Youth Tour goes ‘virtual’

Coronavirus changes co-op plans

(March 27, 2020) – With the Frankfort Youth Tour of Kentucky’s electric cooperatives postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic, elected leaders are making sure that the 150 high school juniors selected for the leadership program are still receiving a virtual dose of civic engagement.
Video messages by Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams and Representative Samara Heavrin highlight the “Virtual Frankfort Youth Tour” released by Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. Other elected leaders are also invited to add their messages to the video.

“Now more than ever we need those of you who are eligible to register to vote, and we need poll workers” says Adams, whose message focused on rural voting. He credited his election in November to voters in rural counties saying: “My grandfather made me this wooden state of Kentucky after I won my race. Look how many counties are red, rural counties. Never forget every vote counts.”
Previously scheduled for March 17, the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour was to also kick off this year’s Co-ops Vote initiative to encourage civic engagement by local consumer-members of Kentucky co-ops. Electric cooperatives serve 117 of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
“We are really sorry to miss the opportunity to take students to Frankfort. It’s not only an opportunity for our students to learn more about Kentucky’s government, but for those that go on to the Washington Youth Tour, it creates an even deeper connection between local and national leadership” says Sarah Fellows of Nolin RECC.
For nearly fifty years, Kentucky’s local electric cooperatives have sponsored youth tours of both Frankfort and Washington, D.C., selecting rising young leaders in their service territories to gain a personal understanding of American history, civic affairs, and their role as citizens and members of electric cooperatives.
“It saddens me that we had to cancel the Frankfort Tour, but it was the best decision,” says Vanessa Blagg of Jackson Purchase Energy. “Our students’ health and well-being are of the utmost important to us.”
“My mom told me the trip to Frankfort was cancelled,” says Gabe McFadyen, a Warren RECC student. “I’m bummed, but I understand.”
Heavrin, who was sponsored on the 2009 Washington Youth Tour by Warren RECC, says the experience opened her to career opportunities she didn’t know existed. After working on Capitol Hill and the Kentucky State Treasurer’s office, Heavrin was elected in November to represent Kentucky’s 18th House District, serving Grayson and Hardin Counties.
“I became the youngest woman ever to serve in the Kentucky General Assembly and I truly give that all up to my opportunity to be on the Washington Youth Tour,” Heavrin says. “I’m so thankful Kentucky Electric Cooperatives invested in me just like they are investing in you today. What an incredible opportunity you have to learn more about our government and a life as a public servant.”
In deciding to postpone the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives heeded the call of Governor Andy Beshear to avoid large social gatherings. Since then, Beshear has only intensified those public health directives.
“The safety and quality of life of our local co-op consumer-members are our priorities,” says Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “We hope to find an alternative date in the future to continue this important commitment to Kentucky’s future.”

Frankfort Youth Tour postponed

Kentucky’s electric cooperatives heed Governor’s caution amid COVID-19 concerns

Frankfort, Ky. – Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Frankfort Youth Tour which annually sends 150 high school juniors from across Kentucky to the state capitol has been indefinitely postponed out of public health concerns amid COVID-19.

“The safety and quality of life of our local co-op consumer-members are our priorities,” said Chris Perry, president and CEO of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives. “Based on the recommendation of Governor Beshear to avoid large social gatherings and in an effort to protect all Kentuckians, we made the decision to postpone the 2020 Frankfort Youth Tour. We hope to find an alternative date in the future to continue this important commitment to Kentucky’s future.”

Previously scheduled for Tuesday March 17, the Frankfort Youth Tour includes remarks from elected leaders, tours of the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion and civic education at the Kentucky History Center and Museum. For nearly fifty years, Kentucky’s local electric cooperatives have sponsored youth tours of both Frankfort and Washington, D.C., selecting rising young leaders in their service territories to gain a personal understanding of American history, civic affairs and their role as citizens and members of electric cooperatives.

Youth Tour

 

 

Of the many ways Kentucky’s electric cooperatives demonstrate commitment to community, perhaps none is more appreciated than youth tour activities.

Both the Kentucky Rural Electric Frankfort Youth Tour and Washington Youth Tour are coordinated by the statewide association.

Frankfort Youth Tour

Each spring, more than 100 high school juniors representing participating electric cooperatives across Kentucky spend a day in Frankfort learning about state government, Kentucky history and leadership. Typical activities include tours of the state capitol and governor’s mansion, and discussions with political leaders.

Washington Youth Tour

The Washington Youth Tour is an annual, week long, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC, that is open to select high school students whose homes are served by electric cooperatives.

The next trip date is June 18-24, 2021!

Twenty-two of Kentucky’s 24 electric cooperatives participate in the Kentucky Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour.

Although all participants must be between their junior and senior years in high school and no older than 18 at the time of the Washington trip, each electric co-op has a unique method of selecting students for the trip. Some co-ops hold essay contests; some rely on personal interviews; some administer qualifying exams.

Students interested in the Washington Youth Tour trip must apply through the electric co-op that serves their area of the state. For example, students living in the Hopkinsville area may only apply through Pennyrile Electric Cooperative while students living in the Somerset area may only apply through South Kentucky RECC.

KAEC has been coordinating the tour for Kentucky co-ops since 1972, when 18 students and four chaperones made the trip.

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

More information

For more information on youth tour programming, contact:

Mary Beth Dennis
Dir of Events & Youth Programs
Office: 502-815-6302

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Kentucky Electric Cooperative Students Visit Frankfort

On April 13, Kentucky cooperatives hosted students to an educational day in Frankfort as part of the Rural Electric Youth Tour Program. In all, 160 students and chaperons from 19 cooperatives participated.

The day started with tours of the State Capitol and Governor’s Mansion before hearing from House Majority Floor Leader Jonathan Shell. Shell was the youngest member of the general assembly when he was elected in 2012, because of this he encouraged the students not to let age hold them back.

The group then moved to the Kentucky Historical Museum where they heard from Jacqueline Pitts, managing editor of The Bottom Line, about the involvement of media in politics and from KEES coordinator, Sara Wooden, about financial assistance for college.  Students then had the opportunity to tour the Old Capitol Building and the Kentucky Historical Museum giving them time to become better acquainted with one another. At the end of the day the cooperatives had the option of visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

From the group, approximately 100 students will be chosen to participate in a week-long Washington Youth Tour in June. During this trip students will join participants from across the country for a week of leadership training, conversations with elected leaders, and taking in the sights of our Nation’s Capitol.

The tour is coordinated by Kentucky electric cooperative’s statewide association—Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives—and you can see more photographs from the April 13 tour at KAEC’s Flickr page.