A partnership among local schools and Southwest Tennessee EMC creates big opportunities for area students and classrooms.
Each summer, STEMC sends high school Juniors to spend a week exploring Washington, D.C., learning about government and cooperatives and developing their leadership skills. This opportunity is made possible thanks to a strong partnership with area high schools and English teachers.
Students from all across the STEMC service area participate in the Washington Youth Tour Creative Writing and Scholarship Contest by writing short stories that explain how co-ops provide communities with much more than electric power. Winners are awarded spots on the expense-paid Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., or $75 cash.
This year’s theme was “Electric Cooperatives — Connecting Communities,” and the trip winners are Amiyah Smith, Madison Academic Magnet High School; Mikaela Slayton, Chester County High School; Ellie Johnson, Munford High School; Eva Ortiz and Michael Armour, Brighton High School; Ashley Neal and Benjamin Naylor, Haywood County High School; and Eli Cross, Trinity Christian Academy.
“The Youth Tour is an incredible opportunity for these students to actually experience history up-close and personal,” says STEMC Communications and Community Outreach Specialist Tina Morris. “Delegates experience a whirlwind of a week, visiting museums, monuments and other historical landmarks.”
“Our commitment to community is what sets cooperatives apart from other businesses,” says STEMC President Kevin Murphy. “The Washington Youth Tour is one way we show the youth of our service area that their co-op is more than their electricity provider. We genuinely care about the prosperity of our communities, and that includes providing special opportunities for these exceptional students and preparing them for future success.”
Youth Tour delegates have the opportunity to not only experience history in our nation’s capital but to also win a share of $16,000 in scholarships from STEMC and Tennessee’s other electric cooperatives. Trip winners are also eligible for scholarships from our Youth Tour partner, Union University.
Additionally, STEMC awards $75 cash prizes to seven participating students. This year’s cash winners are Kim Dong and Meredith Nye, Madison Academic Magnet High School; Emma Morris and Tristan Drake, Trinity Christian Academy; Kennedy Long, Jackson Central-Merry Early College High School; Derika Rice, South Side High School; and Mary Grace Willis, Munford High School.
STEMC works with teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and principals in schools from Chester, Madison, Haywood and Tipton counties to bring education about electric cooperatives and this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to high school juniors in the service area.
“We recognize how important it is to prepare the next generation of rural leaders,” says Morris. “We could not do this without the support we receive from area schools and teachers. That is why, for the first time, we are awarding three $250 classroom grants to the junior English teachers of the top three trip winners.
Recipients of the classroom grants in 2019 are Dr. Molly Coffman, Madison Academic High School; Ms. Laurien Williams, Chester County High School; and Mrs. Felicia Hopper, Munford High School. Without these teachers and their cooperation, STEMC could not offer such an amazing opportunity to the leaders of tomorrow.
“The Washington Youth Tour is an opportunity like no other.” says Coffman. “Students are able to gain a deeper understanding and more authentic perspective of the connections among what they’ve learned in school, past events that have formed the nation and consequently have impacted their lives and the role of leaders — including themselves — in shaping their communities.”
STEMC employees will be visiting schools again in the fall of 2020 to make presentations about the Washington Youth Tour Creative Writing and Scholarship Contest. If you know upcoming high school juniors, encourage them to participate. They could be 900 words away from the trip of a lifetime. Visit www.stemc.com/washington-youth-tour-0 to learn more.