From left, former 5th District U.S. Rep. District Congressman Robert Hurt; YouthTECh recipient Julianna Crawford and SEC President and CEO Jeff Edwards at the ceremony.

An in-depth look at one of our Spotlight winners

Southside Electric Cooperative’s YouthTECH event that provided laptop computers to a dozen students earned a silver award for Best Event in the 2022 Spotlight on Excellence Awards program sponsored by the Council of Rural Electric Communicators and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

The awards were announced in April.

SEC’s Member and Public Relations Department developed YouthTECH after the annual Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., was canceled due to the pandemic. Twelve high school juniors received their choice of a Dell personal computer or Apple MacBook. The laptops were presented at a special event last August in Crewe, Va., for students and their families that also included remarks by former 5th District U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt and cooperative leaders, an interactive social media project and lunch.

“We are ecstatic to receive a national honor for YouthTECH,” said Ron White, vice president of member and public relations. “The project was another of the several ways that SEC shows its support for students and education across the 18-county service area. We knew a new laptop would be a wonderful resource for students as they completed high school and pursued future interests.”

Member and Public Relations staff Joy Stump and Mark Thomas led the YouthTECH project with assistance from other members of the department. Thomas’ wife Molly, a high school physics teacher, suggested the idea of providing laptops.

YouthTECH was open to any 11th-grade student living and attending school in one of SEC’s 18 counties. Students’ parents did not have to be SEC members. Students filled out an application and wrote an essay on a personal characteristic they were developing. Twenty-three students applied.

—Report by Mark Thomas, Senior Community Relations Coordinator, Southside Electric Cooperative