Photos and Story By Richard G. Biever
Going the extra mile is what makes Sarah Mahnesmith smile … and tick.
In track and field, instead of the one-mile, the Rensselaer Central High senior prefers running the two-mile. In 4-H, she wasn’t just a local leader; she represented Indiana at the National 4-H Congress.
In high school, her classmates have elected her president all four years, and she’s academically tops in her class. Her interest in public policy took her to the Richard G. Lugar Symposium for Tomorrow’s Leaders. Her interest in a medical career took her to a high school conference hosted by Harvard in Boston.
“I always do the best I can to better myself and those around me …,” Sarah said, “… always doing as much as I can, going the extra mile, putting forth as much effort as I can, to give my all to something.”
So when her local electric cooperative, Jasper County REMC, selected her to go on the annual Indiana Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., in June, she applied for an added opportunity: Representing Indiana on the national Youth Leadership Council. This meant giving a speech in front of the other 103 Youth Tour participants from around the state and the trip’s electric co-op chaperones only hours after they had all first gathered in Indianapolis. Six finalists were then interviewed by chaperones later on the trip.
Sarah nailed the audition. She was selected for the YLC which meant returning to the D.C. area in July to learn more about electric co-ops, public policy and leadership. She’ll also be representing Indiana when the nation’s electric cooperatives gather for their annual meeting in New Orleans in March.
While the opportunity for another free trip to D.C. interested her, Sarah said that’s not why she signed up for YLC. “Bottom line: I thought it would be good preparation for interviews, and public speaking, and I thought it would be just a good opportunity to gain practice and gain skills in the areas. I never anticipated that I would be chosen.”
Chaperones also selected the YLC delegate based on their attitude and character they observed on the first parts of the trip. “We could see that Sarah was an ‘includer’ from the beginning of Youth Tour,” said Chaperone Tracey Miller from Tipmont REMC. “There was no hesitation when she noticed someone alone. She was able to interact and pull them into a conversation or activity with ease. Sarah is the type of person who will step up to lead and communicate effectively in any situation with a smile and great attitude.”
This is not the first time Sarah’s been recognized by her local REMC and featured in this magazine. In 2012, as a fifth grader, Sarah was among five students, which also included three eighth graders and a seventh grader, to win a Youth Power & Hope Award for outstanding commitment and service to her community. (Please turn to page 12 to learn about this year’s YP&H Award program.)
Even though she’d always excelled in school, Sarah said that award gave her added incentive to succeed outwardly. “It gave me confidence at a young age to put myself out there and try new things and widen my perspective.”
And that commitment to helping others and her community remains just as strong today. “I’m definitely a people person, and I really like to help people,” she noted. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today without my community and the people here that have pushed me and helped me become who I am, so I feel the need to give back.”
Sarah Mahnesmith is the daughter of Christine Scheurich and the late Kent Mahnesmith. Her stepfather is Pat Scheurich, an employee of Jasper County REMC.
RICHARD G. BIEVER is senior editor of Indiana Connection
Youth Power & Hope Award Winner
Sarah also received a Youth Power and Hope Award as a fifth grader. Her community service activities back then included collecting over 2,000 pairs of shoes for the Share Your Souls organization.
If you’re interested in applying for the 2019 Youth Power and Hope Awards, go to: https://www.indianaconnection.org/for-youth/youth-power-and-hope/