Area Students Represent Mecklenburg Electric at Washington Youth Tour

   Written by on July 13, 2017 at 9:36 am

2017_MEC_Youth Tour (2)resizedCHASE CITY – Four area high school students, representing Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC), joined a record-setting group of 1,800 students from 46 states for this year’s 53rd annual National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Tour. Local students sponsored by MEC were Jackson Combs, son of Mark and Kerrie Combs of Emporia; Aajaylah (Jai) Goodwyn, daughter of Felicia Smith of Lawrenceville; Griffin Martin, son of Chris and Beth Martin of Bracey; and Jared St. John, son of Terry and Holly St. John of Chatham. Accompanied by MEC chaperone, Brian Morris, they spent a week learning about America’s electric cooperatives and the critical importance of participating in our legislative process.

The large delegation discussed key issues in today’s electric industry and interacted with fellow students in valuable team-building programs. During a visit to Capitol Hill, MEC students met with Kevin Reynolds, chief of staff for Rep. Tom Garrett, and enjoyed a guided tour of the U.S. Capitol Building. Throughout the week, participants enjoyed touring numerous historical monuments and cultural sights.

“I greatly appreciate the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C.” says Combs, “and meet new people. I learned that Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative is a not-for-profit and also a lot about how government works.”

“Before I went on this trip, I did not know there are so many electric cooperatives across the United States,” says Goodwyn. “The places we went and the people we met on Youth Tour changed my perspective on government and leadership from negative to positive.”

As part of the NRECA-sponsored National Youth Tour, all state groups were challenged and encouraged by inspirational speakers. This year’s agenda included Mike Schlappi, a four-time Paralympic Medalist and two-time world wheelchair basketball champion, who shared his inspiring message, “Just because you can’t stand up, doesn’t mean you can’t stand out!”

“This week is always such a great opportunity for our students,” says Morris, who has accompanied MEC’s Youth Tour participants for the past 15 years. “This experience helps prepare them for their futures and challenges their participation in our country’s grass roots political system that led to the development and growth of electric cooperatives across rural America nearly 80 years ago. After touring our nation’s capital, meeting congressional representatives and learning first-hand about how our government operates, they return home with a knowledge that is experienced by few at this age, and further, they have made memories that will last a lifetime.”

Youth Tour was originally inspired by Texas Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson as he addressed the 1957 NRECA Annual Meeting.  The senator and future president declared, “If one thing goes out of this meeting, it will be sending youngsters to the national capital where they can actually see what the flag stands for and represents.”

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is the Arlington, Virginia-based national service organization for more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives, public power districts and public utility districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states and who own and maintain 42 percent of the nation’s electric distribution lines. For more information, go to

Founded in 1944, Virginia, Maryland and Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) is the trade association for Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and the 14 other electric co-ops that serve the three-state area. It is based in Glen Allen, Virginia, and provides safety and employee training, governmental relations, communications and other services to its members. For more information on VMDAEC, visit www.vmdaec.coMecklenburg Electric Cooperative (MEC) is the not-for-profit energy provider to over 31,000 meters located in portions of the Virginia counties of Brunswick, Charlotte, Greensville, Halifax, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Pittsylvania, Southampton and Sussex and the North Carolina counties of Granville, Person, Northampton, Vance and Warren. It is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.

Leave a Reply