For the first time since 2020, the Youth Leadership Council (YLC) returned to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association PowerXchange. There were 32 students from across the country at the national event that took place in Nashville, Tennessee, March 3-8, 2023.
The purpose of the YLC is to build leadership and public speaking skills while enhancing the delegates’ knowledge of the energy industry and the cooperative business model. These students play an important role during NRECA’s PowerXchange. Not only are the YLC delegates recognized on stage in front of an audience of more than 6,000 cooperative representatives, but they also have a hands-on experience with virtually every facet of the meeting, including the resolutions process, breakout sessions, the International Luncheon, and the Touchstone Energy Community Service Project.
BRAYDEN SCHMIDT is a familiar name to Alfalfa Electric Cooperative and our prestigious youth programs. Schmidt was selected to attend both the Cooperative Youth Leadership Camp and the Electric Cooperative Youth Tour. Brayden also served as the Kansas representative to the YLC in 2020. Currently, he is an electrical engineering student at Wichita State University. This year, he served as a “blue shirt,” a junior staff member selected to help chaperone the current YLC students. Schmidt said his favorite aspect of the trip was watching the YLCs interact.
“The theme of this year’s annual meeting was ‘It’s Time to Lead.’ Co-ops can follow through with this theme by continuing to invest in their youth through youth tours, leadership camps, and YLC,” Schmidt said. “The young of America are ready to make changes, but they need help finding a trustworthy, knowledgeable, and influential source that has their best interest at heart. You can’t just tell them they are welcome. You must actively invite them into the co-op and give them the tools they need to change our world for the better.”
Schmidt said he has been honored to be a part of this program. “Continuing to give back to the program that made me the best version of myself, I can’t say thank you enough,” he stated.