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Katrina Bussell of Fayetteville High School and Glenn Hammons of Riverside Christian Academy were sponsored by Fayetteville Public Utilities to attend the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association’s 2014 Youth Leadership Summit March 24-26 in downtown Nashville.
Bussell, daughter of Jeff and Steffanie Bussell, and Hammons, son of Keith and Liz Hammons, were among 46 high school juniors representing the state’s 23 electric cooperatives who attended the annual event.
“The Youth Leadership Summit teaches these exceptional students how important rural electric systems, like FPU, are to Tennessee’s communities and provides them an opportunity to see the legislative process in the Capitol,” said FPU’s CEO and General Manager Britt Dye. “Katrina and Glenn were chosen by their school officials and guidance counselors to attend the Summit based on their interests in government and strong leadership abilities.”
“Katrina and Glenn are fine examples of the future leaders we’re raising in our local communities,” said Dye.
“FPU is pleased to provide motivated students with this opportunity to join their peers from across Tennessee to learn about state government and about the roles their hometown electric systems play in community growth.”
The Summit began with dinner at the group’s hotel, the Millennium Maxwell House. Get-acquainted activities and an introduction to cooperatives followed, led by electric cooperative leaders, and the night ended with a leadership development presentation by Amy Gallimore of TRI Leadership Resources LLC.
The following day, students visited Legislative Plaza. TECA Director of Government Affairs Mike Knotts introduced Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and Rep. Cameron Sexton of Crossville, who welcomed the students to Nashville and answered their questions about legislative issues. The 11th graders then toured the Capitol and saw state government in action at Senate and House committee meetings before posing for photos in front of the historic building. Bussell and Hammons also met with Tennessee Senator Jim Tracy and Representative Pat Marsh at Legislative Plaza.
After visiting Capitol Hill, the group enjoyed lunch and leadership activities at a Nashville-area YMCA camp, where the students were also treated to a hot-line trailer demonstration by Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative and Sunbelt Rentals. SVEC employees showed that electric power does a tremendous amount of work for us, but because it is such a powerful force, we must be careful around it and always exercise safety around power lines. The fun continued with dinner and games at Dave & Buster’s, and the busy day was capped off by special guest speakers Miss Tennessee Shelby Thompson and Tennessee Titans cheerleader Anne Peterson.
In other activities, students were divided into teams and formed their own electric co-ops and worked together to “buy” and “sell” power distribution supplies and resolve day-to-day issues local electric co-ops face like power outages and rights-of-way conflicts. Then they got an overview of the history of electric cooperatives and answered trivia questions about electric co-ops and the state in the “Energy Battle” competition.
“Students who participate in the Youth Leadership Summit take with them enhanced leadership and team-building skills that they can quickly apply at their schools and other youth events,” says Gina Warren, FPU’s public information specialist. “The Summit is a great way for us to help students understand that their communities need them – now and in the future.”
“These students will soon be our community leaders — and possibly FPU customers,” said Dye. “We want them to see what makes their electric system special, appreciate how we provide more than utility service for our community and understand that FPU is always there for them.”