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Local Students Join SEC on National Electric Cooperative Youth Tour

CONTACT: Ronald O. White
V.P., Member & Public Relations
(434) 645- 3211


Crewe, Va. – Eight local high school students from Southside Electric Cooperative’s service territory were selected from a diverse group of applicants to enjoy an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., from June 10-14 as part of the 54th annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. The following students joined 1,800 rising seniors from across the United States on the trip: 

Sarah Cline, Campbell County 

Autumn Holman, Cumberland County 

Trevor Leonard, Powhatan County 

Helen Strigel, Lunenburg County 

Irene Thornton, Prince Edward County 

Rachel Wells, Amelia County 

McKaellen Wilkerson, Nottoway County 

Kendall Williams, Amelia County 

Together with SEC chaperones Mark Thomas and Lloyd Lenhart, they spent a week touring Washington and learning how critical it is to become involved in the legislative process and in their local communities. 

“Youth Tour was such an awesome opportunity for not only learning about cooperatives and the political process, but forming lifelong friendships,” Cline said. “I loved learning about how much of an impact cooperatives have on our society and how many there actually are.” 

SEC’s students explored key issues in the electric industry, studied the cooperative business model and interacted with students in team building programs. During their visit to Capitol Hill, the students met with U.S. Rep. Dave Brat and U.S. Rep. Tom Garrett, and enjoyed a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. They also visited a variety of historical and cultural sites in the nation’s capital, including the Jefferson Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, Fort McHenry and the Newseum. Among fun activities the students enjoyed were a twilight cruise on the Potomac, a Baltimore Orioles baseball game and a live performance of “The Scottsboro Boys.” 

The students agreed that Youth Tour was an amazing experience. Cline added, “It was really cool to meet our elected officials and learn about politics up-close. Plus, we made new friends from nearly every state and experienced history firsthand. It really made us think about what it means to be an American, and shows that people our age do care about this country.” 

“This week is such a great opportunity to change these students’ lives,” said Lenhart. “This experience helps prepare them for their futures. After touring our nation’s capital, meeting congressional representatives and learning firsthand about how our government operates, they return home with knowledge they may not have learned anywhere else at this age, and memories that will last a lifetime.”

Youth Tour was inspired by Sen. Lyndon Baines Johnson when he addressed the NRECA Annual Meeting in 1957. The senator and future president declared, "If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents." 

Since 1964, the nation’s cooperative electric utilities have sponsored 65,000 high school juniors and seniors to visit Washington, D.C., talk one-on-one with their U.S. congressional delegations, and learn from energy and grassroots government education sessions. NRECA is the national service organization representing the nation’s more than 900 consumer-owned, not-for-profit electric cooperatives, which provide electric service to 42 million people in 47 states. 

Southside Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit, member-owned electric cooperative that serves more than 55,000 homes and businesses in central and southern Virginia. Headquartered in Crewe, SEC has district offices in Altavista, Crewe, Dinwiddie and Powhatan. For more information, visit