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Celebrating 90 years of farmers union camps

Celebrating 90 years of farmers union camps

By Scout Nelson

This year, the South Dakota Farmers Union commemorates 90 years of hosting educational camps for youth, a tradition that began back in 1934. The milestone was celebrated at the Stone Mountain Retreat Center in the Black Hills, where participants, both past and present, gathered for the State Leadership Camp.

Historically, these camps have served as a foundational experience for many, like Gail Temple and her family, who have been involved for generations. Temple, who now helps organize Clark County's Day camp, recalls the camp's focus on agricultural advocacy, cooperative systems, and the legislative process as integral to her development and that of her children.

The camps originally started as a response to the success of similar initiatives in North Dakota. They have evolved to include activities like kayaking, rock climbing, and archery for the younger attendees, adapting to modern educational needs while still grounding in the principles of agricultural education.

Samantha Olson, the educational specialist for South Dakota Farmers Union, underscores the importance of these camps in teaching young people the significance of their voices in both local and broader agricultural contexts. This is particularly resonant in today's digital age, where social media plays a pivotal role.

The legacy of the camps is deeply woven into the community fabric, with generations of families like Temple's returning year after year, underscoring the ongoing relevance of the Farmers Union's mission. As the organization looks toward its centennial, it continues to inspire new generations, helping them build leadership skills and understand the critical role of agriculture in their communities and beyond.

Just last month, the tradition continued as new and familiar faces, including Temple and her daughter Penelope, gathered at the Deuel County’s Farmers Union Day Camp. Here, they engaged in activities focused on farm safety, livestock nutrition, and the workings of cooperatives, demonstrating the enduring appeal and impact of the Farmers Union camps.

Photo Credit -gettyimages-stockseller_ukr

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Categories: South Dakota, General

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