Barry Electric: investing in our youth

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

On Thursday evening, Barry Electric Cooperative recognized four local students who will have the opportunity to attend Missouri CYCLE in Jefferson City or Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., this summer. In addition to congratulating the selected students, I would like to commend the local cooperative for providing this opportunity for area youth.

Cassville High School junior MaCayla Coleman and Exeter High School junior Patience Lewis will attend Cooperative Youth Conference and Leadership Experience (CYCLE) July 13 through July 15. The three-day youth conference will give Coleman and Lewis an opportunity to meet and work with young leaders from across the state. Students will learn more about electric cooperatives, develop leadership skills and experience Missouri state government through a variety of activities, including debating a bill on the Capitol floor. Participants will also enjoy an outdoor barbecue, compete in small group events and hear nationally known speakers.

Kandace Norman and Lane Pendergraft, who are both juniors at Exeter High School, will attend Youth Tour in Washington, D.C., June 10 through June 16. Youth Tour is designed to teach students about the political process, which will help them interact with the United States government throughout their lives. Many students who attend Youth Tour have gone on to serve in the highest ranks of the government, including the U.S. Senate. The goal of the program is to teach students to be better leaders and give them the confidence to make a difference in their communities, states and country. Youth Tour, which was founded in the 1950s, brings over 40,000 students from rural areas and small towns to Washington. This year, for the first time, Barry County students will join that group of youth.

Both Missouri CYCLE and Youth Tour provide unique opportunities for students to learn the important roles cooperatives play in their communities, gain a personal understanding of American history and learn more about their roles as United States citizens. Both of these programs will help local students develop leadership skills that can be used in the career of their choice. The programs will also give these students skills that will allow them to positively impact their local communities in the future.

By providing the opportunity to attend Missouri CYCLE and Youth Tour, Barry Electric will join the ranks of several local organizations that offer similar opportunities for youth. For instance, the American Legion sponsors youth for Missouri Boys State and Silver Leaf Benefit Club sends students to Sophomore Pilgrimage each year. All of these groups deserve recognition for providing such an important opportunity for youth from our rural area.

Lindsay Reed