Washington Youth Tour and Cooperative Youth Summit
The risks of spreading COVID-19 caused summer cooperative programs like the Rural Electric Youth Tour to Washington D.C., and the Cooperative Youth Summit to Columbia to be cancelled. However, that did not mean that the four local high school students sponsored by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
In June, Neleah Clough, Greenville Technical Charter High School; Karlyn Esuary, Liberty High School; Page Holcombe, West-Oak High School; and Daniel Watson, Cyber Academy of South Carolina; participated in Virtual Youth Experience, a week-long web conference hosted by South Carolina’s electric cooperatives. The event allowed high school students selected by cooperatives from across the state to engage with leaders from the safety and comfort of their homes using computers and smartphones.
From June 19-26, several of our South Carolina’s highest elected officials—Governor Henry McMaster, U.S. Senators Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, and U.S. Congressman Jim Clyburn—responded to questions about the pandemic, race relations and other topics important to the students. State Superintendent Molly Spearman described how their final years of high school might be different that the classes before them. Dr. Linda Bell, the state’s chief epidemiologist, answered questions about the disease and told them that their “new normal” should be wearing masks everywhere they go.
Jim Sonefeld, drummer for Hootie and the Blowfish, met with the Virtual Youth Experience students to discuss mental health during the pandemic and his struggles with substance abuse. Rev. Charles Jackson, senior pastor at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia, spoke to the students about the importance of developing community and positive race relations.
The students also had the opportunity to earn a $5,000 college scholarship by working in teams to create a podcast detailing how the COVID-19 crisis has impacted their lives. The winner will be announced on Friday, July 31. Click the following links to listen to their podcasts.
More than 1,500 students from all across America take part in the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour experience each year. The Youth Tour has brought high school students to Washington, D.C. for a week in June every year since the late 1950s. We believe that students should see their nation’s capital up close, learn about the political process and gain a personal understanding of American history and their role as a citizen by meeting their Representative and Senators. This unique trip provides the opportunity to watch history come alive as the students explore the museums, memorials and monuments.
Each summer Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative sponsors three high school juniors to attend the youth tour. This educational opportunity is an all expense paid six day trip to explore the D.C. area, meet other participants from across the country, and learn more about and promote electric cooperatives.
Experience South Carolina's capital like never before. Tour the Statehouse, meet lawmakers and see how co-ops are preparing for our state's energy future. Plus, there's plenty of fun with visits to popular Columbia attractions like Riverbanks Zoo & Garden.
Each summer Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative sponsors two high school sophomores to attend the Cooperative Youth Summit in Columbia, S.C. This educational opportunity is an all expense paid four day trip where students are given an introduction to the business model behind cooperatives and visit various local educational sites in our state’s capitol.
The next Cooperative Youth Summit will be held July 13-16, 2021.