BOAZ, Ala. – Four students from Crossville and Geraldine high schools were recently awarded scholarships to Snead State Community College through Marshall-DeKalb Electric Cooperative’s (MDEC) Youth Tours.
The program, featuring trips to Montgomery and Washington D.C., are one of many ways MDEC works to give back to the community, said MDEC Communications Director Kelli Whorton.
As part of the Youth Tours, eight students typically from the MDEC district are selected to participate in the Montgomery tour in March. To be selected, at least two students from each school are required to write an essay that is judged by a panel from Snead State. Students are also interviewed by the panel.
Based on results of the essay and interview, the panel then chooses the eight students that will travel to Montgomery.
After the trip, four students are picked from the group to participate in the Washington D.C. tour based on a combination of previous scores and their participation and behavior during the Montgomery tour. However, this year total of just four students from the area – all juniors – participated in this year’s Youth Tours program.
“During the youth tours, students learn how cooperatives were formed and why they are important in our society,” Whorton said. “They also have opportunities to network with other students from all over the state and talk with local and national representatives. They can see how cooperatives work for our members at the state and national levels. By informing these students about our purpose we are protecting the future of cooperatives.
“We have seen a big decrease in participation since COVID hit,” she continued. “We have not been able to go on the Washington tours since 2020. This year we will be going back to Washington. We are really hoping to encourage more participation next year by pouring more information about the opportunity into the schools. The students coming back and sharing the trips with their peers is a guarantee to get students interested also.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime, and we are proud of the students that have stepped up and gone through the process to compete for the position,” Whorton added. “We are proud to share with our members the four who have been chosen.”
Students selected for the trip to Washington D.C., and scholarship include Daniela Franco Rios and Esmeralda Garcia, both of Crossville; and Isaac Gonzalez and Bailey Rogers, both of Geraldine.
“We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Snead State Community College,” Whorton said. “Snead State goes above and beyond to help us by judging essays, performing live interviews, and then awarding scholarships to the students that are chosen. We are so fortunate to have a (community) college on our electric system that likes to be as involved as SSCC.”
“We’re honored to partner with Marshall DeKalb for the Youth Tours. It’s an opportunity for us to meet high achieving students in our community. Choosing the winners each year is never easy because the students put forth their best. We’re proud to present them with scholarships to Snead State, and we look forward to having them as part of the Parson family,” said Snead State President Dr. Joe Whitmore. “As for MDEC, our business model sets us apart from other utilities because we adhere to seven guiding cooperative principles that reflect core values of honesty, transparency, equity, inclusiveness and service to the greater good of the community,” Horton said. “While our top priority is providing safe, reliable, and affordable energy, we also want to be a catalyst for good in our community. Because we are your local electric cooperative, co-op revenues stay right here in our community. In turn, we invest in our diverse community base through scholarship programs, charitable giving, educational programs, and more. We strive to make long-term decisions that improve and enrich the communities we serve.”