More than 45 high school juniors from across the state were in Nashville recently for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s annual Youth Leadership Summit. These students were selected by their guidance counselors to attend the summit. Representing Powell Valley Electric Cooperative were Hannah Fugate of Claiborne High School and Seth Massengill of Cumberland Gap High School.

Delegates to the event receive a hands-on look at state government, learn networking and leadership skills and develop a better understanding of their local electric cooperatives.

Tre Hargett, Tennessee Secretary of State, welcomed the students to the Capitol where they visited with legislators, sat in on committee meetings and debated and voted on a mock bill. Students from Powell Valley Electric Cooperative visited with state representative Gary Hicks. They learned more about his vocation and how effective leadership skills have aided him in the work place. Rep. Hicks encouraged them to use their developing leadership skills and talents to help improve rural Tennessee.

In addition to meeting lawmakers and experiencing the state Capital, students also developed their leadership and teambuilding skills at the Joe C. Davis YMCA Outdoor Center at Camp Widjiwagen, completed a leadership training course with leadership expert Amy Gallimore and met Trooper Shane Moore and K9 officer Sumo from the Tennessee Executive Protection Detail. Students also attended a show at the Grand Ole Opry and spent a morning at Middle Tennessee Electric in Murfreesboro for a behind-the-scenes look at an electric cooperative.

“The TECA Youth Leadership Summit brought me one step closer to finding a career path for my future while allowing mem to meet and create bonds with so many people from across Tennessee,” says Hannah Fugate, junior delegate from Claiborne High School. “The Summit truly put into perspective how limitless my opportunities are if I continue to take advantage of my resources and reach into and beyond my community.”

Delegates to the Youth Leadership Summit are encouraged to be leaders and use their talents to improve rural Tennessee. “The future is built on the investments we make today, and there is no greater investment that we can make than to prepare these young people to face the opportunities and challenges of tomorrow,” says Todd Blocker, vice president of member relations for the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and director of the Youth Leadership Summit. “These students are selected by their local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors, and they truly are the best and the brightest. The Youth Leadership Summit is an example of the many ways that electric co-ops are building a brighter Tennessee.”