“I touch the future. I teach.” is a quote attributed to Christa McAuliffe, the star-crossed classroom teacher who was to be the first teacher in space aboard the ill-fated Space Shuttle Challenger.
In their own ways, Indiana’s electric cooperatives have been touching the future, too … for decades. Fulfilling the cooperative commitment to community and education, they have taught our younger consumers — who will someday be their members, directors and civic leaders — about our country and the roles of co-ops and electricity.
“Creating opportunity for our youth to have experiences outside of our communities broadens their personal growth,” said Neil Draper, president and CEO at Jay County REMC.
Draper chairs the Youth Engagement Committee of Indiana Electric Cooperatives, the statewide association of Indiana’s 38 member distribution cooperatives. IEC coordinates two vital youth programs, Camp Kilowatt and the Indiana Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. Because of the pandemic restrictions and concerns for safety, this year’s camp and tour were the first since 2019.
“Youth Tour and Camp Kilowatt give us the chance to offer some of our younger members the opportunities of a lifetime,” Draper said. “These programs are educational, fun, and oftentimes life-changing for the students who participate. Youth programs are vital to the growth of our community so it’s important that enterprises like this continue to flourish.”
In June, 140 students participated in the two programs.
Over the next four pages is a look back … at the faces of our future.
For almost 20 years, Indiana’s Camp Kilowatt (formerly Touchstone Energy Camp) has mixed typical summer camp fare with little electrical twists: wall climbing and utility pole climbing; ziplines and zapping power lines.
Because of the pandemic, this year’s camp, held June 8-11 at YMCA Camp Tecumseh in Brookston, was the first since 2019. Electric co-ops from around the state sent 71 participants who will be entering seventh grade this fall.
Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.
From June 16-23, 69 incoming high school seniors participated in this year’s Indiana Youth Tour to Washington, D.C.
The tour provides young Hoosiers the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital, learn about government, experience American history and gain a better understanding about their electric cooperatives.
The group represented 24 Indiana electric co-ops. Like Camp Kilowatt, this was the first since 2019 because of COVID.
Hoosiers visited the Flight 93 Memorial, the Gettysburg Battlefield, Arlington National Cemetery and the museums, monuments and memorials in and around D.C. The group also spent a day on Capitol Hill, where they met with members of Indiana’s congressional delegation.
Join us next year
The Youth Tour to Washington, D.C., in June 2023, will be for students who are entering their junior year of high school this month (for the 2022-23 school year). Camp Kilowatt next June will be for students now entering sixth grade. If you are interested in participating or know someone in either of those classes, please look for application information and deadlines beginning later this year or early in 2023.
Other notable youth programs
CALENDAR ART CONTEST
Each year since 1999, Indiana Connection, supported by participating electric cooperatives around the state, has published a calendar illustrated with student art. The art is selected the previous spring from a contest open to all Indiana students, grades K-12. The calendar for 2023 is in production and will be available later this year.
Beginning Aug. 26 and running through Oct. 1, the works of the 26 first place and honorable mention-winning artists for the 2023 calendar will be exhibited at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, in conjunction with the opening of the Hoosier Artists Salon exhibition.
High school students affiliated with an Indiana electric cooperative can apply to spend a day as a page at the Indiana State Legislature when it reconvenes next January. Look for details later in the fall.
YOUTH POWER & HOPE AWARDS
Indiana’s electric cooperatives honor middle school students who are committed to helping others in their communities. This year’s deadline to enter the Youth Power and Hope Awards is Oct. 3.
Qualified candidates must be in grades 5-8. Up to five winners will each receive $500 and be featured in an upcoming issue of Indiana Connection.
Learn more and apply online at www.indianaconnection.org/youthpowerandhope.