Wheatland Sponsors Youth Tour and Leadership Camp
Each year, Wheatland sponsors three area students on trips of a lifetime. This year, winners were BRE AKIU, Conway Springs; ERIN HALL, Norwich; and MARCOS MARTINEZ, Great Bend. Winners were selected by Wheatland Electric through an application and interview process based on academic achievements positive attitude and involvement within their community.
Electric Cooperative Youth Tour Hall and Martinez were selected by Wheatland Electric to attend the 56th Annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., from June 9-16. They joined more than 1,700 other high school students nationwide to visit with their state’s senators and members of Congress, tour historic monuments and memorials.
This year’s delegation of 36 Kansas youth and four Hawaii youth began their trip with a banquet in Topeka featuring youth tour alumni Mike O’Neal, Former Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives; Brant Laue, Chief Counsel for Gov. Sam Brownback; Rep. Steven Johnson; and Rep. Kyle Hoffman; and a night tour of the Kansas State Capitol. Before flying to Washington, D.C., on Friday, the delegation had breakfast at Kaw Valley Electric Cooperative where linemen presented an electrical safety demonstration and gave bucket truck rides.
While in Washington, D.C., the students met with Congressman Tim Huelskamp and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins. They also visited with Sens. Pat Roberts and Jerry Moran after their tour of Capitol Hill.
“Electric Cooperatives are more than just poles and wires. They’re about people and communities,” Moran said. “Recognizing that youth are the future of those communities is what the rural electric cooperative program is all about.” This trip opens the eyes of many students to future possibilities in leadership roles, while building lifelong friendships. “Lunch at Ben’s Chili Bowl was my favorite memory. The food and the conversations with my new friends on this trip was an amazing experience,” Hall said. “The real prize, however, was hearing the stories of Ben’s experiences during the 60s. This family-owned restaurant survived through many years of depression throughout the Civil Rights Movement and the staff shared first-hand stories with us.” “I was inspired by the World War II veteran, Frank Matthews, who told of his experiences in the Marines and at Iwo Jima.” Martinez said. “Realizing the sacrifices people made for our country encourages me to want to do more.”
The delegates also toured the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Smithsonian Museums, Mount Vernon, Arlington National Cemetery, attended a professional baseball game at the Nationals Park, and had a laugh at the production of Shear Madness at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The delegates also attended the NRECA Youth Day that brought together students from 43 states.
A surprise turn of events also occurred on this year’s trip. Delegates had the opportunity to see the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet while visiting the Capitol, watch from a distance as presidential candidate Donald Trump boarded his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and witnessed a vote in the Senate Gallery with several well-known senators who have also been a part of the current presidential campaign.
Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp
Akiu was selected to attend the 40th annual Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp (CYLC) in Steamboat Springs, Colo. From July 16-22, Akiu joined approximately 100 youth from Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming and Oklahoma for the week long camp that combines education about the cooperative business model with traditional camp pastimes.
At CYLC, the campers participated in daily membership meetings where they established committees and elected a general manager and board of directors. Campers also had time to enjoy area activities including visits to Fish Creek Falls and Steamboat Springs, river rafting and participating in camp activities such as volleyball, swimming and a talent show.
The youth learned about the workings of electric cooperatives through a variety of activities: Yampa Valley Electric’s linemen led a high voltage safety demonstration, campers competed in building a model transmission line out of craft supplies, and they toured the Trapper Mine and Craig Power Plant.
“I found the Craig Power Plant tour very interesting,” Akiu said. “I will always remember my small group. We all really got along great and worked together to get the most out of our camp experience.”
Overall, the campers said they left CYLC with a new sense of leadership and a basic understanding of how their local electric cooperatives operate and how they contribute to the betterment of the communities they serve.
Wheatland Electric sponsors two delegates for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour and one camper for the CYLC each year as part of our strong commitment to the community and our mission to inspire future generations to become leaders. Applicants must be high school juniors whose parents or guardians are Wheatland members. Applications are due Feb. 1. For more information, school counselors can contact Shawn Powelson, manager of member services and corporate communications, at 620-872-5885.