Pioneer Electric Cooperative Youth Tour opens opportunities for high school juniors

Published 6:53 pm Monday, December 5, 2022

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High school juniors attending school in Butler, Dallas, Lowndes, and Wilcox counties and homeschoolers living within those counties have the opportunity to win a trip, make lifelong friends, build their college resume, and gain valuable experience as part of Pioneer Electric Cooperative’s annual Youth Tour.

Pioneer is a member-owned electric cooperative founded more than 85 years ago to meet the needs of the underserved people of rural Alabama. The annual Youth Tour is a part of the investment the cooperative makes, helping to build a brighter community within service areas.

“One thing I like about the program is that it shows people from small communities, like McKenzie and Fort Deposit, that there’s a big world out there,” said Pioneer Communications Director Christi Scruggs. “They know about professions like doctors, teachers, and firefighters, but they don’t know a lot about electric coops and the job opportunities we offer.”

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According to Scruggs, every position within the utility involves helping people — from customer service to lineman — which is an important lesson for younger generations looking at prospective careers.

“We hope that our young people will see electric coops as a potential employer,” Scruggs said.

McCann Perkins attends John T. Morgan Academy and visited Washington D.C. for the first time with Pioneer’s Youth Tour.

Youth Tour participants compete for trips to Montgomery and Washington D.C., where they learn about electric cooperatives and America’s history.

“We got to meet people from other coops and learn what they do,” Perkins said. “It was a good experience.”

Scruggs said the trips help young men and women see the big picture of government by connecting them with state legislators and visiting the nation’s capital.

“Those are experiences my daughter would not have had outside this program,” said Scruggs, whose daughter Hannah visited Washington through Youth Tour. “They met kids from other places and different backgrounds. A lot of times, kids who go to small schools grow up with the same people and there’s no opportunity to meet new people.”

Youth Tour participant Kalee Russell is a junior at Fort Dale Academy. Russell said Youth Tour has revealed to her what goes on behind the scenes of an electric cooperative.

“I didn’t realize how much work went into electric coops and all that they do,” Russell said. “I’ve gotten to learn a lot that I didn’t know about coops.”

Juniors accepted for Youth Tour help with Pioneer community events, like the Annual Membership Meeting.

“We helped out at a few different events,” said Hannah Scruggs, who attends McKenzie High School. “At the [Annual Meeting] we ran the bouncy house for kids.”

Applicants are interviewed in January. Four students will be selected from interviews to receive an all-expenses-paid trip to the Montgomery Youth Tour. Two of those students will win a trip to visit Washington.

Interested high school juniors may access information and an application by visiting Applicants must submit the application, their resume, and a 500-word essay no later than Dec. 16.