After a year's break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association Youth Tour trip to Tallahassee was able to make its comeback February 16-17, 2022.
Nine area students participated in the Youth Tour program this year. They were: Haylee Tillman, Altha School; Kaden Lemieux, Bethlehem School; Kat Blackburn, Blountstown High School; Cass Dillard, Chipley High School; Haven White, Cottondale High School; Olivia Garlington, Graceville High School; Amari Williams, Malone School; Noah Mercer, Marianna High School and Gracyn Johnson from Sneads.
Brayden Whitehead, a junior at Cottonwood High School, is the grandson of Susie Johnson, an employee of the cooperative. He competed in a separate essay competition for the children and grandchildren of employees, sponsored by the Florida Rural Electric Cooperatives Association. The winner of this essay competition wins a trip to Washington, D.C. and becomes the representative for the rural electric cooperatives of Florida. Whitehead placed second in this competition and will serve as alternate should the first place winner be unable to attend the trip to Washington.
On February 22, those nine students participated in an interview competition and two of them were chosen to represent West Florida Electric on the trip to Washington, D.C. this summer. A junior at Cottondale High School, Haven White, and Marianna High School junior, Noah Mercer were named West Florida Electric’s Youth Tour competition winners that day. Kat Blackburn from Blountstown High School was named alternate. These students will represent WFEC on the National Rural Electric Youth Tour June 14-19, traveling to Washington, D.C. with over 30 other Florida students. They will join hundreds of other high school juniors in D.C. representing co-ops from across the country.
The cooperative’s Board of Trustees has also created a scholarship program linked to Youth Tour participation. Each year, a scholarship of $4,000 to Chipola College is awarded to the highest scoring participant from each county. These scholarship recipients were: Kat Blackburn, Calhoun County; Kaden Lemieux, Holmes County; Haven White, Jackson County and Cass Dillard, Washington County. These students were recognized at a banquet on March 1. Look for their photos in the April issue of Current Light Flashes.
The Washington, D.C. Youth Tour Program has been in existence since 1957 when co-ops sent students to Washington, D.C. to work during the summer. Since then, thousands of young people have experienced this opportunity. WFEC has participated in the Youth Tour since 1979, sending two students to Washington, D.C. each year since. For more information about the Youth Tour and the scholarship program, please visit www.westflorida.coop or contact Candace Croft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo caption: Front, l-r: Kat Blackburn, Amani Williams, Olivia Garlington, Haylee Tillman, Gracyn Johnson, Haven White; Back, l-r: Cass Dillard, Kaden Lemieux, Noah Mercer and Brayden Whitehead.