2023 Washington Youth Tour & Cooperative Youth Summit
Attention high school students! You could be selected for one of two unforgettable trips in the summer of 2023.
Juniors can apply now for the Washington Youth Tour, June 17-22, 2023. If selected, you’ll explore Washington, D.C., with 1,600 high school juniors from across the country— meeting lawmakers and touring all the sights. Palmetto Electric Cooperative will cover the cost of three students’ round-trip plane tickets, tours and meals. In other words, it’s all free!
Sophomores and/or juniors can now apply for the Cooperative Youth Summit, July 10-13, 2023. Three students will be selected to represent Palmetto Electric, and if selected, you’ll experience South Carolina’s capital like never before. Tour the State House, meet lawmakers and see how co-ops are preparing for our state’s energy future. Plus, there’s plenty of fun with visits to popular Columbia attractions like Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. This trip is also free!
Students selected for either trip are eligible to compete for thousands of dollars in scholarships. The applicant’s primary residence must be served by Palmetto Electric Cooperative. Apply by Tuesday, February 28.
For questions, call Brooke Mingledorff at (843) 208-5556 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Washington Youth Tour 2022
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 super interesting.”
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 that 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.
Cooperative Youth Summit 2022
It was quite a summer for two local high school students, thanks to Palmetto Electric Cooperative. Garrett Simons and Cohen Freeman took part in the Cooperative Youth Summit, a four-day journey of their state’s capital and the surrounding area that went beyond the traditional field trip.
Simons and Freeman joined 35 other high school students sponsored by South Carolina electric cooperatives on the unique experience. Through the Cooperative Youth Summit, students start their own cooperative, produce their own podcasts and learn how government works.
The students visited Riverbanks Zoo & Garden, explored electric vehicles and toured the State House, culminating with a visit inside the Governor’s office. The students also learned about legislative advocacy from S.C. state Rep. Kirkman Finlay.
“I thought Rep. Finlay was really cool because he was straightforward,” says Simons. “He was willing to answer questions and there wasn’t anything he was trying to hide.”
On the final day, the students heard from Hannah Honeycutt of the South Carolina Access to Justice Commission. Honeycutt told the students that many citizens, especially in rural communities, are not able to effectively use the legal system to advocate for themselves and their interests.
Cooperative Youth Summit students also had the unique opportunity to produce podcasts addressing the question, “Given the turbulence in our nation and around the globe, how can young people impact their local communities?”
Throughout the trip, the students participated in the Soda Pop Co-op, which sold snacks and beverages. Some students served as cooperative board members; others were a part of the management team. All students received cash back as their share of the end-of-the-trip margins. The exercise allowed the students to learn first-hand how the not-for-profit co-op business model works.
The future is bright, thanks to future leaders like these!