Six high school students from Southwestern Illinois traveled to Springﬁeld, Ill., on March 29 to tour the Capitol and meet with legislators during Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day. Hosted by the Association of Illinois Electric Cooperatives (AIEC), Springfield, Ill., and sponsored locally by Southwestern Electric Cooperative, Greenville, Ill., the program encouraged students to explore their interest in government.
“Our student-delegates learned about leadership from legislators, state officers and co-op employees who’ve dedicated their lives to public service,” said Southwestern CEO Bobby Williams. “Concern for community and democratic member control are core principles of every cooperative. They’re also pillars of sound government,” Williams said. “We want to do our part to instill those values in our future leaders.”
During the tour, legislators and officers discussed the rewards and responsibilities of public service, while representatives from AIEC, the statewide trade association representing Illinois electric cooperatives, explored the role of grassroots organizations in government. “Most of our student-delegates are considering career options at this point,” Williams said. “Careers in public service can be personally fulfilling, professionally rewarding and contribute to the common good. The spring Youth Tour and summer Youth to Washington experience provide us with excellent opportunities to share that message.”
At the capital, Southwestern’s student-delegates met State Sen. Jason Plummer and Rep. Blaine Wilhour, and heard addresses from Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Abigail Meyer, Illinois’ delegate to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Youth Leadership Council, and Brooke Gross, member services manager and youth program coordinator for AIEC. Students also toured the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.
More than 200 high school students representing 23 electric and telephone cooperatives participated in Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day. Candidates for the program were selected on the basis of school and community involvement, civic contributions, academic achievement, leadership experience and their interest in government.
Representing Southwestern Electric were Shelby Bone, daughter of Anthony and Erica Bone of Greenville; Boston Hails, son of Kyle and Tiffany Hails of St. Peter; Kylie Ketcham, daughter of Kerry and Jessica Ketcham of Alhambra; Kate Turley, daughter of Amber and Boyd Turley of Greenville; Noah Vonder Haar, son of Kevin and Carla Vonder Haar of Greenville; and Jordan Walk, daughter of Brian and Amanda Walk of Vandalia.
Following the Springﬁeld tour, an AIEC representative interviewed Southwestern’s student-delegates to select representatives for the national Youth to Washington Tour. Shelby Bone, a senior at Bond County Community Unit School District #2 High School, and Kylie Ketcham, a senior at Highland High School, were chosen to represent Southwestern Electric Cooperative at the national rally.
As Southwestern’s student-representatives in the Youth to Washington program, Bone and Ketcham will join student-delegates from other Illinois cooperatives and travel nearly 2,000 miles by charter bus, leaving for Washington, D.C., on June 16 and returning June 23. While in Washington, Southwestern’s representatives will meet with Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, then join U.S. representatives for a luncheon on Capitol Hill.
The national youth program, which draws more than 1,500 students from 44 states, includes tours of many institutions and memorials, including the Civil War battlefield at Gettysburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the National Cathedral, George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon, the United States Supreme Court and several museums. Southwestern Electric Cooperative will sponsor the student-delegates, paying fees associated with transportation, meals, lodging and activities.
Based in Greenville, Ill., Southwestern Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned utility serving 24,000 residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial members in 11 counties along the I-70 corridor between St. Louis, Mo., and Effingham, Ill.
PHOTO CAPTION (see attachment): Six high school students representing Southwestern Electric Cooperative toured the Capitol and met with legislators during Illinois Electric and Telephone Cooperatives Youth Day, held March 29 in Springfield, Ill. More than 200 high school students representing 23 electric and telephone cooperatives participated in the event. Pictured are (front row, from left): Jordan Walk, daughter of Brian and Amanda Walk of Vandalia; Kate Turley, daughter of Amber and Boyd Turley of Greenville; Kylie Ketcham, daughter of Kerry and Jessica Ketcham of Alhambra; Shelby Bone, daughter of Anthony and Erica Bone of Greenville; (back row) Sen. Jason Plummer, Rep. Blaine Wilhour; Boston Hails, son of Kyle and Tiffany Hails of St. Peter; and Noah Vonder Haar, son of Kevin and Carla Vonder Haar of Greenville.