2017 Youth Tour winners and scholarship recipients announced

Sneads High School junior, Jalen Kenner and Blountstown High School junior, Sofia Coley were named West Florida Electric’s Youth Tour competition winners on Tuesday, February 21. Korbin Haller of Graceville was named the alternate.

These students will represent WFEC on the National Rural Electric Youth Tour June 10-15, traveling to Washington, D.C. with over 30 other Florida students to join over 1,500 high school juniors representing co-ops from across the country.

Stewart scholarship photo: George Clayton Owens, WFEC Board of Trustees, District 6 (left) & John Adams, WFEC Board of Trustees, District 4 (right) present Jaqueline Stewart, Chipley High School, with a scholarship award. Stewart received a $4,000 scholarship to Chipola College as part of the cooperative’s Youth Tour program.

Twelve area students participated in the Youth Tour program this year. They were: Sheryl Smith, Altha School; Sofia Coley, Blountstown High School; Jaqueline Stewart, Chipley High School; Caleb Reed, Cottondale High School; Korbin Haller, Graceville High School; Kaylee Hatcher, Malone School; Cameron Gray, Marianna High School; Kassyn Williams, Poplar Springs School; Jalen Kenner, Sneads High School; Callie Batey, Vernon High School; Austin Whitehead, Cottonwood High School and Drew Willis, Blountstown High School.

Youth Tour photo: (l-r) Jalen Kenner, Sneads High School, & Sofia Coley, Blountstown High School, were named the 2017 Youth Tour competition winners. Kenner & Coley will represent West Florida Electric Cooperative on the National Rural Electric Youth Tour this June in Washington, D.C. Korbin Haller (far right), Graceville High School was named alternate.

Austin Whitehead is the grandson of Susie Johnson, an employee of the cooperative and Drew Willis is the grandson of Ellis Nichols, who serves on the co-op’s board of trustees. These students competed in a separate essay competition for the children and grandchildren or employees and trustees, sponsored by the Florida Rural Electric Cooperative Association. The winner of this essay competition wins a trip to Washington, D.C. and becomes the representative for the rural electric cooperatives of Florida. Both Whitehead and Willis did extremely well in this competition, with Willis bringing home first place and Whitehead being named runner-up.

Tallahassee photo: Twelve local high school students participated in West Florida Electric Cooperative’s annual Youth Tour competition and eleven of those participated in an educational trip to Tallahassee where they visited the Governor’s Mansion, participated in a mock legislative session in the House of Representatives and observed a Supreme Court case. (l-r) Jalen Kenner, Sneads High School; Jaqueline Stewart, Chipley High School; Austin Whitehead, Cottonwood High School; Kaylee Hatcher, Malone School; Caleb Reed, Cottondale High School; Callie Batey, Vernon High School; Drew Willis, Blountstown High School; Sofia Coley, Blountstown High School; Cameron Gray, Marianna High School; Sheryl Smith, Altha School and Korbin Haller, Graceville High School, not pictured Kassyn Williams, Poplar Springs School.

The cooperative’s Board of Trustees has created a scholarship program linked to Youth Tour participation. Each year, a scholarship of $4,000 to Chipola College is awarded to the highest scoring participant from each county. Participants are ranked on a scale of 100 points using a panel interview process and the following categories: Communication Skills, Knowledge of Subject, Personality, Community Service and Poise/Appearance. Those scholarship recipients were: Sofia Coley, Calhoun County; Kassyn Williams, Holmes County; Jalen Kenner, Jackson County and Jaqueline Stewart, Washington County.

The Washington, D.C. Youth Tour Program has been in existence since 1957 when co-ops sent students to Washington, D.C. to work during the summer. By 1964, the program caught on, and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) began to coordinate the efforts of the co-ops. Since then, thousands of young people have experienced this opportunity. WFEC has participated in the Youth Tour since 1979, sending two students to Washington, D.C. each year since. For more information about the Youth Tour and the scholarship program, please visit www.westflorida.coop or contact Candace Croft at ccroft@westflorida.coop.