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Students build leadership skills, connect with Peers at REC’s youth tour

From REC:

Every year, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative (REC) gives local students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills, connect with peers across Virginia, Maryland and Delaware and have fun while doing it.

Last month, the 2022 Youth Tour headed to Williamsburg, Va. For one week, over twenty students from eight electric cooperatives learned about the electric cooperative industry, met with local legislators and toured historic sites. This year, Lydia Conrad, a homeschool student from Spotsylvania County, and Carter Rees, a student at Madison County High School, participated in the event.

“It really was an experience of a lifetime,” Rees said. “I learned so much in such a short period of time and also had a blast. I’m grateful to REC for this opportunity.”

Conrad enjoyed interacting with elected officials.

“Meeting with three legislators – Shelly Simonds, Jackie Glass and Emily Brewer – was my favorite activity,” Conrad said. “As a young woman, getting to hear their stories, how they overcame challenges and ask them questions was intriguing and eye-opening to me.”

Simonds represents the Newport News area, Glass represents the Norfolk region, and Brewer serves the Suffolk area.

Similar to the civic education session with legislators, the Youth Tour students toured Community Electric Cooperative, the College of William and Mary, Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg.

“I learned a lot,” Conrad added. “After visiting Community Electric, I understood the supply and demand issues electric cooperatives face; their involvement in the community and their environmental practices; what a mini-grid is and how it works; and the training and work that the linemen do.”

While learning about Virginia state government, Virginia and U.S. history and electric cooperatives, the group of students had fun connecting at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, Top Golf and Busch Gardens.

“I heard from previous attendees that they’re still in contact with the friends they made on their Youth Tour trip,” Conrad explained. “And it’s true. I made new, strong friendships with the other students that will last a long time.”

Since at least 1968, REC has given local students from across its service territory this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Over the years, Youth Tour has grown and evolved. Despite challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, REC and its fellow electric cooperatives have continued to work together to provide students with a fun, informative and interactive experience.

“I definitely encourage other students to take advantage of Youth Tour,” Conrad said. “You get so much out of it, it’s not an empty opportunity.”

 

 

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