A Leg Up on Life

Electric cooperatives provide opportunities for young consumers to learn, grow and excel

Posted on Jul 22 2016 in Features, For Youth, General

One of the seven cooperative principles electric cooperatives and all cooperative businesses adhere to is “Commitment to Community.” The principle also is underscored in gold as one of the four core values of all Touchstone Energy Cooperatives.

deptyouthNowhere does community commitment and giving back play out more than with the cooperative commitment to the young people of Indiana.

Co-ops recognize that the youth are the future. Helping youngsters be safe and knowledgeable about electricity; encouraging and inspiring them to be creative and express themselves; acknowledging their talents to help raise self-esteem; helping them develop character and leadership skills; providing opportunities for them to learn about cooperatives, government and themselves: all are important skills and traits youngsters need to develop and carry into adulthood to live successful lives and be good citizens, cooperative consumers, and community servants and leaders.

Each year, the 38 member cooperatives of Indiana Electric Cooperatives support opportunities for students to learn more about energy, the cooperative business model, history, government, leadership and much more. The co-op youth programs include:

  • Calendar Art Contest,
  • Page Day,
  • Touchstone Energy Camp,
  • Youth Power and Hope Awards,
  • Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.

This month, Electric Consumer looks at three programs electric co-ops have developed — statewide and nationally — that, in one way or another, engage and promote Indiana’s youth and help instill and reinforce positive values.


Annual program puts ‘amp’ into camp

Hunter Heltzel works his way up the climbing wall at June’s Touchstone Energy Camp. The camp, sponsored by Indiana’s electric cooperatives and held at YMCA Camp Tecumseh each year, lets youngsters have four days and three nights of summer camp fun mixed with programs that teach about electrical safety and electric cooperatives. The camp is just one of many programs electric cooperatives provide for youth in the communities they serve.

TECamplogoAt the Indiana Touchstone Energy® Camp, there are zip lines that take campers sailing over a lake. But there’s also a “zap” line — as in miniature power lines — that show campers how to be safe around the real overhead power lines that carry the electricity that permeates our lives.

The 14th annual camp was held June 8-11 at YMCA Camp Tecumseh in Brookston. Taking part in the fun-filled camp were 129 students representing 32 electric co-ops around the state.

Students entering seventh grade this fall were eligible to attend and were selected by their local cooperatives to participate in the three-day program. The students’ agenda combined traditional outdoor camp activities with environmental education, electrical safety practices and cooperative business education.

The Touchstone Energy Camp program was developed by a committee of electric cooperative employees from Indiana. The camp is funded in part by Indiana’s electric cooperatives, Hoosier Energy, Wabash Valley Power, Indiana Electric Cooperatives and other industry partners.

 Jason Clemmons, vice president of marketing and member services at RushShelby Energy, leads a discussion and demonstration of power line safety.

Jason Clemmons, vice president of marketing and member services at RushShelby Energy, leads a discussion and demonstration of power line safety.











2016 Indiana Youth Tour

2016 Indiana Youth Tour

‘Trip of a lifetime’ mixes nation’s past

with present, politics and possibilities

ytlogoThe Indiana Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., is an annual weeklong event giving students who’ve just finished their junior year in high school the opportunity to see in person the nation’s history — from the battlefield at Gettysburg to the monuments, museums and memorials in Washington — along with the workings of our government.

But more than that, the tour creates lasting friendships and lifelong memories, and, sponsoring co-ops hope, a better understanding of electric co-ops and how they serve their communities.

This year’s trip, June 9-16, included 81 students representing 33 of the state’s 38 co-ops.

Camilette Rhea was selected to this year’s Youth Leadership Council and will represent Indiana’s group at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s annual meeting next February in San Diego. She was sponsored on the trip by Daviess-Martin County REMC.

Highlights of 57th annual Youth Tour

Indiana’s Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., ventured east in June with two motor coaches of Indiana’s best and brightest high school seniors-to-be. Here are the 33 Indiana sponsoring cooperatives and the 81 participants.

ytmapThursday, June 9: Participants arrive in Indianapolis for orientation; tour Indiana Statehouse; depart Indianapolis.

Friday, June 10: Tour the Flight 93 National Memorial in rural Pennsylvania; arrive in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Saturday, June 11: Tour Gettysburg National Military Park; arrive in Washington; tour D.C. monuments and memorials under the lights.

Sunday, June 12: Tour Arlington National Cemetery, including watching the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknowns and visiting the gravesites of President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy; stop by White House and Albert Einstein memorial for photographs; attend a sunset dance/cruise on the Potomac River.

Monday, June 13: Visit the Air Force Memorial; tour Ford’s Theater and Peterson House; tour museums on the National Mall; learn about co-ops and engage in a political simulation game; “Youth Rally” with peers from other states.

