Local students represent South Kentucky RECC in Washington, D.C.

Posted July 31, 2019 at 8:31 am

When you hear about South Kentucky RECC investing in the communities we serve, it’s not just in electrical infrastructure, economic development or the local events we support.

The cooperative’s commitment to community is all about its members.

on June, 12 local high school seniors joined 77 other Kentucky electric co-op students for a weeklong program where they learned about the political process, interacted with elected officials and gained an up-close understanding of American history.

Two of those students, Rachel Sawyers and Abigail Turner, were from Albany and are Clinton County High School students.

The Kentucky Rural Electric Washington Youth Tour is an annual, week-long, all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D. C., which is open to select high school juniors going into their senior year whose homes are served by electric cooperatives. South Kentucky RECC’s mission statement says that the co-op will work to “improve the quality of life in its communities.” An important way that the co-op feels it can improve the quality of life is through its youth, and one way is by participating in the Washington Youth Tour each year.

The students from South Kentucky RECC joined more than 1,800 of rural America’s best and brightest high-schoolers representing electric cooperatives across America. Now in its 54th year, the youth tour educates the delegates about the issues facing co-ops, encouraging them to come home to Kentucky and help lead the co-ops in the future.

“I created unbreakable bonds with youth from all over Kentucky. The friendships I made during my week in Washington, D.C.,will always be cherished,” says Charley Morgan of McCreary Central High School.

The busy itinerary for the delegation included visits to national monuments, Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, and the National Cathedral. While at Arlington National Cemetery, the Kentucky students, including Abby Turner of Clinton County High School, laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“I’m beyond grateful I had the opportunity to go on youth tour. South Kentucky RECC has given me the trip of a lifetime,” says Turner.

“My favorite part of the trip was being at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider, hearing Taps and seeing the president’s helicopter fly over Washington, D.C., in the distance. It was one of those moments that gives you that sense of American pride,” adds Bryson Bryant of McCreary Central High School.

Another highlight of the Washington Youth Tour is the opportunity for South Kentucky RECC students to interact with Kentucky’s congressional delegation, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senator Rand Paul and Congressmen Brett Guthrie, Andy Barr, Thomas Massie, James Comer and Hal Rogers.

“Meeting politicians who serve as our voice in D.C. has inspired me to become more active and energized in my community involvement. I will forever be grateful of this opportunity given by South Kentucky RECC,” says Jesse Olmstead of Pulaski County High School.

The tour was led by Mary Beth Dennis of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives and 11 chaperones from Kentucky co-ops, including Alan Coffey of South Kentucky RECC.

“Our goal this week is to foster a new era of leadership and cultivate a culture of service to shape the future of these students who will go on to create change in their communities,” shares Dennis.

“I look forward to bringing a new perspective on our great nation back to my school and community,” adds Hunter Burkhead of Pulaski County High School.

Kentucky Electric Cooperatives have been coordinating the tour for Kentucky co-ops since 1972, when 18 students and four chaperones made the trip.

“I highly recommend everyone to apply and see where it leads you, because this trip is so worth it,” says Rachel Rains of Wayne County High School.

“It is an investment in our co-op youth and the future of the co-ops themselves,” says Chris Perry, Kentucky Electric Cooperatives president and CEO. “We are so proud of these students. They impress us with their passion for their communities and our nation, and they give us hope for the future.”

If your student is going to be a high school junior this year, they can apply for the 2019 Washington Rural Electric Youth Tour beginning in January. Applications are available at the guidance offices of high schools within the South Kentucky RECC service territory.

Group Photo Caption: Students attending the Washington Youth Tour from the South Kentucky RECC service territory included, from left to right, front row: Ashlyn Ing, Russell County High; Abigail Turner, Clinton County High; Charley Morgan, McCreary Central High; Skyla Lawless, Russell County High; Rachel Rains, Wayne County High, Rachel Sawyers, Clinton County High; K’LeAnn Morgan, Somerset High; back row, left to right: Alan Coffey, South Kentucky RECC Member Services and Marketing Manager; Hunter James Burkhead, Pulaski County High; Nadia Flynn, Southwestern High; Bryson Bryant, McCreary Central High; Jesse Olmstead, Pulaski County High; and Mackenzie Crabtree, Wayne County High.