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Teaching co-op basics

Youth Leadership Summit teaches about co-ops, civics; co-op added to safety list

A SELECT GROUP of Kentucky high school seniors got a high-powered start to their school year in August with the first ever Virtual Youth Leadership Summit, coordinated by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. 

Nominated by their local electric cooperatives, the students participated in the online forum highlighted by question-and-answer sessions with five federal lawmakers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Rand Paul; and U.S. Reps. Andy Barr, James Comer and Thomas Massie. 

The event was held online because for a second consecutive year, the electric co-op program’s Washington Youth Tour and Frankfort Youth Tour were canceled due to the pandemic. The summit educated students on electric co-ops and welcomed elected leaders to share their varying perspectives on co-ops, COVID-19 response strategies and other pressing issues. 

“This experience has taught me that I have a support system from the Youth Tour committee, my local co-op and legislators,” says Morgan Smith, a student from Washington County High School who represented Salt River Electric at the event. “This is an experience I will promote to classes at my high school.” 

State officials who addressed the students on the video call included Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman, Secretary of State Michael Adams, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and Treasurer Allison Ball. Rep. Samara Heavrin, who participated in the Youth Tour program in 2009, joined the other elected leaders encouraging the students to stay engaged in civic affairs.

Kentucky State Treasurer Allison Ball was among 10 elected officials who addressed the Youth Leadership Summit in August. Screenshot: Joe Arnold 

“It was an amazing experience,” says Marlee Henson, a senior at Burgin Independent School in Mercer County, who represented Inter-County Energy Cooperative. “Teenagers like me rarely get the chance to talk to the politicians that represent us, but the Youth Leadership Summit gave us this opportunity. It was obvious that every speaker really cared and wanted to be there, which I think is pretty cool. While this may have been the first virtual Youth Leadership Summit, it was definitely successful!” 

With the support of the Cooperative Finance Corporation, the summit was offered without charge and awarded $1,000 scholarships to Jake Gillespie representing Pennyrile Electric, Ellie Paynter representing Nolin RECC and Mallory Bane representing Fleming-Mason Energy 

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