October 06, 2014 08:00 ET

Local Youth Attend GROWMARK's Annual Meeting in Chicago

KITCHENER, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 6, 2014) - Seventeen year old Wyoming resident Matthew Gerrits recently attended the 2014 GROWMARK Annual Meeting in Chicago. The Lambton County youth was selected as one of four youth speakers at the event. Gerrits addressed more than 1000 attendees about his views on the importance of building co-operatives in local communities and abroad.

Gerrits was one of three young people from Ontario chosen to take part in this travel opportunity sponsored by GROWMARK, Inc. Also travelling to Chicago was 4-H Ontario Ambassador Brooke Thompson of York Region and Kim Hooey, provincial director and treasurer for Junior Farmers' Association of Ontario for Bruce County.

Matthew Gerrits is a first year student at the University of Waterloo studying in the Bachelor of Knowledge Integration Program. He was chosen for this speaking opportunity through his involvement with the Ontario Co-operative Association's Co-operative Young Leaders (CYL) Program. The highlight of this leadership development program is a series of week-long training sessions, bringing young people together from all across Ontario to learn about and practice communication and leadership through co operative activities. Wanstead Farmer's Co-operative sponsored Gerrits's attendance at the camp over a three-year period.

In his opening remarks in Chicago, Gerrits said that when he was asked to think about the theme for this speech, "Building Co-operatives," his first thought was that the co-op business model, with all its values and principles, is by far one of the greatest tools for raising the developing world out of poverty.

Each year GROWMARK provides travel opportunities to youth who have shown dedication to leadership development. They travel to Chicago to learn more about GROWMARK and network with business people and other young leaders. As part of their experience, they took part in the annual meeting's grand opening ceremonies with young leaders from Future Farmers of America and had the opportunity to visit the Chicago Board of Trade.

GROWMARK, Inc. is a regional co-operative that provides FS branded and related agriculture products and services to farmers and rural residents in Ontario and the Midwest and northeastern United States through local FS member co-operatives and by GROWMARK subsidiaries. In Ontario it provides products and services to more than 90,000 farmers and rural residents. To learn more about GROWMARK, visit

To see Matthew Gerrits speech in Chicago, visit:

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