NC YLC Delegate Presents at National Meeting
How can rural communities attract and retain younger generations? This question was posed to a panel of Youth Leadership Council (YLC) delegates at NRECA’s annual meeting in Orlando. Among them was Caitlin Finley, North Carolina’s YLC delegate who attended the 2018 Youth Tour on behalf of Lenoir-based Blue Ridge Energy. The YLC members were 2018 Youth Tour participants who were nominated by their peers to serve on the YLC.
For the panelists, it turns out a little engagement — including through electric cooperative-sponsored youth programs — can go a long way.
“After participating in the Youth Tour, I really understood that the co-op business model is completely different than other business models, because its more about helping others than helping yourself,” Finley said. “I was blown away by that.”
Internships at electric co-ops, programs like Youth Tour and co-op scholarship programs are all ways to engage young people and foster a sense of community, according to the panelists, which can help draw them back home after college. North Carolina’s electric cooperatives offer a range of community programs, including academic scholarship opportunities, Touchstone Energy Sports Camp Scholarships, Bright Ideas Education Grants and the NC Youth Tour.
Finely found the Youth Tour to be inspiring and energizing.
“A lot of my friends at school just want to get away from our hometown — it can dim your fire a little bit. For me, Youth Tour reignited it,” she said. And to fellow high school students unsure of the Youth Tour program, she offers simple advice: “Take the first step. Apply, and see where it goes.”
The 2019 NRECA Annual Meeting focused on serving communities, leveraging technology and connecting with members.
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