Tuesday, June 14: Tour the Newseum, a museum dedicated to journalism and the First Amendment; meet with Indiana legislators in the U.S. Capitol building; visit Pentagon Memorial.

Wednesday, June 15: Tour the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam, Korean and World War II memorials; visit the Marine Corps Museum near Quantico, Virginia; tour Mount Vernon mansion and historic grounds; depart for all-night bus ride to Indianapolis.

Thursday, June 16:
Arrive back in Indianapolis; say goodbyes, share lots of hugs and shed some tears, begin making reunion plans.

2016 Youth Tour participants and their sponsoring electric cooperative

Bartholomew County REMC: Lydia Haak;

Boone REMC: Thomas Argentine, Rachel Kubina, Graham Oberweiser, Leah Skillington;

Carroll White REMC: Jenny Rios, Erika Ross, Anastasia Scott;

Clark County REMC: Sydney Amick, Rohan Reddy;

Daviess-Martin County REMC: Kortni Doane, Cami Rhea;

Decatur County REMC: Nathan Emsweller, Olivia Shake;

Dubois REC: Nathan Bromm;

Fulton County REMC: Dakota Hayden, Ashley Nault;

Harrison REMC: Sophie Palmer;

Heartland REMC: Catherine Tracy;

Hendricks Power: Megan Ennen;

Henry County REMC: Gwen Mathis;

Jackson County REMC: Ashley Kuhlman, Cameron Lee, Ben Prindle;

Jasper County REMC: Evan Brandenburg, Brittany Kent, Megan Mitchell, Bryce Nesius;

Johnson County REMC: Reilly Beaman;

Kankakee Valley REMC: Sydney Evans, Ryan Sears, Hannah Swanson;

Kosciusko REMC: Justin Stout, Allison Stump;

LaGrange County REMC: Nayome Messer;

Marshall County REMC: Jasmine Baird, Mary Blake, Victoria Leazenby, Sydney Master, Miranda Southwell;

NineStar Connect: Jason Apple, Gabe Blake;

Noble REMC: Anna Jank, Kaylie Warble;

Orange County REMC: Krista Kirk, Kristen Wesner;

Parke County REMC: Griffin Barnett, Dakota Woods;

RushShelby Energy: Morgan Brockman, Mary DeArmitt, Alison Schaf, Emily Zheng;

South Central Indiana REMC: Samantha Koval, Cade Scott;

Southeastern Indiana REMC: Michaela Hartman;

Southern Indiana Power: Emma Hanebutt, Shane Lasher, Lucas Montgomery;

Steuben County REMC: John Soulliere, Jenny Stadtmiller;

Tipmont REMC: Alex Cloud, Elizabeth Crane, Anna Davis, Kenzie Emerick, Abbey Estes, Chelsey Hembree, Kasey Horton, Brieanna Johnson, Rachel Kunkel, Mariah Messick, Elizabeth Odle, Madison Pinkard, Chase Randle, Tyler Smith, Stu Weber;

UDWI REMC: Haley Holland, Isaac Murdock, Heidi Seymour;

Warren County REMC: Emily Current;

Whitewater Valley REMC: Mike Mersch;

WIN Energy REMC: Brooke Myers.



Search is on for young community servants

Seven years ago, reigning Miss America 2009 Katie Stam’s passion for community service inspired Electric Consumer staff to create the Youth Power and Hope Awards. The awards were designed to recognize young people in grades 5-8 who were making a difference in their communities. As the special guest during the awards program’s inaugural year in 2009, Stam, Indiana’s first Miss America, spent one-on-one time with the winners, encouraging them to continue helping others.

yphlogoSince then, 35 young people from throughout Indiana electric cooperative territory have been recognized for their community involvement, and, through the years, have continued to be philanthropic leaders as they mature into young adults. They’ve spearheaded projects as diverse as coat drives for those in need to shampoo drives for female prison inmates. They’ve raised money for various causes, donated toys to hospitalized children, and invested “sweat equity” in community projects. They’ve made their corners of the world better places.

The search is now on for this year’s Youth Power and Hope Award recipients. The five winners will be honored during the Indiana Electric Cooperatives Annual Meeting in downtown Indianapolis on Dec. 6. That morning they will attend a private breakfast with Oliver Luck, NCAA executive vice president of regulatory affairs and father of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck is a former NFL player who played five seasons as a quarterback for the Houston Oilers.

Award applicants’ parents or guardians must live on electric cooperative lines in Indiana. They must submit an application form, examples of how they have been involved in their local communities, and a reference letter from a trusted adult who is not a family member. Applications are due Sept. 30.

Click here for an application and to learn about past award recipients.

Winners will be featured in the December Electric Consumer.