Some people argue that leaders are born, not made. While it’s true that some people are born with certain traits that make them more comfortable in leadership roles, all great leaders need help developing their skills.
Many others who might not be perceived as “natural” leaders can become exceptional leaders if given the right coaching and an opportunity to shine. What if a high school student in your life – a child, grandchild or the nice kid down the road who’s always willing to help out a neighbor – had the opportunity to participate in a nationally recognized leadership program?
What if previous participants of that program went on to serve as elected officials – or the CEO of one of the most profitable, innovative and highly respected companies in the world? What if that program was available at no cost to the student? For members of West Florida Electric Cooperative (WFEC), these
aren’t hypothetical questions. Every summer, more than 1,600 bright and talented students from across rural America converge in Washington, D.C., for the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. These young men and women represent our next generation of leaders. They are the people who will make our communities
better places to live and lead businesses that will provide good jobs and valuable services.
Participants learn about electric cooperatives and the cooperative business model, spend a day on Capitol
Hill, visit monuments and memorials, explore museums and build lifelong friendships with other young leaders from across the country. But, this isn’t just a field trip to Washington, D.C. It’s a transformational experience that shows students the power of democracy and the importance of leadership. Youth Tour boasts many distinguished alumni, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, who represented Baldwin Electric Membership Cooperative in Summerdale, Alabama on the 1977 Youth Tour. In a commencement address to George Washington University’s Class of 2015, Cook cited Youth Tour as a moment that helped shape his view of the world.
This experience is offered at no cost to the student or family. The only out-of-pocket expenses are for incidentals, such as souvenirs and snacks. West Florida Electric has sponsored the Youth Tour since 1979 and has sent nearly 80 students on this life-changing trip since then. We believe it is our responsibility as a not-for-profit, community-based organization to invest in our next generation of leaders.
With that idea in mind, WFEC created a scholarship program to go hand-in-hand with its Youth Tour program. For the past three years, a scholarship for $4,000 to Chipola College has been awarded to the highest scoring participant from each of the four counties served by WFEC. Participants are ranked on a scale of 100 points using a panel interview process and the following categories: Communication Skills, Knowledge of Subject, Personality, Community Service and Poise/Appearance.
WFEC is strongly committed to the communities it serves and its members, and sponsoring students for this exciting, educational trip and for the scholarships at Chipola College are just some of the ways we’re
investing in our youth.
2018 Youth Tour Scholarship winners: (front: l-r) Washington County winner, Emily Broom, Chipley HS; Jackson County winner, Elizabeth Carnley, Malone School & Holmes County winner, Bailey Rich, Holmes Co. HS with WFEC's Board of Trustees: (back l-r) George Clayton Owens, Randy Bush, John Adams, Myron Hudson, Tim Alford, A.C. Miles & Joe Rone. Calhoun County winner, Anna Alday, Altha School, pictured below with Terry Mullen, Manager, Marketing & Communications.