Current Choptank Electric Cooperative employees reflect on Youth Tour experiences and its impact on their careers
When Choptank Electric employees Katie Luckett and Matthew Teffeau think back on their time at National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Youth Tour and Youth Leadership Council, they summarize the experiences with one key word: empowered. Their participation in these programs equipped them for college and careers in the cooperative workforce. Beyond meeting high school students from across the country and exploring monuments and museums in Washington, D.C., they learned valuable leadership lessons and witnessed the benefit of cooperatives at the local and national levels.
Matthew Teffeau, Manager of Government Affairs at Choptank Electric, participated in the 2005 Youth Tour the summer before his senior year at Colonel Richardson High School.
“My favorite memory was walking the halls of Congress, meeting my elected officials, and being part of the action throughout our nation’s capital,” said Teffeau. “The activities with other youth from around the country were memories you wouldn’t find on your typical vacation or student trip.”
He was empowered by Youth Tour to stay connected with the people he had met during the program and to set a path forward on studies in government, politics and advocacy. “I was inspired by the amount of support Choptank Electric and my community had for local youth to participate in programs like Youth Tour,” added Teffeau. “It showed me the true power of my cooperative.”
Following Youth Tour and Youth Leadership Council, Teffeau completed two summer internships at the NRECA in the Government Relations department. He credits Youth Tour for showing him how he could be an advocate for his community, even in high school. “My career has centered around being an advocate and engaged public servant. Applying many skills, even the simplest as telling my story and reaching out to others to make personal connections, were part of my Youth Tour experience.
Katie Luckett, Manager of Marketing, Communications and Education at Choptank Electric, participated in the 2008 Youth Tour the summer
before her senior year at North Caroline High School. “I’ll never forget collecting lapel pins from each state as I met students from around the country,” said Luckett. “It was such a memorable week exploring Washington, D.C., and learning things about history, the democratic process, and feeling connected to our home cooperative through this network.
She was empowered by Youth Tour to branch out from the Eastern Shore and attend college out of state, and then to come back home after college to serve her local community. “I utilized the skills from Youth Tour and Youth Leadership Council to meet new people and connect with their individual stories to make a difference. It led me to my career in communications as an advocate and storyteller for cooperatives and their members.”
Following Youth Tour and Youth Leadership Council, Luckett spoke at the Choptank Electric Annual Meeting in 2009 about her experiences in Washington, D.C. and in New Orleans representing Maryland. “That was my first opportunity at public speaking, and the Cooperative members in attendance made me feel at ease with their support,” added Luckett. “The program helped me understand the impact we can make in our communities by sharing our voice. I’m grateful to be able to give back in my current role to the organization that kept my family’s lights on my entire childhood and invested in my youth leadership journey.”