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For more than 50 years, teens from rural America have traveled to Washington, D.C., each summer for the “trip of a lifetime,” thanks to their local electric cooperatives. No thanks to a global pandemic, the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour was canceled in both 2020 and 2021. Determined to provide our young leaders with a memorable and enriching experience, the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives planned a scaled-down version of the trip, July 28-30.

Meeting in Williamsburg, Va., the students toured the historic area, including the Jamestown Settlement and Colonial Williamsburg, learned about the cooperative business model, visited with legislators from Virginia and Maryland, enjoyed great meals together, sailed on a sunset cruise on the York River and had fun at Busch Gardens.

Ten students represented five electric cooperatives — Choptank Electric Cooperative, Community Electric Cooperative, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative and Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative — with two of them continuing their education in the Ivy League. Luke Richey, MEC delegate, is headed to Harvard, while Lauren Kang, Choptank Electric delegate, will study at Dartmouth.

“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, VMDAEC vice president of member and public affairs, who also serves as the Association’s Youth Tour director. He and many others across the U.S. remain hopeful for a return to a full tour in 2022.

Be sure to check out the cool video of the 2021 event on our Youth Tour page and watch for 2022 info.

— Report by Jim Robertson, Staff Writer, VMDAEC

Above Photo: 2021 Youth Tour delegates from left, Gavin Fowler, Community Electric Cooperative; Thomas Connolley, Alyssa Boltz, Lauren Kang and Owen Mank, Choptank Electric Cooperative; Bella Bunn, Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative; Hunter Green, Luke Richey and Cody Scarce, Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative; and Natalee Coates, Rappahannock Electric Cooperative, stand by the James River at Jamestown Settlement. (Photo By: Jim Robertson)