National Electric Cooperative Youth Tour Develops Future Leaders

Three Delaware students enjoyed an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., in June as part of the 52nd Annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) Youth Tour. These high school juniors joined 1,700 other students from across the nation who participated in this event:

Abigail Bivens, Polytech 
High School
Kaylee Collison, Lake Forest High School
Andrew Evan, Sussex Central High School

Their trip was sponsored by Delaware Electric Cooperative. The students toured Capitol Hill and met with U.S. Senator Chris Coons. They also visited a variety of historical and cultural sites in the nation’s capital, including Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and the Newseum. Among the fun activities the students enjoyed were a twilight cruise on the Potomac and a Washington Nationals baseball game.
As part of the NRECA-sponsored National Youth Day on June 13, all the state groups convened to learn from inspirational speakers. This year’s agenda included Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic Medalist and two-time world champion in wheelchair basketball, who shared his inspiring message, “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out!” 
Since 1964, the nation’s cooperative electric utilities have sponsored more than 60,000 high school juniors and seniors to visit Washington, D.C., talk one-on-one with their U.S. congressional delegations and learn from energy and grassroots government education sessions. NRECA is the national service organization representing the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to 42 million people in 47 states. 
“Youth Tour was an amazing experience,” the students agreed. Bivens added, “It was really cool to meet our elected officials and learn about politics up-close. Plus, we made new friends from nearly every state and experienced history first-hand. It really made us think about what it means to be an American, and shows that people our age do care about this country.” 
Evan, who was chosen to represent Delaware on the Youth Leadership Council (YLC), returned to Washington, D.C., in July for a workshop to develop his public-speaking skills. YLC is composed of one student from each state, selected by their chaperones and peers, who play an active role in NRECA’s Annual Meeting the following spring.
“Our youth are our future, and we’re proud to continue giving them the tools to succeed,” said Kevin Yingling, chaperone for the Delaware students.