Fifty-six high school students from across the state returned to school this fall with a better understanding of how electric cooperatives are preparing for the future.

During the Cooperative Youth Summit, students checked out all-electric Tesla vehicles (far left). They also participated in team-building activities with new friends from around the state, such as the Spaghetti Challenge (above), during which Byron DuBose and his partners competed to build the tallest structure with just dry pasta and yarn.

Palmetto Electric co-sponsored the Cooperative Youth Summit in July, giving local high school seniors Byron DuBose, Isabel Muehleman, Bethany Neville, Abby Smith and Keandra Warren a chance to tour renewable energy sites, meet with state government leaders, explore careers in the electric industry and more. Neville and Muehleman are seniors at Hilton Head High School. DuBose is a senior at Legacy Christian Academy. Smith is a senior at Wade Hampton High School. Warren is a senior at Ridgeland Hardeeville High.

In its second year, the Cooperative Youth Summit included a visit to the capitol complex in Columbia. Students also visited Mid-Carolina Electric Cooperative in Lexington, learning about line work, taking bucket truck rides, observing pole-climbing demonstrations and hearing of co-op career opportunities.

They also partnered with S.C. WIRE (Women Involved in Rural Electrification) to fill 320 bags with personal items for homeless students as part of WIRE’s Kids’ Closet initiative. More than 11,000 S.C. students experienced homelessness last year, they learned.

The summit ended at the state association of co-ops in Cayce, where students took rides in electric vehicles, a Tesla Model S and Model 3. Association employees explained the science behind electric vehicles.

Palmetto-area students Keandra Warren, DuBose, Isabel Muehleman, Abby Smith and Bethany Neville also helped WIRE volunteers fill 320 bags with personal items for homeless students.

Palmetto sponsored Muehleman, Smith and Warren on the trip. DuBose and Neville, both children of co-op employees, were sponsored by Central power supply aggregator for Palmetto Electric and 19 other independent, consumer owned co-ops around South Carolina.

Palmetto Electric supports programs like the Cooperative Youth Summit to demonstrate its commitment to community, one of four core values of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives such as Palmetto. Learn more at

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