Students get trip on PVEC dime

Published 12:25 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

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Four local students got the chance of a lifetime and all it took was the act of putting pen to paper to express their thoughts and feelings about connecting with Cooperatives.

The idea was to explain just how electric co-ops connect Tennessee communities with important commodities like energy, education, broadband, economic development and more.

The winners earned a free trip to the nation’s capital, where they soaked up all things historical in Washington, D.C.

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Anna Evans, student at J. Frank White Academy, along with Claiborne High students Shaileigh Wright and Allie Jones hung out with fourth delegate Madison Lyons of the Clinch School during the weeklong trip. The delegates met up with 124 other students from across the state, making memories as they toured the White House and the memorials of past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The students were given a tour of the World War II, Vietnam and Korean War Memorials honoring the sacrifices of the veterans who ‘gave all.’

The delegates saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures during visits to the Smithsonian Institute. Also on the touring schedule were fun stops at the historic homes of former presidents George Washington (Mount Vernon) and Thomas Jefferson (Monticello) as well as the Washington National Cathedral.

A boat cruise down the Potomac River and a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery, where the group laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, were scheduled into the visit as well.

The students were invited for a meet and greet to the U.S. Capitol by Senators Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty and members of the Tennessee Congressional Delegation.

Brad Coppock, PVEC General Manager, says those who participate in these annual trips “are the future leaders of the region.”

“Through the Youth Tour, these young people are given an extraordinary chance to explore history and public policy in a direct way, cultivate their leadership skills and acquire knowledge that will be valuable for their communities down the road.”

Todd Blocker, Vice-President of Member Relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and Tour Director, agrees with Coppock on the importance of these expeditions.

“It’s a transformative experience that ignites a love of history, inspires leadership and empowers young minds to shape the future. By witnessing awe-inspiring monuments, engaging with our nation’s leaders and connecting with a community of peers, Youth Tour can cultivate a lifelong passion for active citizenship.”

Mike Knotts, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, says that investing in these young people not only nurtures their potential but is an investment in the future of rural and suburban Tennessee.

“It is exciting to consider the impact that these talented young people will have on their communities and electric cooperatives are honored to support their academic journeys.”

These annual events, sponsored by Powell Valley Electric Cooperative and the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, were inspired by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1957. Since then, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have participated as delegates in the Washington Youth Tour.

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, headquartered in New Tazewell, with branch offices in Jonesville, VA And Sneedville, TN, is a nonprofit, member-owned energy provider that serves more than 34,000 homes, farms and businesses in the Tennessee counties of Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins and Union and the Virginia counties of Lee, Scott and Wise.

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