In February, a group of eight area high school students traveled to Tallahassee for the annual Florida Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. Youth Tour, sponsored by Suwannee Valley Electric Cooperative Inc. Now, two participants are looking forward to a trip to the NRECA Youth Tour in Washington, D.C. this summer.
Each year, two students from the four area high schools in the co-op’s service area are recommended to participate in the two-day state tour by their schools’ guidance counselors, and all expenses are paid. This is the 38th year local students have participated in the Youth Tour.
On the Tallahassee trip, students toured the Florida State Capitol, the Supreme Court of Florida’s chambers and the Challenger Learning Center, which has simulated missions aimed at encouraging interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They even had the chance to meet with their state senators and representatives.
Students also heard a presentation from one of last year’s state- and national-level Youth Tour participants, Lacey Swafford, an 18-year-old senior at Lafayette High School who lives near Branford.
“It really was one of those things that it is hard to talk about how awesome it was … the people, the places,” she says. “It was sort of like getting a new family in that time that we were up there on tour.”
The two students selected to travel to Washington, D.C., this year are Tyanne Liu of Branford High School and Hannah Poole of Lafayette High School. Both were selected for scoring highest on a test of their knowledge of the cooperative.
The national Youth Tour, sponsored by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, includes visits to monuments, federal agencies and to U.S. Congress members’ offices. The tours also help students learn more about the full reach and impact of the electric co-op system with some historical perspectives on how and why the co-ops were created, according to SVEC’s Manager of Community Relations Baynard Ward.
“Many of these kids recognize Suwannee Valley Electric because we’re the local electric cooperative, but I think for a lot of these young people, they don’t realize there are many more cooperatives across the state and nation,” he says.
Contributed by: Baynard Ward
Community Relations Manager