South Kentucky RECC Takes Fifteen Area Students on Washington Rural Electric Youth Tour

When you hear about South Kentucky RECC investing in the communities we serve, it’s not just in electrical infrastructure, economic development or the local events we support. Our commitment to community is all about our consumer-members.

In June, 15 local high school seniors joined 75 other Kentucky electric co-op students for a weeklong program where they learned about the political process, interacted with elected officials and gained an up-close understanding of American history.

The Kentucky Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour is an annual, week-long, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D. C., which is open to select high school juniors going into their senior year whose homes are served by electric cooperatives.

South Kentucky RECC’s mission statement says that the co-op will work to “improve the quality of life in its communities.” An important way that the co-op feels it can improve the quality of life is through its youth, and one way is by participating in the Washington Youth Tour each year.

Dennis Holt, SKRECC CEO, says programs like the Washington Youth Tour are important for our youth.

“South Kentucky RECC feels that the Washington Rural Electric Youth Tour is a wonderful opportunity to send our youth to our nation’s capital allowing them to get exposure to our government and how government works. They also learn about co-ops and the seven Cooperative Principles. Many of these young people are going to be our future co-op members, and it is our goal that, through this experience, they will not only become better citizens but also learn and understand what electric co-ops are all about.”

“The trip was amazing, I had a great time,” says JonBlake Richardson of Pulaski County High School. “I was so glad that I got to see our nation’s capital.”

The students from South Kentucky RECC joined more than 1,800 of rural America’s best and brightest high-schoolers representing electric cooperatives across America.

“My favorite part of the Washington Youth Tour was getting to meet other students from all over Kentucky and experience this for the first time with other first time Washington visitors,” says Celia San Juan of Lincoln County High School. “Thank You South Kentucky RECC for granting me this amazing opportunity.”

Now in its 53rd year, the youth tour educates the delegates about the issues facing co-ops, encouraging them to come home to Kentucky and help lead the co-ops in the future.

“The Washington Youth Tour was an amazing opportunity that allowed me to learn more about the inner workings of our national government, our electric cooperatives, and form friendships that would last beyond the trip,” says Aaliyah Ridner of McCreary Central High School.

Among Kentucky’s youth tour alumni are business leaders, elected officials, journalists, and many engaged co-op consumer-members and citizens.

The busy itinerary for the delegation included visits to national monuments, Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, a concert by the U.S. Navy Band, and the National Cathedral. While at Arlington National Cemetery, the Kentucky students laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“I felt so proud and honored as an American citizen to be able to visit this and experience it in person,” says Emma McClellan of Clinton County High School. “I would like to personally thank South Kentucky RECC for the opportunity to go on the trip and be part of a wonderful tour.”

Another highlight of the Washington Youth Tour is the opportunity for South Kentucky RECC students to interact with Kentucky’s congressional delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul and Congressmen Brett Guthrie, Andy Barr, Thomas Massie and James Comer.

“This trip was unforgettable, and I’ll cherish the memories, knowledge, and friendships that I’ve gained forever,” says Lindsey Jones of Pulaski County High School.

In a rare opportunity, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao visited privately with Kentucky’s students at her offices.

The tour was led by Mary Beth Dennis of the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives and 15 chaperones from Kentucky co-ops, including Alan Coffey of South Kentucky RECC, a youth tour veteran.

The Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives (KAEC) has been coordinating the tour for Kentucky co-ops since 1972.

"It is an investment in our co-op youth and the future of the co-ops themselves," says Chris Perry, KAEC president. "We are so proud of these students. They impress us with their passion for their communities and our nation, and they give us hope for the future. "

The students that attended the tour to Washington, D. C., were:
Emma McClellan, Clinton County High School
Celia SanJuan, Lincoln County High School
Hope Anderson, McCreary Central High School
Tamie Burke, McCreary Central High School
Aaliyah Ridner, McCreary Central High School
Kobe Perry, McCreary Central High School
Reece Frasure, Pulaski County High School
Lindsey Jones, Pulaski County High School
JonBlake Richardson, Pulaski County High School
Taylor Young, Pulaski County High School
Kayla Kean, Russell County High School
Aquinna Allen, Russell County High School
Jenna Howard, Southwestern High School
Emmanuel Markin, Southwestern High School
Colton Morrow, Wayne County High School

If your student is going to be a high school junior this year, they can apply for the 2019 Washington Rural Electric Youth Tour beginning in January. Applications are available at the guidance offices of high schools within the South Kentucky RECC service territory.

Washington Youth Tour photo
Students attending the Washington Youth Tour from the South Kentucky RECC service territory included, from left to right, front row: Celia SanJuan, Taylor Young, Jenna Howard, Aquinna Allen, Hope Anderson, Kayla Kean, Emma McClellan, Tamie Burke; back row, left to right: SKRECC Member Services and Marketing Manager Alan Coffey, Kobe Perry, Aaliyah Ridner, Colton Morrow, Reece Frasure, Emmanuel Markin, Lindsey Jones and JonBlake Richardson.