Empowering Our Youth
Empowering Our Youth
Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative has been committed to powering rural communities since 1940. This concern for communities, and the future of our youth, has carried forward to today. By inspiring students to learn about the history of cooperatives and how they work, we hope to spark a passion for critical thinking in the minds of tomorrow’s energy leaders. This year we honor eight young people for their achievements.
This summer when most kids are out of school, learning will continue for seven students thanks to two youth programs provided by Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative. The Washington Youth Tour will take place in June and gives rising high school seniors an opportunity to see the sights in Washington while learning about our government first-hand. Closer to home, but just as important is the Cooperative Youth Summit in Columbia where again, students will mingle with those that make the laws for our state.
This year’s participants were chosen from applicants from 8 area high schools. Four will be attending the Washington Youth Tour. They are Mackenzie Hopkins and Isaac Buckner, Walhalla High School; Dawson Gilstrap, and Alden Richardson from Pickens High School. While in Washington, they will join students from across the nation to visit historic sites such as the U. S. Capitol, the Smithsonian, Arlington National Cemetery, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, Mount Vernon, The Pentagon, World War II Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. However, one of the main highlights will be meeting and talking with their Congressmen and getting a feel for our government in action.
Another trip sponsored by the electric cooperatives this summer is the Cooperative Youth Summit. Three local students, Addison Arey, Seneca High School; Jackson Cudd and Emily Gilstrap from Pickens High School will experience South Carolina’s capital like never before. During their time in Columbia, they will tour the Statehouse, meet lawmakers and see how co-ops are preparing for our state’s energy future.
Blue Ridge CEO, Jim Lovinggood, acknowledges the importance of educating our youth about the work of local cooperatives. “There is a real difference in the organization of electric cooperatives. We are owned by our members and work to bring them a needed commodity at a fair and reasonable price with profits returned to the membership as capital credits. Co-ops also have a close tie to government on both the state and local level. When these kids return from their stay in Washington or Columbia, they have a much better picture of how a cooperative is structured and works. And they are our future members.”
One of the newer programs sponsored by electric cooperatives is EnlightenSC, a program planned for teachers with energy-related lesson plans that align with state standards for school age children. For the first time, EnlightenSC offered a competition for fifth-grade students to write and illustrate stories that focus on the impact of electricity in his or her life, communities and the history of our state. Zephan Hunter, a student at East End Elementary in Easley won the competition with his book, Lightbulb. His book will be published and distributed to elementary schools throughout the state. We are so proud of his accomplishment.