PEEWAUKEE, Wis. -- Taking action to halt the "graying membership" problem, the Wisconsin Credit Union League announced last week it is offering free registrations to CU members who bring staffers or directors "35 or younger" to the trade group's annual convention next month.
In another move to address the broad industry concern over aging membership, the trade group said its May 9-12 convention in Milwaukee will be geared to "youth professionals" with numerous sessions aimed at young people including a keynote speech by the former chairman of Harley Davidson Co.
Moreover, the exhibit hall "will display items like BMX bikes and skateboard equipment," with a professional riding team from BMX putting on a show of flips and jumps for attendees, said the league.
Under the new convention policy, which has been under study for more than a year, for every paid registration a CU can bring along for free one "young professional" and with six or more paid registrations, the number is unlimited.
"This is an idea that represents a real effort to do something about bringing young people into credit union leadership and hopefully into membership as a whole," explained Jill Weber, education director at the league.
Since notices were sent out late last month, the league has already heard from half a dozen CUs eager to take advantage of the incentive with plans to bring many young staffers to the convention at the Midwest Airlines Center in Milwaukee.
A league Web site plus convention booklet also carry a youth focus even using hip themes recognizable to young people, said Weber.
The booklet "uses terms that you often see in some of the Xtreme sport postings like gnarly, rip-it-up, sweet air-fiving," said Weber.
Sessions will also emphasize social media ala iPods and viral phenomena, said Weber. Filling the keynote slot discussing "Role of the Leader" will be Richard Teerlink, the former Harley chairman with another session entitled, "Engaging the Next Generation of CU Leaders" presented by George Hofheimer of Filene Research Institute and Trey Reeme and Brent Dixon of Trabian Technology Corp. in Plano, Tex.
Trabian is a branding and blogging firm which has been doing work for CUs in developing viral marketing ventures. Also on tap will be talks by James Flores of Subcat Marketing on "Diversity in the Youth Market" and Stacey Hanke of 1st Impressions Consulting on "Get to the Point in 60 Seconds or Less." "Since our convention is the premier calendar event that brings together the majority of our credit unions, we hope that the program provides current credit union leaders the ability to show younger employees/volunteers how a career in the credit union movement can be exciting and rewarding," said Weber.
The concept of stressing youth was raised a year ago at the league's 2006 convention when Brett Thompson, the president/CEO, took a straw poll among delegates identifying generational music back to the '30s and '40s. There were few in the audience who could name any of the now current hip-hop tunes. --email@example.com