By Jay Diem

The annual essay contest to determine A&N Electric Cooperative’s Washington Youth Tour and VICE Conference participants begins this month.

The essay contest is open to all high school and homeschool juniors living in the cooperative’s service area. The top two essays will be chosen from each school. One student from each school will be selected to attend the Washington Youth Tour in June and one student from each school will be selected to represent ANEC at the VICE Conference in the spring.

Essay guidelines were sent to the guidance offices at each high school by October 22. Home schoolers can request the guidelines from the cooperative’s Tasley office or online at anec.com. The deadline for essay entries is Dec. 10, 2018.

Both conferences are at no cost to students who are selected through the essay contest.

Each spring, the Virginia Cooperative Council sponsors an Institute on Cooperative Education, a youth leadership conference for up to 64 Virginia high school students. Local students from A&N Electric Cooperative’s service area are eligible to attend. The objective of the conference is to educate youth about the unique cooperative form of business.

“It was a really good experience to meet the kids that were there from all across Virginia and it just taught me to go out of my comfort zone and meet new people,” Nandua’s Justin Willett said of last year’s conference. “I didn’t know anybody going in and by the end of it I wasn’t ready to leave. And I met people that I still talk to today.”

Each year the cooperative also sponsors local students to attend the annual National Electric Co-op Youth Tour in Washington, D.C.

The students toured Capitol Hill and also visited historical and cultural sites around the nation’s capital, including the Newseum, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon and Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md. Other activities included an evening cruise on the Potomac River, a Baltimore Orioles game, a visit to the National Aquarium and a live theatrical performance of “The Scottsboro Boys.”

“I loved this trip,” said Arianna Fletcher, a 2018 Youth Tour attendee. “It was phenomenal. I liked how we were able to socialize with people from all over the country. This is a wonderful experience and I strongly encourage local students to apply for next year’s trip.”

For more information about the Youth Tour program and VICE Conference, please visit anec.com. To learn more about how you can participate in these programs speak with your high school’s guidance office or contact ANEC Youth Tour Coordinator Patsy Goard at 757-787-9750 ext. 322.