A Capital Time
In March, South Alabama Electric Cooperative sponsored 10 students to travel to Montgomery as part of the 2020 Rural Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. They joined more than 150 high school juniors, representing 19 Alabama electric cooperatives, as they toured sites, listened to motivational speakers and spoke to lawmakers in the state capital.
“It was a really great experience because, living in a rural area, sometimes you’re only really around the people at your school,” says Chloe Meadows, a junior at Zion Chapel High School. “So it was really cool to meet people from all over the state.”
This year’s tour, March 10-12, gave students the opportunity to visit historic sites like the Alabama state Capitol, the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church and the Alabama Statehouse.
Attendees also met with their state legislators and asked them about some of the most pressing issues of the day, including voter registration and the Alabama Farm Bill.
“I knew who my representatives were, but I didn’t realize how much work they actually do for the counties they represent,” says Joseph Riley, a junior at Crenshaw Christian Academy. “It was really enlightening to learn about how they wound up in office and all they do to try to help the community around them.”
In addition, students learned more about the cooperative business model and how cooperatives operate across the state.
“We really think about it as building tomorrow’s leaders,” says Andy Kimbro, SAEC’s manager of member services. “These students will be voters, college graduates and workforce leaders. We want to make sure they are knowledgeable about cooperatives and what we stand for.”
As always, a highlight of the trip was hearing from motivational speaker Cea Cohen-Elliott, who reminded students they can be leaders in their own schools and communities by taking a stand on their beliefs.
“There were probably over 100 people in the room when she spoke, but it felt like everything she was saying was straight to me,” says Meadows. “It was very inspiring and not the kind of thing you get to hear all the time.”
Most importantly, the tour helped students think about what they might want to accomplish after high school and prepared them to be leaders in whatever they choose to pursue.
“It’s an amazing opportunity, and I would encourage all juniors to apply and go on the Youth Tour if they have the chance,” Meadows says. “It’s a great experience.”
Delegates were given a chance to meet and talk with state representatives like Chris Sells. Pictured from Left to right are Brook Watson, Stetson Adcock, Joseph Riley, Nathan Braisted, Sells, Will Snyder, Chloe Meadows, Abigail Brooks, Addi Garrett, Halee Deal and Olivia Barron.