The NRECA Youth Tour Michigan delegates (left to right) Chance Owens, Madeline Ruff and Ethan Mendenhall pause from their tour of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Submitted photo)
The NRECA Youth Tour Michigan delegates (left to right) Chance Owens, Madeline Ruff and Ethan Mendenhall pause from their tour of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. (Submitted photo)

Archived Story

Local students touring capitol for youth tour

Published 5:19pm Thursday, June 19, 2014

Three local high school seniors are touring Washington, D.C. this week as part of the Michigan delegation to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Tour. They represent and are sponsored by Midwest Energy Cooperative.

Ethan Mendenhall and Chance Owens from Edwardsburg High School and Madeline Ruff from Ross Beatty Jr./Sr. High School, joined more than 1,400 students representing electric cooperatives from all over the United States in the annual event.

Ethan is the son of Matt and Hollie of Niles; Chance is the son of Frank and Shawn Brown of Edwardsburg; and Madeline is the daughter of Carl and Lori Ruff of Dowagiac. All three students are co-op members and were selected based on their participation at the Michigan Electric Cooperative Association Youth Leadership Summit in April.

2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the Youth Tour; since 1964 more than 53,000 students have participated. Besides visiting many of the historical and cultural sites of the nation’s capital, students experienced the political process at work and met with their own legislators to discuss issues like the new carbon dioxide rules issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, which potentially threaten the viability of coal-based electric power generation. Attendees were challenged by NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson at the annual Youth Day Rally in Arlington, Virginia, to speak out on behalf of their rural communities.

“Each and every one of you can make a difference in the political process,” Emerson said. “The way that you talk about the issues will impress your leaders in Congress. It will give them hope that your generation understands how to lead and you are committed to doing so.”

NRECA is also partnering with the Points of Light Foundation to support GenerationOn, an initiative encouraging young people to organize and lead community service projects in their communities. The foundation is offering a $500 grant to one Youth Tour participant from each state to design, promote and implement local service projects.

Midwest Energy Cooperative is a member-owned electric utility providing electric distribution and an assortment of energy-related programs and services to more than 35,000 customers in 11 counties in southern Michigan and northern Indiana and Ohio.

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