Wave of Co-op Youth Hits CapitalBy Derrill Holly | ECT Staff Writer Published: June 18th, 2013
Nearly 1,600 young electric cooperative members took the nation’s capital by storm during the 49th annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour.
“We’re not just in the electricity business—we’re in the people business. Our mission is to improve the lives of the member-owners we serve,” NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson said in a video message to the NRECA Youth Day rally. “That’s what we call the co-op difference.”
The former House member told the young delegates—primarily rising high school seniors or recent graduates—that despite their age, they will make lasting impressions on members of Congress they visit throughout the week because they symbolize their families and other constituents.
Those meetings continue a tradition that began in 1957, seven years before NRECA officially became the sponsor of the annual event.
“Smart members of Congress make the time to meet with these teenagers; there are more than 1,500 future voters on Youth Tour this year,” said Brian Cavey, NRECA vice president of legislative affairs. “We are inspiring the next generation of leadership that will lead our electric cooperatives.”
Emerson reminded them that, “When you’re here this week meeting with your legislators and seeing the history of this beautiful city, you are representing your state, your co-op and yourself.”
“We’re so fortunate to have you as part of our Co-op Nation,” added Emerson, who called the group “the best and the brightest.”
From June 14-21, under the watchful eyes of nearly 300 co-op chaperones, the delegations have been touring museums and monuments, immersing themselves in the heritage and culture of the United States.
“It’s so important to give our young people a look at our nation’s capital,” said Lenore Vickrey, vice president of communications for the Alabama Rural Electric Association and editor of Alabama Living magazine. “They not only meet our decision makers, but they get a chance to see how decisions are made and how history is made.”
While most of their time has been spent in Washington, D.C., and its adjacent suburbs, there have been side trips to attractions.
When young delegates from Kansas and Hawaii headed to Baltimore to visit historic Fort McHenry and the National Aquarium, they also toured M&T Bank Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Ravens. Delegations that traveled from the Northeast and Midwest by chartered bus also stopped by Gettysburg National Military Park, in Pennsylvania.
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