Co-op Youth Tour students meet with leaders in D.C.
Since it was a travel day for members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the South Carolina students visiting the United States Capitol building as part of the 2022 Washington Youth Tour were only expecting to meet with Congressional staffers and tour the offices of S.C. lawmakers.
So, it was quite a surprise for Alandria Kennedy, Mikayla Ferguson and Sharon Murray when Rep. James Clyburn walked through the door and sat down with them and the 10 other students
from his district. The House Majority Whip patiently answered questions and imparted wise counsel to the attentive teens.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re of voting age to make your voice heard,” Rep. Clyburn told the students. “I encourage you to find a candidate or cause that you believe in and get involved.”
Samantha Reilly, whom Palmetto Electric also sponsored on the trip, visited Rep. Nancy Mace’s congressional office, and spoke with her staff. “That was by far the coolest part,” says Reilly, a student at John Paul II Catholic School. “I have looked up to her. She’s such a strong woman and she’s persevered through so much. Hearing how her staff described her was
In June, Kennedy, Murray, Reilly and Ferguson were among 49 South Carolina high school students sent by their electric cooperatives on a journey of the nation’s capital. In addition to meeting with legislators—which also included Capitol steps meetings with Sen. Tim
Scott and Sen. Lindsey Graham—the students visited Mount Vernon, the National Holocaust Memorial Museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery.
For Ferguson, a student at Ridgeland-Hardeeville High School, the sites had an added significance. “I want to be an architectural engineer,” she says. “So, I got to see a lot of buildings and some cool architecture. The Capitol building was beautiful.”
Throughout the trip, the students participated in the Soda Pop Co-op. The co-op sold snacks and beverages to the students. Some of the students served as cooperative board members, others were a part of the management team. As member-consumers, the students each received $9 in capital credits, their share of the co-op’s end-of-trip margins.
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the 2022 Washington Youth Tour is the first time in three years South Carolina electric cooperatives have been able to send students to the capital. Palmetto Electric sponsored Reilly, Murray and Kennedy. Ferguson was selected by a statewide panel and sponsored by The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina.
“I’ve never had an experience like this before,” says Reilly. “I don’t think there was a day or time where I didn’t have fun.”