Two Cumberland County High School Juniors Attend Youth Leadership Summit

Meagan Burgess and Robert Claflin of Cumberland County High School were sponsored by VEC to attend the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2014 Youth Leadership Summit March 24-26 in downtown Nashville.

Burgess, daughter of Chuck and Tina Burgess of Crossville, and Claflin, son of Time and Diane Claflin, were among 46 high school juniors representing the state’s 23 electric cooperatives who attended the annual event.<YLS Group

“The Youth Leadership Summit teaches these exceptional students how important electric cooperatives are to Tennessee’s communities and provides them an opportunity to see the legislative process in the Capitol,” said Todd Blocker, TECA director of member relations. “Local electric co-ops, school officials and guidance counselors chose these deserving students to attend the summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities.”

VEC President/CEO Rody Blevins said VEC was proud to help these students further develop their leadership skills.

“Meagan and Robert are fine examples of the future leaders we’re raising in our local communities,” said Blevins. “VEC is pleased to provide motivated students with this opportunity to join their peers from across Tennessee to learn about state government and rural electric co-ops.”

The summit began Monday evening, March 24, with dinner at the group’s hotel, the Millennium Maxwell House. Get-acquainted activities and an introduction to cooperatives followed, led by electric co-op leaders, and the night ended with a leadership development presentation by Amy Gallimore of TRI Leadership Resources LLC.

Students rose early on Tuesday, March 25, for breakfast and preparations for a visit to Legislative Plaza. TECA Director of Government Affairs Mike Knotts introduced Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and Rep. Cameron Sexton of Crossville, who welcomed the students to Nashville and answered their questions about legislative issues. The 11th graders then toured the Capitol and saw state government in action at Senate and House committee meetings before posing for photos in front of the historic building.

Following the visit to Capitol Hill, the group enjoyed lunch and leadership activities at a Nashville-area YMCA camp, where the students were also treated to a hot-line trailer demonstration by Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Sunbelt Rentals. SVEC employees showed that electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it and always exercise safety around power lines. The fun continued with dinner and games at Dave & Buster’s, and the busy day was capped off by special guest speakers Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson and Tennessee Titans cheerleader Anne Peterson.

Wednesday morning, the students were divided into teams and formed their own co-ops and worked together to “buy” and “sell” power distribution supplies and resolve day-to-day issues local electric co-ops face like power outages and rights-of-way conflicts. Then they got an overview of the history of electric cooperatives and answered trivia questions about electric co-ops and the state in the “Energy Battle” competition.