Loren Gilbert of Cumberland Gap High School and Matthew Ryan of Claiborne High School were sponsored by Powell Valley Electric Cooperative to attend the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2015 Youth Leadership Summit this spring in downtown Nashville.
Gilbert, the daughter of Dennis and Connie Gilbert of Harrogate, and Ryan, the son of Mark and Robin Ryan of Tazewell, were among 46 high school juniors representing the state’s 23 electric cooperatives who attended the annual event.
“The Youth Leadership Summit recognizes the best and brightest from our electric co-op service areas and teaches these young ambassadors about their hometown cooperatives and Tennessee state government,” said Todd Blocker, TECA director of member relations. “Local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors chose these deserving students to attend the summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities.”
“Matthew and Loren are fine examples of the future leaders we’re raising in our local communities,” said Shane Bunch, Powell Valley Electric employee who accompanied them to the summit. “PVEC is pleased to provide motivated students with this opportunity to join their peers from across Tennessee to learn about rural electric co-ops and experience the legislative process in the State Capitol.”
The summit began on a Monday evening at the group’s hotel, the Millennium Maxwell House, with get-acquainted activities and an introduction to cooperatives led by electric co-op leaders and a leadership development presentation by Amy Gallimore of Four16 Training Solutions.
Tuesday morning’s breakfast included presentations led by TECA Executive Vice President David Callis and Director of Government Affairs Mike Knotts in advance of the group’s visit to Legislative Plaza. Senator Ken Yager of Kingston and Rep. John Forgety of Athens welcomed the students to Nashville and answered their questions about legislative issues. The eleventh graders then toured the Capitol and saw state government in action at Senate and House committee meetings before posing for photos in front of the historic building.
Following the visit to Capitol Hill, the group enjoyed lunch and leadership activities at a Nashville-area YMCA camp, where the students were also treated to a hot-line trailer demonstration by Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation and Sunbelt Rentals. TCEMCemployees showed that electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it and always exercise safety around power lines.
The fun continued with a tour of Bridgestone Arena and a Nashville Predators hockey game, and the busy day was capped off by special guest speakers Miss Tennessee Hayley Lewis and Sgt. Mike Morgan of the Tennessee executive protection detail.
Wednesday morning, the students learned more about electric cooperatives and their daily operations through interactive games. Then they got an overview of the history of electric cooperatives and answered trivia questions about electric co-ops and the state in the “Energy Battle” competition.
“This summit offers an excellent opportunity to educate our youth, who are our future community leaders, about cooperatives as well as about state government” said Randell Meyers, general manager of Powell Valley Electric Cooperative. “These young folks learn about the important role cooperatives play in communities and what makes cooperatives so unique. We want our young people to understand and appreciate all that cooperatives do to improve the quality of life for them and their families. We are pleased to be a part of this program for our youth.”