkston 

Jonah, 17, is the son of Becky and Kevin Murtha. He attends Parkston High School and first became involved with SDFU youth programming by attending district camp.

"I value Farmers Union camp and attend each year because of the opportunities it provides, friends I have made and the skills I have learned," Jonah explains.

He wanted to serve on the Junior Advisory Council because of the impact JACs have had on him during his early years as a camper. "The JACs were the reason I had a great time at camp. They create everything we do at camp and make sure everyone is having fun and making friends ­ I look forward to doing that for campers in 2017," he says. "I look forward to watching campers grow and learn through the week and seeing kids break out of their shells and open up. I look forward to helping kids feel appreciated at camp." 

AJ Schoenfelder, Parkston 

AJ, 17, is the son of Beth Polreis. He attends Parkston High School. AJ was introduced to Farmers Union camp by his friend and fellow JAC, Jonah Murtha.

"I thought it was really cool, so I went on to State Leadership Camp the next year," he says.

Now that he will be helping develop the 2017 State Leadership Camp, AJ is eager to create a similar experience for others. "The amount of work and care that past JACs put into camp each year gave me a great experience. I want to pass that on to younger campers. State Leadership Camp makes me a better person all around ­ I learn something new each year," he says. "I also look forward to working alongside the friends that I've made through all my years of camp to create an amazing camp experience for younger campers." 

AJ lives on his grandpa's farm. Through Farmers Union Youth Programming, he has gained a new appreciation for cooperatives. "I've learned how much a local co-op can help rural farmers, especially when some farmers hit a rough patch and need a bit of support." 

Shaun Snedeker, Woonsocket 

Shaun, 17, is the son of Mark and Lisa Snedeker. He attends Woonsocket High School and has been attending Farmers Union camps since he was in kindergarten and has been a "can't miss" summer highlight ever since. He keeps returning year after year because of the friends he has made.

"It's an opportunity to meet and spend time with some of my closest friends," Shaun says, adding, "Through Farmers Union Camp you learn how to make the best of everything. It has helped me develop and enhance my public speaking and social skills." Now as a member of the Junior Advisory Council, Shaun looks forward to being a role model for younger campers. "I have always looked up to the JACs and will work hard to help our team make the 2017 camp fun!" 

Cole Van Gorp, Stickney 

Cole, 17, is the son of Randy and Jan Van Gorp. He attends Corsica-Stickney High School.

Cole looks forward to serving on the Junior Advisory Council this year because of the opportunity he has to help make camp as fun as possible.

"I always look forward to the fun times at State Leadership Camp and spending time with my friends. Now  I'll be able to help make the 2017 fun for campers," he says.

On a more serious note, by attending State Leadership Camp, Cole says he has developed the ability to talk in front of groups and gained the ability to take charge and lead.

Abbey Tschetter, Huron

Abbey, 16, is the daughter of Lisa Tschetter. She attends Wolsey ­Wessington High school and is active in volleyball, basketball, Health Occupations Student of America and FFA.

2016 was her fourth year to attend S.D. Farmers Union State Leadership Camp.

She says that the experiences she has had at Farmers Union camp have instilled leadership skills which will help carry her into the future and lead others ­ including during next year's camp.

"I am a creative person and hope to help our team create a unique camp experience for campers in 2017," Abbey says. "I wanted to become a JAC because I love coming to camp and the previous JACs taught me how to impact younger campers. I look forward to creating a week of activities filled with fun and education

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