“I love that I had the opportunity to represent Coweta-Fayette EMC! The experience was very rewarding!” Madeleine Pardue, Coweta-Fayette EMC Youth Tour 2021 delegate.
PALMETTO, GA (July 2, 2021) Different times call for different measures, and the notion was front and center recently during the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour (YTGA), a leadership experience designed exclusively for teens and sponsored by the electric membership cooperatives (EMCs) in Georgia, including Coweta-Fayette EMC.
For more than 50 years, electric cooperatives across the state have recognized outstanding high schoolers by providing a valuable leadership experience, which normally involves sending high achievers on the Washington Youth Tour to spend nearly a week in the nation’s capital. However, due to the pandemic, the Tour was reshaped this year into a virtual three-day event.
Held June 22-24, YTGA offered dynamic and interactive sessions focused on different aspects of leadership – Leadership and Me, Leadership and My Community, Leadership and My Nation – and included personality profiles, small group breakouts, photo contests, trivia challenges and more.
Madeleine Pardue, a high school junior from The Heritage School, represented Coweta-Fayette EMC as YTGA delegate during the collaboration of the virtual event. “I learned how to become a stronger leader through a mix of different activities. The experience was very rewarding!” said Pardue.
The Youth Tour provided a golden opportunity for student delegates to network and connect with like-minded teens across the state through mentor groups, regional and college-specific breakouts, and off-line chats. “On day 1, the delegates were reserved but by day 3, we were very comfortable with each other. We’re still talking and networking even now that the tour is complete,” said Pardue.
Student delegates also participated in a live virtual town hall with Georgia’s members of Congress as well as hearing from Georgia’s Lt. Gov. Duncan, learned from WYT alumni who have worked on Capitol Hill, and collaborated in small groups for the chance to win a $5,000 college scholarship. In addition, those who participate are also eligible to apply for an annual $10,000 Youth Tour alumni national college scholarship. “I think my favorite part of the tour was having the opportunity to meet my representative virtually. I was even able to ask a question directly to our Lt. Governor. I really feel like my voice was heard,” said Pardue.
This year, 39 students from 13 EMCs participated in the virtual event. Georgia’s brightest high schoolers competed for a spot alongside other teen volunteers involved in a variety of youth service organizations, student athletes, and students in academic groups such as Beta Club, National Honor Society, Student Council, Key Club, Debate Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Interact Club, and Science Olympiad, and many others. “The virtual tour really allowed me see the possibilities and opportunities that are available to me. It gave me additional drive and motivation for my plans after high school,” said Pardue.
Nearly 50,000 students from rural areas and small towns across America have participated in the Youth Tour. Some alumni have become broadcasters and journalists, and others have gone on to design airplanes, to lead companies and to serve in the highest ranks of government, including the U.S. Senate, and many more are serving in some role in state and local government.
The next Washington Youth Tour is set to take place June 16-23, 2022. Applications for the 2022 National Rural Electric Youth Tour program will be available on the CFEMC website, https://utility.org/my-community/washington-youth-tour/ in January 2022. You can learn more about this leadership opportunity by visiting our website.
Coweta Fayette EMC is a member-owned cooperative providing electricity and related services to over 80,000 consumers in Coweta, Fayette, Heard, Fulton, Clayton, Meriwether, Spalding and Troup counties.