Allie Blurton was among 17 Kansas student delegates to attend the 2nd annual Kansas Electric Youth (KEY) Leadership Conference, held June 5-8 in Topeka, Kansas. Allie, a senior from Attica High School, was selected to represent Alfalfa Electric Cooperative at this exclusive leadership conference through a competitive application. This process evaluated each candidate’s leadership ability, community involvement, and academics. Allie submitted her application and essay. After scoring multiple Kansas essays, a judge determined the Attica student’s writing to be the winner.
As a safer event during the pandemic, the KEY Leadership Conference was created as an alternative to the long-standing Electric Cooperative Youth Tour to Washington, D.C. The first KEY Leadership Conference, held virtually in 2021, has been distinguished by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association as a winner of the 2022 Spotlight on Excellence Award. This award recognized the youth program’s excellence in communication and marketing efforts.
Alfalfa Electric Cooperative is honored to sponsor our co-op’s youth in developing their leadership capabilities at the KEY Leadership Conference. AEC continues to look to programs like these to provide our future leaders with tools to advocate for their cooperative communities throughout their professional lives.
The four-day conference focused on the fundamentals of leadership and hands-on engagement with students representing Kansas communities. Activities included a night tour of the State Capitol, an electric safety demonstration at FreeState Electric, and a Brown V. Board of Education National Historical Site tour. The students attended interactive workshops to help prepare them for success as future leaders, including seminars on budgeting and investment, online reputation management, energy efficiency, and the transition between high school and higher education.
Participating as guest speakers, state legislators Rep. Steven Johnson and Rep. Kyle Hoffman, alumni of the electric cooperative youth programs, encouraged the student leaders to be a force for political action. The Representatives also gave the students a night tour of the Kansas State Capitol. They answered questions from the students ranging in topics from describing a typical day in the life of a legislator, why they decided to enter public service, and school and career advice for the students.
Other speaker highlights included Dan Meers, Kansas City Chiefs mascot. Meers gave an inspiring presentation titled “Wolves Can’t Fly.”
For Allie Blurton, attending the conference as a representative of Alfalfa Electric Cooperative was a motivating experience. “I was inspired by the people I met at this conference. It’s not what you know; it’s who. I wished I had known before this conference that I didn’t need to worry. It is okay to try new experiences – even if you don’t know much about electricity, like me.”
At the conclusion of the conference, Landry George, sponsored by Heartland Electric Cooperative, was announced as the 2023 Kansas representative to the NRECA Youth Leadership Council (YLC). The KEY Leadership student delegation voted to have Landry represent Kansas on the YLC. “I applied (to this conference) hoping to bring leadership back to my home community,” she said. “This conference, as a whole, has inspired me to be a part of helping other leaders create leaders.” The quote that inspired Landry the most during the event was from KEC CEO Lee Tafanelli, who said, “preparation plus opportunity equals success.”
After attending the KEY Leadership Conference, students are eligible to apply for the KEC Auxiliary Scholarship and the NRECA Glenn English Scholarship.