rodeo, high school career day and job shadows at
NVEC also sends students to the Youth Energy
Seminar, or YES camp, each July in California’s
Sierra Nevada. This year, the camp will move from
the Truckee area to the Grizzly Creek Ranch near
Besides high-energy outdoor activities and confi-dence-building exercises, YES camp is similar to the
Electric Cooperative Youth Tour in that participants
create and manage their own cooperative.
“It is important for our youth to know what
a co-op is and how it operates as a member-
owned utility,” says NVEC General Manager
Laura McClure. “Every one of them comes back
and says how much fun they had with all of the
activities. More than anything is the students go
by themselves. Some of them have never flown on
an airplane before. It gives them a chance to meet
YES camp is sponsored by the Nevada Rural
Electric Association. North across the border, the
Idaho Consumer-Owned Utilities Association Youth
Rally at the College of Idaho in Caldwell draws
participants from as far away as Alaska.
The youth rally helps teens develop leadership
skills and teaches them how their co-ops operate,
how electricity is produced and distributed, and
how co-op managers deal with issues affecting the
electric industry. Teens hear motivational speakers,
tour the Idaho Capitol, visit Swan Falls Dam, attend
a formal dance and perform in a talent show.
“It’s one of the best services we provide for
our members and leaves a lasting impression on
participants,” says Ralph Williams, retired manager
of United Electric Cooperative, based in Heyburn,
Idaho, who helped organize the first rally in 1986.
“It’s amazing to see the self-confidence they develop
by week’s end. They’re all in a new environment
with no stereotypes of who they are. They’re
encouraged to step out and be who they want to
be. With self-confidence and the new knowledge
they have, they’re set up to be a leader. Many who
were introverted at the start of a rally come back
the following year holding some type of leadership
position in their school.”
After attending a youth energy conference,
students can speak knowledgeably to family,
schoolmates or the community about transmission
and distribution lines, wholesale power supply and
the benefits of the cooperative business model.
Participants in past youth events in Idaho,
California and Washington, D.C., have returned
home to become employees at the same utilities that
invested in their futures.
Their experiences are shared with others and
are used to inspire the next generation of public
servants and community leaders.