Each year in June, electric cooperatives send youth delegates to Washington, D.C., and for the first time in many years, MVEC sponsored a representative.
Sam Meeker of Green Isle, who will be a senior at Central High School this fall, was MVEC’s representative on the 2018 Youth Tour. Though a bit of rain caused delays while landing, Sam and his companions had a busy, educational week. Each day was filled to the brim with sightseeing, museums, and informational sessions hosted by national representatives. The group learned about the Seven Cooperative Principles and how to apply them to their lives. Sam said he believes those principles will have an impact on his senior year, especially that working together is crucial to success; he believes co-ops do that really well.
Some of the sights the group saw include all of the Smithsonian museums, the Marine Corps museum, Mount Vernon, Newseum, Holocaust museum, Washington Monument, Lincoln Monument, Vietnam and Korean war memorials, FDR and MLK memorials, Jefferson Monument, Air Force Monument, Iwo Jima Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery, and the 9/11 Memorial at the Pentagon.
If that doesn’t sound busy enough, the youth also met with congressional leaders, including Tina Smith and Rick Nolan, to ask them questions about their viewpoints on topics such as the lack of broadband in rural communities and how cooperatives can help in this situation.
Sam said the trip was a whirlwind, and he enjoyed everything so much — he just wanted a little more time there! Going into the trip, Sam didn’t know how many cooperatives were in the U.S. nor the impact they have, and he was pleased to learn that Minnesota has the most cooperatives in the United States. It surprised him how much of an impact members have on their cooperatives, and he loved learning about the Seven Cooperative Principles. Cooperative speakers, such as one who spoke about a mission trip that brought power to impoverished communities, also stood out to Sam.
Since it was his first time in Washington, D.C., Sam thought it was cool to see all of the monuments for the first time. He especially liked the Washington Memorial, and enjoyed watching the Secret Service safely deliver Vice President Mike Pence to the Ford Theater while the Youth Tour group was dining at the Hard Rock Café. Being one of 13 guys among 27 girls in Minnesota’s delegation was interesting, but he made several friends from all over the state that he plans to keep in contact with.
As for future career plans? Sam still isn’t sure; however, he definitely says he will keep in mind the Seven Cooperative Principles and believes they will aid him in his senior year of high school and beyond. He also mentioned that visiting the monuments and museums taught him that “everything is not as bad as you think. Stay humble.”
“Thanks for sponsoring me,” said Sam. “It was a great experience. I’ll never forget it — it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
MVEC plans to sponsor a Youth Tour participant again in 2019. Watch the Electric Eye in January for further details or read general information here.