Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, in partnership with the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association, sponsored four students as they spent a week in the nation’s capital. Powell Valley Electric Cooperative’s delegates of the 2022 Washington Youth Tour were Cheyanne Mayes, J. Frank White Academy; Anna Hopkins, Hancock County High School; Carlie Napier, Cumberland Gap High School; and Hannah Daniels, J. Frank White Academy. These four students joined 45 other students from across Tennessee on the weeklong trip that began on Friday, June 17.

The annual event provides young leaders with an opportunity to explore the nation’s capital, learn about government and cooperatives and develop their leadership skills. Students were selected for the trip by writing short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives – Building a Brighter Tennessee” that explain how co-ops like Powell Valley Electric Cooperative are investing in the future of the communities they serve.

“These young people are the future leaders of our region,” says Brad Coppock, general manager for Powell Valley Electric Cooperative. “The Youth Tour is a unique opportunity for them to experience history and public policy up-close and personal, and to develop leadership skills and knowledge that will serve our communities for years to come.”

“The Youth Tour recognizes the best and brightest from across Tennessee,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and tour director. “By honoring their accomplishments through programs like the Washington Youth Tour, we show these young people that they have an important role to play in the future of Tennessee. We want these young people to come home with a better understanding of history, stronger leadership skills and a passion to serve their communities.”

While in Washington, D.C., Tennessee’s Youth Tour delegates saw the White House and memorials to past presidents Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Delano Roosevelt as well as monuments honoring the sacrifices of veterans of World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. During visits to the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, the touring Tennesseans saw and experienced natural, historical and artistic treasures. Other fun stops included historic homes of former presidents — George Washington’s Mount Vernon and Jefferson’s Monticello — as well as the National Museum of the Marine Corps, the National Cathedral and a boat cruise down the Potomac River. The group also paid a solemn and sobering visit to Arlington National Cemetery where the delegates laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

The group was welcomed to the U.S. Capitol by Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Bill Hagerty as well as Reps. Tim Burchett and Diane Harshbarger, who posed for photos and answered questions.

“An investment in these young people is also an investment in the communities we serve,” says David Callis, CEO of the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association. “These are exceptional students, and our hope is that their youth tour experience empowers them to return home and make a difference in their communities.”

President Lyndon Johnson inspired the Washington Youth Tour in 1957 when he encouraged electric cooperatives to send youngsters to the nation’s capital. In the years since, more than 6,000 young Tennesseans have been delegates on the Washington Youth Tour.

Powell Valley Electric Cooperative, headquartered in New Tazewell, Tenn., with branch offices in Jonesville, Va. and Sneedville, Tenn., is a not-for-profit member-owned energy provider that serves more than 33,000 homes, farms and businesses in the Virginia counties of Lee, Scott and Wise and the Tennessee counties of Claiborne, Grainger, Hancock, Hawkins and Union. For more information, go to www.pve.coop.