Empowering tomorrow’s leaders in Washington, D.C.

Local students represent Adams Electric Cooperative and Adams Telephone Co-Operative during Youth Tour

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Each year, hundreds of high school students from across the United States embark on an educational and inspirational journey to the nation’s capital city. Sponsored by Illinois’ electric and telephone cooperatives, 54 students departed Springfield, Ill., by bus on June 14 to Washington, D.C., for a weeklong trip of a lifetime.

Adams Electric Cooperative and Adams Telephone Co-Operative were represented by six students within their service territories. Alixandria Bauer and Anna Dietrich represented Adams Electric, and Adalena Pedro, Ivy Liesen and Maya Nemecek represented Adams Telephone. In addition, Jackson Buehler attended Youth Tour, also representing Adams Telephone, after winning the Tootie Holmes Youth to Washington Scholarship, a memorial fund endowed by the Cooperative Choice Network Credit Union.

Youth Tour began in 1964, after President Lyndon B. Johnson inspired the nation’s electric cooperatives to sponsor youths to go to D.C. to educate young people about the role of electric co-ops and the significance of the legislative process. It became an annual tradition.

“Youth Tour is more than just a trip,” said Laura Bergman, Manager of Communications from Adams Electric Cooperative. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that empowers future leaders to become informed, engaged and active citizens. Many Youth Tour alumni go on to become leaders in their communities, inspired by this experience.”

The event offers a unique opportunity for students to explore the nation’s capital, meet their peers from across the state and beyond, and engage with the political process. Youth Tour not only highlights the importance of electric cooperatives but also fosters civic engagement and leadership skills.

The itinerary for the Youth Tour was packed with both educational and cultural experiences. The students visited major landmarks such as Gettysburg, Arlington National Cemetery, the U.S. Capitol and the National Mall. They also visited several museums, including the Smithsonian, Air and Space Museum, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

“There’s a lot more to Youth Tour than sightseeing,” Danielle Flesner, Youth Tour Coordinator for Adams Telephone Co-Operative said. “It also provides students with a deeper understanding of American history and government and the role electric and telephone cooperatives play in the communities they serve.”

One way the students learned about cooperatives was by forming one themselves. The Chip ’n’ Pop Co-op is an engaging way to provide the Youth Tour participants with experience in understanding the fundamentals of the cooperative business model.

“This hands-on activity emphasizes the importance of teamwork,” Flesner said. “The students gained practical business skills and a deeper appreciation for cooperatives.”

The students created their own snack shop cooperative by forming a nominating committee, electing a board of directors and hiring a co-op manager. Adams Telephone Co-Operative representatives Adalena Pedro and Ivy Liesen participated as nominating committee members, and Pedro was named manager of the cooperative. The students worked together to manage all aspects of the operation and had an equal say in decision-making, just like the cooperatives that sponsored them on the trip.

In addition, the students voted for one of their peers to represent Illinois on the Youth Leadership Council (YLC). Those interested in becoming Illinois’ YLC representative filled out an application, and five were selected to give a speech in front of their peers. Cole Buchanan, representing SouthEastern Illinois Electric Cooperative, was selected as the 2024-2025 YLC representative for Illinois. He will represent the state at national and state meetings and events in the year ahead.

“The impact of Youth Tour goes far beyond Washington, D.C.,” Bergman said. “One of the most impactful parts of Youth Tour is the relationships that students build with their peers from different parts of the state and country. These connections often turn into lifelong friendships.”

High school students who live within the counties served by Adams Electric and Adams Telephone are eligible to participate in the annual program. To learn more, visit Adams Electric’s Youth Tour page or facebook.com/ILYouthTour.

Adams Electric Cooperative is a member of Touchstone Energy — a national alliance of local, consumer-owned electric cooperatives providing high standards of service. Adams Electric Cooperative is committed to providing superior service based on four core principles: integrity, accountability, innovation and commitment to community. The co-op serves more than 9,000 meters over 2,268 miles of line in parts of Adams, Brown, Hancock, McDonough, Pike and Schuyler counties. Adams Electric has been providing electric service to members since 1938. For more information visit adamselectric.coop.

Founded in 1952, Adams Telephone Co-Operative serves 30 communities in Adams, Brown, Hancock, McDonough, Pike and Schuyler counties with fiber to the home, focusing on places where there was previously little or no coverage. Adams provides a full range of data, voice and networking services backed by a local fiber optic facility, local and long distance telephone service, and high-speed Internet access. We are proud to connect 20,000 broadband customers. In a world driven by connectivity, our existing fiber networks are the backbone of our operations. For more information visit adams.net.

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