September 2021

Our Communities is a story and picture feature that celebrates the spirit of co-op country. Have a submission that depicts your co-op or community? Contact [email protected].

A spirited march on Williamsburg.

OF THE MANY THINGS THAT THE GLOBAL PANDEMIC KNOCKED OFF THE CALENDAR, one of the most unfortunate was the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour inWashington, D.C. Everyyear,your electric cooperative sponsors high school youths to join hundreds of their peers across the country for an immersive experience in democracy, our nation’s capital and all that represents.

Though COVID-19 forced the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 Youth Tours, five electric cooperatives in Virginia and Maryland conducted a safe, local, mini-tour for 10 deserving students in late July. They met in Williamsburg, toured the historic area and discussed the cooperative business model during the two-day tour.

To learn about the legislative process, the youths met with Virginia Dels. Jerrauld C. Jones of Norfolk and Emily Brewer of Suffolk, and met virtually with three legislators from Maryland. They also visited the Jamestown Settlement and the Army Transportation Museum, in addition a stop at Busch Gardens and a cruise on the York River. “I had a great time on REC’s Youth Tour,” says Natalee Coates, a student at Madison County High School, who was sponsored by Rappahannock Electric Cooperative. “My favorite part was speaking with Dels. Jay Jones and Emily Brewer. They were amazing to speak with and I learned so much from them.”

In addition to Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, also represented by tour participants were Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, Choptank Electric Cooperative, Community Electric Cooperative and Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative. “It’s not a full substitute for Youth Tour, but we wanted to do something special for these students who were nominated by their co-ops,” says Andrew Vehorn, who coordinates the tour for the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. “Hopefully, we’ll be back to a full tour in 2022.”

For information on Youth Tour, and to view videos and galleries, visit vmdaec.com/youth-tour.