Caney Fork Electric Cooperative congratulates the winners of the 2021 Washington Youth Tour Writing Contest. High school juniors in CFEC’s service area of DeKalb, Warren, White and Van Buren counties were eligible to enter the contest to try to win expense-paid trips to our nation’s capital as part of the Washington Youth Tour.
Contestants were asked to write short stories explaining how electric co-ops are improving their service areas through investments in energy, education, broadband, economic development and more. They were asked, “How does affordable and reliable energy from your co-op impact your life?”
Four students emerged as winners by writing the top-judged short stories titled “Electric Cooperatives: Building a Brighter Tennessee.” CFEC’s winners are Daniel Larsen, of McMinnville, Rebecca Lawrence, of Alexandra, Abigail White, of Sparta, and Eli Daniel Brock, of Spencer.
White’s short story was named CFEC’s overall winner and is now competing on the state level for scholarships.
The Washington Youth Tour is sponsored by Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, the Tennessee Electric Cooperative Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the winning students will each receive a $1,000 scholarship in lieu of going to Washington, D.C.
Building a Brighter
By Abigail White,
White County High School, CFEC area winner
Ginny Weasley was the youngest of seven siblings of Mr. and Mrs. Weasley. She had no prior knowledge of anything other than boys and makeup. However, she was about to take on the last “principles,” as her older brother Ron would call them. Ginny, with a confused look on her face, asked her older brothers what theirs were. Charlie, the oldest brother, excited that someone other than himself was finally interested, decided he would go first.
“My principle is to make sure that anyone, as long as they are able and ready to take on responsibility of a membership, is allowed to volunteer,” Charlie exclaimed.
“What if they think they’re not good enough to work with us?” said Ginny.
“That is the best part!” Charlie said proudly. “Anyone can volunteer no matter what they look like, what they identify as, and even if they have different beliefs. As long as they are ready to work, they are fine by us.”
Excited to hear more, Ginny quickly turned to the second oldest of her brothers, Percy.
“What is your principle, Percy?” asked Ginny.
“Well, I am a part of the democratic organization. I get to help determine policies and make decisions,” exclaimed Percy.
Ginny looked surprised, “They leave that all up to you?”
Percy laughed, “Not at all, Ginny. Every member is entitled to one vote; that way, we all get to have a say and whatever is unanimous becomes the new normal.”
“Wow, I wished that was how everything worked. What do you do, Bill?” asked Ginny.
“I am part of the Economic Participation principle,” said Bill excitedly. “When any one of us is in need, the rest of us are happy to help and get it done together. We are like a big family.”
“A family with people you do not share the same parents with? Cool!” shouted Ginny. “What is next, George?”
“Well I am in the Independence and Autonomy, as we call it,” said George.
“Independent? I thought we all worked together as a big team,” said Ginny, curiously.
“Oh, no, not at all. Of course we work together, but each one of us has something that we excel at, so we do those by ourselves to get everything done and tend to each of our personal strengths. However, if any one of us needs any help, we always know that we can get help from the others,” said George.
“What is next, Fred?” Ginny said with a big grin on her face.
“I am a part of the Information, Training and Education principle,” said Fred. “We make sure that everyone knows the amazing benefits that come from working together. We have helped educate and inform over 2 million people already, and we love helping new people every day.”
“Two million people? How are you and your team not exhausted?” asked Ginny, curiously.
“You never get tired doing something you love,” replied Fred.
“Your turn, Ron!” said Ginny.
“I am for what you could call Cooperation Among Cooperatives. We make sure to serve our members in the most effective way possible and strengthen the cooperative movement by working together through structures such as local, national, regional and international.”
“Wow!” said Ginny in amazement. “It seems you and your teams already do so much, what else could be left for me?”
“Well, Ginny,” said the six boys, excited to add a new member to their team. “We have just the job for you.”
“What? What? What?” screamed Ginny with the biggest smile on her face.
“We like to call it the Concern for Community principle,” said the boys, who could not quit laughing at their little sister bouncing around.
“Tell me more!” shouted Ginny.
“Well, as you know, we care for all of our members, but our care also extends to the people of communities we work in. We are friends with everyone who welcomes us,” said all the boys.
“So what you are saying is cooperatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies accepted by their members?” said a somewhat confused Ginny Weasley.
“Exactly! You have got it!” all the boys shouted.
Ginny, now happier than ever, was running around, telling everyone about this amazing group of people she now gets to start working with. She had never been able to work with real people who actually got along and wanted to help each other.
“Sometimes it is hard to see the good in doing what you know is right when everyone brings you down for what you want to do,” said an out-of-breath Ginny.
But her brothers were right there for one another, no matter what.
“You can have anything you want as long as you set your mind to it and are willing to go the extra mile and work hard. This is a career that counts,” said George.
And with a smile on her face, a bag of tools in hand and a set mind, Ginny was finally able to help the 71 percent of her state, Tennessee, keep the energy rolling. And later that night, as she was shutting down, she made sure not to keep the light on.